||This story fits directly in with the
style and plotlines of Destiny's Way, making me wonder all the more why
it was cut.
There are two things
happening in this story, and while one can be isolated from the rest of
Destiny's Way, the other can not. The battle on Ylesia happens as part
of the skirmishes that the New Republic military was using to help train
their rookie pilots. There is a space dogfight, and a ground trooper
fight. Although it would have been nice to view this battle within the
novel that spawned it, this fight is just another fight, and it really
wasn't necessary to see it as a chapter in the book.
The second part of the book is the
growth of the characters, namely Jacen and Jaina, as a result of the
battle. Once Kyp Durron gives them the target, Jacen offers a battle
plan that complicates matters by attempting to capture the leaders of
the Peace Brigade, instead of killing them outright. He shows that he is
a good pilot, but nowhere near as good as his sister. The result of this
battle is something that we were only told about in
Destiny's Way, that Jacen's strength comes from coordinating the battle from the bridge of
the flagship, not from being a starfighter pilot. This is such an
important development that it should not have been shunted into a short
story like this.
As for Jaina, she gets some very
important time in with Jag Fel, and she learns some valuable lessons in
her own vulnerability. Did Jaina and Jag go off to have sex? I indicated
in my review of Destiny's Way that it was nice to see sex entering the
Star Wars universe. These two are no longer teens, so it wouldn't be a
terrible thing to develop an intimate relationship, except that some
people might object that they aren't married. I suppose it is best left
ambiguous, to let the readers decide.
Jaina also gets to see how over her
head some of these battles are, not just for her rookies, but for
herself, as well. The furball that was the fight in the atmosphere left
everybody dazzled. She is definitely a military leader, though, as
evidenced by all of her actions. The way she and Lowbacca cleared the
way for the ground troops, as well as their entry into the Senate's
bunker, showed that they have developed as Jedi, as well.
I have some troubles with the
atmospheric battle, in terms of what the fighters can and cannot do.
Jacen's shadow bomb, for example, seems to act as if it was still in
space. For all the author's talk about atmospheric buffeting, the
shadow bomb doesn't need the Force to maintain its position, for some
reason. Under the influence of winds, drag and gravity, Jacen would have
to do a lot of work keeping it stationary. According to the computer
games (and possibly the movies), and all of the previous books, X-Wing
fighters cannot fire their lasers with the S-foils closed, but that is
just what happens here, for everybody, in the atmosphere. In the games,
we were able to fly through the atmosphere with S-foils open, and still
have atmospheric stability. Finally, I still don't know what the term
"bounced" means. The author used it often in Destiny's Way, and it
occurred here, as well.
As with the battle scenes in
Way, the end of this one seemed rather abortive -not in terms of the
fighting, but the narrative, instead. It is not good form to write
"ships were lost, enemies were destroyed..." to sum up the withdrawal.
If he gives us the minute details of the fight from the beginning, he
should continue until the very end. Once again, it seemed like the
details were beyond what the author wanted to tell, so he took the lazy
My favorite parts of this story come
from the enemy's point of view, once more. This time, however, the enemy
wasn't really Overlord Shimra, Nom Anor or Maal Lah, though these also
appeared. Instead, we get the return of a character I had never wanted
to see again, Thrackan Sal-Solo! However, this time the character was
written perfectly! Instead of being a loathsome, bickering man, he was
written with comedy -evil comedy that really worked. I was reminded of
the Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Every time
he forms a thought, or speaks to his bodyguard, it is in the form of an
sarcastic, egocentric human. His remarks concerning the Yuuzhan Vong,
that their ships are the color of vomit, and so on, were just hilarious,
all the way through. Even when he meets up with Jaina, giving their fake
names, had me laughing out loud.
Concerning the enemies of the New
Republic, I find it interesting to note that the Hutts have been
destroyed -apparently all of them. I am sure some still exist in hiding,
but the writers seem to have run to the end of Hutt stories, now. I also
wonder about Domain Lah. Now that Tsavong Lah has humiliated himself
before the Vong gods, will the whole Domain be removed from leadership
positions? That's what happened to Domain Shai back in
Ruin, though I
hope that case was only an exception due to the author.
Senator (and former self-declared
Chief-of-state) Pwoe makes an appearance here, and it was obvious the
author was speaking of him in front of the Peace Brigade Senate,
especially when he refused to give the guy a name. I wasn't surprised to
see his appearance when Jaina make her way into the bunker.
The entire series of battles in this
story, from the first attacks against the Peace Brigade, to the
atmospheric dogfights, the Jedi clearing the rooftops of snipers, and
the ambush on the route back to the transports were all giant melees,
where Jaina was overwhelmed. It's probably a more realistic situation,
especially in enemy territory, than many other battles we've seen, where
the combatants could actually take time to think.
On the side of appearances, I was
slightly disappointed by the way the cover of this e-book was simply the
back cover for Destiny's Way. There were also a lot of spelling mistakes
for a story this short.
I wasn't expecting to read this story
so soon after the main book, but since the official Star Wars website
offered it for free, I decided that it was a good time to read it. They
did this because it was not included in the paperback edition of the
book, but will be included in future printings.
This is definitely a story about Jacen
and Jaina. None of the characters from the movies appear at all, which I
find amazing. Tahiri makes a small appearance -it's great to see that
she commands her own squadron, even though we don't get to see her in
action, either here or in the big trap at the end of
There was lots to like about this story, almost as much as in the novel
that spawned it. I only wish the author would finish the battles
The interview with the
author that accompanied this story didn't add much to the enjoyment,
except to note that there are things that the publishers have definitely
thought through, for better or for worse, like Jacen's destiny, and the
definition of the Force. I desperately hope the final author, Luceno, is
up to the job.