Ossus Library Index Star Wars Timeline




A novel by James Luceno (2003, Del Rey)
Book 8 in the New Jedi Order Main Sequence
29 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Politics, war, and Zonama Sekot try to put an end to the war between the Galactic Alliance and the Yuuzhan Vong.



4 stars

Read November 7th to 17th, 2004  
    A true surprise, and a great ending to the series.

I must admit that I was not looking forward to another novel by this author, after the terrible writing style of the Agents of Chaos duology. However, from the first page in, I was hooked. Sure, some of the early dialog could have used some more fine-tuning, but that cleared up relatively quickly, considering the length of the book. As with the Agents of chaos, the author tries to cram in as many references to obscure things and people as possible, but this time it's done much more subtly. I wonder if many other people had complaints about his previous books, and he consciously made an effort to fix things. If so, that's terrific, and I would give his books even more chances in the future. The only real complaint I have about the book is the expositionary method of giving information on what has happened in the past. Even there, though, sometimes he succeeded in making it more subtle, though the majority stood out as obvious. Instead of taking us out of the story for paragraphs, or even pages, the author should have given explanations as thoughts by characters. Instead of saying "there will be a yammosk", followed by "a yammosk was...", he could have said "Jaina remembered her first encounter with that creature", and give it some emotional insight. Otherwise, it feels like an afterthought.

This book felt like a trilogy of books, joined together. The action and tension start right away, and there are only a few places where it lets up. For the most part, everything proceeds at a constant rate, so that the book was very even. While that means it didn't have any great slumps, where I was dreading upcoming pages, it also didn't have great passionate surges, where I was breathlessly anticipating events to come, or couldn't put the book down.

There are a lot of characters, who all get good time, and a lot of skirmishes. We get several points of view, from the Galactic Alliance and the Yuuzhan Vong. Nom Anor returns to Coruscant, and is promoted for his actions in The Final Prophecy. The closer he gets to Shimrra, however, the more he realizes that the Supreme Overlord is quickly going insane. Shimrra seemed rather too amicable and philosophical at the beginning, and I doubted that he would ever feel the need to justify his actions to his people.

The Yuuzhan Vong have made some evolutionary jumps in their biotic weapons since the last encounters. I don't recall mention of countermeasures to the yammosk jammers, shadow-bombs, and stutter-fire. When did those things happen, or did I just miss that somewhere along the line? Shimrra unveils his new elite warriors, the Slayers, who are apparently an even match for the Jedi, though they are, as always, only as powerful as the story lets them be. This goes for all the technology and skills. I don't see the need to make the Yuuzhan Vong nearly all-powerful in the final book of the series, where they must ultimately be defeated. Throughout the entire series, the Alliance has adapted and grown more powerful. As of the last book, they think the war will be won soon. All of a sudden, the Vong fleets are amassed together, and the Alliance is on the verge of annihilation. Similarly, the Jedi have found ways of killing the warriors that make them look more like stormtroopers, so we need Slayers. Remember how Luke and Mara almost lost their first fight against a single warrior back in Vector Prime? Now, even Leia, an untrained Jedi, can dispatch a group of them herself. By the end of the book, however, even the Slayers are not much more than ordinary warriors. It takes Luke, Jacen and Jaina a little longer to destroy them, but it is more like the duel in Vector Prime.

The opening part of the book takes place on a barely-known world called Selvaris, which is being used for prisoners of war the Yuuzhan Vong take, including Pash Cracken and Commander Page, whom I wondered about back in The Final Prophecy. Han and Leia rescue a prisoner who has information about a grand sacrifice and prisoner transfer in upcoming days. The Alliance uses this to attempt a rescue, and is half-successful. In a well-written battle, the Millennium Falcon barely escapes, with Slayers on its tail. I wondered why hyperspace jumps are not pre-programmed on missions like this. The Falcon was nearly smashed to pieces because it took time to calculate the jump. I also dislike coincidences, like Han and Leia randomly taking up refuge at the same planet where the Vong are about to launch a major offensive. There must have been a better way to do that. By the way, it barely took any time to fix the Falcon there, considering it was so badly beaten up when they arrived. It is at Caluula that I think many fans will appreciate the return of Boba Fett, leading a pack of Mandalorian-armored troops against the Yuuzhan Vong. It seems that he found another job, liberator instead of bounty hunter! The author also ties Boba in with what we know of him from Attack of the Clones, that Fett's grudge was against the Jedi, not Han in particular. From The Empire Strikes Back, I doubt that, but it's a nice sentiment, nonetheless.

