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Dark Nest III the Swarm War (Star Wars (Random House Paperback))
Dark Nest III the Swarm War (Star Wars (Random House Paperback))
by Troy Denning
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lots of potential ... but no payoff, 16 April 2007
This series started off well with an interesting and plausible concept incorporating minor characters from the NJO series. When an insect colony absorbs a Jedi into its hive mind it learns the value of caring for the individual. The unforeseen consequence soon threatens the known universe - population explosion and territorial expansion of the insect hive.

Author Troy Denning comes up with intriguing twists for all the major characters, but except for Leia finally becoming a Jedi Knight, the series ends without resolving any of the issues that Denning creates, making for a very unsatisfying conclusion to a tale that could have been told in one long novel.


Star Wars: The Swarm War (Dark Nest III)
Star Wars: The Swarm War (Dark Nest III)
by Troy Denning
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lots of potential ... but no payoff, 16 April 2007
This series started off well with an interesting and plausible concept incorporating minor characters from the NJO series. When an insect colony absorbs a Jedi into its hive mind it learns the value of caring for the individual. The unforeseen consequence soon threatens the known universe - population explosion and territorial expansion of the insect hive.

Author Troy Denning comes up with intriguing twists for all the major characters, but except for Leia finally becoming a Jedi Knight, the series ends without resolving any of the issues that Denning creates, making for a very unsatisfying conclusion to a tale that could have been told in one long novel.


Star Wars: Dark Lord - The Rise of Darth Vader
Star Wars: Dark Lord - The Rise of Darth Vader
by James Luceno
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Major disappointment, 16 April 2007
There are several problems with this book beginning with the sad fact that there is no real story, just a loosely woven collection of vignettes featuring a collection of minor characters that are best forgotten. Vader never develops as a result of any of the events depicted between this book's covers, although the author claims that Vader makes a major breakthrough in understanding the darkside. Unfortunately, we're never shown why, how, or what that possibly means.

Secondly, the book is populated with minor characters (Vader isn't introduced until nearly page 50) that are really nothing more than fodder for the Dark Lord, characters that are stood up only so they can be knocked down. Except for their names, they are indistinguishable.

Which speaks to the major shortcoming of this book, the very poor writing. I was never once "drawn" into any of the scenes or the lives of the characters. The writing was flat, the characters d.o.a., and the story missing in action.


Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vadar (Star Wars (Random House Hardcover))
Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vadar (Star Wars (Random House Hardcover))
by James Luceno
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Major disappointment, 16 April 2007
There are several problems with this book beginning with the sad fact that there is no real story, just a loosely woven collection of vignettes featuring a collection of minor characters that are best forgotten. Vader never develops as a result of any of the events depicted between this book's covers, although the author claims that Vader makes a major breakthrough in understanding the darkside. Unfortunately, we're never shown why, how, or what that possibly means.

Secondly, the book is populated with minor characters (Vader isn't introduced until nearly page 50) that are really nothing more than fodder for the Dark Lord, characters that are stood up only so they can be knocked down. Except for their names, they are indistinguishable.

Which speaks to the major shortcoming of this book, the very poor writing. I was never once "drawn" into any of the scenes or the lives of the characters. The writing was flat, the characters d.o.a., and the story missing in action.


Bloodlines (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force (Paperback))
Bloodlines (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force (Paperback))
by Karen Traviss
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A readable and sometimes enjoyable chapter in a poorly conceived series, 15 April 2007
This second installment in the new 9-volume Legacy of the Force series proves one thing - even a good writer can't make up for a silly plot.

Legacy started poorly in the first volume with a premise for which there is no evidence, namely that the Galactic Alliance (GA) is now more like the old Empire than the New Republic, running roughshod over member states, creating a general air of mistrust and indirectly fomenting ideas of rebellion and secession. When Corellia decides it's had enough, Luke Skywalker suddenly looses his good sense and sends a Jedi snatch-squad to kidnap Corellia's leaders so that they can then be bullied into not leaving the GA. How's that for implausible?

But it gets even worse in Bloodlines. Not only aren't we given any additional background information about why now everyone suddenly despises the GA, the characters start to act even more out of character, especially Luke and Mara, who despite the very obvious evidence that their nephew Jacen Solo is turning to the dark arts, do nothing to secure their son Ben Skywalker from training with the budding Sith Lord. They're also complicit in continuing to support the GA in bullying the Corellians. In the story's other major thread, Jacen is appointed colonel of an antiterrorist unit and spends his days rounding up and interrogating Corellians living on Coruscant. All the while he continues to explore his new powers, killing a "terrorist" while interrogating her and traveling through time to meet his grandfather, none other than Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader. Perhaps in the next volume he'll be able to visit Corellia by flying through space.

