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Fate of the Jedi: Omen

Wes's Rating

1.2/ 4

Adrick's Rating

2 / 4

Paul's Rating

/ 4

Stephen's Rating

0.8 / 4

Matt's Rating

/ 4


The Jedi Order is in crisis. The late Jacen Solo's shocking transformation into murderous Sith Lord Darth Caedus has cast a damning pall over those who wield the Force for good. Two Jedi Knights have succumbed to an inexplicable and dangerous psychosis. Criminal charges have driven Luke Skywalker into self-imposed exile. And power-hungry Chief of State Natasi Daala is exploiting anti-Jedi sentiment to undermine the Order's influence within the Galactic Alliance.

Forbidden to intervene in Jedi affairs, Luke is on a desperate mission to uncover the truth behind Jacen's fall to the dark side -- and to learn what's turning peaceful Jedi into raving lunatics. But finding answers will mean venturing into the mind-bending space of the Kathol Rift, and bargaining with an alien species as likely to destroy outsiders as deal with them. Still, there is no other choice and no time to lose, as the catastrophic events on Coruscant continue to escalate. Stricken by the same violent dementia that infected her brother, Valin, Jedi Knight Jysella Horn faces an equally grim fate after her capture by Daala's police. And when Han and Leia Solo narrowly foil another deranged Jedi bent on deadly destruction, even acting Grand Master Kenth Hamner appears willing to bow to Daala's iron will -- at the expense of the Jedi Order.

But an even greater threat is looming. Millennia in the past, a Sith starship crashed on an unknown, low-tech planet, leaving the survivors stranded. Over the generations, their numbers have grown anew, the ways of the dark side have been nurtured, and the time is fast approaching when this lost tribe of Sith will once more take to the stars to reclaim their legendary destiny as rulers of the galaxy. Only one thing stands in their way to dominance, a name whispered to them through the Force: Skywalker.


Wes: Back in the days when the post-Return of the Jedi Star Wars novel series included paperbacks in their rotation, it was somehow accepted that sections of these paperbacks would largely be filler and the big, galaxy-changing events would drop on readers from the pages of the hardcovers. They are more than three times the price after all, and Star Wars fans have come to expect some bang for their buck, so to speak.

Two hardcover novels into Del Rey's newest Star Wars series, Fate of the Jedi, it just isn't happening. These books would seem bogged down with filler and plotlines that go absolutely nowhere even by our sad, arcane paperback standards.

Even more puzzling is the fact that less than 50 pages in, this entire series already feels like an exercise in repetition.

What happens in Omen you ask? Well, more or less, the exact same things that happen in Outcast. Two Jedi catch the dark side, launching mini rampages without actually hurting anyone. One ends up in prison at the Jedi Temple and the other gets held by Daala. One of them is even a Horn, for crying out loud.

Luke and Ben visit a group of Force-users, pick up a new trick, but learn nothing of any significance about Jacen Solo's journey or what's happening to the young Jedi on their way to the madhouse.

Does this sound familiar?

While Outcast reminded me more of a book from the Bantam era (particularly the Black Fleet Crisis), Omen feels more like a Young Jedi Knights novel, or one of the other Star Wars series aimed at young readers, both in its plot and in terms of characters. Perhaps this is the result of many of the POVs in the book coming from younger characters like Ben and a new Sith character named Vestara, but even when the adults are in the picture all three storylines feel as though they could have been yanked from the old YJK novels.

There's a certain, "Hey, let's go on an adventure; it will be fun!" quality to it all, coupled with, "let's be friends forever and ever" interaction.

Unfortunately, these elements saturate Omen from very early on in the novel. In the book's first chapter, we see Jysella Horn with her two closest friends (a clique that they've given the extremely original name "The Unit"... yeah...) and their interaction is all syrupy sweet, Saturday morning cartoons and shoulder-patting, comforting Jysella over Valin's antics with "Honeys" and "We're the Unit? the Unit can always rely on each other" (Yes, they really seem to refer to themselves this way).

The characters are all one-dimensional cardboard cutouts. We are told their attributes rather than ever being shown them through some meaningful dialogue and interaction. There?s nothing interesting or original about them, no conflict, and as such, it makes it difficult to feel invested in what happens to the characters in Omen in any way. It's all too generic, and this is a problem that runs through the entirety of the novel.

