||From beginning to end, I felt like the author cut up
some sort of story puzzle, threw them up in the air, and wrote about
some of them randomly -in a vortex, as it were. This doesn't seem like the author who wrote the
amazing Star By Star and some of the best Legacy of the Force books.
This feels a lot more like the "I don't understand what is going on" by
the author of the Dark Nest trilogy.
As usual, the s are four plot-lines here, Luke and the Sith
continue to chase Abeloth (no, the creature didn't actually die in the
last book), the Jedi against Daala, the slave revolt, and Tahiri's trial, in decreasing order of importance. Each one has no
buildup whatsoever, and one very important result, at least one
inconsistency, and an important "what the?" contrivance to make it work.
The most boring and convoluted is the story of Luke,
Ben, Vestara and the two Sith who remain with them in the Maw: the High
Lord Talon and Vestara's father Khai. While Luke and the two elder Sith search
around Abeloth's fountain for some information on her nature (finding
some similarities to the Destructors of Keshiri legend -as in
escapes Ben's watch into the horrific planet. Ben follows her, saving
her life as she is caught up in a carnivorous tree. Ship also returns,
communicating with Vestara and Ben, but not to the other Sith, for some
reason. Ben holds Vestara to her word that she will wait for him to tell
Luke about Ship before she tells the High Lord. Vestara betrays him at
every turn, but Ben keeps giving her chances. She keeps telling him that
it's in her nature, being a Sith, but she doesn't act very Sith-like,
except for the betrayals.
I find it strange that after the Sith betray Luke and
Ben and it turns into a fight, the High Lord has Ben incapacitated in his clutches
-within lightsaber striking distance, and actually stops when Vestara
tells him to. She has, of course, discovered that Luke actually killed Dyon at the end of
Allies, and that Abeloth, despite Luke's certainty of
the opposite, actually took on Dyon's body at that time, turning it into
hers. It becomes clear as this storyline progresses that Abeloth can
take on the body of anyone she has "consumed", for want of a better
Why didn't Ship take Abeloth away from that planet,
instead of having to distract the others to allow her to take the Jade Shadow?
It doesn't make any sense. Ship tells them Abeloth is in the Pool of
Knowledge, yet when it takes them nearby, so they have to search for it,
Luke becomes certain that she has taken the Shadow -and is correct. But
High Lord Talon jumps into the Pool, and comes out transformed, having
seen the Jedi Queen on the throne, which is of course Allanah.
Apparently Jacen long ago in Balance Point saw a Dark Man on the throne,
and his actions in Legacy of the Force successfully altered that future,
putting Allanah on the throne, instead. Abeloth takes the Jade Shadow to
the Falassani in order to change the future back. They welcome Abeloth,
yet are consumed, too. It's not clear by the end what has happened to
them as a people.
Luke easily tracks the Jade Shadow to Almenia, where
Kueller planned to take over the galaxy way back in
The New Rebellion, a
book whose title evoked a whole different story than was actually
presented. It's too bad there are no ysalimiri gone wild here! Luke pierces the illusions of the Falassani, who have made
the entire moon of that planet think it has been subjected to a plague.
Even Ben and Vestara fall victim to it, but it's not fully explained how
those two get through the illusion. Of course, Luke says Talon's fellow Sith
should fall victim to it even though their High Lord has told them it is
a lie, but they don't seem to, and neither does Vestara's father.
Luke is taken near to death by Abeloth, but saved so
that Talon can do it, in a way-overused cliché. This, of course, gives
Luke and Ben a chance to escape. There is a little twist here in that
Vestara kills High Lord Talon to save Ben, though she claims it was the
only way to save him from Abeloth, who was starting to stick her
tentacles into his mouth -yuck! They escape in time to be surrounded by
Sith, who were freed from Abeloth's illusion when she fled, but are
saved again, this time by the Jedi Stealth-X fighters, which leads us to
the next plot point.
The Jedi are happy to end the siege of the Temple by
presenting the two cured Jedi apprentices on the steps of the Temple,
directly to Daala. Han makes a real show of it for the media, so that
Daala has to do the right thing and let them go. But I don't know what
point the doctor is supposed to be making by kicking one of them between
the legs. Surely even an apprentice can tell when such a danger is
coming and protect himself? And as Valin and Jysella prove at the end of
the book, these two could easily be biding their time.
