The Clone Wars: Gambit: Siege
by Karen Miller
Published by Del Rey
Adrick's Rating: 2 out of 4
On the Outer Rim, the planet Lanteeb has no strategic value, no political power, and one enormous problem: It has been invaded by an emboldened Separatist Alliance. To find out why, Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi have snuck onto Lanteeb—and now look oblivion in the eye…
Hiding their lightsabers beneath their dusty disguises, Anakin and Obi-Wan draw on their Jedi skills to stay one step ahead of Lok Durd’s droid army on Lanteeb. The Jedi know that a captive scientist has given Durd the keys to a terrifying bioweapon. Durd knows that the Jedi are on his planet. With Yoda calling on the powers of the Jedi Council, with a new Separatist technology jamming the Guardians’ communications, and with a traitor at the heart of the Republic’s government, the wheels of war are turning. But the Separatists have blockaded Lanteeb. The finishing touches are being put on a weapon to destroy whole worlds. And it will be up to the two Jedi Knights and their most trusted comrades to liberate Lanteeb or forever suffer the consequences.
Siege, part two of the Gambit duology that closes out the adult The Clone Wars novels, shows a great deal of improvement over Miller’s two previous Clone Wars tales. Miller has had a tendency to dial the emotional tone of scenes up to eleven (making the volatile Anakin of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith seem relaxed and reserved in comparison), but here the random emotional outbursts are almost nonexistent. There are many moments (such as Anakin’s discussion with Obi-Wan about his initial disapproval of Anakin in The Phantom Menace and an amusing scene with Mace Windu) where the characters are allowed to behave naturally. These are enjoyable scenes.
And boy howdy, are there a lot of characters here. Miller taps practically every character featured in The Clone Wars TV show: Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padme, Bail, Palpatine, Ahsoka, Yoda, Dooku, Rex, Yularen…everyone short of Ventress and Grievous, although even the latter is present, albeit offscreen. We get to delve inside the heads of all of these Star Warriors, and this is what makes Siege really stand out from other Clone Wars-era adventures. The television show specializes in swashbuckling spectacle, and the novels from the previous Clone Wars publishing program dealt mostly in novels centered around a small group of characters.
Here we actually get to find out the day-to-day thoughts and feelings of all our favorite Clone Wars heroes and villains. In that sense, this novel is surprisingly epic in its scope, even though the action is mostly limited to Lanteeb and Coruscant. Siege focuses more on character than story; which is probably just as well, since the “Anakin and Obi-Wan leave the front lines to investigate a new weapon” plot is essentially just a Tuesday for them.
Miller focuses primarily on the established Clone Wars characters, but the villagers Anakin and Obi-Wan must convince to make a stand against the Seperatists (Wednesday) are interesting, reasonably well fleshed out characters also. The inter-village conflict is handled very well; it’s clear that Miller understands a thing or two about developing conflict between characters. (An element sorely lacking in The Clone Wars: No Prisoners.)
All in all, Siege is an enjoyable day-in-the-life look at the Clone Wars characters. If you made it through Stealth, you should definitely check out Siege.
Again, story is not Siege’s strong point: the banter between Obi-Wan and Anakin is enjoyable, but often doesn’t support the plot, and the threat of the bioweapon isn’t really made evident until more than halfway through this book—which is the second book in the series. If it had been deployed earlier, the stakes would have been higher, and that particular plotline would have been more engaging.
Since Siege’s strength lies in its characters; not its plot, this isn't a major problem. What is a major problem is Jedi Master Taria Damsin. Fortunately she doesn’t appear often, but she's such an unapologetic Mary Sue (Check all that apply: blatantly physical relationship with a main character not known to have such relationships, idolized by preexisting characters, rescues main characters, has unusual hair color, etc., etc.) that the quality level of Siege plummets from professional Star Wars novel to mediocre fan fiction whenever she does show up.
It makes sense that Obi-Wan hunts down the latest Separatist bioweapon every Tuesday, but I don’t buy that he runs into old girlfriends every third Thursday. He isn’t Han Solo, for crying out loud, and it’s already happened twice before in the Clone Wars: in the recent Mandalorian episodes of The Clone Wars and in Jude Watson’s Secrets of the Jedi before that. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of this particular one.
The effects of Durd’s bioweapon. Ick.