If you read the excerpt for this story at the end of Outcast, you know that Jysella is the next Jedi to catch the dark side disease, and like her brother, instantly believes that everyone she knows has actually been replaced by evil doppelg?ngers in the largest conspiracy ever. And like Valin and Seff Hellin, Jysella suddenly has a power she didn't have before? flow-walking.

This is, of course, the Aing-Tii power made famous in Troy Denning's Dark Nest series and seen again in Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines and Inferno that allows a person to travel backwards or forwards in time to witness events, but we're told, not actually change them except in the memories of those present. The problem is the "flow-walking" in Omen bears absolutely no resemblance to any previous examples of this ability. Jysella sees the future and then changes it. If we weren't told this was flow-walking we'd have no idea? it is absolutely indistinguishable from every other vision of the future a Jedi has ever had. Ever.

So how is this "flow-walking"? You've got me. The only other time we've seen flow-walking into the future was Jacen Solo back in The Joiner King when he leaves a message for his mother in the wreckage of Tachyon Flier, who will arrive some time later. Which was the actual future. If flow-walking just reveals a possible future, how is it different from a Jedi vision? What?s the point? And why would you be able to change the future but not the past, as we're told in Legacy of the Force? It just doesn't seem to square at all.

Fortunately, we don't really have to think about these things. Cilghal, like a Mon Calamari Quincy, is there to tell us Jysella is flow-walking when she feels one of those "disturbances in the Force" you hear so much about. And even though the book makes it clear Cilghal has never so much as flow-sauntered, witnessed a flow-walk, or felt anything like it before, she knows exactly what it is.

As evidence to her conclusion, we're told that Jysella's subsequent rampage after catching crazy was bolstered by her flow-walking abilities, which allowed her to anticipate her opponents' attacks and movements? you know, like every single Jedi fighting. Ever.

We're told this was unique however, that Jysella's ability to do this is "uncanny," that she's seeing further ahead than typical Jedi pre-cog, yet she's surprised when she runs into her friends and doesn't see herself being arrested only a few seconds later.

I wish I could say there are explanations for this stuff somewhere in Omen? there aren't.

Moving along, our little time traveler?s hyperspace jump to the dark side plays out exactly like her brother's, with no one actually being harmed save her friend "Barv," one of the "Unit" who gets a minor lightsaber wound. He's big and they call him "The Big Guy"? The Unit strikes again!

Even though the fight with Jysella had taken only "a couple of minutes" outside of the Jedi Temple before her arrest, a speeder with Daala shows up just as the GA forces are slapping cuffs on her. Aides immediately spring out and assemble a podium for the Alliance's Chief of State right there in the street so that Daala can give a speech about how dangerous the Jedi are. The effect is almost comical, creating an image of Daala cruising around the city at all hours with her podium in sections at the ready, just waiting for another Jedi to go nuts.

I laughed, but I'm not sure I was supposed to.

There is a very thin explanation about Daala's assistant monitoring comm traffic inside the Temple, but it really doesn't hold up to much scrutiny given the timing.

The speech that follows is a good example of another problem that hampers Fate of the Jedi: Omen, however? characters don't sound like they're in the Star Wars universe. The dialogue bounces from being too informal, using off-hand, earthly idioms, to words and phrases better suited for some other fantasy series (probably something with elves, orcs, and magic). For example, here are two sentences from Daala's speech:

"Their former leader, erstwhile Grand Master Luke Skywalker, failed in his duty to protect the public from one Jedi who sought to obtain power. All of you know, he pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment of a population."

There's something strange about using "erstwhile" after "former," or using a world like "erstwhile" at all followed by an off-handed, "All of you know," in what is a speech to a gathering of people. The words just seem to trip over themselves, the dialogue never fitting character or occasion.

This continually jars the reader out of the story and the GFFA. Golden struggles to attain the right balance and characters never sound quite right.

Crummy dialogue aside, the characterization of Daala is actually one of the things I like best about this novel. There's no subtlety in it, but Daala (who has "eyes" again. No word on what happened to the patch, if she got a cybernetic replacement, or if the crazy thing just grew back) is so over-the-top, so arch, that it's actually a welcome change from the "Daala's not so bad" wink-and-nudge routine of Outcast. In Omen, you get the sense that if she had a mustache, she'd be twirling it while tying nubile Jedi to railroad tracks and cackling.

