||I was completely surprised by this book. Does it seem
better than it actually is because I had lower expectations? Perhaps.
The writing was good, and the characters behaved in completely
reasonable ways. My only real concern is that most of the events in this
book will be irrelevant to the rest of the overall story.
The first eighty pages were actually terrific. They
started explosively with Valin Horn going mad, thinking everybody was an
imposter. He is captured, but escapes from the medical facility in the
Jedi Temple, and leads everybody on a frantic chase around Coruscant. I
like the way the Jedi worked toward a common goal, and even though they
were foiled until the end, nobody did anything stupid or wrong, and the
way Valin outsmarted them had little to do with suspending the disbelief
of the reader. Very well done.
I did have my doubts about the way the novel was going
to play out when the Jedi were encircled in the Senate plaza, and Luke
was arrested in handcuffs, of all things. The whole event was over the
top, and didn't need to be. At the end of Millennium Falcon, Luke
indicated that he knew this was going to happen, so he doesn't resist. Only
the presence of the bounty hunters among the Galactic Alliance Guard
surprised him. He spends the night alone in prison, and released by a
judge the next morning, pending trial.
What I really liked was Luke's meeting the Chief of
State Daala. I still think she is a ridiculous choice for the role, and
also for the way she was put in that place in
Invincible. I also don't believe for an
instant that everybody decided to come back together peacefully after
Jacen was killed. So it's nice to see that the separatist Confederation
of Corellia and others are being invited back, at a public conference.
The Hapans will be invited back at a later time, as they felt
diplomatically slighted at this one. Luke goes to see Daala
at the urging of the Force. There, he is completely surprised to realize
what everybody else already knew (including long-time readers): the Jedi feel that they are above the
law. In a democratic society, the Jedi should bring people to the
justice system, not task themselves with deciding justice, either by
slicing off an arm or killing people outright. The Jedi in Yoda's time
were arrogant and used the Force to get whatever they wanted, with no
thought as to anybody else's feelings or needs. Luke's Jedi do the
same thing, though they are a lot less arrogant.
So Luke pleads guilty to the charges of dereliction of
duty when Jacen turned to the Dark Side, which I agree with (and
probably said in several reviews of the Legacy of the Jedi series), and
he is exiled from Coruscant and the Jedi Order for ten years, unless he
can refute his charges with hard evidence. So he and Ben will try to
retrace Jacen's steps, to a certain extent. Cilghal identifies an old
piece of a recording that corroborates Jacen and Valin's ability to
blank brain sensors with a similar technique exercised by Plo Koon of
the old Jedi Order. So they go to his homeworld of Dorin in Mara's old
ship. There, Luke practices some techniques, while Ben practices combat
with the Baran Do sages, who have something of a Force sensitivity.
When Luke asks about Jacen, they are told that the one
who trained Jacen has passed on, but death means something different to
these people, as Luke senses that they are lying. So he gets to play
Captain Kirk, which means he follows the newly "dead" sage, and tells
them that they are wrong in the way they are living, cut off from the
galaxy and hiding in case of a new Jedi purge, exposing their lies so
they are forced to live the way he thinks they should live. Ben, in a great scene,
detonates all the explosives meant to be used in the case of a purge,
forcing these people reveal the existence of another exit. Not much
actually goes on in this plot, but the character moments between Luke,
Ben and the natives were great. I like the way Ben is written as a real
teen, impatient but with bursts of maturity (after Luke asks him what
the first thing he learned at the Jedi Temple was, he says, "patience,
and girls are fun but dangerous...", which I think is hilarious).
So Ben and Luke awaken the "dead" Baran Do sages, but
do not force their current leader to state why she was afraid of some unknown
thing regarding Jacen. It seems unintentionally unresolved, but perhaps
has to do with the Force nexus that Jacen was trying to find. Hopefully
this won't be dropped in the next book.
Conveniently, when the Jedi get government observers
to follow them around, Lando calls Han and Leia and they skip off
Coruscant with Allana to join him on Kessel, where his mining operation
is in danger due to groundquakes. I don't know why Lando would panic
like that and somehow think a Jedi could solve the issue. This was the
only instance where things seemed a little too convenient for the plot
to progress -it seemed like manipulation by the author. Regardless,
Leia's Jedi powers actually do propose a solution. She and Han go out
into the caves, where Han faces his fears from back in
Jedi Search, when
he was imprisoned in the Kessel mines and met up with an energy spider.
