on 11 November 2003
Having read the entire series in order (not a mean if i do say so myself), i pre-ordered the Unifying Force as soon as i could. Suffice to say, i was somewhat unimpressed with the postal strike!!
Anyway, once it had arrived, i got stuck in, and was thrilled with almost every page!
Luke at last does his Jedi thing, having spent most of the previous 20 books or so worrying about too aggressive, but here the story of Luke, Jaina and Jacens fight into the Yuuzhan Vong stronghold makes for an enthralling story, with the final battle equalling anything in the films. The only gripe i had with the combat is the understated aspect of the second space battle of Coruscant. With 15 million Alliance casualities alone, it is only when you hear the figures you realise just how huge and desperate the struggle is. The First Battle, detailed in Star by Star seems far more brutal.
Another thing was the introduction of the slayers, genetically engineered Vong warriors, supposedly the equal of the Jedi. Nevertheless, three jedi overwhelm 20 of them. I thought maybe the introduction a few books previously, and maybe claiming a few Jedi scalps, like the Voxyn, would make them more effective uber baddies!
That said, I found TUF an excellent finish to the series, with an entirely plausible completion to the bitter five year war (which cost the galaxy 365 TRILLION dead). I now have to find the previous books to read through from start to finish!!
The war with the Yuuzhan Vong hangs in the balance as the two forces gather strength. Meanwhile, the arrival of Zonama Sekot in the sky of Coruscant sends shockwaves through Vong society (literally and figuratively). Can the Jedi bring the war to an end without apocalyptic casualties on both sides?
Where to start? I enjoyed the fact that the story seems at first to be just another episode in the series and then, with the confrontation at Coruscant, it suddenly becomes clear that this is the final part of the series and that one way or another it all ends here. That feeling of knowing that soon you'll see what final surprises are in order and discover just how the devastating war pans out. It's all well written and Luceno doesn't skimp on description where most necessary, such as on Selvaris and Caluula. Ultimately, however, this book's strongest factor (and the reason that all Star Wars EU fans should read it) is the way in which Luceno uses his particular talent for drawing on other sources to tie the entire Star Wars fiction franchise together. There's a Rothana transport from 'Attack of the Clones' in the assault on Coruscant, Boba Fett is present, Rogue and Wraith squadrons are in action again, the painting from 'Tatooine Ghost' turns up, the Smugglers Alliance plays a part, there are familiar characters among the Jedi such as Keyan Farlander (from the 'X-Wing' PC game), Kyle Katarn (from the 'Dark Forces' series) and several others, plus there's more of characters specific to the NJO such as Danni Quee, Tresina Lobi, Harrar, Nas Choka, Traest Kre'fey and more. In all the books of the Star Wars EU, never have I encountered one so crammed with cameos and yet still so plausible. Finally, I'd like to complement the NJO team on actually bring Nom Anor to an end in keeping with his character and not some cheezy Bond-villain-style death.
Not enough to put you off, I should imagine. Sometimes the number of events going on one after the other makes parts seem a bit rushed. The only other problem I had was the betrayal of Boba Fett's character. I don't mean in his formation of a new Mandalorian army (I can believe that he'd do so in honour of Jango), but what I mean is his assertion that his personal conflict was always with the Jedi. I see where Luceno got that, with Jango's death at Mace Windu's hands, but the point of Boba was that he exceeded Jango's renown by being with out personal agendas of any kind, being almost machine-like in his pursuit of his prey without passion. If he had a personal vendetta against the Jedi, then his part in the Young Jedi Knights series would be way off, seeing as how he rescues the Jedi when payed to do so.
By this book or I shall give you a dovin basal disguised as a hat and make a moon fall on your head!
on 17 August 2005
The New Jedi Order series comprises 19 books published over 5 years. It concerns the invasion of the 'galaxy far, far away' by the Yuuzhan Vong, extragalactic aliens who seemingly have no connection to the Force.
The series showed a grittier side to Star Wars, and even killed off some major characters along the way.