In one way or another, I think the author manages to grab characters or mention events from every single New Jedi Order book, as well as many more, including Tatooine Ghost, which I haven't read yet. Cameos or even regular characters who make appearances here include Farlander (from the Rebel Assault video games), and Katarn (from Dark Forces games).

On Zonoma Sekot, Luke and the others spend a lot of time weathering the effects of the unexpected hyperspace jump from The Final Prophecy. Although they didn't know their destination for a while, I half-expected them to land "coincidentally" in or near Coruscant's system, but that would have required an explanation why they weren't noticed. Thankfully, they didn't, and they went to Coruscant with a purpose in mind. Harrar returns (I knew he hadn't died!), and cautiously turns against his leader. Upon observing him, Zonoma Sekot reveals that his race has been stripped of the Force, which is why they appear to be voids. I don't recall the same effect from Callista or Ulic Qel Droma -they couldn't use the Force, but they could be felt. However, maybe this being was even more powerful. While I prefer Vergere's explanation from Traitor that they exist in another part of the Force "spectrum", this is as good an explanation as any, except that it begs the question of how Anakin, Jacen and Tahiri could feel them with a Vongsense. Tahiri even uses a Force-wall to affect several warriors! Why didn't she do that against Nom Anor in the last book?

Han and Leia return to Caluula to try and disable the yammosk there, but they don't have to, as the bioweapon known as Alpha Red has taken care of it, killing everything related to the Yuuzhan Vong, as well as some of the native life. One ship, though, manages to escape, on its way to Coruscant...

The big battle that in any other book would have been the final one takes place in the Mon Calamari system, where the incredibly huge Yuuzhan Vong armada takes a symbolic yammosk shape and moves inward, toward the new Capital of the Galactic Alliance (though the politicians have been evacuated). I wonder if there was any real reason for not jumping directly to the planet, except for dramatic tension. The section was definitely better for the indirect route, and it might have been intended as a demoralizer for the Alliance pilots. Just when thing look hopeless for the Alliance, however, the fleets mysteriously pull out. Everybody is confused... A great place for a cliff-hanger!

The best-written section of the entire book takes place in the aftermath of this, as Zonoma Sekot arrived near Coruscant, causing turmoil among the Yuuzhan Vong, an uprising of Shamed Ones, and the recall of the Vong fleet. The discussions that took place, especially from Nom Anor's point of view, were terrific. In the lull between storms, Leia gets a tearful reunion with her brother and children and friends. For me, that was the highlight of the book.

The second Battle of Coruscant takes nearly as long as the first one, depicted in Star By Star. This one, however, is much, much less coordinated, and includes not only orbital fights, but ground infiltration, as well. Attacking Coruscant makes sense from a strategic point of view, in order to defeat Shimrra. However, I disagree whole-heartedly about attacking it to regain it for colonization. The planet's foundation should be so fragile by the end of this war, that nobody should want to even land on it, let alone repopulate it. The planet was hundreds of stories high -if the algae managed to weaken upper-level buildings, it must have done the same below, as well. I really thought they should have let the world brain create a sort of ecological paradise, demolishing all of the buildings.

In this battle, there were so many fronts: with attacks, retreats, counter-attacks, fallbacks, and reinforcements. This feels like a real war, and it was quite well-written, though I got a little tired as it dragged on toward the end. It manages to convey the terrible price of war, without getting bogged down in the mess that Shatterpoint was. Most of all, I liked the way so many people could keep their senses of humor, through playful and sarcastic banter, especially between Han and Leia.

