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A novel by Roger MacBride-Allen (1995, Bantam Spectra)
Book 3 of the Corellian Trilogy
18 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Han and Leia's children are captured by the enemy as they discover how to activate a planetary repulsor, as Luke and the Barukans learn about the true enemy and Centerpoint Station.



3 stars+

Read October 19th to 26th, 2009  
    I remember this book as being the one where the children did things that couldn't possibly be within their skill level, no matter how powerful they were in the Force. Now, although I think events do strain credibility, they are written in a manner that makes the events quite credible.

The book is very well written. We've lost most of the casual immature speech of the narration (and some characters), and also the long summaries that drag the story to a halt.

On the other hand, we get several long, drawn-out sequences that have no real redeeming value to the story. The first one comes at the very beginning of the book. It takes a very long time (I'm talking about pages) for Han to crash-land the Selonian ship on Selonia. The idea was for Han, Dracmus and the forgettable Selonian pilot to land the ship safely because the rebel hive doesn't have all that many of them. But they know they'll be attacked as soon as they approach the planet, so Mara and Leia take up a defensive position behind the ship, and Han has a trick up his sleeve, all of which they need to use. Except that the attack on their ship succeeds, anyway, and Han is lucky to get out of there alive, as the ship is completely destroyed. It didn't show off much Selonian culture, except to exemplify how Selonians don't really belong in space.

Leia and Mara join Han after they land, and they are set up in a villa held by the rebels, except that the rebels concede to the Overden that they must rejoin the fold, because the Overden has control of the Selonian repulsor. Han, Leia and Mara then become prisoners. But later, Han forces Dracmus' hand, and the Overden admits that it doesn't have control of the repulsor -instead, a disgraced clan loyal to the Saccorian Triad has control. Negotiations with the disgraced clan for control take a long time, because the Selonian way is to never allow anybody to lose face. I did love the solution to their problem, though, which was quite hilarious. Mara suggests bribing the clan for control. The clan refuses, but does agree to sell an instruction manual, which they send to Drall to be used with that repulsor.

Luke, meanwhile, gets to go onto Centerpoint Station with Gaeriel Captison, Lando and the two droids. There they meet the caretaker Jenica Sonsen (who was a little strange, and talked in bureaucratic manner that C3PO had to translate!), who had no idea what is going on, except that the station was evacuated after thousands of people died in the power-up of the "glowpoint" in the central sphere as (they later discover) it fired the starburster weapon. She takes Luke and the others to what was left of the town, and coincidentally (!), R2D2 notices the glowpoint is starting to grow again. I remember spending a lot more time in the burned town, but I guess that's just false memory working! I think Lando is out of character getting upset at C3PO all the time the way he does. I don't think he actually dislikes droids, he just sort of ignores them. Thankfully the droids were there, though, as they manage to escape just in time. The entry door for the train gets stuck (why wasn't it stuck when they entered the dome?), so they have to leave the train, into the poisonous, and very hot air to get to the airlock. Luke has to use all his Jedi senses (which aren't really much in this novel) to get them out of there.

That's really all Luke gets to do in this book. There is very little Jedi work. He is just a regular pilot in some instances, and no lightsaber fights at all. I don't understand why he is always arriving in his flight suit instead of his Jedi robes, but I do appreciate the thoughts he has on being responsible for all life, now that he is a Jedi Master -so he can't kill pilots who are just doing their job, if he can help it; he disables as many as he can, instead.

It is Lando who discovers that the station is the starburster. Suddenly he has become a math and computer wizard. He realizes that any one of the planetary repulsors will be able to block the centerpoint weapon, but that they could also magnify its power, so they must control the repulsors, if they can't find the control panel. I wonder at how easily the Galactic Alliance destroyed the station in Fury after the way it is described here. The size of the Death Star, it also has a fatal weakness, apparently, somewhere in its reactor core. At this point, they have a countdown for obtaining and activating a repulsor, and both are in enemy hands.