The quality of the books wavered over the years, in my view. The five hardcovers that chart the main events in the story have been very strong. The Unifying Force is the best of these, and a real payoff after 18 books of build-up.
The book showcases the thrilling climactic confrontation between the Galactic Alliance and the Yuuzhan Vong. Beginning with an exciting POW-camp escape sequence, and concluding with a powerful battle between the key players of both sides, the book is full of action and suspense. We get balanced coverage of space battles, ground combat, various strike team missions like in the films, and the strategising of the Alliance and Vong leaderships. But it is not short on drama. James Luceno's characterisations of our heroes is excellent, and the new, more holistic explorations of the nature of the Force that have been a key factor in this series are deepened and rounded out in this book. The book is rife with 'unifying forces' and that makes for a very layered conclusion.
We get a real sense of closure here, not only the end of this series but it feels like the end of the adventures of Luke Skywalker et al, though that looks unlikely as there are loads more books released or soon to be released that continue the Star Wars saga.
If there are any criticisms to be made, one (and this is a flaw common among most Star Wars novels) is that much of the banter between characters feels forced and 'cheesy', for want of a better word. It's like the writers go out of their way to try and come up with contrived witty remarks. This is really not a big deal, as the characters do sound pretty much like we expect them to.
This series has been more like 'proper' sci-fi than traditional Star Wars, which was a mythical story of good vs evil. This is a story that questions whether that divide is real, and at times it doesn't feel like Star Wars. Well, a person shouldn't believe in something without having first questioned it, and that's what the Jedi are beginning to do after hearing the musings of the bird-like Jedi Vergere. It makes for interesting reading and I hear that it figures in the next few books too.
All in all, this is a truly epic conclusion to a really good ending to a generally strong series of Star Wars books that show the heroes fighting 'the greatest threat to the galaxy since Palpatine'.
Finally the New Jedi Order series comes to an end and what an end we are given by James Luceno. It can't have been easy being tasked with the final book in a 19 book series and have to tie up loose ends as well as write an engrossing story. With regards to tying up loose ends this book very nearly succeeds but for the mess that was made of Anakin Solo and Tahiri both being stronger in the force as a result of this war. The subsequent demise of Anakin in star by Star and the apparent rise of Tahiri in the Force Heretic series almost paved the way for this but it wasn't to be. There is talk of another three book series coming out soon but whether these will cover this is a moot point.
The brief synopsis that is given does not do justice to the overall story. Sure the sacrifice of high ranking New Alliance officials starts the story but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Many of the plot points that many of us might have been thinking over finally come to light and some of the revelations and alliances are startling. Do any of our major heroes die? James Luceno writes in such a way that any one of the main heroes is a candidate for death in this novel but of course you will have to read the book to find out. Luke is finally seen fighting as the Jedi Master that we expect him to be, even Jacen joins the fold. The final chapters of the war are a real engrossing read and if I was unable to put the book down before these chapters, then the final chapters of the war made the book stick to me. Absolutely fantastic!!
If anything this book has certainly closed out the NJO series but it has laid a path for other stories. Why only 4 stars, well I never expected it but the Anakin/Tahiri story didn't come to a final close. All the same along with Star by Star one of the best books of the series.
on 2 December 2007
Awesome finale to the best Star wars books ive read. The Unifying Force is the extremely exciting end of the massive Yuuzhan Vong war chronicled throughout the New Jedi Order series and its a satisfying conclusion. The war is brought to a spectacular and drawn out close - very satisfying fights and easy readable description - Luceno has out done himself with this one - after the underwhelming agents of chaos duo.
The character arcs are fulfilled and its a great end - im kinda sad to see the end - no im not - after 19 books! i feel i deserve this ending and thankfully it had everything i wanted from it.
one of the strongest 4 books in the series 'the unifying force is a great read for any sw fan and an awesome end to a strong - but long - satisfying series!
what do i read now? :S
on 18 March 2004
Its a long time since Vector prime started off the New Jedi Order. There's been deaths, births and general chaos for the last 18 books, all of which has set up the final battles in The Unifying Force. The Yuuzhan Vong are slowly losing control, and our heroes prepare to strike at Coruscant and put an end to Shimrra. However, with the Vong developing deadly new weapons and the odds stacked heavily against our heroes, how will things turn out?
