New Jedi Order
Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse
by James Luceno
Published by Del Ray
Scott's Rating: 3 out of 4
This is the second book in the two part Agents of Chaos series.
The Yuuzhan Vong continue their invasion of the Star Wars galaxy. As they invade Gyndine, Princess Leia helps a group of refugees escape the planet. Among them are members of the Ryn race and relatives of Droma, Han's new co-pilot. The Ryn escape the immediate threat of the alien invaders, but they must now face those in the galaxy who choose to prey upon the fleeing refugees. This only complicates matters as Han and Droma try to chase them down.
Also on Gyndine is Jedi Knight Wurth Skidder. He allows himself to be captured in an attempt to learn more about the Yuuzhan Vong, but he quickly gets in over his head as he faces one of their yammosk creatures.
Meanwhile, the New Republic comes up with a plan to lure the Yuuzhan Vong into a deadly trap at Corellia. The idea is to use the massive Centerpoint Station (from the Corellian Trilogy) as a weapon to wipe out the Yuuzhan Vong fleet. The big risk is that it requires leaving the planets in the Corellian system undefended as bait. Through espionage, political manipulating, and secret deals with the Hutts, the trap is set. But will the Yuuzhan Vong fall for it? Can Anakin Solo reactivate the alien machinery? And can Princess Leia recruit the Hapans to join the battle?
NOTE!! - This review does contain spoilers from the novel. If you have not read it, you may want to think twice before proceeding.
One of my favorite things about James Luceno's work is his talent for writing space battles. I don't know what it is about them, but when he describes them I can easily picture them as if they were on the big screen. They are fast paced and exciting. This is perfect when Han is called to charge headfirst into battle with the Yuuzhan Vong, and it happens several times in Jedi Eclipse.
As in the first book, Luceno shows his extensive knowledge of the Star Wars Universe in all its hidden corners. He brings up vague references to past novels, comics, and more. There's bit of Young Jedi Knights, the Brian Daley Han Solo series, the Corellian Trilogy, Courtship of Princess Leia, and more. Luceno does an incredible job of tying all of the books together and making them seem like one narrative. And some of the cameos are a real treat.
Fans of Tenel Ka may be really disappointed that she doesn't play much of a role, but the Hapans play a big part of this book. I was really hoping to see some significant action between them and the Yuuzhan Vong, but it did not happen. I would hope it would occur in a future book, but by the end of this story that seems unlikely.
A significant portion of Jedi Eclipse follows Droma's gypsy-like relatives. I thought this was going to be boring, but their plight was actually very interesting. It was good to see the Yuuzhan Vong conflict from the point of view of the little people rather than Jedi Warriors, Senators, or whatever.
Finally, Droma pretty much leaves Han by the end of this novel. I thought he was a great temporary sidekick. I also thought it was good to have him run around with Han for a short while rather than be a new permanent co-pilot. After all, nobody can replace Chewie.
Now don't getta me wrongo! I think this was a very well written book. I did think it was better than a lot of the other Star Wars books. However, this novel has "bridge syndrome". It comes across as a bit of filler between the start of the New Jedi Order story and the end. Nothing of lasting significance happens in this book. The events of it could be summed up in a couple of sentences and you could continue the series without reading it. The most notable event of the book happens toward the very end as Centerpoint Station is fired, but the results don't seem to be of lasting significance to the overall storyline.
Luceno can also be a bit verbose. Having a thesarus nearby may be required while reading Jedi Eclipse. For example, in the first two pages of the book, the following words appear: crepuscular, perambulated, lambent, mephitic, inveigled, taurill. I'm all for expanding people's vocabularies, but this is a little much. Luckily, though, this is only the case in the first part of the book and is not a concern later on.
Then there's the cover. Not only does it have a poorly painted Han Solo, but the scene makes no sense. The scene depicted never happened in the book and it makes it look like Han Solo has teamed up with a Yuuzhan Vong warrior or something. It's a bit confusing.
As for the story elements, the Wurth Skidder portion of the book had me very interested. Unfortunately, it had a great buildup before falling flat. You expect a major final confrontation between Skidder and his captors, but it never happens. It was very unsatisfying.
And I appreciate the Yuuzhan Vong technology being weird and organic, but sometimes it is just plan stupid. For example, in this book a massive tentacled yammosk sits in a pool of goo. Prisoners are made to wade in and massage the creatures tentacles to make it happy and fly the ship faster. No, I'm not kidding you. Couldn't something better have been dreamed up?
Then the moral ranting of Jacen Solo is not only becoming annoying, but ridiculous. The authors of the NJO books seem to have Jacen making an anti-war statement over and over (which is fine), and he often debates with Anakin about this. But his philosophy doesn't match his actions. Jacen is perfectly willing to slice a Yuuzhan Vong from head to toe with his lightsaber to save someone, but when Anakin is able to wipe out the whole Yuuzhan Vong fleet with the press of a button and save millions of lives, Jacen tells him not to do it. That simply doesn't make sense based on his previous actions. I'm not buying the arguments he repeatedly makes.
On another note, a significant portion of the book was devoted to Droma's family and his attempt to find them. After two books building up to this, the reader is denied the opportunity to see the final reunion since it happens "off screen". It should have been discussed at least a little bit more.
Finally, it is hinted that Han Solo meets Bollux in the story. However, the droid Solo encounters insists that he's not Bollux and the matter is not revisited. So was he Bollux or wasn't he? It seems he truly was not. But why not have him make a cameo? I was confused by the whole matter.
Yuuzhan Vong prisoner food. Kind of like hot dogs, you don't ask where it came from or what's in it.