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A novel by Michael P. Kube-McDowell (1997, Bantam Spectra)
Book 3 of The Black Fleet Crisis
16 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

The crisis with the Yevetha gets worse after Han is captured. Luke approaches the cluster searching for the White Current, and the ship Lando is stranded on takes goes into battle.



Read April 9th to 23rd, 2016, in a Trilogy Hardcover  
    I really liked the section that dealt with Leia and the crisis in the Koornacht cluster, while Luke and Lando’s sections were still weak. However, the writing style really brought the whole story up to a level where the author made me interested despite myself.

Spoiler review:

This is my second time reading this story, and I only recalled bits and pieces, such as the White Current somehow defeating the Yevetha, and the Tjeklon Vagabond story having nothing to do with the main one. But this story is so much more than that, and it’s written so well that although it is disappointing in many ways, it’s just fun to read about, regardless.

Chewbacca finally returns in this book, and brings his son with him, as well as a couple of nephews and others. Chewie’s disappointment with his son is understandable, and his absence from his son’s life has a lot to do with that. When they leave Kashyyyk, Chewie is no-nonsense, especially as he deals with the black-market dealers. I really liked this Chewbacca. His rescue of Han is efficient and leaves no doubt as to his intentions. He is not rocked by uncertainty, even after one of the wookies is killed. His son comes to relieve the wookie, and they continue. Even the Yevetha seem to be afraid of him! Chewie’s anger with Luke is also genuine and understandable. Luke defense, that he didn’t know, is actually quite lame, as he keeps going off on these inner journeys that don’t yield any information about himself or his path. It’s only when Mara comes into his life that he actually comes into focus. By the end of the book, Lumpy has completed his warrior journey, and takes on a new name, Waroo (short for Lumpawaroo).

Speaking of Luke, I hadn’t recalled how prevalent his mind-rubbing was. I thought Jacen Solo was the expert on that, and also thought that the authors of the Legacy of the Force series had really dropped the ball there. But at least during that series, the implications of the mind-rub were discussed, whereas here, Luke just uses it as a fact of life, the way he talked about amputated limbs being no big deal in Outcast.

Luke and Akanah make their way to J’p’tan, which is deep inside the newly-acquired Yevethan territory. Luke’s journey isn’t very interesting, except to note that in order to use the White Current and become one of Akanah’s people, Luke would have to become somebody he isn’t. He wouldn’t be Luke if he just wanted to sit around on a planet and do nothing all day. In Yoda’s words, he is reckless, and he always will be.

Luke and the Fallassani help save the New Republic fleets, as one of them agrees that the Yevetha are deadly and if nothing is done, they could bring their violence to the entire galaxy. It’s too bad the Fallassani couldn’t help against the Yuuzhan Vong a little later. There is a small subplot that actually turns the tide, in that the Imperial slaves who had been stationed in the cluster so long ago have been developing slave circuitry for all the Imperial star destroyers the Yevetha have commandeered and have been building. At the sight of the huge New Republic fleet, augmented by the Fallassani illusions, the Imperials decide this is a good time to get out, and they activate their slave circuits, take over the Imperial part of the Yevethan fleet, and head for Byss. One of the Imperials then sends Nil Spaar into hyperspace on a defective ship, so that he will die a slow death and never be able to leave hyperspace. In other words, it’s the Yevetha’s own weakness that solves the New Republic problem. The New Republic fleet manages to destroy all the Yevethan thrustships at great cost.

Lando, Lobot and the droids also don’t get much to do, but the battle between the vagabond and the pirates, followed by the attack at the Qella homeworld later, were very exciting to read. Lobot manages to interface with the ship, and perhaps he is the one who lets Luke in at the end, though it’s left rather vague. For Luke arrives on the scene after the battle with the Yevetha, and uses his new White Current skills to fool it into thinking he is a known entity, so that he could board. He also brings a team of researchers to examine the artefact of a lost civilization. It turns out that the Vagabond is sort of an ark, with a way to restore the species, or so I understand, once the ice age thaws out. The characters and the mystery of the vagabond itself was very interesting, and a well-developed piece of science by the author. Unfortunately, it would have been more interesting if it had actually been related to the main plot.

I really like admiral Drayson. He seemed to know everything before anybody else, and his intelligence agents are actually intelligent. He even gets in a call to Cindel Towani, the only survivor of the poor Towani family in the Ewok Adventure movies. Apparently she runs a news agency now. It would have been cool to see her again in some story. It’s also too bad that Drayson doesn’t survive into the Yuuzhan Vong war, because he could really have been useful.

Finally, the pilot who escaped from the Koornacht cluster in the first book, and became a special protégé of admiral Ackbar in the last one, gets an anonymous but valuable death here –he commandeers a Captain’s special fighter and gets in the way of a particularly dangerous missile, saving the ship in the process.

This ends the Black Fleet Crisis trilogy, and the old way of telling Star Wars stories. Starting with the Hand of Thrawn duology, the Empire would stop being a real enemy, and storytelling in Luke, Han and Leia’s time period would take on grand story arcs, such as the Yuuzhan Vong war, Legacy of the Force and Fate of the Jedi. I don’t know which is better. At least with small unrelated stories, if something is bad (like The Crystal Star), you can move on. I think the Yuuzhan Vong war was the best, as it carried a large story arc which was brilliant, though many of the individual stories were forgettable. Because by the time we got to the later series, I didn’t like the storylines anymore, so it was much more difficult to enjoy the books, even when they were well written.


3 stars+

Read September 29th to October 2nd, 1998, in paperback  
    I was very impressed that the author didn't fall into any "easy-outs" in the conclusion.  I was worried that the "white current" would solve everything.  It did create a magical fix for the rescue of Han Solo, but I guess that's minor compared with what I was expecting.  This guy writes awesome battle scenes! 

I must object, however, to the way the readers have been treated with this Qella ship!  It was so powerful, and Lando (and company) spent so much time figuring it all out, that I was sure it would figure into the main plot somehow, and end up helping the New Republic.  But in the end, it was worthless.  This should have been an independent book, using just Lando, Lobot and the droids.  Then it certainly would have been less intrusive.


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