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An e-book novella by Troy Denning (2001, Del Rey)
Included with the Star by Star softcover
A New Jedi Order Story
26 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Han ferries a severely injured Leia home after the loss of the planet Duro, together with some unexpected Jedi stowaways.



Read on March 14th, 2005  
    Definitely worth the read, especially for the very tender moment when Han and Leia finally bridge the gap between them.

Having already finished reading the New Jedi Order novels, it was a little jarring to pick up this story, set so far back in the series. I had to remember not only what had happened before, but when it had happened. The cool thing about doing it this way is that I could see some of the setup for Star By Star. It took me a long time to pick up a paperback version of this novel, which is what caused the delay.

While two books occur between Balance Point and Star By Star, the events in this e-book don't really affect them, because the main characters (Luke, Han and Leia) don't enter into much of those stories.

Han and Leia start the book on Corellia, which means that we get an update on the situation there, after Anakin and Jacen used Centerpoint station to destroy a Yuuzhan Vong and Hapan fleets back in Hero's Trial. Thrackan Sal-Solo is now the leader of that system, and very much resents the Solos being there, even though Leia had legs like mush from the events on Duro. Han had anticipated a Peace Brigade attack ever since they arrived, and when it finally did happen, he killed three of them, and saved a mysterious woman in a bacta tank, who happens to also be a Jedi Master.

Being allowed to escape from Corellia, into an ambush, Han picked up several Jedi stowaways, who happen to be Tesar Sabatyne and his hatchmates, who would become some of my favorite Jedi in Star By Star and later novels. They manage to fight off a band of pirates and set a trap for the corporation from Balance Point that was taking supplies from the refugees. These people are actually working for Viqi Shesh, but they can't incriminate her, because she is still very slippery.

Heading back to Coruscant, they escape a trap Viqi set for them, and lead a chase around some of the taller city buildings, reminiscent of the chase from Attack of the Clones. Leia sets up an investigating committee around Shesh, who doesn't show up because she is so convinced that Leia was killed, thus tarnishing her support for a law that would outlaw Jedi.

The best part of this novella occurs when the author allows a tender moment when Leia and Han, who are hiding at an abandoned spa on an abandoned world, where Leia is recovering. They are also searching for a connection between the corrupt company and Viqi Shesh. Leia is in depression, which is remarkable to be able to see, given the length of this book. When she won't do more laps around the pool, it is clear that the leg braces are not the only things she is upset at. Han finally apologizes for tearing their family apart when he was mourning Chewbacca, romping around the galaxy. Leia apologizes for leaving their family behind in the years when she was working so hard keeping the New Republic together. When they finally hug, it is in a very passionate manner. Han backs up so that she has to work hard to get her part in it. It's unfortunate that C3PO has to ruin the moment, in a scene reminiscent of the one in The Empire Strikes Back. I suppose if he hadn't, we would have had a Star War sex scene, which seems to be not allowed anyway.

Incidentally, I read this at a time when I am re-reading the Grand Admiral Thrawn trilogy, the one that re-started the Star Wars franchise, so that I was getting extreme whiplash between time periods. So much has happened between these two series. To see Chewbacca alive again, but to mourn him in this story, for example... This book also shows how far the writers have come, for the writing and plotting in this book are far tighter than in the old trilogy, and I felt more excitement here than in most of the linear story from those three books. Not to say that this is better, just that the writers (some of them, anyway) have matured.

This was quite enjoyable, and a good prelude to what I consider to be the best of the New Jedi order books.


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