This book is longer than most of the NJO have been, which gives Luceno more space for the plot. Even so, there is a lot going on in this book, which will keep you going right till the end. I guarantee that you will not want to put this book down when you start reading it.
Overall, an incredible, explosive ending to the New Jedi Order.
on 1 September 2011
I haven't read the entire series leading up to this finale, so I can't judge it in full context. There are a lot of characters and battlefronts which at times gets a bit hard to follow. The book is very long - though the plot doesn't slow down too much at any point - and has long passages of introspection - questioning motives, history or philosophical points such as the nature of the force - that slow down the pace and feel like distractions or indulgences. The character developments are well balanced and interesting and hopefully will be further developed in the future. It tails off a bit towards the end but ends on a satisfying note.
on 19 August 2008
So the New Jedi Order has finally concluded with this 500+ page novel which I found to be easily the best of the serious, only slightly edging out Star by Star. Writer James Luceno takes his time with his plot, carefully building towards the climatic finale whicgh results in a well paced and engrossing story.
There are many nuggetts of insider EU nods in there for diehard fans and Luceno also creates the scale of characthers involved in each scene believable and informative. The conclusion of the saga is exciting and satisfying and leaves a hit and miss series on a definate bittersweet note.
on 19 January 2004
How can I review this book without it sounding like a series of reviews printed on the covers by the publishers???
I dunno, this is going to be hard, as this book was just awesome. It had my grabbed from within the 1st few pages and never let go of my throat until I turned the last page. Thank god for the xmas hols, or my boss would have been very unhappy with me. The closest thing I can describe this book to is a well cooked Xmas lunch, lasts for ages, every thing tastes great and you can't stop eating until you hurt, and even then you want more, before finaly collapsing in front of the fire for a snooze.
Even thou I knew who was going to win (no spoilers but we all know don't we?) Luceno was ablee to create a more than credible doubt in my mind, and was able to string that out for nearly half the book. He did this without it ever seeming unfeasable, and the victory when it was finally achieved was equally credible, this is one of the few books that to me made me really feel that a war was being fought. I would have to disagree with C T Grant of Swindon and say that this fight to me felt my brutal than the one detailed in Star by Star, but it was a very close call.
Really I don't know why I am reviewing this book, if you have read any of the NJO books then you will be buying this, if you haven't and you are a sci fi / starwars fan then go and start at the begining with Vector Prime.
Hats off to James Luceno he has write a superb novel that has ended the most entralling multi author series I have ever read, this book really is the cherry on top of the cake.
on 10 November 2003
At first I thought I wouldn't enjoy this book as much as I did. As much as I liked Luceno's Agents of Chaos duology, they were in my opinion the weakest of the books in the series (probably because they focused on Han just a little too much at the expense of the rest of the characters and Droma seemed, at the time, like he was being brought in to replace Chewie). That said Luceno blew me away with what is a strong contender for the best book in the series. In fact, I would say that only Matt Stover's Traitor could compete against this masterpiece and stand a chance of winning.
The first thing that really struck me about this book is how perfectly the author has capture the characters and their relationships, especially Han and Leia. The other is how well the story managed to draw me in, with the final battle taking up over one hundred pages of the book I had expected to get at least a little bored. In fact I couldn't put it down and ended up staying awake until the early hours to see how it all turned out!
I can't really go into more detail than that without spoiling the plot, which wouldn't be fair when many people have been following the series for over four years and will want to read for themselves how it ends without having it spoilt by reading a review. I will say that after following the series for so long I thought I had a good idea of how it would turn out and who would fight who in the grand finale, and the book still managed to surprise me! The story wraps the whole series up well (whilst still leaving things open for Troy Denning to explore in 2005's post New Jedi Order trilogy) and features several nice references to the earlier books in the series.
All in all, James Luceno gave me an ending far better than I ever dared hope for, I literally did laugh and cry whilst reading this book, and that to me is the sign of a very good author.