Daala releases the siege, but keeps the Horn children
as insurance against future Jedi sicknesses. The Masters are furious and
want to move against both the fleet in orbit and to rescue the Horn
children, but Kenth Hamner won't allow it, still waiting for the
commander in chief of the fleet to wake up from his coma at the end of
Allies, where I really thought he had been killed. In that book, I
couldn't figure out why the authors had put that plan in motion only to
derail it almost immediately. The reason was simply incomprehensible
setup for this book, something to give Hamner a secret. When the masters learn that Hamner kept a secret
from them, they dismiss him as their leader. Saba Sebatyne takes over,
and the masters decide right away to launch a plan to get their ships
past the fleet and rescue the Horns. Incidentally, it was obvious right
away that Saba's brood was mating; why it is such a secret is beyond me.
Allanah finds them in the last chapters, and has to reveal her heritage
as a secret of equal value, or be killed by them (is this part of their
culture, to kill fellow Jedi when their nest is discovered?). By the end of the
series, I fully expect her to be living with Tenel Ka again, her life an
open book at the very least, for all the Republic to see.
But it is implied that Han and Leia were in the temple
before the siege ended. How did they get inside? Did the author think
they spent the entire siege in the Temple? They attended Tahiri's trial
back in Allies, and even sent supplies into the Temple on the backs of
rats, so that can't be the case.
Regardless, Han and Leia lead a very confusing rescue
of the Horn children, as the Errant Venture hosts a sabaac tournament to
hold two hundred very important people hostage as he draws away the
fleet preventing the launch of the Stealth-X wings -by destroying several
of the planetary mirrors. Booster Terrik sure doesn't mind temping
justice to incur jail time if and when he is caught. But I fully expect
that nothing will happen, anyway.
Han and Leia break into the cells where Valin and
Jysella are being held, only to find hundreds of other people being held
in carbonite in the same storage facility (which infuriates Han, of
course). They do manage to rescue the
siblings, in an overly-complicated scheme that I had to read three times
to figure out. It seems that security forces on the planet have become
more inept than before, though, as the rescue is considered successful when the
single ship carrying them escapes into the busy skylanes. Didn't the
governmental forces successfully chase a bunch of Jedi, including Luke,
through all sorts of skylanes not too long ago? Was it near the beginning of
Legacy of the Force?
The most important part of this whole plan occurs in
the fighter bays of the Jedi Temple. Hamner, not inclined to stay in his
quarters even though he has been asked to, shows how beyond help he is
by not even pretending to know some apprentices names before knocking
them out, and confronting Saba and the other Jedi as they prepare to
launch. Hamner raises his lightsaber to Saba, intending to stop the
launch at any cost. He and Saba fight, Hamner with more intensity, Saba
trying not to kill him. Eventually, he stabs Saba through the body,
which I thought should have killed her -certainly blaster shots have
killed her kind before, no matter her anatomy (which Hamner knew all too
well). He then throws his lightsaber at the control
mechanism that holds the doors closed, intending to seal the Jedi
inside, so Saba throws him off a scaffold and has to choose between the
lightsaber and Luke's choice for leader of the Jedi. She chooses to use
the Force to divert the lightsaber, even though she's shown in the past
that she could probably do both. Hamner, for his part, though he showed
much initiative and skill in the fight, simply drops to the ground and
dies, instead of holding his position in the Force or other things that
we've seen the Masters do. Still, the fight was intense and
well-written, and I did enjoy the battle, though I doubted the spark
that initiated it.
Tahiri's trial does not progress much, except to
reverse the last-second testimony given by the Imperial whose words were
said to seal Tahiri's fate back in Allies. The entire thing felt like
filler, with Tahiri getting worried enough she decided to bring in
another defense council (her current one appeared to be falling asleep
all the time). By the end of the book, she sees how her current
councilor is the one who has most wisdom and can probably get her freed
-so she dismisses the second one she hired. Yawn.
Finally, Mahdi the news-woman gets her big story,
watching over the Mandalorians who have been sent in to stop the slave
revolt on ___ at any cost. She records a full-scale slaughter, and dies
for her actions. I wish she had lasted more than two books. At least the
annoying reporter Tyr lasted three books before he was discredited by Jag Fel.
Mahdi's assistant Chev, a former slave himself, takes up her job, as the
Jedi arrive to deal with the Mandalorians.
Oh, and speaking of Fel, Jaina makes up with him and
now wears the engagement ring again. Yawn, again. And speaking of Jaina,
she and Lando discovered a bunch of pirates who are using Sith to engage
their targets. There are so many loose ends in this series that it is
difficult to tell what is relevant. Is it the Sith, Abeloth, the
pirates, something else? I just don't know, and after this difficult
read, I'm starting not to care, which is a very bad thing.
I hope the next book gets more focused.