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A novel by Christie Golden (2009, Del Rey)
Book 2 in Fate of the Jedi
42 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Luke and Ben visit the Aing-Tii to learn Flow-walking, while two more Jedi go insane, and the Lost Tribe of the Sith find a way off Kesh.




Read May 9th to 18th, 2010  
    My first reaction after finishing this book was "why bother?" Although the book was written competently, it didn't offer much except a further reorganization of some pieces. Nothing new is learned here, except for a couple of tricks by Luke and Ben, and nothing is resolved.

Normally when I read a story, even if it is part of a larger whole, I expect that the story will be resolved. Actually, I expect there to be a story. Here, we had a short story surrounded by filler that I hope will be used in the future novels.

Luke and Ben spend the first half of the book -half a book! -searching for the Aing-Tii. That shows how little story actually existed. Their interactions aboard the Jade Shadow are not different enough from similar scenes between Ben and Luke in Outcast. They added absolutely nothing to the father-son relationship, so the scenes seem to be wasted. The ship scenes do showcase Ben's desire to learn flow-walking, and Luke's disapproval, because he knows what Ben would do with such a technique. When the Aing-Tii arrive, popping into real-space using teleportation rather than technological means, Luke passes their test and can now learn from these people -people who look like rocks.

The Star Wars books have gone in and out of using the Force as magic compared to what we know of it in the movies. We have definitely strayed back into the magical side of things. The Aing-Tii show Luke how to teleport objects, which I hope will be useful in the next book. I don't remember Jacen doing that sort of thing, but then, most of the last series is something of a mediocre blur for me. Ben learns flow-walking off screen, but the tension mounts because he refuses to speak of it to Luke. I thought it was because Ben was having a hard time, which would have been interesting. Instead, it is directly related to Luke's disapproval. The tension mounts -actually we are told the tension mounts, because I didn't feel it.

Finally, after one of the Aing-Tii attacks Luke in his sleep, they go off to the Aing-Tii temple to study artifacts that these people revere. There is a schism between these people because of their view of the Force, and it will destroy their society if Luke and Ben can't help. So they study these artifacts for a few hours, and Luke announces that the Aing-Tii will have to figure it out for themselves, which calms everybody down. Huh? Okay, it's a very philosophical answer, but how does it help? I guess because these aliens were presented as being so mysterious that it makes sense to them. After handling one of the artifacts, Luke senses that something sinister awaits them in the Maw, and they are warned that mind-drinkers are there. Hasn't Luke been in the Maw before? Didn't they have a safe haven there for Jedi teachers and younglings during the Yuuzhan Vong war? Are these authors rewriting the Star Wars history?

Also while handling the artifact, Luke announces himself to the Lost Tribe of the Sith. These Sith, introduced in Precipice, have been stranded on Kesh for 5000 years. But now Ship, the Sith training sphere that Ben found in Exile, finds them. Apparently it has searched its data banks (for what?) and comes to Kesh looking for them. Vestara is the main character among the Sith, and she goes from being a strong pre-apprentice to full apprentice when Ship arrives. It teaches them all about the Sith, and what has occurred since their ancestors crashed on Kesh. Strangely enough, it doesn't tell them about Luke until after the Jedi Master touches the artifact. They assemble a strike team to kill him, except that in the last pages of the book, Ship takes off and leaves, presumably to go to the One Sith that it felt wanting (its own words), that it met in Fury. For some reason, they want Ship back more than they want to kill the Jedi's Grand Master.

On Coruscant, two more Jedi go insane. Valin Horn's sister Jysella turns at the beginning of the book, even as Cilghal is talking with her, and flow-walks past the Jedi defenses and her fellow Jedi. She is taken down by the GA security, which seems silly since the Jedi should have been mobbing the exits to the temple, and is encased in carbonite. Then, Han and Leia go to yet another animal exhibition (similar enough to the circus in Millennium Falcon that it felt repetitive), this time made up of various animals that we've seen in the six movies, from reek to rancors, tauntauns and others (animals not in the movie get an honorable mention, but not nearly as many details as the ones that were). As expected in a setting like this, things go wrong. But this time, it is a Faleen Jedi who goes insane, thinking everybody was replaced by sinister doubles. She opens the gates to all the pens, trying to kill these nefarious doubles. Several people die, but she is stopped by Jaina.

Of course, Daala is furious, and tries to humiliate the Jedi, and place further restrictions on them. I found myself not caring about the politics, which is too bad, because when written well, political thrillers can be very interesting. I don't remember a single successful Star Wars political novel. As the last straw, the book ends on a cliff hanger as GA security comes to arrest Tahiri for her actions in Revelation. How long has it been? Considering it was war, and Pellaeon was killed while resisting the official GA government, I don't see how they have a case against her. I hope she kills them all and becomes a rogue Jedi (on the light side)!

The writing kept things interesting during the middle of the book, but I had trouble getting through the first 50 pages, and then lost interest again near the end -and it was such a short book! I found it strange that as various characters were introduced, they were described by what they didn't do, rather than what they did, such as not fidgeting, and not getting disturbed by something. I hope characters like Daala's assistant Wynn Dorvan reappear, though I don't know what use he really is at this point.

There is also another mission for Jaina and Jag, but it is like so many other things in this book -the author doesn't care enough to tell us about the mission. It is simply used to frustrate an annoying journalist instead, after which we don't hear anything about it. This same journalist somehow discovers that Seff Hellin is being held in the Jedi Temple, which sparks another outrage from the Chief of State. Who leaked that video? And when Daala says she had the discussion of judge, jury and executioner with Luke, this is a totally different thing -this one is a Jedi, not a criminal that Jedi were hunting.

Finally, Jag asks Jaina to marry him. They'll have to figure out how to do this, as they live in different empires!

So not a very promising second book in the series, and I can only hope it gets better. At least with Troy Denning, we should see some action.


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