Han and Leia's mission to Coruscant makes a lot more sense than many others given in this series. They take Harrar to the world brain, to try and convince it to surrender. I thought they should have taken Jacen, as well, given that he did the convincing anyway. It would have made more sense to have him physically present, except that he was needed elsewhere.

Jacen has joined Luke and Jaina in infiltrating Shimrra's palace, where they fight their way up and up to the summit, and finally dispatch all the slayers. In an unexpectedly quick movement, after Luke is poisoned by Shimrra's amphistaff, he kills the Supreme Overlord! However, the real power behind the throne was the Shamed One Onimi, who controlled Shimrra from the start, having grafted yammosk cells into his genetic structure before he became a Shamed One. I wondered why the truth about Shimrra's ascent to the throne would be cause for discontent, as it seemed very Yuuzhan Vong to me. However, given Onimi's secret involvement, there might have been something strange about it. I thought Shimrra seemed less powerful here than usual, especially in his dealings with other Yuuzhan Vong, but it might have been Onimi's distraction that caused this. I also wondered how much Onimi knew about Nom Anor's secret; the way he kept scrutinizing Nom Anor indicated that he knew something was going on. Although both Shimrra and Onimi were going crazy, a fact that I lamented because I wanted a strong enemy defeated by the good guys, rather than destroying themselves, I am very glad that they put in this twist about Shimrra simply being a puppet. I was afraid they would rip off The Last Command by having Onimi kill the Supreme Overlord.

But it was not Luke who killed Onimi, but Jacen, going beyond his abilities for likely the only time in his life, becoming perfectly attuned to the Force. As he says, he will spend his entire life trying to get back to that state. With the Supreme Overlord (both of them) dead, the Yuuzhan Vong battle fleet around Coruscant surrenders. This was done in a very credible manner, specifically through Nas Choka's thoughts: if the gods abandoned them and let their leader die, it is no longer worth dying a glorious death to attain the afterlife. Devoid of the gods, what good is the afterlife? I wonder about the Jedi agreeing with throwing all Yuuzhan Vong ships and technology into the sun, however, as it is all living, and would therefore be against their principles.

Nom Anor is also killed, though there is a slight chance that he survived, and that we'll see him again. His story in this book was dizzying, as he changed sides so many times. He went from disgrace to Prefect of Yuuzhan'tar, then joined the Shamed Ones to try and calm their revolt, only to return to the Citadel and watch the Shamed Ones rise up and ruin the battle sacrifice. When it is obvious that the Sacred sector is to be overrun, and that he can't stand the insane Shimrra any longer, he finally joins the Shamed Ones as the Prophet again, leading them in their fight. Of course, then he meets up with Tahiri and Mara, once again. Although he ultimately proved useful in the end, I think they could have done without him, because I was anticipating a terrific end by duel, with Mara justly killing him. Alas, it was not to be. I don't understand why Mara spared his life. Killing him, even in cold blood, would have been less of a Dark Side act than the beating she gave him. It's a wonder he could even move after that, let alone walk to the world brain and climb the Citadel. In the end, after trying one last time to kill Han, Leia, Jacen and Jaina in Onimi's dying escape pod, he decides to stay on board, thus taking his own life. Yet I wonder if there might have been another escape pod somewhere, because we don't actually see his death...

And what role does the much-hyped Zonama Sekot play in the end? It gives the Jedi some cool and sleek ships, though it is not clear if they get to keep them after the war. It is also the target of Alpha Red, not from the Alliance, but from the single ship that escaped Caluula. They manage to hold the ship back, and Sekot fashions some creatures that force the Vong coralskippers to the ground, where it welcomes them "home". I loved, and had to laugh out loud, at the way the amphistaffs and villips took to the ground and became snakes and fruit! The end of the Yuuzhan Vong happened almost exactly how I expected it to. Sekot turns out to be the offspring of Yuuzhan'tar, which I believe the Vong must have destroyed after being stripped of the Force by that entity. Since Onimi was able to recover the Force, I'm sure the rest of the species can do so in a few generations. I just hope we don't see a Yuuzhan Vong Jedi in the next five years.

