||Mostly boring, but there was enough stuff going on
that it was able to keep above the threshold of "complete failure".
There were a lot of things wrong with this novel, and a
lot more that bothered me. Fortunately, the author writes well, and the
characters' introspections were handled really well, so that the book
wasn't boring throughout.
I said way back in Hero's Trial and
Jedi Eclipse that
the original main characters should maybe move aside to make way for the very
interesting younger generation. I take that back, here, because the way
these characters are going, they are written less and less interesting.
There are three main plotlines in this novel,
comprising Jacen's, Ben's, and Jaina's points of view. Don't worry,
there's lots of Boba Fett, as expected. Unfortunately, this Boba Fett
material was even less interesting than most of the stories I've read
about him, with the exception of the Bounty Hunter Wars (shudder). The
author even uses the word barve a few times. Ouch!
Aside from the boring, Fett's story was confusing in
its backstory. Most especially annoying is his apparent reputation as a
Jedi killer. Where did this come from? Sure, Mace Windu killed his
father, and he obsesses way too much about that, making him much less
interesting than even before. In the Old Republic and the Clone Wars, it
looks like Aurra Sing and
Asaaj Ventress are much more likely to claim
the title of Jedi Hunter. As far as I recall, Boba Fett is never even
mentioned as a source of Jedi deaths. He certainly hasn't killed any of
Luke's Jedi, or we would have certainly heard about it somewhere.
I am also worried that this book is setting the stage
for the end of the Jedi. There are many discussions on how the Jedi/Sith
power struggles have resulted in more death than any other wars,
something that was echoed in Darth Bane:
Rule of Two. But now we have
something akin to the Yuuzhan Vong armor, the Mandalorian beskar, which
can stop a lightsaber blade. Didn't we have enough with cortosis, then
the Vong armor?
It seems strange that Jaina is reverted to a teenaged
Padawan here. She's 32 years old, with decades of battle experience. How
can she be so easily overcome by any of the Mandalorians? The author
seems to have forgotten that the Jedi can sense danger even without
knowing the source. Jaina doesn't need to read Fett's mood or movements
in order to know that an attack is coming. And against Bevin, how is she
overwhelmed by the focus and intensity of his attack? Surely that's
nothing compared to dozens of Vong warriors. Jaina is brought to the
battle of Fondor to recapture an Imperial star destroyer, but Tahiri
manages to escape, as the two Jedi never fight. I can't figure out
Fett's ethics, either, as he tells his warriors not to kill Jacen, and
one gets a good shot, holding Jacen by the leg, and shooting him in the
kneecap, then letting him go. He makes an attempt at an explanation
later, but the main point is that Jaina has to do it, and it has to be
in the next book.
The conclusion to Fett's story, unrelated to anything
else in this series (which is annoying in itself), his ex-wife Sintas is
woken from her carbonite sleep, with blindness and memory loss. At least
it wasn't a complete rehash of Han's from
Return of the Jedi. How it is
overcome is predictable once we know that the Mandalorian healer is
actually a Jedi. Jusik from Triple Zero went into hiding when Order 66
was executed, and became a Mandalorian; he's now known as Gotab. The
child of Etain and Darman that I predicted would appear in this series
is Ventu, but his role is very much smaller than I expected, which is
The second plot involves Ben Skywalker. He revisits
the place where Mara died, collecting more evidence. Mara appears to
him, but doesn't talk, like Obi-Wan did at one time. Instead, she
cryptically tugs at her hair, which gives Ben the clue that maybe some
of her hairs ended up in Jacen's x-wing. I still can't figure out how
none of Jacen's blood was spilled in that battle, or how Mara didn't end
up with lightsaber burns. But sure enough, they manage to get a droid
into the cockpit when it is being serviced, and it finds a strand of
Mara's hair, which Ben cross-references with Mara's hairbrush. The
stupid part is that Jacen confesses to his GAG lieutenant that he did
kill Mara, and why his intentions were honorable, and how he has become
a Sith named Darth Caedus, which is recorded and sent to Ben. Under all
other circumstances, a confession is good enough, so why does Ben need
to prove that forensics corroborates what Jacen said? It's a waste of
pages, though to be fair, I liked Ben's points of view the best in this
whole novel. He shows it to his family, including Jaina, Luke, Leia and
The final storyline is Jacen's, with additional points
of view offered by Admiral Niathal and Admiral Pellaeon. Jacen wants to
punish Fondor for seceding, and disable its ability to make warships.