There's just something fun about that and I largely enjoyed her POV scenes when the dialogue didn't intrude.

The bulk of Omen revolves around three main storylines from here, one of which is Luke and Ben's continued adventure across space to learn more about what happened to Jacen Solo during his sojourn and caused his fall to the dark side.

When Fate of the Jedi was first announced and we were told that Luke and Ben would be retracing Jacen's footsteps, the first thing that jumped to my mind was, "Aing-Tii!" They're one of my favorite Star Wars mysteries and I was really looking forward to seeing them in a novel and learning more about them and their mystic powers. So when I saw that Luke and Ben were hitting the Kathol Rift to see the Aing-Tii in Omen, I was very excited.

Unfortunately, this storyline is even more pointless and disappointing than the Skywalkers' visit to the Baran Do Sages in Outcast. The plot here is pretty vague, involving a prophet whose visions have caused a rift among the Aing-Tii, who turn to Luke for help settling the dispute. There's no real resolution here, and the reader is never given any reason to care one way or another what happens. It's just there like background noise that couldn't seem less interesting.

There's nothing gained save learning the next location Jacen went after his visit to the Aing-Tii and Ben getting an opportunity to flow-walk only to see a moment when Jacen was learning from the monks and deciding that he could do nothing to save him? but we already knew that.

Outside of Luke getting a kinky tongue-bath from the Aing-Tii, this entire section feels like one giant lost opportunity.

Another, somewhat puzzling, trend in Omen is Golden's insistence on telegraphing everything that's going to happen before it does. For instance, before the Skywalkers enter the Kathol Rift, we're told what obstacles they're going to face and how Luke plans to counter them. Then, just a few paragraphs later, they face these challenges and they're resolved just the way we're told they're going to be. It makes the whole thing seem redundant, robbing the reader of any sense of surprise and keeping us from appreciating any cleverness in these solutions (one of which really is quite good.).

And it doesn't stop there? Golden does the same thing with any jokes, telling you about the joke before the character involved makes it, preventing anyone from finding it funny and adding another layer of repetitiveness (Not that they were really funny anyway. They?re jokes like ?teenage boys eat a lot!? Ha ha ha?).

These are really things that should have been caught in the editing process as they seem to damage everything Golden is trying to do.

Unlike Outcast, there aren't even the well-written father and son moments to make these scenes worth your time. Characters are always ground down to the shallowest clich?s and stereotypes rather than being presented as three-dimensional people. On the Jade Shadow, we're told Luke and Ben don't care about manners because they're "just two bachelors" eating. Granted, they are unmarried men, but does that really sound like Luke Skywalker? Do people really think, "Hey, we're two guys!"? I half expected Jaina to go shopping later in the novel and talk about how she was feeling fat that day.

You know, 'cause she's a girl.

The second storyline is also loaded with untapped potential, but that's not to say there aren't good things about it. For starters, all but the last of these chapters take place two years before the events of Fate of the Jedi, when Ship, everyone's favorite saucy Sith Meditation Sphere, goes in search of real Sith to teach and discovers a group of previously unheard of Sith marooned on a planet called Kesh for the last 5,000 years. I really enjoyed the shifting between two different time periods even if it did seem a little like, "Well, we haven't established the villains for this series so we're going to go back in time to make it seem like they've been around for awhile." This is something we rarely see in Star Wars novels and I appreciate the change in pace.

These scenes center around a Sith girl named Vestara who is fourteen (making her sixteen in Fate of the Jedi? the same age as Ben. I can smell love in the air already). Despite having many scenes in the book, Vestara never really feels fleshed out, suffering from the same one-dimensional characterization as most of the book?s cast, each moment of internal POV hitting the same narrow themes again and again. Perhaps because of her age, these sections feel the most like something from a novel for younger readers, but the entire atmosphere of the Sith on Kesh lends itself to this.

The Lost Tribe here aren't your typical Sith. They don't subscribe to Bane's rule of two, they don't get real tattoos and see any scarring as some sort of shameful deformity, and they seem to have strangely normal family lives.

