Fate of the Jedi is proving to be an excellent series, far better, tighter and focused that Legacy of the Force (and I really dig LotF, btw). 🙂
Vortex (which is Troy’s second novel in the series) has managed to keep up (in my opinion) the pace, the action, and the mystery of the being, Abeloth. 🙂
Christie Golden’s Allies certainly kicked the series into high gear and the events in that novel certainly pushed Troy into the enviable role of having to now keep all the levels that were reached from dropping; the situation at the Jedi Temple has reached truly terrifying extremes while Luke and Ben face Abeloth on one side while trying to maintain some sort of peace with the Lost Tribe of the Sith on the other. Not only was this a helluva act to follow, but also something that had to be done in such a way as to keep the various plot-threads going as well as upping the tension our heroes face. This is where I take my hat off to Troy, Christie, Aaron , Shelly and Sue – because Vortex succeeded.
In my opinion, Fate of the Jedi needed an onslaught of thrills and tension and horror, which Christie provided with Allies, and Troy had to replicate this without overshadowing Christie.
How did he do this? Well, let’s look at the plot as it stood at the end of Allies: Luke and Ben, along with Jaina and Lando’s help, had reached Abeloth’s planet with the Lost Tribe of the Sith strike force, and had defeated Abeloth. On Coruscant, the Jedi Temple was under siege, encircled by Mandalorians (will come back to them later), and under massive pressure from Daala to give up the insane Jedi. The Jedi are slowly fracturing under the pressure, and even Jaina and Jag’s relationship has suffered.
So what Troy does is this: the plot-thread involving the Sith and Luke pushed ahead – at first I was thinking, “Now how the hell do you plan on keeping this thread going, now that a problem has been solved?” and as I read on, I realized that Troy had neatly snuck up behind me and bopped me on the head, reminding me that where Sith and the dark side is involved, nothing is ever as it seems. 🙂 Another plot-thread that I was worrying about, the slave revolts breaking out on various planets, also received attention and kicked a gear higher. And on Coruscant, the situation between the besieged Jedi and Daala becomes even more hectic. The one plot-point that I want to really bring to your attention is the plot focusing on Tahiri’s trial for the premeditated murder of Gilad Pellaeon. Why? Well, a legal trial in the Star Wars universe seems like something very strange to have to read, but Troy keeps it interesting and tense – it works, adding a layer to Fate of the Jedi that shouldn’t fit at all but does, proving that not only are there plenty of story’s to tell in the Star Wars universe, but plenty of different ways to tell them 🙂
If there’s one thing that Troy truly excels at, and consistently, its characterization. In Vortex, Luke is beginning to show signs of strain and dread – he’s not on Coruscant, though he knows what’s happening there; he has to keep an eye on his son and the Sith Apprentice who is doing everything in her power to wrest Ben from him; and he has to contend with the Sith and a being as ancient and twisted as they come. Talk about a Jedi Master (never mind Grand Master) having a full plate! It was great to see Luke in such extremes – it’s too easy to think of Vader’s son as this above-reproach, uber-Jedi who has all the wisdom and talent of the entire Order distilled in him, but Luke is a human being before all of the above and Troy brings that wonderfully home in Vortex. One character that irritated me beyond all forberence, however, was the leader of the Sith – Troy did an excellent job with him! The Sith leader is the under massive pressure to lead his forces to victory and is also in way over his head; pompous Sith means dangerous Sith, adding yet another headache for Luke to contend with.
Vestara and Ben’s ‘relationship’ was more strained in this book than in the previous novels, which I was thankful for, though I’m now not as sure as I was where they’re heading; there’s a scene in the book which definitely sets up possibilities, but nothing is set in stone. I can see them getting together, however, and a story like that would make for a great trilogy (wink, wink?). 🙂
On Coruscant, the Kenth Hamner and Saba Sebatyne take center-stage and their story is one of the best in the entire series so far; it’s not often that a reader can see both sides of the argument as clearly as I did with regard to them, and sympathize with them both! 🙂
Action-wise Vortex doesn’t go anywhere amazing, though there’s a cool and very intriguing dog-fight in the beginning of the book (which has surely set up events for future novels) and there are plenty (and I mean plenty) of cool lightsaber battles. All that was needed was a cool set-piece Fleet Vs Fleet battle, though I’m pretty sure we’ll get there soon enough. 🙂
What Troy also kicked into high gear was he really made me see the Jedi in a new light – these Jedi are reeling and most definitely on the back-foot. More so, I think, than even during the Yuuzhan Vong war. I’m not talking attacks and deaths – I’m talking their sense of purpose, their place in the galaxy, etc. This, more than anything else, leads me to believe that we will definitely be ending this series by knowing just what the ‘Fate’ of the Jedi is. I truly hope so, because this series needs to fulfill the promise broken by Legacy of the Force – we need to know.
Everything considered, Vortex is as good as Allies – but Troy does this in a subtle, layered way. He paid attention to the plot-threads that needed seeing to, began new plot-threads that could prove to be very interesting (Allana and the Barabels), and kept our heroes in trouble. He’s set things up nicely for Aaron to lead on with (and I’m sure Aaron’s Conviction will be awesome despite the lacklustre Backlash) and I have absolutely no idea how he’ll end things in Apocalypse, though it’ll be undoubtedly huge and far-reaching. 🙂
If you haven’t started reading Fate of the Jedi yet, get to it! This series is definitely getting better and better!
9 / 10
To order your copies: Amazon US Hardcover, Amazon UK Hardcover, Kalahari.net (for SA readers). And don’t forget to check out the official Star Wars website for any and all Star Wars news you might need. 🙂
I gotta take my hat off to Kevin Thomsen and Marc Thompson – the guys consistently bring their A-game and produce awesome audiobooks! Kevin’s choices of scene-music and sound effects were were perfect, adding just that extra layer of emotion to already hectic scenes, really adding the sense of enjoying a ‘mind-movie’, and Marc does perfect voices – Luke’s wisdom, Ben’s impatience, Daala’s arrogance and Abeloth’s utter creepiness all come through wonderfully. Really, treat yourself to the entire series!
10 / 10
The next two Star Wars titles I’ll be reviewing are Matthew Stover’s Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor and Joe Schreiber’s Death Troopers’ prequel, Red Harvest. 🙂