Review of the novel:
The fourth book in the series, going on the title alone, seemed to promise quite a bit, but I was ultimately disappointed by it. It’s not one of the most terrible Star Wars Expanded Universe novels I’ve ever read (not by a long shot) but my hopes for it were disappointed.
Allies follows Luke and his son, Ben, as they try and track down Vestara Khai, the Sith girl they ran across in Troy Denning’s Abyss; meanwhile, Han and Leia have transported the insane Jedi that they saved to the Transitory Mists, away from Chief of State Daala; the Moff-plot against Chief of State of the Galactic Empire, Jagged Fel, is picking up speed (mixing the Solo’s daughter into the action); and Daala herself is seemingly becoming desperate to teach the Jedi a lesson.
Added to this mix is the weird and terrifying thing that Luke, Ben and Vestara came across in the Maw, the thing named Abeloth, and the fact that the Lost Tribe of the Sith are flexing their muscles and Force-abilities – this all could have led to some very interesting plot-arcs.
Instead, we are taken on a kind of anthropological lesson on how the various tribes on Dathomir operate – interesting in and of itself, but the storyline took too long to reach the point that aiming for: Luke and Ben finding out just why Vestara had aligned herself with the tribe of Dathomiri. The outcomes here are surprising enough, with some interesting territory being approached, especially as concerns the Jedi and the Sith, but I felt, unfortunately, that this whole Dathomir storyline was a waste. More of Ben’s detective skills were on show, and there were some pretty cool action sequences involving Rancors and the witches of Dathomir, but that was about it – the climax of the storyline, while interesting and cool, just didn’t seem to justify all the build-up.
Han and Leia’s part the storyline wasn’t really needed, either, though it was great to see Allana get more of the spotlight and fly her grandfather’s revered ship, the Millennium Falcon – which is probably why Han and Leia met up with Luke and Ben, to give Allana this chance. It’s only when the Solo’s return to Coruscant that their plot-arc in Backlash becomes really interesting, what with the dynamic between themselves and Chief of State Daala.
Here we are shown that Daala is not as in control as she believes and this I enjoyed because it was great seeing Daala a bit out of sorts – I think she’s been handled brilliantly in the series and she’s fast becoming one of my favourite EU characters, and yes, I’ve read the spoilers for Allies, so I’m looking forward to seeing what else Daala gets up to. 🙂
Another aspect of this novel that I enjoyed was the interaction between Ben and Vestara – it’s almost obvious in what direction this interaction is going, but that’s okay; the conflicts that it will set up for future stories in the EU is awesome, and I can only imagine how the rest of the family members involved will react… 😉
I’d have to say that Backlash was, so far, the weakest novel in the Fate of the Jedi series; it has Aaron’s trademark humour and great action sequences but I feel that the whole jaunt on Dathomir could have been made stronger (how, I don’t know). I’m not sure if Aaron’s health problems had any impact on the story (and I can understand if it did), and Backlash is not a terrible novel – it’s just not as great as I expected, and nothing substantially big was added to the storyline that the various characters find themselves in during Fate of the Jedi. I am, nonetheless, looking forward to Allies!
6 / 10
Review of the audiobook:
Marc Thompson and Kevin Thomsen have once again done and excellent job! Every Star Wars audiobook is an incredibly cinematic experience and Marc does and excellent job bringing the various characters and aliens to life. The music and sound effects are are really inspired and I would definitely reccommend this to anyone who has a long commute or goes for walks or even likes spending days at home listening to great audiobook-productions – Star Wars audiobooks never disappoint and neither does Marc or Kevin. 🙂
9 / 10
To order the hardcover of Backlash, click here for Amazon US and here for Amazon UK; to order the audiobook, here are the Amazon links (US and UK) and the link at Audible. Also, check out the official Fate of the Jedi website and the official Star Wars website. Also, here’s Aaron’s website.