In short, they're even more watered-down than One Sith, and I found it hard to believe that Ship would seek these lightweights out instead. It's not entirely clear just what "Sith" the Lost Tribe are. 5,000 BBY puts them around the Great Hyperspace War. It's possible they are descendants of the original Sith species as well. Lines like the one about "Sith blood" pumping through Vestara's veins are open to interpretation.

Whatever they were, what they've become is something very different. I suppose this is the evolution of a Sith Order stuck on one planet for so long, cutoff from the rest of the galaxy, but it's not exactly frightening in any way, nor do they seem like credible villains.

Here's an example of a stirring speech delivered by their leader, Lord Vol, after Ship (who sometimes, inexplicably, becomes male in the book...) arrives on Kesh and renews their purpose:

"Even if every other Sith on every other world has died... we are still here! Our traditions, our beliefs?they still endure. We have thrived on this world. And perhaps this is why we were here?so that in this time of need, we, the Tribe, can restore the Sith!

"Now is the moment of our destiny! And we will not shirk it. This Ship will serve us. It will teach us about this universe as it is now, not as we thought it was in our na?vet?, shunted away to this unknown world. We will emerge from our rest and conquer. It is in our blood. It is in our bones. We are Sith, and we will not falter!"

I don't know about you, but I'm pumped.

Give that man some pom-poms.

You can again see the problems with the dialogue here, with idioms like, "we will not shirk our destiny." I cringed.

I did find myself very interested in how these Sith came to be stranded on Kesh and the way in which they've reorganized themselves, but these mysteries don't really yield many surprises. And there is a question of how many times LFL & co. are going to go to this well. We?ve got a surprise order of Sith in Legacy, a Lady of the Sith returning in Legacy of the Force, and the return of the Sith Empire in "The Old Republic" MMORPG... It really feels like the Fate of the Jedi team realized they couldn't actually use One Sith despite their teasing in LotF because One Sith isn't known to the rest of the galaxy for about a hundred years, so they just said, "Hey, let's just make another Sith Order like it and our heroes can fight them."

Why not just come up with a new villain all together? Denning did a wonderful job with the Killiks in The Dark Nest Trilogy. Both he and Allston were part of the team that wrote the New Jedi Order, introducing one of the best, and certainly one of the most memorable villains in the Expanded Universe, the Yuuzhan Vong.

Now we've got Sith popping up so often they just don't feel special anymore. We've seen this play out so many times already.

The third storyline begins with Han and Leia, who are concerned about Allana not having a normal life being removed from her mother and traipsing across the galaxy with them on their adventures. The solution to this problem?

Buy Allana a pony.

Well, a Star Wars version of a flying lizard pony: a Thranta.

... Yeah.

They decide to go to some Livestock Exchange to get her one.

The reasoning here is a bit dizzying, beyond how riding an animal on Coruscant is going to make Allana feel "normal." I can't think of anyone riding an animal on that planet with the exception of Yoda in the Clone Wars cartoon with his Kybuck... or maybe the Yuuzhan Vong when it was Yuuzhan'tar. Leia says Thrantas can't survive on Coruscant because of the pollution. It's hard to understand where Han and Leia were going to keep this rideable pet and where Allana was going to ride it... Doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Thankfully, we don't really have to worry about this, because when the Solos go to the Livestock Exhibition, they bring along some random Jedi who just happens to catch the dark sides.

Mayhem ensues.

By now, you can guess how the situation gets resolved, and what little action there is is as dull as the rest of this novel.

On the plus side, I really like the possibilities for the pet Allana does settle on.

But the hands-down worst scene in Fate of the Jedi: Omen comes midway through the book when Jag and Jaina go on a date. They have codenames and decoys, and the whole thing is an elaborate ruse they pull off with the help of friends and family so they can slip away to a hotel without the press knowing and spend the night together.

Apparently Winter and Tahiri have nothing better to do than drive Jaina and Jag around and make sure they're getting some.

This entire scene reads like really, really bad fan fic.

It's awful.

There are also a myriad of continuity gaffes like Jysella thinking about how she misses the old Jedi Temple on Coruscant before the Yuuzhan Vong destroyed it, when Luke's Jedi Order never had a Temple there and Jysella would have been too young to really remember it anyway.