While the Selonian repulsor is held up by negotiations, the Drall one is assaulted in the night by Thrackan Sal-Solo. This is because Anakin, being a typical seven-year-old boy, can't resist the pull of the Force to touch things he shouldn't. Thankfully he did, though, otherwise they wouldn't have had another repulsor to activate. The pulse Anakin activates attracts one of the Bakuran ships, and Sal-Solo to Drall. Sal-Solo gets there first, and takes Chewbacca, Jacen, Jaina, Ebrihim and his aunt Marcha captive. They manage to hide Q9 in the smuggling compartment so he can help them escape later.

As Sal-Solo gloats over his prizes, making a hologram to Leia, an implicit threat to get her to do what he wants, Anakin watches how the shield generator holding them captive works. As Ebrihim says, Leia loses either way, now: either she capitulates to terrorists, or she is seen as turning her back on her children. I'm amazed at how similar this plot is to what the authors later prescribed for the Legacy of the Jedi series. In Betrayal, Corellia threatens to break away from the Galactic Alliance, and try to activate Centerpoint Station as a blackmail super-weapon. They actually succeed in breaking away, and the Galactic Alliance is split into civil war. That's what almost happens here.

When all the Human League guards are asleep (which the author makes somewhat plausible by commenting on their thug and irresponsible status), they call for Q9. Q9 is not able to get them out of the force-field, but he weakens it to the point where Anakin uses the Force to pass through it, followed by Jacen and Jaina, though it is harder for each next child to get out. They then complete repairs on the Millennium Falcon (through the comlink with Chewie) and actually fly off in it! First, though, Jaina takes pot-shots at the force-field generator (and succeeds), and at Thrackan Sal-Solo's ship (and somehow fails to hit the much larger target), slightly damaging it.

They fly off, in one of those scenes that is actually believable, even as the reader thinks how unlikely it is, with Sal-Solo in pursuit. Jaina destroys the large gun on their ship, just before both of them are taken in by the Bakuran tractor beams. Sal-Solo spends the rest of the book in the brig. I don't know how he survived being shot for what he did, but he gets free in the Yuuzhan Vong war, and then plans the second Corellian revolt in Betrayal. I wonder how he did that, as the ship he was on actually got destroyed in the ensuing battle... Why did Captison have to die (except to give Luke grief that he doesn't actually display) and the Admiral, but somehow Thrackan survives? Her daughter Malinza is now orphaned, who will reappear (though wasted) in Refugee of the New Jedi Order.

Tendra, Lando's future wife, spends some time here actually speaking with Lando, through his archaic radio signal device. She is able to warn the Bakurans that the Saccorians have a large fleet getting ready to launch. When Sal-Solo removes the communications jamming, the Triad removes the interdiction field, allowing both them and Tendra to jump into the system. Lando gets to rescue a damsel in distress!

The Saccorians spend a long time getting to Centerpoint, apparently synchronizing their arrival with the next starburst from the station. This gives Admiral Ossilege's team time to try and figure out the Drall repulsor, using both Anakin's help and the Selonian manual. In order to delay the fleet even more, the Bakurans make a short hyperspace jump into its midst and fly through it front to back, destroying a large number of ships, and making a bunch of others turn around to give chase. When Ossilege's ship is destroyed, it takes out a lot more. Admiral Ackbar arrives at the end of it all, to mop up.

At the same time, Anakin fires the Drall repulsor at Centerpoint, which stops the starburst from getting through hyperspace.

The epilog was a little strange. There was no mourning at all, but lots of laughter. I suppose after all this time, it's good for them to laugh, but considering how many people have died, people should be mourning a little more, and Luke should be wondering about his promise to Gaeriel Captison's daughter. Centerpoint will only be used a couple more times after this, once in a disastrous move against the Yuuzhan Vong, and the other in an unsuccessful attempt at killing Darth Caedus, before it is destroyed.

The trilogy is a lot of fun, with a lot of good character development, a potentially galaxy-changing event that is eliminated at the last minute, and a lot more. Somehow, it was more interesting than any of the Legacy of the Jedi novels. I do wish the Star Wars planners would return to this kind of storytelling.



3 stars

Read October 1st to 8th, 1995  
    Review not yet available.  

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