Fortunately, we've got Karen Traviss writing Boba Fett into the story and for a time at least diverting us from the improbable main plot.

Now 71-years old, the dying mercenary needs the help of the Kaminoan scientists to arrest a fatal condition. But the cloner who can help him has fled Kamino and if Boba is to ever to get help, he's going to have to first find him. Which is made all the more difficult when the new president of Corellia, Thrackan Sal-Solo, makes Boba an offer he can't refuse, a huge pile of cash to assassinate his cousin and chief political rival, Han Solo.

As regular readers of the Star Wars novels are aware, Traviss is the new authority on all things Mandalore, having written quite an extensive back history and even the rudiments of a language for her two Republic Commando novels and her Boba Fett novella. The former military journalist's command of detail in this world of clone warriors and mercenaries imparts a certain depth and confidence that makes these sections more compelling than the palsied main plot. They also have a sad charm about them, as Boba begins to reflect of his mortality and experience for the first time regret for having long ago abandoned his family.

Besides a well-drawn Fett, Traviss provides some clues as to what happened in the intervening years to some of the characters in her Republic Commando series, and she also gives us for the first time a partially developed Ben Skywalker. Until now he's been just a kid and mostly Luke Skywalker's kid. But Traviss here for the first time makes Ben into a young man with his own personality, who begins to come into his own as an apprentice in Jacen's antiterrorist unit, using his Force powers on raids to sniff out people and munitions. This is one character I'm now interested in seeing how Troy Denning will handle in the forthcoming volume, Tempest.

I don't expect, however, no matter how well he writes Ben, that Denning will be able to rescue us from a poorly developed premise. I think we're now too far in to see any hope of saving what has revealed itself as a thinly disguised and poorly conceived retelling of the film saga, a story about a boy of enormous talent, trained as a Jedi and lured to the dark side in the belief that only the power he can find there will prevent his loved ones from suffering.


Star Wars: Legacy of the Force III - Tempest
Star Wars: Legacy of the Force III - Tempest
by Troy Denning
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Check your credulity at the door, 15 April 2007
This third volume in the Legacy series is perhaps the easiest read thus far. Denning brings a light touch to composition, leading the reader from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, chapter to chapter. It's a wonderful experience to be carried along so effortlessly, caught up in a spell that for a short time obscures the world outside these pages.

If you can afford to stay in that zone, the book might work better for you than if you have to read it in sections over a period of a week or more, in which case the twisted plot and the large cast make rereading previous portions of the book a necessity in picking up the threads.

The series limps along without any additional information about what's causing this galaxy-wide conflict, so leave behind any such expectations, then get ready to swallow this: Han Solo, the newly minted Correllian nationalist, is sent along with Leia as emissary to convince the Hapes Consortium to remain neutral in Corellia's conflict with the Galactic Alliance. In reality, they've been sent as bait to lure Queen Tenel Ka into the open for an assassination attempt, part of a wider plot to install a pro-Corellian government on Hapes. Realizing they've been set-up, Han and Leia try to warn the Queen, only to be caught up in the shooting once the assassin strikes. Everyone thinks Han and Leia are part of the plan and so the two play along, teaming up with and helping the frustrated assassin escape so that they can uncover the plotters. From there it just gets sillier, as the Solos convince the assassin's handler that they are in fact part of a plot to kill the former Jedi and longtime friend of the family, and later when the shooting resumes to do nothing to save the Queen in order to protect their credentials as Corellian nationalists.

As if that weren't incredulous enough, there's the 80-year old assassin who gives Jacen a run for his money. The big, bad, dark-sider is saved from extinction by his 5-year old daughter (who tawks with an annoyingly steweotypical wisp). Luke and Mara's 13-year old son, Ben, who in the previous volume was for the very first time sensitively written, is reduced by Denning into a whiny, petulant teenager.

Then there's the problem of death, or more specifically how all the major and even minor characters avoid it. This book is packed with violent encounters of all kinds - Mara and Luke take on Lumiya; the assassin shoots it up with the Hapes Royal Guard before trading lightsaber blows with Jacen; Alema goes a round with Mara; Jaina and Zekk are pounded by two YVH battle droids and a dozen starfighters and later have to evacuate spacecraft twice; the Falcon, limping along without shields, is rocked by a massive turbolaser blast; and out of all this carnage, the only corpses in sight are a Jedi you likely won't remember from the Dark Nest trilogy and Leia's two Noghri bodyguards.

