Top critical review
One person found this helpful
Starting Down the Dark Path
on 28 November 2012
First, a comment on the Legacy of the Force series as a whole: this really is a bridge too far; everyone who reads Star Wars books wants to hear the continuing adventures of our heroes but when are they going to get their happy ending? This is 30 years plus after Star Wars and the poor dears are creaking on into their fifties and sixties without being allowed to stop. They vanquished the Empire and then the Yuzung Vong: why do they have to have more misery piled on top of them? It's fair to say the books were going stale before the New Jedi Order series and were in much need of the peril brought by the extra-galactic invasion. After that came the interesting Swarm War series on the frontiers of unexplored space (which could have tapped a rich vein of different adventures). However, instead, the denizens of the Galaxy apparently haven't had quite enough suffering and are intent on putting themselves through more.
The Galactic Alliance, successor to the New Republic- supposedly a loose alliance but now seemingly the same thing as the NR- want money. For some reason, they fear another extra-galactic invasion and believe this is imminent, despite the fact that the first and only time this unlikely thing has happened is in the few years previous. They therefore want money to pay for a fleet but the Corellians, apparently recognising the sheer lunacy of this premise, don't want to pay. The only rational course for the GA to follow is to go to war with the Corellians who spend the money they saved in not building a fleet on....building a fleet!
Ok. So the broad setting doesn't make load of sense. As for our heroes, [SPOILERS RE EARLIER BOOKS] well, the New Jedi Order upped the ante by killing off the family dog, Chewie and the Solos' youngest son: this series needs to at least match that but how? George Lucas already told the NJO writers that they couldn't kill off Luke, Han or Leia, so what does that leave them? Only the characters from the expanded universe whose loss will hurt those characters most. If you've read any of the Expanded Universe books, you can probably guess who they are: if you haven't you're waay out of touch for this series, won't have heard of them and won't care about them. You're also unlikely to have heard of the chief villainess: I have all the novels and had to look her up, she's that obscure. [SPOILERS END]
These books were written in the paranoia of the post 9-11 era and they are deeply centred in the atmosphere of that period. Much of the series to follow will come to focus on civil liberties and how they are balanced against the need for the perceived greater good. It's a worthy topic, though a bit deep if you're just after a bit of fantasy adventure and likely to become dated as time goes by. My chief problem with it though is that this soap-box commentary is done with all the subtlety of a hammer.
So, to Betrayal itself. The books of the series are written by authors in the repeating pattern of Aaron Alliston, Karen Travis, Troy Denning. This equates to a writing standard of Good, Dire, Reasonable, so at least we're off to a decent start. In fact, most of what is decent in the series is in this book (although it has its fair share of bad bits).
Alliston's style is his strongest suit: the easy, sharp dialogue from his x-wing books are repeated here and the events which lead Jacen to his eventual fate are a logical, convincing chain. He adds some neat touches, such as a Sith knot language left as a clue for Jacen to follow. Interspersed with his journey are events seen from Wedge's perspective. His divided loyalties underline the difficulties of the series' unconvincing premise but don't get used to his presence: his appearance is for one book only and then he features no more (something to get used to if you're going to read the series). Despite his status of legendary hero he's inexplicably badly treated (again, something you'd better get used to).
The set-up to the book is pretty stupid: within the Corellian system, Centrepoint Station- a weapon with the power to destroy anything anywhere- has been left abandoned and now Corellian independents are attempting to bring it back on line. This is a device a thousand times more potent than the Death Star but nobody thought they might want to keep an eye on it? The Galaxy was better off with Palpatine looking after it.
What threatens to wreck the whole book though, is one daftly conceived bit of "Sith Magic" (groan). In a cave Jacen encounters some bats that he must fend off, only, when he hurts the bats someone real a thousand light years away is hurt instead, so when he tries to kill one, he nearly kills Luke. This begs the question why, if the Sith can trick someone into hurting someone else by hurting a bat, don't they just go and kill the bats themselves and kill their enemies with no hassle at all? Terrible idea.
All in all, the book is decent enough but it's the high point in a series that is unnecessary and increasingly illogical. Still, if you're like me, you'll keep buying it because it's Star Wars, even if it is ruining things.