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A novel by Barbara Hambly (1997, Bantam Spectra)
13 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Leia is kidnapped, and Luke hunts for Callista on a planet that is about to release a plague on the galaxy.




Read September 22nd to October 1st, 1997  
    I didn't really enjoy this book.  And that's too bad, because I was really anticipating it.  It was definitely not as exciting, and not as intense as Children of the Jedi.  I also hate it when characters do a runaround for nothing.  Not much actually happened in this book.  It's strange that Luke and Leia always get drawn to the SAME planet, where something bad is going to happen.  This droch thing was very strange, and I'm not sure I like it.  The living stones was more magic, which I still think is out of place in Star Wars, except in sentient use of the Force.

The Planet of Twilight is Nam Chorios, and it contains two forms of sentient life: drochs, tiny insects that are absorbed by the body, and crystals, which seem to be one with the Force.  The majority of human inhabitants on this planet control the giant turbolasers that shoot down any starship larger than a B-Wing.  The minority of people, all new colonists, want freighters to be able to land, and to live normal, high technology lives.  But they don't control the guns.

Leia is secretly meeting with the leader of the minority group, hearing their pleas for help.  They invisibly kill everybody on her two cruisers, and take her hostage, making it look like she's just having cruiser delays.  She is brought to Nam Chorios and drugged, but fights the drug and learns that an old Hutt Jedi lives here, that the new colonists will soon overwhelm the gun stations, and that the Death Seed plague will be released into the galaxy (again, as it had happened once before, centuries ago).

Luke tagged along on Leia's mission because a warning had come from Callista, the love of his life, to avoid the mission at all costs.  He crash lands on Nam Chorios, shot down by the gun station (for some reason he was flying a B-Wing), but survives.  He discovers that using the Force on this planet leads to giant sandstorms.  This is why Callista had come here, seeking the Force.  He travels the sparsely populated town searching for her, but comes up empty.  He senses Leia, and arrives at her place of captivity, but she has already escaped.

Han, Chewie and Lando go out in search of Leia, find that the Death Seed is spreading through the sector, and are attacked by ships so small that they don't even show up on sensors.  They make their way to Nam Chorios as a small Imperial remnant fleet shows up to claim the Death Seed for distribution.

R2D2 and C3PO were on Leia's ship, escaped, and make their way from port to port, getting into all sorts of trouble, but never able to get a message through to Coruscant that Leia was kidnapped.  A complete waste of time, as far as I'm concerned.  They end up in Admiral Daala's hands, and she explains that she wants nothing more to do with Imperial remnants.  She and her fleet are looking for a planet to colonize.  She discovers the Imperial plans with the Death Seed, though, and decides she has to fight them.

The battle over Nam Chorios seems to be short, and thanks to Daala, it is won.  The head Droch is destroyed, and the Death Seed can be destroyed.  It turns out that the Drochs were the Death seed, and that the head Droch could control anyone with Drochs absorbed into their system.  That is how they incapacitated Leia's ships.  But the crystal beings could destroy Drochs using ordinary sunlight.  That is why they couldn't let large ships leave the planet: they had shielding that could allow Drochs to leave alive.  The tiny ships that attacked Han were powered by these crystals.  The crystals agree to destroy all Drochs if all crystals are returned to Nam Chorios.  But they barely get their message across to Luke in time.  For drama's sake, I guess. 

In the end, all the bad guys are killed, Daala gets a planet to colonize, and, presumably, diplomatic forgiveness, Callista goes her own way without talking to Luke, but spending a lot of time with Leia, and the galaxy is saved.  Leia even begins a journey of acceptance that she is the daughter of Darth Vader.

The author tries to tie up too many loose ends at the end, I think, and ends up confusing everything.  Daala is a great example.  She should be tried and executed, not given a planet, though I suppose she is being exiled, because she can't really use much technology. 

And nothing is 100% perfect.  All the Drochs would have to be found to kill them.  The plague had spread over half the sector.  Once they find a planet, they will multiply like crazy.  And to get every single crystal would take forever.  People will hide the ones that they have.

Not a terrible outing in the Star Wars saga, but not even close to the top, either.


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