Finally this series has something beginning to resemble a storyline. I thought it would never happen. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the writing as much as I did with the previous two books, or even Denning's own books in the previous series. So I'm not sure whether to be elated that something is finally happening, or disappointed in the writing. It didn't stop from reading until I'd finished though.
While I enjoyed the previous books, they didn't really have a driving force behind them. But now we're finally starting to see groups have objectives. And some questions with a bit more substance than "What's Going On?". There are two women and a force presence, who seem to be important, but for what? What's going to happen with the lost tribe of the sith? What's going to happen between Daala and the Jedi now that (Sarcastic Spoiler) something has happened.
Admittedly, these don't appear until towards the end of the book, which means that for a long time the plot is as aimless as the others. It feels like that, while the series does start slow, the stage has finally been set for this "epic" story. In truth, I feel that it would have been much better served by squashing the first three books into one, and going from there. Maybe a trilogy. I'm starting to think that the nine-book series is just because it worked before, not because the story needs nine books. And that disappoints me somewhat. I'm not as excited about the next book as I was in Legacy of the Force, and now that I've read all three authors in this series, I feel just in saying the story is just not as good.
Maybe that will change. Luke finally knows about the Sith, so maybe it'll get better now.
The characters in this book are okay. They seem to have suddenly all got much better at dealing with the ill jedi, and I'm quite disappointed that a lot of this stuff seems to have been glossed over. I don't like the Jedi Council in this book. Master Hamner suddenly seems to be almost a "bad guy", when in previous books he was a nice person, doing his best for the jedi order, Master Cilighal is barely in it, although in charge of the ill. Master Sebatyne is annoying. Master Katarn isn't bad, but again, isn't really in it. And some of the other characters just don't match up to who they have been in previous books. Some of them are characterized quite well - but wrongly. And that's the problem I had with the writing. it doesn't match the others in the series well enough. it's like reading a different story. It seems the only character that is continued well from Omen Alanna. Unfortunately, I didn't really like how wise she was in that book, and the same is true here. I'm quite disappointed.
Denning's descriptive language isn't the best. "In the Jade Shadow's forward canopy there hung twin black holes" is a lie, they are ahead of the Jade shadow. I had to re-read that several times. I also didn't like the description of the main room of sinkhole station as a serving bowl. It was a fairly long metaphor, and "bowl-shaped would have sufficed.
Finally, he keeps using words, particularly slang, that I've never seen in the star wars universe before (Maybe this is just ignorance on my part), and then having to explain them. Or worse, not explaining them. In a similar vein, it seems every little trick has to have a name - the "Shling Slide" or the "Toydarian double flip flop" (Exaggeratted silliness - slightly). The first of those isn't explained at all, but it's apparently something to do with persuasion. The second is just a pointless way of saying "yes" to Allana's statement. it takes about a page. To be fair, those are the only two I can think of - but they both annoyed me quite a lot,
In writing this review, I think I've come to the conclusion that it just isn't up to the standards I expect from a Star Wars Book. It gets +1 for it's additional plot, but loses points for the unnecessary terms, the poor descriptions, and the misalignment with the first two books. On the plus side, some of his ideas were pretty neat - a particular journalists method of spying for example. I really hope the next one goes somewhere.