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A novel by Troy Denning (2005, Del Rey)
Book 3 in the Dark Nest Trilogy
30 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

The Hive takes an active approach to the war with the Chiss, and begins taking steps to infiltrate the Galactic Alliance, while Luke leads the Jedi against them.




Read May 18th to 30th, 2007  
    It is a telling sign when I have trouble remembering what the story was about only a short time after having finished the book. Very little of it actually interested me, as too much centered again on the Killiks.

The fight on a single planet of the Killiks takes most of the book. Jaina leads millions of bugs against the Chiss, which are trying to deploy a secret weapon. Later, Leia finds out that the weapon is a bug parasite, which would wipe out the Killiks within a year. As with Alpha-red, the biological weapon the Chiss wanted to use against the Yuuzhan Vong, the Jedi cannot condone specicide, so Leia, Jaina and Zek spend a lot of energy trying to destroy the things. I thought the Chiss were smart enough to learn from their mistakes. The prologue shows a bomb that has been misfired. To prevent this, they should have armed them immediately when they were under attack, to allow them to detonate on impact. I also don't see how two proton torpedoes could incinerate an entire ship and its four huge bombs, leaving no trace of the parasites behind.

On the Republic front, again because of Han and Leia, the Jedi thwart a plot of the Killiks to take over the worlds of the insect species of the Galactic Alliance. The Killiks take over the planet that grows bacta, but it is unclear whether that is actually important, except that it creates another bacta shortage.

After struggling with what to do with the Jedi Order, Luke finally takes over as its leader, though he is very reluctant to do so, and gives the Masters every opportunity to unite against this. He develops a plan to destroy the Colony, while keeping the Killiks alive as individual hives.

The battle between Luke and Raynar Thul, then Lomi Plo, was by far the best part of this book. Luke has eliminated all methods that Lomi Plo could use against him, as she used his doubts in The Unseen Queen, and his fear of losing Mara earlier in the book. His battle with Raynar was very enjoyable, and felt perfectly scripted. Then, when Raynar is defeated, Lomi Plo shows up, and he meets her head to head, and then, because he uses the strength of the Light Side, without doubt, he easily defeats her.

Leia gets to do battle with Alema Rar. The two Jedi are just about even in power and strength, but Alema's anger makes her impatient, which allows Leia to defeat her. It is not clear whether or not the Dark Jedi lived, as she was eaten by a jungle monster. If Jacen can survive a lightsaber passing through him (Qui-Gon, of course, died of a similar wound in The Phantom Menace), then Alema might also live.

This author really likes to put the characters in the messiest situations possible. I wonder how he thinks of these things. The space battle, paired with the ground battle, and Luke's fight, all together, were some of the messiest stuff I've seen, but quite enjoyable as a whole, though he goes perhaps into too much detail.

There is also the matter of the material stolen from Revenge of the Sith. Luke is really afraid of how his father might have killed Padmé, but Jacen shows him that he must watch all of R2D2's hidden files. I said in my review of The Unseen Queen that Jacen was well on the road to the Dark Side. Here, Luke and Mara can't even tell that he is lying to them. Also, he didn't see the Dark menace in Anakin's words to Padmé that he would find a way to save her from death, at any cost. He only saw a man trying to save the woman he loved and their baby. Very telling..., and I worry about him.

In all, this book was rather disappointing, in that it didn't deal much with the Galactic Alliance at all. I suppose it is understandable, because the crisis had to be resolved, but I got way more than enough ground battles in the Clone Wars novels, and didn't need more here. It was nice to see Admiral Pellaeon again, but Jag Fel was useless. Saba was mostly in the background, but was amazing in every page she appeared. What we finally get out of this series, though, is Luke reforming the Jedi Council, separating the Jedi from the government, but committing the Jedi to the Galactic Alliance. And Leia gets to build a new lightsaber.


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