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Review: Star Wars – Fate of the Jedi: Vortex by Troy Denning (Novel & Audiobook)

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). 🙂

Novel Review:

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. 🙂

Audiobook Review:

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!

Get your audiobook here: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kalahari.net.

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. 🙂

Until then,

Be EPIC!

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Posted by on January 13, 2011 in Reviews

 

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Review: Star Wars Fate of the Jedi – Abyss by Troy Denning

Hey everyone! 🙂 I’m back, after some trouble with the internet; seems that my service provider thought that it was high-time to ‘reset the ports’… what ever that means. Suffice it to say that I couldn’t do a damn thing, but it’s all working again now. 🙂

Anyway, let’s get into the review!

Abyss is the third book in the 9-Book Fate of the Jedi series, and the first book of the series by Troy Denning. The main plots that unfurl in this book are Luke and Ben Skywalker’s time in the Maw, the discoveries of Vestara Khai and her fellow Lost Tribe-Sith, and the continuing battle of wills between the Jedi and Chief of State of the Galactic Alliance, Daala.

If you haven’t yet read Book 1, Outcast (audio book reviewed here) and Book 2 (Omen, reviewed here), then don’t pick up Abyss. You wont know what’s going on, who’s who (especially the new characters such as Vestara) and you’ll end up feeling a bit bewildered. In fact, if you haven’t read at least the Legacy of the Force series, don’t read Fate of the Jedi; there’s just too much that has happened in the Expanded Universe that you missed, and that you need to know about in order to understand the character’s motivations in this series.

Abyss was, while not remotely the best work that Troy has done, both better than Outcast & Omen, and at the same time, not as good.

You see, Outcast set the tone for the series, introducing some of the major plot lines, and Omen introduced yet another plot line (that of John Jackson Miller’s Lost Tribe of the Sith); Abyss changes the game up a bit, bringing in a new character, but not much else changes – on Coruscant, the Jedi are still floundering their way through Daala’s unwholesome attentions, and the Jedi Knights are now dropping like flies (not dying, going insane), while Luke and Ben begin to take a closer look at the Maw, the roiling mass of black holes close to Kessel, because of a discovery made in their time with the Aing-Tee monks. It’s more of the same, in my opinion, and the new storyline-additions don’t offer much in the way of variety or newness.

Is this a case of being careful with the story, and not throwing in too much, or a case of being too careful, and taking too long to move tha tale forward? Only hindsight will tell.

I am, I’ll admit, curious about the direction that Fate of the Jedi is taking – the Jedi are really being shaken up and rattled around, and I can’t see the Order regaining their balance and status any time soon, if at all, after this series. If the Order did somehow manage to come back from the anger and distrust facing it now, it would have to be something incredible. I’m also intrigued about what is being discovered about Jacen Solo / Darth Caedus by Luke and Ben Skywalker; on the one hand, it seems that Jacen / Caedus just didn’t really use what he learned to do on his 5 year journey (during the Legacy of the Force series), and on the other hand, we are being shown a side of Jacen that paints him, and this is weird, as a better person and Jedi than Luke Skywalker. There’s just something about the way Jacen is remembered in Abyss by the various characters that Luke and Ben meet that doesn’t gel properly – sure, I know that he only embraced the name Caedus after murdering Mara Jade Skywalker, but it just seems that something else, other than Verger and Lumiya, happened to Jacen.

The case being made at the moment suggests that Jacen was preparing for a threat that Luke and Ben are only now discovering – and this, unfortunately, just doesn’t gel for me. The reason that Jacen become Caedus was to attain and use power so that he could bring peace to the galaxy; so far in Fate of the Jedi, it seems that Jacen discovered an actual, looming threat which has nothing to do with governments pulling out of the GA (in Legacy of the Force).

Anyway, I hope these weird inconsistencies are addressed in the next couple of books. 🙂

But how was the book itself?! I hear you asking. 🙂 Well, anyone who’s read Troy Denning’s work knows that the man writes a tight, pacey, thrilling tale, that his work is filled with excellent lightsaber battles as well as important philosophical ponderings, and that the man really loves Star Wars. Nothing has changed! 🙂

Troy pushes many of the characters to their limits, throws some great action set pieces our way, and takes us a bit deeper into the politics, scheming, and increases the stakes by showing us how the events taking place around the Jedi are leaving them more frantic and reactionary that they’ve ever been – after Order 66, there wasn’t an Order left, and the Order was way more capable during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion that what it seems to be now.

Troy also has some major surprises in store (in the Luke-Ben storyline) that might bring a tear to your eye (and plenty of goose flesh). 🙂

All in all, while I enjoyed Abyss and am still intrigued by Fate of the Jedi, it seems that the story hasn’t yet completely found its feet; it’s not something you can really blame on Troy or Aaron or Chistie (considering how such a series is put together in the first place), but it does have me concerned. I wouldn’t want to see the madness plaguing the Jedi or the information revealed about Jacen’s journey become a plot point that is readily cast aside – as happened with the Second Galactic Civil War in Legacy of the Force.

