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A novel by Karen Traviss (2007, Del Rey)
Book 5 in The Legacy of the Force
37 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

While Ben is sent on a controversial mission, Mara searches for Lumiya, and Jacen plots to overthrow the elected chief of state.




Read October 6th to 13th, 2008.  
    I can't believe they killed off my favorite character in the expanded universe. I hope it was worth it.

This book started off rather uneven, but picked up its pace throughout, and by the end, was a really solid story, well written, and well characterized. There were really two stories intertwined, and they stayed pretty separate throughout.

As this is a Karen Traviss book, we slide away from Wedge of the Allston books, toward Boba Fett and the Mandalorians. For much of this book, unlike in Bloodlines, this was my favorite part. Could it have happened without what occurred in Bloodlines? Perhaps, and I think so. Boba Fett is learning how to slow down in his life. Mandalorians are a culture of fighters, but these days, they prefer to stay at home on Mandalore and repair their homeworld, which was poisoned by the Yuuzhan Vong. Boba is trying hard to learn how to be a leader, as informal as that is among his culture, and benefiting the planet as much as possible.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Boba Fett story without a hunt and chase. He is still looking for the old clone his grand-daughter mentioned to him in Bloodlines, a clone who should have died a long time ago. Because Boba Fett has an aging disease, due to his clone nature. He hangs a crime boss over a balcony to get some information, and he and Mirta have to escape using their rocket packs. On the way back to Slave I, however, they are ambushed, but get help from... the clone trooper Skirata, who obviously took his name from the teacher on Kamino who showed up in Triple Zero. All of these guys are arrogant, belligerent, and try too hard to appear tough, even if they are. I couldn't stand the Nulls in Triple Zero, and I couldn't stand Jaing here, for the little we saw him. But he did take a blood sample from Boba, and later in the book, provided him with a cure to his disease.

The other plot from Mandalore involves some new Mandalorian steel that shows up, inevitably because the Yuuzhan Vong slammed the surface of the planet so much that a new vein was neatly excavated for them. They begin designing starfighters with the metal, and even scare the nearby Verpine into negotiating a non-aggression pact. That scared a lot of planets, including the Galactic Alliance military, because of the Verpine technological leads, which would be combined with Mandalorian might. One planet feels the heat of that combination, but we don't get to see it. Maybe next book, or maybe the next Traviss book. Regardless, it was all very nicely characterized, in terms of society and characters. I wonder if it is going to be a relevant plot point in the rest of the series, or if it will remain independent like the Alderaanian ship in The Black Fleet Crisis.

Meanwhile, the story from the Galactic Alliance perspective deals mainly with the character on the cover, Mara Jade Skywalker, and her son Ben. Mara insists on hunting Lumiya, who she and Luke still believe is trying to kill Ben because Ben killed her daughter, based on planted evidence in Exile. Lumiya gains possession of the ship Ben got on Ziost, which allowed her to beat Mara in their first encounter, even though Mara put her lightsaber through Lumiya's chest -her metal chest.

Ben, meanwhile, goes through what he thinks is the worst moment of his life, as he accepts a mission to assassinate the chief of state of Corellia, Dur Geijen. He trains for it, and follows the man to his meeting with Cal Omas. As the meeting ends, he takes up position and fires the shot, killing the man. Afterwards, the area is in chaos and closed down by security (how did the security man know so quickly that they were looking for a projectile weapon? He came from the other direction, so might have assumed it was a knife or dart or something.) Ben then watches in horror as his GAG colleague and friend, Lekauf, takes the weapon from him and blows himself up in their Corellian craft, thus leading the forensics experts to believe it was a Corellian plot.

The aftermath of this was the really well-written part, as Ben tries to come to grips with what he has done, and the effects of that, meaning not politics, but the death of his friend. He sulks and goes to stay at another friend's house, and wonders again if Jacen sent him on that mission with other intentions. He meets with Mara, who knows something is wrong, but he won't tell her, by his oath of secrecy. But when he overhears Jacen talking to Lumiya about his overthrow of the Chief of State, and how he erased Ben's memory back in Betrayal, Ben panics. There is great setup to this moment, as Ben learns how to hide from the Force, and we learn that Jacen relies on sensing people approaching his open doors (good for morale to have open doors all the time) through the Force. So it is not cliché that Jacen doesn't sense Ben approaching him to have a chat, and overhearing stuff Jacen shouldn't be saying out loud.