In the end, the pro-Corellian plot is put down, all the major and supporting characters have survived (a few with treatable wounds), Luke and Mara seem no wiser about Jacen's turn to the dark side (though they do finally assert their parental rights to take their son back to Coruscant), and about the only development of significance seems to be the beginning of a rivalry between Jacen and Lumiya. In other words, nothing much happens to advance the story.

Which is why Denning's writing saves this from being little more than an exercise in selling more product to Star Wars fans.


Tempest (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force) (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force (Paperback))
Tempest (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force) (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force (Paperback))
by Troy Denning
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Check your credulity at the door, 15 April 2007
This third volume in the Legacy series is perhaps the easiest read thus far. Denning brings a light touch to composition, leading the reader from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, chapter to chapter. It's a wonderful experience to be carried along so effortlessly, caught up in a spell that for a short time obscures the world outside these pages.

If you can afford to stay in that zone, the book might work better for you than if you have to read it in sections over a period of a week or more, in which case the twisted plot and the large cast make rereading previous portions of the book a necessity in picking up the threads.

The series limps along without any additional information about what's causing this galaxy-wide conflict, so leave behind any such expectations, then get ready to swallow this: Han Solo, the newly minted Correllian nationalist, is sent along with Leia as emissary to convince the Hapes Consortium to remain neutral in Corellia's conflict with the Galactic Alliance. In reality, they've been sent as bait to lure Queen Tenel Ka into the open for an assassination attempt, part of a wider plot to install a pro-Corellian government on Hapes. Realizing they've been set-up, Han and Leia try to warn the Queen, only to be caught up in the shooting once the assassin strikes. Everyone thinks Han and Leia are part of the plan and so the two play along, teaming up with and helping the frustrated assassin escape so that they can uncover the plotters. From there it just gets sillier, as the Solos convince the assassin's handler that they are in fact part of a plot to kill the former Jedi and longtime friend of the family, and later when the shooting resumes to do nothing to save the Queen in order to protect their credentials as Corellian nationalists.

As if that weren't incredulous enough, there's the 80-year old assassin who gives Jacen a run for his money. The big, bad, dark-sider is saved from extinction by his 5-year old daughter (who tawks with an annoyingly steweotypical wisp). Luke and Mara's 13-year old son, Ben, who in the previous volume was for the very first time sensitively written, is reduced by Denning into a whiny, petulant teenager.

Then there's the problem of death, or more specifically how all the major and even minor characters avoid it. This book is packed with violent encounters of all kinds - Mara and Luke take on Lumiya; the assassin shoots it up with the Hapes Royal Guard before trading lightsaber blows with Jacen; Alema goes a round with Mara; Jaina and Zekk are pounded by two YVH battle droids and a dozen starfighters and later have to evacuate spacecraft twice; the Falcon, limping along without shields, is rocked by a massive turbolaser blast; and out of all this carnage, the only corpses in sight are a Jedi you likely won't remember from the Dark Nest trilogy and Leia's two Noghri bodyguards.

In the end, the pro-Corellian plot is put down, all the major and supporting characters have survived (a few with treatable wounds), Luke and Mara seem no wiser about Jacen's turn to the dark side (though they do finally assert their parental rights to take their son back to Coruscant), and about the only development of significance seems to be the beginning of a rivalry between Jacen and Lumiya. In other words, nothing much happens to advance the story.

Which is why Denning's writing saves this from being little more than an exercise in selling more product to Star Wars fans.


Star Wars: Legacy of the Force I - Betrayal
Star Wars: Legacy of the Force I - Betrayal
by Aaron Allston
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much for one novel, a weak beginning to a new 9-book series, 15 April 2007
Member worlds chafe under heavy taxation, bridle at providing materiel and conscripts, and make noise of open rebellion. The central government blusters, threatening isolation, economic stagnation and military retaliation, but secretly fears secession and the eventual withering away of its power and influence.

So opens Betrayal, the first in a planned nine-book series following the characters of the Star Wars universe 36 years after events in Revenge of the Jedi and 10 years after the events of the Yuzhong Vong invasion, chronicled in the last extended novel cycle, New Jedi Order (19 volumes published 1999-2003).