While not the worst Star Wars book ever, Omen is certainly competitive.

My advice: Save your money. Fate of the Jedi: Omen isn't worth your $27 and nothing of significance occurs that won't be summed up in a few sentences of back story in the next book in the series.


The Good

Omen is the second book in the Fate of the Jedi series, and is the introductory Star Wars novel from author Christie Golden. It?s always nice to see a new face on the Star Wars novel scene, and Golden seems to have a fairly good grasp of the characters in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which is definitely a positive sign. I think she?ll prove to be more consistent in style and characterization with fellow series authors Aaron Allston and Troy Denning than Karen Traviss was in Legacy of the Force.

Golden introduces a number of new characters in this novel, including a band of Jedi friends who find themselves stricken with the inexplicable madness assailing the Order, and several new Sith characters, descendants of an ancient band who had crash-landed on a remote planet years before. These Sith have developed a different social order than those we?ve seen before, which could make for some interesting conflicts.

Another plot thread involves Luke and Ben exploring the Kathol Rift, in an attempt to learn what Jacen had discovered in that mysterious area of space amongst the equally mystifying Aing-Tii. As in Outcast, I enjoyed the Luke and Ben team, and here we see them probing the unknown parts of the Star Wars galaxy, which is definitely exciting.

One of my favorite parts of the novel was an exciting scene at the Coruscant Livestock Exchange. Without giving too much away, what I took for a tedious and cheesy character building moment quickly turned into a thrilling and well-thought out action sequence. And there?s also a particularly satisfying resolution of a long-dangling character relationship that I?m looking forward to seeing develop further in this series.

The Bad

I disliked the extensive use of the holonet media in this story for a number of reasons. I realize that making the public question the necessity of the Jedi Order is vital to the story of this series. However, the fact that Jedi are becoming inexplicably insane and assaulting innocent people is enough to make anyone wary of the Jedi?you don?t need a journalistic spin to mar the Jedi?s reputation. Heck, even I think putting the crazies in carbonite is an acceptable method of keeping the public safe.

It?s also true that this can be read as a commentary on the increasing prevalence and influence of the media in current affairs. Well, possibly? but this is Star Wars, you know? Here I kind of prefer spaceships and aliens and cosmic energy fields and spiritual quests and adventures over social commentary. And even if it is social commentary, it isn?t particularly interesting, insightful, or well executed.

We?ve seen the media in a number of different Star Wars stories before now, but most of those appearances had something to recommend them; the comic relief of the Ugnaught Action Tidings news crew, the interesting characterization of journalist Den Dhur, or the in-universe feel of HoloNet News. Here it?s just a surprisingly large element of Coruscant planetary intrigue that bogs down the story. It?s not Golden?s fault?this issue is carried over from the previous novel, Outcast?but it?s worth mentioning.

I also admit to being skeptical of this new breed of Sith? the reintroduction of the Sith Lady Lumiya in Legacy of the Force was a major draw for me, but the frequent reappearance of lost or obscure Sith sects and their dominance in practically every era has now defanged the Sith in my opinion? perhaps permanently. This is particularly true in the Legacy era, where we have now been given no less than three distinct hidden Sith sects acting more or less independently from one another. But I?m willing to keep an open mind.

The Ugly

Occasionally authors seem to forget that dialogue is but one of the narrative tools at their disposal, and come up with something that sounds straight from one of the radio dramas. Here are the rather lengthy instructions Jaina gives Han to get to safety during a stampede: ?Dad! You have to keep Amelia safe! I?ll go fight my way through, grab a speeder or a speeder bike or something, and come back for you. That display?climb on top of it. Most of the herd animals can?t climb and the only ones tall enough to get you would be the rontos, and they?re trying to get out, not attack.? I think by the time Jaina addresses the issue of ronto attacks, she?s completely killed the sense of urgency built up by the stampede. All she needed to say was ?Dad! Get Amelia on that display and I?ll come back for you!?