So when Ben goes to talk to his mother, she behaves incredibly. She cannot blame her son for doing what she did for a living as the Emperor's Hand. However, she seethes when she hears how far Jacen has betrayed them. She confronts him, giving him one last chance. Then, as he goes to Hapes to see Tenel Ka and Alannah one last time before becoming Sith Lord, Mara waits to ambush him. Lumiya also follows Jacen, to figure out his last remaining secret. And Ben follows Lumiya, thinking if he can get rid of her, he can save Jacen.

The climax is probably the best so far in this series, as the space battle between Jacen, Mara, Ben and Lumiya drives them all to ground. Ben and Lumiya reach an unseen stalemate somewhere, as Lumiya wants to kill him, but doesn't want to harm Ben, while Mara sets a trap for Jacen. Obviously, because there are four more books in this series, Jacan can't die, but I found myself wondering how Mara would escape -possibly pulling an Revenge of the Sith style Obi-Wan Kenobi, leaving Jacen to die while Lumiya rescues him as Palpatine did Anakin. But no, in a moment that shocked me nearly as much as Anakin Solo's death in Star By Star, Mara is killed. She fought well, and several times she had killed Jacen, as far as I'm concerned. I hate it when character's Force skills become the whim of the author, and this case is no different. Jacen has so much damage that he should barely be able to move. Yet after pulling one last trick and creating an image of Ben's face over the body Mara is about to kill, she hesitates, and he stabs her with a poison dart. Instead of finishing the job, as Mara normally would, she withdraws and begins to die. Jacen then stands up as if nothing is wrong, no tendons ripped, no bloody scalp, and so on, to try and explain why he thinks he has to become a Sith Lord. While it took Zekk and Lumiya the entire novel Exile to heal their wounds, Jacen is up and running around a Star Destroyer after a day. That seems unlikely, no matter how powerful he is.

Ben, meanwhile, shows up at his mother's side after everybody has left, and examines the scene as a GAG officer would, not touching the crime scene. Does he figure it out? He must know that it was Jacen. How could he not? I'll be very disappointed if it takes another three books for he and Luke to figure it out. He knows Lumiya was working with Jacen, and they know Lumiya took the blame for killing Mara, even though Ben tells Luke he had grounded Lumiya at the time. Did Ben take blood from the scene? Surely Jacen's was everywhere, along with Mara's. The author decides to have Mara not take spirit form, because she was sending Luke and Ben a message. But wouldn't it have been easier to deliver the message in spirit form? They imply that they know how to perform that trick, but maybe Luke and Mara aren't sure it will work. None of the Jedi killed in the Expanded Universe have ever become Force-spirits.

Luke vows vengeance, and confronts Lumiya again, this time decapitating her in a short but satisfying scene.

Throughout the book, Jacen has been worrying about having to kill Ben, when he decided at the end of Exile that he would have no trouble killing his parents as the sacrifice. When Ben arrives with the red ship, Jacen wonders where he could have gotten it, and thinks Ziost. Then why is he so surprised that Ben came from Ziost a few pages later when Ben mentions it?

Jacen has also been playing "mundane" political games, learning about the system he will one day run. He obtains a legal droid who explains all about laws, and decides to propose a change to a law regarding procurement of supplies for the navy. But he phrases it in such a way that he could use it to change any law in the Galactic Alliance, as long as it is "within budget". He uses that to allow GAG to detain politicians and heads of state who present a threat. And after Omas meets with Geijen, he becomes a "threat" according to Jacen, and is removed. That leaves Admiral Niathal and Jacen as joint heads of state.

It would be nice to think that the Jedi Council could become overlords of the Galactic Alliance, deciding what is right and wrong, but it is right that the author paralyses them, because nobody knows where they fit within the laws. They are watching helplessly as the Galactic Alliance is overthrown. Luke will be too wrapped up in vengeance, now, to lead them, so I wonder where Corran Horn will take the Jedi. Probably nowhere.

I also wonder about the ultimatum that Luke gave to all the Jedi in The Swarm War, which removed people like Tenel Ka from the Jedi Order. Couldn't they use that excuse to remove Jacen from the Jedi, as his responsibilities to the GAG have become more important to him. No matter if he is dark or light, he should not be part of the Jedi.

So I can only hope that Mara's death was worth it. Jacen is right in thinking that Luke's wrath will be painful. But has he considered that Ben and Jaina and his own parents and the rest of the Jedi might come after him, too? Only the rest of the series will tell...


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