To prevent the dissolution of the Galactic Alliance, Chief of State Cal Omas and his government devise a plan in which the Jedi will abduct the leadership of the GA's most openly antagonistic member, Corellia, so that the GA might then brow beat Corellia's leaders into quietly paying their taxes and end all talk of independence. It's one of the most ridiculous plans you're likely to encounter in a Star Wars novel. At least the most ridiculous I've read to date. How much more belligerent - short of dropping bombs or shooting people - can you get than kidnapping a government's leaders? It's as if the Germans decided to kidnap the leaders of the French government for threatening to leave the EU. Even more ridiculous, this plan is approved by Luke Skywalker, a guy normally depicted as levelheaded, who prefers talking to fighting (and who later in the book turns down a second snatch plan on the grounds that the GA doesn't want to set a precedent of kidnapping leaders of hostile governments!).

Word of the plan leaks out and the Jedi come up empty handed in their kidnapping caper. To salvage what little he can from the operation, the GA's leading Admiral over Corellia seizes and occupies a small leisure planet within the Corellian system. Now the Corellians are spitting mad and things quickly move from bad to worse.

Along the way, the characters are put into situations where they must make difficult choices. While the story itself is often confusing when it isn't implausible, author Aaron Allston should be given some credit for trying to beef up this hodgepodge of a novel with some thematic muscle. Betrayal is a story about choice and conscience, about weighing consequences and realizing that sometimes the best action is also the most painful.

Han must choose where his allegiance lays, with the GA or his homeworld of Corellia, while Leia, a newly minted Jedi, must choose between her husband, the GA and the order. Ben must choose whether to terminate a computer simulation of his lost cousin Anakin Solo in order to shut down the Corellian's superweapon, Centerpoint Station. In Betrayal's other main plot, Han and Leia's son Jacen must choose to take a life in order to save the lives of many more, and further whether to extend his knowledge of the Force by studying the dark arts of the Sith.

Overall, there's far too much happening in Betrayal for it to be anything but rushed. The first third covers the initial attack on Corellia (including a laughable scene in which 13-year old Ben Skywalker sneaks into and eliminates the threat from Centerpoint Station by tricking the computer, a la James Kirk, into believing that it isn't a real person after all), the middle part the political maneuvering to get the combatants unstuck, including a subplot of political assassination leading into the last third of the book, Jacen's discovery of the Sith (this particular branch having descended from a sentient species of Mynok, a flying rodent and pest of pilots in the SW universe). Anyone of these parts could have been a novel itself, but mashed together here the stories suffer as a result of having to constantly advance the plot so that we can get to the end of the book - and start the next one.

And there's the rub. These extended series involve a number of editors and writers working together to make a coherent and consistent story. It also involves working on a tight deadline to make sure the books are delivered at regular intervals. With so many cooks stirring the pot, with the added pressure of having to write to deadline, its not surprising that we end up with half-baked books.

Still, I'm looking forward to the next one, especially as Karen Travis will be writing a 71 year old Boba Fett who has to work together with his old bounty, Han Solo. Stay tuned.


Star Wars: Legacy of the Force I - Betrayal
Star Wars: Legacy of the Force I - Betrayal
by Aaron Allston
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much for one novel, a weak beginning to a new 9-book series, 15 April 2007
Member worlds chafe under heavy taxation, bridle at providing materiel and conscripts, and make noise of open rebellion. The central government blusters, threatening isolation, economic stagnation and military retaliation, but secretly fears secession and the eventual withering away of its power and influence.

So opens Betrayal, the first in a planned nine-book series following the characters of the Star Wars universe 36 years after events in Revenge of the Jedi and 10 years after the events of the Yuzhong Vong invasion, chronicled in the last extended novel cycle, New Jedi Order (19 volumes published 1999-2003).

To prevent the dissolution of the Galactic Alliance, Chief of State Cal Omas and his government devise a plan in which the Jedi will abduct the leadership of the GA's most openly antagonistic member, Corellia, so that the GA might then brow beat Corellia's leaders into quietly paying their taxes and end all talk of independence. It's one of the most ridiculous plans you're likely to encounter in a Star Wars novel. At least the most ridiculous I've read to date. How much more belligerent - short of dropping bombs or shooting people - can you get than kidnapping a government's leaders? It's as if the Germans decided to kidnap the leaders of the French government for threatening to leave the EU. Even more ridiculous, this plan is approved by Luke Skywalker, a guy normally depicted as levelheaded, who prefers talking to fighting (and who later in the book turns down a second snatch plan on the grounds that the GA doesn't want to set a precedent of kidnapping leaders of hostile governments!).