Today's review is for the second novel in the Fate of the Jedi series, entitled Omen (ISBN: 978-0-345-50912-3).  The premier Star Wars novel by author Christie Golden, Omen clocks in at 236 pages (not counting the 15 page or so preview of the next novel). Ms. Golden is a rather prolific writer, especially in the category of media tie-ins where she's done work for that other space franchise and Warcraft. So, with both of those factors (i.e. that she's never done Star Wars but has done media tie-ins) in mind, I delved into novel quite ready and willing to forgive minor characterization and continuity issues that may have sprung up.

Alas, I have once again been betrayed by my mere expectations of performance.

And not for the better.  But more on that later.

For, there is something that desperately needs to be brought up here. Which is I'm Henry VIII, I Am. Now, the reason for this, is that the bridge to this song from the 1st and 2nd verses is thus: Second verse, same as the first.  Which, sadly, is a fairly accurate description of this book.

The plot has 3 main pathways: crazy Jedi, Luke and Ben's spirit journey and the other plot point. The crazy Jedi path reads pretty much like a duplicate of the path from Outcast in which a Jedi goes bonkers, ranting and raving and then is captured. Since nearly a third of the novel is dedicated to this, it feels derivative and unoriginal. Worse, it feels like a rehashing of the the first quarter of Outcast.

But that still left us with 2 plot lines in which to get excited about. Or it would if one could get excited about Luke & Ben's little journey of self-discovery. Unfortunately, I couldn't. Again, a plot line needs something in which we become invested in it. It needs an element of suspense or danger, or just something which means we get emotionally invested in the characters; it was this something which I found lacking in this plot thread.

Ultimately, I did find the 3rd of the threads compelling. I was excited to read about the character, and wanted more of it. Which is scary--the information focusing exclusively on the nominal bad guys of the series should not be the most compelling and emotionally involving of your plot lines.  There's something off about that, and that fact damages the rest of the book.

The reason for the compelling nature of this 3rd plot line can be attributed to the main character which inhabits it: Vestara Khai (a Sith Tyro and apprentice). She's probably one of the better characters introduced lately. I enjoyed her a lot more than any of the young Jedi apprentices that we've seen recently, and sadly, I'm more interested in knowing what happens with her character than I am about the mental-break-down Jedi.

Of course, Vestara gets only a short amount of the book focused on her. We also have Cilghal, Jaina, Jysella Horn, and Luke and Ben Skywalker to look at.  Overall, Ms. Golden has a firm hand on these characters. In the broad strokes, she gets their personalities and major character quirks. In general, she does a good job.

But she falters in the fact that it doesn't read quite right. For example, she has in one scenario, where Ben and Luke are enjoying a meal together this line: "But right now, they were simply two bachelors eating dinner and talking, and formality had gone out the air lock, and Luke didn't mind one bit."

This is fail. Major, utter, fail. First, Luke is fundamentally a farmboy. That is one of the defining aspects of who he is, he was raised in what amounts to a backwater city, on a farm. To be blunt, he's a redneck hick, who fixes his own tractor and likes to shoot and drive fast. While I was not raised on the farm itself, my grandparents were the equivalent of Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. Additionally, my dad was raised in one of those backwater towns.  It's instilled in me that you eat properly, and you don't talk with your mouth full. It's not a matter of formality, it's a matter of respect. Likewise, my sons get in trouble for doing so.

Secondly, it just doesn't ring... true that a father would think of him and his teenaged son as two "bachelors."  That phrase has certain connotations, the least of which is that they're on the prowl for the next proverbial piece of meat--and I'm not talking about the nerf everyone seems to be eating in this book. Additionally, the use of the word is simply wrong there. Since I am married, I can never again be a bachelor. It is an impossibility for me to be one. I can be a widower or a divorcee, but I can never again be a bachelor, as by definition it is either a human male who has never been married, or in general biology, a male who has not mated.  Of course, this two things could all be my own biases flowing through, but it was a rather shocking turn of phrase, and knocked my suspension of belief on its head.

Ignoring the Skywalker boys, I have two other character complaints. The first of these is related to Jysella Horn. I cannot call it a characterization issue, as she has had no characterization prior to this point. But, she and her friends call their little clique "The Unit" and they continue to use that phrase well into their mid-twenties. Which seems a bit childish, or juvenile to me. I realize that in the Star Wars galaxy 80 is the new 40, but I did not realize that that implied that 20 was the new 13.

