Planet of Twilight
by Barbara Hambly
Published by Bantam Publishing
Chris Kivlehan's Rating: 1.5 out of 4
Scott's Rating: 2 out of 4
This book continues the storyline from Children of the Jedi and Darksaber.
While Leia is on a secret diplomatic mission to a planet in civil war, her ship breaks out with a deadly virus. As the crew dies, Leia is kidnapped by Seti Ashgad and Dzim, the leaders of one of the factions. As the ship is sent off into hyperspace forever, C-3PO and R2-D2 escape. They then begin a journey to warn the Republic about the virus and Leias abduction. The virus then begins to ravage the galaxy with no known cure.
Meanwhile, Luke continues his search for his love, Callista. Her trail leads him to the planet where Leia just happens to be held and the center of all the trouble. As Luke arrives, he is attacked and crashes on the planet. As he gets away from his pursuers, he learns that the strange crystalline planet has a way of amplifying the Force. Luke then gets tied up in the local politics as he searches for Callista. He also learns that the crystals on the planet are a major component of high tech weapons and droids that enemies of the Republic would like to get their hands on.
Han Solo and Lando learn of Leias disappearance, and begin to search for her. However, they must keep the search quiet since nobody knows Leia has been kidnapped. While all this goes on, Leia learns more about her kidnappers and their associates, one of which is a Jedi Hutt.
As the story goes along, Luke never meets up with Callista. She basically says she cant be with Luke though she loves him, and that she must go find herself. Luke says, "OK" and that takes care of that. The droids run into Admiral Daala who makes a cameo appearance. She is leading a group of Imperial Sympathizers who just want to settle on a planet and be left alone. When she learns of the trouble going on, she runs in and saves the Republic within a few pages.
I enjoyed the paragraph where Hambly described Bail Organa's office on Alderaan. Alderaan's my favorite Star Wars world and it's nice to read more about it. I also liked the yellow lightsaber on the cover. For some reason I think that's a very cool color for a saber blade. Yes, I'm reaching.
Barbra Hambly has an excellent grasp of C-3PO and R2-D2s characters. The way they play off of each other and interact with other characters seems right off the big screen. The sub-story where the droids try to make it back to warn the New Republic is funny, serious, and very entertaining. She delves into the problems of a droid on its own in the Star Wars Universe.
Hambly also does something which few of the other authors have explored - Leias Jedi Training. In this story, she has a very cool scene in which Leia lightsaber duels with the Jedi Hutt. She also creates some really cool technology with the Needles - sleek black flying weapons with hyperspace capabilities, and the synthdroids - droids covered in human flesh. Like Guri in Shadows of the Empire, they are fast, deadly, and very human-like. Hambly also has given us the Star Wars version of duct tape - Space Tape. While the name is stupid, its pretty funny to see. I was hoping she would say, "The Force is like Space Tape, it has a Light side, a Dark side, and it binds the Galaxy together!" Finally, there was one scene that I really liked. Luke jumps into the middle of a battle and basically yells, "Stop! Youre being used by the bad guy!" The crowd stops, then one guy yells, "Shoot the whiner!" and all heck breaks loose. Pretty good! Hambly has a good sense of humor.
I'm not a big fan of Hambly's Star Wars books. I didn't like Children of the Jedi much, but I liked this one less. I'm going to spare you the gruesome details, yet I feel obliged to discuss some of the less pleasant general concepts. For example, the Hutt Jedi. That should be an oxy-moron. It's also a bit of a continuity fudge, which is my number one pet peeve. According to West End Games Hutts are Force blind...so how's there a Hutt Jedi?
Then there's this vampiric dark Jedi thing...Dzym. Now, I like Vampires--don't get me wrong. In fact, I own quite a few Vampire: The Masquerade books. And as you've noticed I love Star Wars...however vampires and Star Wars just don't mix, in my view. So that skewed me from the outset. Yes, Dzym wasn't quite a traditional vampire--he drank electro-magnetic fields rather than blood, but it's all the same effect. He's a sci-fi vampire then. Whatever.
I concur with Scott on every "bad" point he made.
First off, I was expecting this story to really dig deep into Luke and Callistas relationship and to settle the matter of if Luke will ever marry and carry on the Skywalker name. That was not what this story was about, so I was a bit disappointed. In fact, Luke and Callista never even meet in this story, and their agreement to leave each other alone was a real let-down. Next, SW characters being kidnapped has been done a bit too much. Leia was kidnapped in this story and Shadows, Han in the Corellian Trilogy and Black Fleet Crisis, Luke in New Rebellion and Shadows, the Solo kids in Crystal Star, etc. So it was not that entertaining to me here and it was the focus of the novel. Then the sub-plots of Han and Lando tracking Leia while C-3PO and R2-D2 trying to warn the Republic were not essential to the plot. You could have cut them out and it would have had no bearing on the outcome. This story should have just been a Luke and Leia short story in a collection. Admiral Daalas addition seems to have been an afterthought and was very unsatisfying. In Darksaber, she just had destroyed the Jedi Academy, had taken over the remains of the Empire, and appeared to plunge to her death. Here she reappears, says she just wants to be left alone, saves the Republic, falls in love on the last page while Luke gets the shaft, and is allowed to go free by the Republic. In my opinion, that was unlikely and unsatisfying. I also found the initial description of the political situation very confusing. In the battle scenes, I could not tell who was who or what they were fighting over (but that was probably just me). Finally, Hambly has a tendency to use variations of familiar words for names of things in the Star Wars Universe. Like drinking coffeine in a plastene cup while eating topatos. While I understand why she did it, it was a bit cheesy for my tastes.
There are many ugly things in this book. You a big ugly fan? This is the book for you! Drochs, Hutt Jedi, and the Uncle of Ugly himself, that vampiric kat Dzym.
Drochs. Did you see Wrath of Kahn? Same thing! Little bugs that dig into you, but these get bigger. Get some RAID, man!