I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series, Aaron Allston’s Backlash (a nicely ominous title) as soon as I can (yes I know, still have to wait for it to be published), and hoping that things pick up momentum – going from the blurb I’ve read for Backlash, it seems that we won’t be disappointed. 🙂

8 / 10

To order your copy of Abyss, click here for USA, here for UK, and for those in South Africa, order your copy here or visit your closest Exclusive Books branch. And if you want some for information about Fate of the Jedi, click here for the Wookieepedia page.

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2010 in Reviews

 

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Review – Star Wars Legacy of the Force Invinsible

I finished Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Invincible last night, and for most of today I haven’t been able to think about it. I don’t yet know whether my reaction to the book surprised me or not – I’m a huge SWs fan, and I avidly read everything I can get my hands on that come from Lucas Books, so my liking for a galaxy far, far away might be biased, but then again, isn’t every fan? – so I’m doing this review as a way of trying to sort out my feelings about the end of the Legacy of the Force series.

 

First off, in my opinion, Invincible was not an adequate end to the series. When I bought the hardcover of Betrayal by Aaron Allston while I was in Australia visiting my parents, I was immediately and irrevocably hooked. This was promising to be even larger and more important than the New Jedi Order books, I the cliff-hanger-ending blew me away. As the books progressed, I began to get the feeling that some of the more minor plot points running through the series were being forgotten – because they began as major plot points and then kind of fizzled out.

 

Case in point, the civil war between the Galactic Alliance and the Confederacy; by the time Fury came and went, I knew that this civil war – civil war – had somehow taken backstage to the larger and more pressing events in the series, which I can totally understand; what is a civil war against the murders of both Mara Jade Skywalker and Jacen Solo / Darth Caedus? What could possibly be more important than the return of Boba Fett, having the Jedi hide themselves to survive, and having the galaxy return to a time of suspicion and iron control? I just didn’t think that the war ended properly – you would think that with Corellia’s independent streak, they might have decided, “You know what? Bugger you all, we’re staying independent!” But to just meekly sign an agreement with the new Galactic Alliance Chief of State (whom I will be discussing later) smacked of Troy Denning (or Sue Rostoni) thinking, I just don’t have time for this, let’s just end it. That said, I can understand that. Troy said that Invincible was a book focused exclusively on Jaina Solo and Jacen Solo / Darth Caedus; to pretend anything else would have completely wrecked the book. This book was about the Sword of the Jedi finally being forced to acknowledge the role she must take and the final fate of her twin brother.

 

And that, my friends, is where this book is achingly, extremely kickass. J Everyone’s reactions, thoughts, decisions and points of view made sense. When Caedus simply stands and lets his sister murder him (and lets not call apples oranges here, guys, that’s what Jaina did) and he is sending out a Force-scream trying to warn his ex-lover about a nanovirus attack, that is the Jacen Solo we got to know and love since his birth in the Thrawn era. That’s the Jacen Solo that was unmarked by the Yuuzhan Vong, or Vergere, or even the training accident where he cut off Tenel-Ka’s arm. Jacen forced Caedus into the background and took his place – in my opinion, Caedus redeemed himself, more completely than any dark sider returning to the light ever could or has. To stand against someone, knowing that you are going to die, and thinking of those you love and care for… that’s not a Sith reaction, my friends. Jacen Solo came back for a split second, and died.

 

Now, why do I say that Jaina murdered her brother? Well, Caedus turned everyone against him, following the path he had chosen, not regretting, and looking back only when he was analyzing his mistakes. Caedus knew what he was doing, and why he was doing it. But at the climax of the final duel, Caedus retreated – the shadowy force vision that spoke to Lumiya in Betrayal had accomplished what it needed to, and Jacen came to the fore again. But as Caedus, all that Jacen accomplished that will stay with his family and those who knew the full extent of his fall will be the fact that he caused everyone to mistrust, hate and pity him. How could Jaina be expected to trust a Sith? Jaina sure isn’t Anakin Skywalker, but her strength is also the one thing that will haunt her for the rest of her life.

This book was an utter and complete roller-coaster ride for me; the battles were epic and incredible, the duels pure Star Wars, in short, it was a great book. Except for the fact that the series should have perhaps run a bit longer – so as to give Jacen a bit more oomph as a Sith and make the civil war seem to make more sense – but all in all, a great book!

Now, we wait for Millenium Falcon! And if the rumors are true, the Falcon’s journey begins in the twilight days of the Galactic Republic, during a certain movie titled Revenge of the Sith… Apparently, the Falcon is in there, somewhere… 🙂

Star Wars Legacy of the Force Invincible

Star Wars Legacy of the Force Invincible

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2008 in Reviews

 

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