Set in the days preceding Geonosis, Honor and Duty is a both a political whodunit and a human drama, the story of the disintegration of the government mirrored in the unraveling of one family sworn to protect the Republic. Sagoro Autem is a 4th generation Senate Guard, the men with blue capes and helmets you may have noticed in the background in the prequel films. While investigating the murder of a Senator killed just prior to a vote on legislation that could cause several worlds to leave the Republic, Sogoro discovers some painful truths about his family and the system to which he has pledged his life.
It's a story told in every civil war, the story of a family set against itself, two brothers divided by competing loyalties and brought into direct conflict by the implacable forces of war. Fortunately, John Ostrander is on hand to tell the tale. He is without question the most talented writer to work long-term on any Star Wars comic, and this particular volume shows why. He does as good a job as possible with the politics in a series in which not many authors get into the details about exactly what kinds of corruption cause so many to believe the only recourse is secession. Where Ostrander excels is in building his characters, creating people the reader cares about. The final scene of the initial 3-part story ends with the shedding of a tear, and while I wasn't in need of a tissue when I closed the book, there was the making in my throat of a tiny lump.
The fourth and last installment of the story takes place several years later when Sagoro Autem reappears as a captain in the Republic Navy, now at the service of Sidious and Vader following events in Revenge of the Jedi. Whereas the previous story arc was about things falling apart, this one is about paying old debts and putting things back together.
You don't need to have read all of Dark Horse's Star Wars series to enjoy this book, (although you might be interested to know Autem makes appearances in Clone Wars Volumes 2 and 8). Honor and Duty stands well on its own and is perhaps unique in the Star Wars Extended Universe in presenting a story about an average citizen of Coruscant, rather than smugglers, bounty hunters, clones, or super-powered Jedi and Sith.
The art on this series is handled by C.P. Smith in the first 3-part arc, published in Star Wars Republic #'s 46-48 (Sept, Nov, Dec 2002). His style here has a European feel, open and airy, featuring heavy dark outer lines and lots of open interior space - not much hatching within the characters and minimal background detail in most frames. This is exploited well by colorist Joe Wayne to produce a color-saturated look. It appears Smith was perhaps rushed at the end of the series, but overall he does a fine job conveying the action. Luke Ross brings a different style to the final chapter, published in Star Wars Republic # 78 (Sept 2005), in what appears to be painting more than illustration, much darker in tone, more static and less kinetic than Smith.
Overall, this is a fine example of Dark Horse's Star Wars publishing, a welcome addition to the EU, and one that I am happy to recommend.