I have serious doubts about Sekot's ability to house all the remaining Yuuzhan Vong, however. They arrived in several worldships, and even given the number that died in battle, there must be more than enough to fill several worlds. Ignoring that, it makes a lot of sense to exile them on the living world. It gets them out of sight of the citizens of the galaxy, who would be hard pressed to keep their rage in check after all the destruction the Vong unleashed, especially Duros, Ithorians, and the Hutts, among many others. It's better to get them into an unknown sector of space -except that it isn't completely unknown. The Jedi, and probably the military (given the last book) know where Sekot is located, so retribution could occur at any time.

Several Jedi are also staying with Sekot, which given its Force sensitivity is no great surprise. But after Tahiri literally begged Corran to be her Jedi Master in the last book, it is very disappointing to see her leave now, especially without any acknowledgement to him.


After an already-overlong review, I want to comment on a couple of things that struck me about the New Jedi Order series while reading this book. One of the largest problems I had during the ground battle for Coruscant was a lack of empathy for the Yuuzhan Vong. We got to know the warriors and politicians, and a little about the religious caste, but absolutely nothing about "civilians". I was under the impression that there were no Yuuzhan Vong civilians, but that is obviously not true. They obviously don't subscribe to the philosophy of pain, either, to be screaming and running through the streets, searching for loved ones. What is a loved one to a Yuuzhan Vong? What are personal items and keepsakes? I think we should have had a couple of paperback novels on the civilians.

I wish Shimrra's war against the gods, and the item of his ascendance to the throne, would have been addressed much earlier in the series. We heard about Quoreal for the very first time in The Final Prophecy, so we didn't know that there was an underground movement still loyal to the former Supreme Overlord. It could have been stretched out a little more, instead of suddenly appearing at the end.

Somebody mentioned that the New Jedi Order needed some more lasting romantic relationships, and I tend to agree. The focus was very much on the war, with barely-there relationships between Jaina and Jag, and Jacen and Danni. The other relationships, like Lando and Tendra, Wedge and Iella, Luke and Mara and so on, were already more-or-less established before the series, especially in Union. It would have been nice to see a lasting and permanent relationship come to fruition in this four-plus year arc.

Finally, I liked the Force arc in the last half of the series, though it could have been much better. We saw Luke reinstate the Padawan-Master system, only to have it break fatally apart early in the war. Now, the Jedi are transcending their role from the Old Republic. They will no longer be a police force, though they will champion "the will of the Force". The Will of the Force cropped up a lot in the last book. It has been used in other places, such as when some of the Jedi arrived in certain places without knowing why in the comics Darkness, or Rite of Passage, and Qui-Gon certainly believed that the Force had a Will of its own back in The Phantom Menace. It is not an idea that I like to embrace, for it implies a lack of personality and individual. The fact that people can still turn to the Dark Side, however, at least offers the chance of clinging to individuality.

As for the future, I think there are still a lot of unexplored loose ends that authors could pick up and craft stories around. I still hope to see Raynar and the Dark Jedi from Star By Star, for one particular example.

This book, however, was a grand conclusion to the New Jedi Order series. For the most part, it was well written, and formed a very steady story, which is worth mentioning because of the contrast to the author's other Star Wars novels, the Hero's Trial and Jedi Eclipse. There remain some implausibilities, which all Star Wars novels contain, and some of the dialog and recaps could have used a little work, but those are minor considering the scope and grandeur of the rest of the book. The author even got a second chance to give us a memorial for Chewbacca. This one was outstanding, simple, and gives us a sort of King Arthur "Sword in the Stone" with Anakin Solo's lightsaber embedded within the wooden sculpture of Chewie. This was definitely the way to end the series.


Back to Top

All Star Wars material and covers are Copyright Lucasfilm Ltd and the publishers.
All reviews and page designs at this site Copyright (c)  by Warren Dunn, all rights reserved.