Word of the plan leaks out and the Jedi come up empty handed in their kidnapping caper. To salvage what little he can from the operation, the GA's leading Admiral over Corellia seizes and occupies a small leisure planet within the Corellian system. Now the Corellians are spitting mad and things quickly move from bad to worse.

Along the way, the characters are put into situations where they must make difficult choices. While the story itself is often confusing when it isn't implausible, author Aaron Allston should be given some credit for trying to beef up this hodgepodge of a novel with some thematic muscle. Betrayal is a story about choice and conscience, about weighing consequences and realizing that sometimes the best action is also the most painful.

Han must choose where his allegiance lays, with the GA or his homeworld of Corellia, while Leia, a newly minted Jedi, must choose between her husband, the GA and the order. Ben must choose whether to terminate a computer simulation of his lost cousin Anakin Solo in order to shut down the Corellian's superweapon, Centerpoint Station. In Betrayal's other main plot, Han and Leia's son Jacen must choose to take a life in order to save the lives of many more, and further whether to extend his knowledge of the Force by studying the dark arts of the Sith.

Overall, there's far too much happening in Betrayal for it to be anything but rushed. The first third covers the initial attack on Corellia (including a laughable scene in which 13-year old Ben Skywalker sneaks into and eliminates the threat from Centerpoint Station by tricking the computer, a la James Kirk, into believing that it isn't a real person after all), the middle part the political maneuvering to get the combatants unstuck, including a subplot of political assassination leading into the last third of the book, Jacen's discovery of the Sith (this particular branch having descended from a sentient species of Mynok, a flying rodent and pest of pilots in the SW universe). Anyone of these parts could have been a novel itself, but mashed together here the stories suffer as a result of having to constantly advance the plot so that we can get to the end of the book - and start the next one.

And there's the rub. These extended series involve a number of editors and writers working together to make a coherent and consistent story. It also involves working on a tight deadline to make sure the books are delivered at regular intervals. With so many cooks stirring the pot, with the added pressure of having to write to deadline, its not surprising that we end up with half-baked books.

Still, I'm looking forward to the next one, especially as Karen Travis will be writing a 71 year old Boba Fett who has to work together with his old bounty, Han Solo. Stay tuned.


Star Wars - The Clone Wars: Last Siege, the Final Truth (Star Wars Clone Wars)
Star Wars - The Clone Wars: Last Siege, the Final Truth (Star Wars Clone Wars)
by John Ostrander
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quinlan Vos faces the dark and sees the light, 13 April 2007
"The Last Siege, The Final Truth" concludes the story of Jedi Quinlan Vos' betrayal of the Jedi, a story that began with Count Dooku's courtship of the wayfaring Jedi from Kiffu in Republic #49 (Clone Wars Volume 1: The Defense of Kamino). Over a period of five months prior to the battle of Coruscant, Republic forces lay siege to the city of Saleucami, where a CIS cell under the leadership of former Jedi Sora Bulq is cloning an army of Morgukai and training them in assassination techniques of the Anzati. Jedi Master Tholme infiltrates the Separatists' underground laboratories and carries out hit-and-run guerilla attacks, while a clone army ground assault is led by Jedi Master Rancisis and supported by Vos, Aayla Secura, Sharad Hett, Ausar Auset, Sian Jeisel, and K'Kruhk.

All the characters and all the story arcs of the past three years are gathered together here in a tale that easily beats Revenge of the Sith for complexity in character and story development. To cover his Separatist identity, Vos is forced into a fiery master/padawan duel in the lava-filled caves of Saleucami, a confrontation reminiscent of the Vader/Obi-wan showdown of Return of Sith. Vos must later take on Sora, his long-time rival for the favors of Count Dooku, and is again called to prove his loyalty to the Separatists by killing his lover Khaleen, who reveals the last great twist in this saga of duplicity and deceit.

As they have done throughout their series of adventures following Vos, Ayala, and Tholme, writer John Ostrander and artist Jan Duursema do a fine job of weaving together text and illustration, keeping the exposition pointed and crisp and letting the dialog and pictures carry most of the story.

No review is complete without ticking off a couple of weak spots, but there is little in this story with which to find fault, except perhaps the limited space given to Master Zao and the absence of Vilmarh Grahrk.

If you haven't read any of the previous Dark Horse Clone Wars graphic novels, this is perhaps not a good volume with which to start. But it's a fantastic one with which to finish.


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