But he doesn't have the strength of ships, so he invites the Empire to
join them. Pellaeon's death is foreshadowed from the beginning, with the
rehearsal of the parade. The author makes a strange statement that the
funeral procession for Imperial heads of state were always carried out
in such a way, with rehearsals every so often. The Empire has only had
two heads of state, not including the interim leaders defending against
the upstart New Republic (who wouldn't have cared, anyway): Palpatine
and Pellaeon. Pellaeon refuses Jacen's offer, but then accepts it when
Tahiri arrives, even though he says he wouldn't be wooed by her. When he
uses the argument about picking up the pieces after this civil war is
over, and acquiring new territory, it feels false and manipulative.
Regardless, it is a way the author uses to get him to Fondor, where he
can refuse an order by Jacen, and therefore be killed by Tahiri.
I can't figure out Tahiri's role in this, either.
There is no motivation for her to become Sith, and I don't see any
potential in her for anything. I said in The Joiner King that I wished
she had stayed with the Yuuzhan Vong, to further potential stories
there. Now, I wish that even more. She is written very weakly,
especially compared to the other characters in this book.
Niathal passes information about Jacen's attack on
Fondor to Luke, who passes it on to Fondor. This makes Jacen's task much
more difficult. It also makes the attack more interesting than it would
have otherwise been. The space battle, especially the Fondorian fleet
hiding among the dockyards (their presences being hidden by Luke's Jedi)
then coming to life, were impressive, compared to the rest of the story. When so much of the Fondor
defenses have been destroyed (and a large part of the Galactic Alliance
fleets), and Jacen takes down their planetary shield using Force
influence on a massive scale (which I think is another dangerous tool),
Niathal asks for a surrender, which she gets. But Jacen refuses, wanting
to teach the galaxy a lesson (didn't he teach them the lesson at
That's when Pellaeon's hidden support fleet comes in,
from an old friend, Admiral Daala! When did we last see Daala? In
Darksaber, when she gassed all the in-fighting Moffs? Has she shown up
since then? I don't have fond memories of her, and when we get to her
part in the story, the author reminds us of how anti-alien and
anti-woman the Empire was, and still is. I find that hard to believe, as
none of the Moffs were in charge when Palpatine was alive (Daala killed
the last ones that were back in Darksaber). Pellaeon seems to be more
open-minded. So why is the Empire still modeled after Palpatine's
Daala has managed to salvage a lot of the research
taken from the Maw Installation, of Jedi Search. This is another
dangerous door opened, as how are we going to revert back to the
old-style wars, when Daala has so many ships with weapons that can
phase-shift matter right through their shields? I hope the technology
ends up being forgotten by other authors, as it gets us too far out of
the Star Wars galaxy. Daala gets a first name here (at least I think
it's the first time we've seen her name): Natasi.
Daala hires Boba Fett and his Mandalorians, which
gives Jaina the chance to almost-confront Jacen.
As I've said more than once in this series, did we
need to go through all of this stuff to get to where we are at the end
of the book? Luke and the others now know Jacen killed Mara (they knew
this, or at least should have figured it out two books ago), Jaina now
thinks she has to become somebody else to defeat her brother (a
Mandalorian, perhaps? Otherwise, I don't know. She's become somebody
else without their help before, as in Dark Journey), and Jacen now has
control of Coruscant, while Niathal has set up a government in exile on
Fondor, of all places.
The characters in this book were well written, as usual from this author
(aside from her apparent new obsession with making analogies to Naboo at
least five times). I think the main problem is that I don't want to go
where this book is leading me. I am frustrated by the series, which
presents Luke as worse than useless, and everybody else not much better.
Luke has the chance to pull the trigger on Jacen at Fondor, but lets him
go- again! I am tired of the Luke who tries to redeem everybody.
Speaking of which,
where did they put Raynar when they moved to Endor, then another location
near Hapes? There is no mention of him anymore.
I think this series could have easily been a trilogy,
and cover the same ground. This book is mostly useless, but it does
(slowly) move the plot forward a little, and portrays the characters
(except Tahiri -is she trying to be a spy?) very well, especially when
we get into their heads.