I don't recall if the bogeys existed in that story or not, but here they
are the key to the mystery. Through several groundquakes that collapse
various tunnels onto their speeder, Han and Leia visit huge
previously-unknown caverns where life abounds, and the bogeys seem to
originate. They apparently are energy packets that Leia can communicate
with through the Force, ancient remnants of a huge recording system, perhaps learning something about the Maw black holes, maybe made by the
same people as Centerpoint Station. Whatever they are, they have
completed their task, and they are detonating their caverns, which will
destroy Kessel in the process. Never mind that nobody has come to
collect the data.
Han, Leia and Lando come up with a plan, deciding that
if the caverns can be pre-detonated in a random order, instead of along
the fault lines where they can magnify each other, they can save Kessel.
I was wondering, before this, where Wedge was. He is the author's
favorite character, so I fully expected a large part of the story to be
dedicated to this man, but he only really makes a cameo. He and most of
the original Rogue Squadron show up, as well as many other retired
pilots who owe Lando, and they go around detonating the caverns, and it
works. By the end, an energy spider is beating on the canopy to the
Falcon, but Han laughs it off, knocking the spider loose and letting it
go back to the surface and its caves unharmed. He has finally faced his
As I've already said, I'm afraid that these two
stories will have nothing to do with the overall Fate of the Jedi arc.
Thinking further about that, I don't feel that everything taking place
in every book needs to advance the overall arc, but it would be nice if
they were tangentially related to each other and to the whole thing,
unlike, say, the mystery ship in The Black
We'll see. We know that having Luke and Ben follow Jacen's path will
maintain some story arc, and I'm sure the voice to Allana from the crypt
coming from the garrison moon of Kessel will allow that planet to remain
part of the arc, but how much remains to be seen.
What really seems to matter to the overall arc is the
way the Jedi are being treated by the government. First, they get
observers, which will likely interfere with their efficiency. Next, they
are threatened by implant tracers, but it doesn't get that far, as the
observer law is struck down by the courts at the end of the book. We get
most of this story from Jaina's point of view. As the Jedi try to cope
with Luke's dismissal, they get one break from the courts, while dealt
another blow at the same time. Valin is taken by the government and
placed in carbonite storage until they figure they can safely treat him,
and we really wonder if they plan to treat him at all. The insane Jedi
Seff, whom Han and Leia saw in Millennium Falcon, and whom Allana said
felt like Jacen to her, tries to free Valin, seeing him as the only
non-imposter out of all the Jedi.
Jaina, Jag, Tahiri, Winter and Mirax, among others,
try to capture Seff, and manage to do it, using all the techniques that
have been developed over the last books, including Jag's Mandalorian
crushgaunts, which can stop a lightsaber. After another high-speed
chase, they escape the government vehicles and secret the Jedi into the
Temple, where he can be observed.
We really get a sense of how the crackdown on the Jedi
is progressing, and we can actually believe this might be the start of
The author, Aaron Allston, is known for his humor, and
I've often felt that he's failed at it throughout most of his books. But
here, I laughed a lot, as I found much of the humor to be appropriate,
and very funny. Ben Skywalker had a lot of dry humorous lines, as did
Jag, who is not normally known for his humor. Speaking of Jag, I'm glad
his and Jaina's relationship has grown serious, enough that they can pretend he is
in her bed at one point and it is believed. I hope, at this point (since
Jaina is in her thirties), that these two have slept together. Even
though Jag was on Coruscant because the Empire was being invited to join
the Galactic Alliance, he spent most of the tale doing stuff with Jaina.
I liked the way he kept having to correct her when she said Imperial
Remnant, reminding her that his realm was still called the Empire from
The story was really well written, and it was
entertaining. As the first book in another nine book series, it did a
commendable job. Even if the Doran and Kessel stories may not related to
the overall arc, they were mostly enjoyable. The character work made up
for any lack of cohesion between the three stories, though I still hold
out some hope that they have something to do with whatever comes next.