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Review: Star Wars – Fate of the Jedi Book 4: Backlash by Aaron Allston (Audio Book)

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.

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2010 in Reviews

 

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Review: Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Outcast by Aaron Allstone (Audio Book)

This review was originally posted over at Realms & Galaxies: Celebrating SFF on the 21st of October 2009

No, I haven’t yet had the chance to read the book – that’ll be coming up soon, though, since my beautiful hard cover arrived on Monday. 🙂 But I did manage to listen to the audio book.

So, the Legacy of the Force series has come to a close (I say it hasn’t, since there was no real ‘Legacy’ evident at the end of the series) and a couple of years have passed. The Second Galactic Civil War has also ended, but the after-effects of this event are still being felt. There is a growing mistrust of the Jedi, and many see them as above the law elitists. At a time when bad publicity is the least needed, the Jedi son of one of the Order’s most respected Masters goes rogue, mobilizing the Chief of State of the Galactic Alliance into action – while the Jedi try to pin down the cause of the malais that struck one of their own, Natasi Daala brings Luke Skywalker to task for allowing the once-hero of the New Republic and Galactic Alliance, Jedi Knight Jacen Solo, to become Darth Caedus.

I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen, to be honest. I mean, Kyp Durron destroys the Carida system, murdering billions; Corran Horn’s misplaced trust in the Yuuzhan Vong commander, Sheddao Shai, gets Ithor destroyed, and before it all, Luke’s own act of destroying the Death Star and causing the deaths of millions, was bound to lead somewhere. So bringing charges against Luke seems the logical step to take – after all, even if Jacen Solo had survived, how exactly would he have been punished? So Sith, not even Darth Vader, has ever seen the error of his / her ways – they believe (and this is the real reason why they will always be the biggest threat the Jedi will ever face) that they are right, that what they are doing is for the greater good (well, at least those Sith that have a measure of brains and vision). But the Jedi have no 5-year plan. For beings capable of using the Force to receive visions and glimpses of the future, they are very now-focused and reactive, and this is the main reason why I’m very glad to see this storyline in the Fate of the Jedi series. Call me a lover of what Karen Traviss did for Star Wars (and I am, through and through), but there hve to be consequences (and therefor, a measure of reality) for what the Jedi have been doing for the millennia they’ve been around. Having Luke realize that it is a neccessary path was one of my fist-pumping moments, and it was also a storyline that Aaron handled extremely well. We do, after all, have to see and understand both sides of the argument.

The trip that Luke and Ben go on to try and retrace Jacen’s footsteps during his 5-year Odyssey is a bit of a reach, though I can understand that it’s a neccessary plotline for Luke to be able to get a sense of Jacen in those situations – in certain respects, Luke knew Jacen better than his own parents. I would have substituted Ben Skywalker for Jaina Solo, though. Not only would that have made for some very interesting story-arcs with Ben on Coruscant, but it would have given Luke and Jaina the opportunity to really spend time together. Granted, Aaron did pull it off, and the glimpse into the world of Dorin and the Baran Do Sage’s was interesting but ultimately of little value – the only story-driving point being that father and son now know where and how Jacen learned one particular ability.

The Kessel-arc was interesting, too, but I would have liked to know a bit more about how it ties into (if it does) the Celestials and Centerpoint Station. I can’t wait, though, to find out just who contacted Allana… 🙂

I do think, though, that Outcast was a better beginning to a 9-book series – sure, it’s an almost sedate saunter into the plots that the series will be remembered for, and there’s no “Holy Crap!” moment at the end (as when Jacen murders a fellow Jedi and chooses to become a Sith in Legacy of the Force: Betrayal), but Outcast definitely sets the arcs and the tone of Fate of the Jedi, so, in my opinion, a great, promising start. 🙂

The storyline gets a solid 7 / 10 from me.

Now onto the production of the audio book:

Once again, I’m in awe. 🙂 (Well, you wouldn’t know it, since this is the first audio book I’ve reviewed on the blogs)

Marc Thompson does a stellar job of capturing the voices of the characters – he’s a veteran now, so he should, but he always puts in effort, and it definitely comes across. You can also hear how much he enjoys what he does, which is great!

Music- and sound effects-wise it’s excellent! You really do feel as if you’re in the thick of things, hearing air-scrubbers on the ships, feeling the tension with the lightsabers and music; it really is cool! 🙂

I’m also glad that the audio book is unabridged (the one I listened to, at least) – you really do get a sense that the story flows better. 🙂

I give the audio book a solid 9 / 10,

So my combined rating for Fate of the Jedi Outcast is a promising and entertaining 8.5 / 10. 🙂

To order your copies of the audio book, click here for the US and here for the UK; to order your copies of the book (still in Hard Cover), click here for the US and here for the UK; for those in South Africa, please use this link.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2010 in Reviews

 

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May the Force be with him.

I just saw this on Suvudu and I was shocked, to say the least. Author Aaron Allston has suffered a heart attack. He’s undergone some major surgery and is in intensive care, but his family is around him, and we can all help by keeping him in our thoughts and sending him all the healing energy we have.

I first discovered Aaron’s work when I read the first X-Wing book he wrote, Wraith Squadron. He took me on a wild ride, introduced some endearing and long-lived characters, and has always delivered the best-possible work he was capable of.

My thoughts and prayers are with Aaron and his family, and I’m sure everyone who has ever read his work will join me in wishing him a safe and speedy recovery.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2009 in Announcements

 

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