Additionally, why "The Unit?" I mean, Jagged Fel came up with better phrases and names than that for his date. Couldn't one of these four have at least a bit of creativity? Maybe the "Big Guy" whose defining characteristic was "big, slightly dumb brute," but no, everyone in "The Unit" is just a mere cardboard characters that were needed for what is effectively a juvenile-reader trope.

But speaking of Jag's creative naming brings me to the other complaint: why do Jaina and Jag go through so many hurdles in order to have a date? Let's look at this, the two lovebirds arrive at a restaurant, walk inside the restaurant together, and then jump through a dozen hoops in order to go somewhere else for dinner (or was it just an implied booty call)? He's the leader of the Empire and the son of an Imperial Baron, and she's the daughter of Princess Leia and General Han Solo--they should be used to a little bit of aggressive journalists and seeing their names in the sludgenews. Above that, they knew that the reporters were going to report on their movements, and the fact that they were having a date with one another. They weren't even hiding that, so why all the cloak and dagger nonsense again? 

Now, as I stated earlier in this review, I was expecting some minor continuity errors and things of that nature. What we got instead was a proverbial slap in the face of continuity.  I almost wrote a few hundred words here about the Jedi Temple, but realized that it's just as easy to say look up the history of the Temple of Wookiepedia and then re-read the fifth paragraph of page 10. Then 2 pages later, she speaks on how the Jedi Temple was "home" and how it was a "special place" for every Jedi, when earlier works have made it clear that their home base were Yavin IV and then Ossus. Luckily, that was the worse offense in regards to continuity flubs--or I just stopped looking for them after page 15.

The theme here was non-existent. I could not find one. There was nothing in this book that screamed (or whimpered for that matter) "Hey! I'm a lesson!" There were a number of short fights, but again, there was no HERO who struggled against overwhelming odds. There is nothing ominous about this novel, and only 1 literal possibility to explain the title. I have literally nothing to put here, and to me it seems that this was merely media-tie-in writing at its worst; it feels as if the author did not have a story to tell, she had a series of events to describe. 

All that said, this was still an enjoyable read. It probably won't be one of those novels that I consistently return to, but it was well-paced, the style and tone works wonderfully with Allston's and unless Denning makes changes to his, will work well with his.  And I'm interested in this new character--though I'm left wondering about the rather specific age that she's been given. Especially in how it relates back to Ben.

Now, here's the sad part. Taken entirely out of context, and by itself, I would have rated this book an acceptable Star Wars novel. Not as odious as some, but a bit better than others. Unfortunately, it has two major strikes against it for me to do that.

The first is that it cannot be taken as a stand alone novel, it must be compared to the novel immediately prior to it since this is part 2 of Fate of the Jedi. In that it fails. It reads like a repeat of the first novel for too much of the book. I constantly had the sense of "been here, done this" which is a horrible feeling for a brand new hard back novel.  This leads me to actually dread the next book, because I fear my brain will stop repeating I'm Henry VIII, I am and start repeating This is the song that never ends...

The second strike against it is that it is short. At 236 pages it just did not feel like enough content to justify a hard-back price. It is noticeably thinner than any other hard cover novel which I have paid more than US$25 for. That coupled with the fact that one comes out of the novel feeling as if large portions of it are mere rehashes, is horrible. If the Powers That Be had built this series the same way that they had done Legacy of the Force, with 3 hardcovers and 6 mass-market paperbacks, this wouldn't be an issue. After all, a lot can be forgiven, especially size-wise, when one has purchased a $7-8 paperback as opposed to a nearly $30 hardback.

This is sad, because this wants to be a good book. It wants to be the fun escapism that one expects from Star Wars.  Unfortunately, it is lacking. It's lacking cohesion as the three plot lines only tangentially touch. It's lacking a traditional protagonist/antagonist structure, as we still do not have a Campellian Hero, and worse, the most compelling character is our erstwhile villain. It's lacking because it feels more like the YJK than the Black Fleet Crisis. It's lacking, because it's just not enough story to warrant a $27 hardcover.

In the end, I fear that this can only receive a 0.8 out of 4.

Finally, and this had no bearing on my review score, but I despised what happened on the last page. Just utterly annoyed me to no end.

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