Double-Review time again! :-) I need to catch up with the reviews and doing Doubles seems the only way I’m going to be able to do that. :-)
Star Wars The Old Republic Deceived
Now, I haven’t been able to play The Old Republic , so I don’t know what the storylines in the game entail, but after reading Sean Williams’ Fatal Alliance, this novel and Drew Karpyshyn’s Revan (review coming), it seems clear to me that The Old Republic is a massive project that stretches over quite a long length of time.
Deceived takes place during a lull in the war between the Empire and the Republic, and gives us one of the best Sith Lords to have ever existed in the Star Wars galaxy – at least in my opinion. I’m sure you all remember the amazing cinematic from before The Old Republic was launched showing how Darth Malgus attacked the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Well, I was blown away by that, and by the Sith Lord who had the (excuse me) balls to not only try something like that but to pull it off. I really wanted to know more about him, and Paul could easily have given us an all-over-evil psychotic Force-user with nothing but domination and subjugation going for him.
Thankfully, that’s exactly what Paul didn’t do. Malgus has one of the most interesting philosophies regarding the Force, the Jedi and the Sith that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, the kind of philosophy that made the characters that Matthew Stover tackled so damned interesting and real. Yes, Malgus is badass, but he also comes across as fallible and, at times, even stupid. Powerful as he is he’s in over his head and eventually chooses the only path that keeps him true to himself. Just on the strength of that I’m hoping that Paul is able to return to Malgus sometime in the future, because the Malgus at the end of Deceived is someone I wouldn’t wish on even the most powerful Jedi force that could be assembled. Hell, even the Empire and the other Sith would have to beware! :-)
But Malgus isn’t the only cool character in the novel – there’s a smuggler doing the best that he can for his daughter and a Jedi who is searching for the truth behind her master’s death; the smuggler is the guy that really had my sympathy – the man goes through some really tight situations in ways that would make Han Solo and Talon Karrde proud, and his very personal and practically unselfish motivation really got me cheering him on. The Jedi, on the other hand, had me worried, because we all know what happens when Jedi begin focusing on the things that their polar-opposites are known for. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as I’m making it sound, but it does illustrate just how easy it is to lose sight of that which not only gives you strength but which also keeps you humble and thoughtful. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions and wanting answers, but we may not always like the answers, something the Jedi discovers, and also something that gives her the kind of motivation that any reader can identify with.
Characters aside, though, Deceived is also an excellent Star Wars novel – the action is exciting and intense, the humour spot on and just that bit campy (in other words, perfect Star Wars humour), and the intense personal explorations that the characters go on are make this novel very cool.
Is Deceived a good jumping-on point for readers new to the Star Wars Expanded Universe? Sure – if you want cool characters, thrilling action and walk-the-line looks at the philosophies of the Sith and the Jedi, then you’ll enjoy this novel. Hell, you might even end up burning to play The Old Republic! :-)
All in all, an excellent novel and another Force-strong effort from Paul; 8 / 10
Riptide is the sequel to Paul’s Star Wars EU debut, Crosscurrent (reviewed here), and though it’s a quick read (I finished it in three days), it’s a worthy successor, too.
Crosscurrent brought us Jaden Kor (some readers might remember him from the cool Star Wars PC game, Jedi Academy) and sent Jaden on a journey to find the meaning behind some disquieting Force-born visions he’d been having. Through that novel he discovered a very dangerous remnant from the days of Grand Admiral Thrawn and two smugglers who were tangled up in what quickly became an intense trial of survival. Jaden also came across a Jedi and a Sith literally thousands of years old and was pulled into their struggle for survival, too. (Incidentally, Crosscurrent is a novel that can also be read alongside the (much better than Legacy of the Force) Fate of the Jedi saga as well as John Jackson Miller’s Lost Tribe of the Sith.
Riptide picks up where Crosscurrent left off and sends the story hurtling into some very surprising directions, especially as regards Jaden. Not only is he still trying to solve the mystery of the Thrawn-era remnant I mentioned but he’s also trying to lead a Force-sensitive on the first tentative and dangerous steps toward Apprenticeship and Knighthood in the Jedi Order. Taken together these set up some intense problems for Jaden to overcome, and by extension, his friends. Fans of Knights of the Old Republic PC game and even the new Dawn of the Jedi comic series from Dark Horse should enjoy this novel as it gives readers another glimpse of an almost godly race of beings. Careful readers will also pick up nods to a certain Sith Order-offshoot created by one of the most controversial EU characters (who was first breathed into life by James Luceno in Cloak of Deception), and the storyline also settles in nicely with the then-current events in the Star Wars galaxy, namely the chaos left after the Second Galactic Civil War.
The novel has great humour, especially when certain characters are in very tight spots, excellent action and lightsaber duels, and the kind of philosophical journey’s that make Star Wars tales the kinds of tales that many diverse peoples can understand. I was hugely impressed with the (excuse the word) balls that Paul showed in this novel by doing what he did and I’m seriously hoping for more Jaden-centric novels from Paul.
8 / 10