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Star Wars: Red Harvest Paperback – 1 Mar 2012
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"A careful and effective mix of Gothic horror, survival thriller, and "Star Wars"."--Big Shiny Robot
Building on the success of Fall 2009's Star Wars: Death Troopers is this
original tale of horror set in the Star Wars universe by horror master Joe
Schreiber, now in mass market paperback.
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Sith Lord Darth Scabrous has discovered an ancient Sith secret which he believes will allow him to live forever but which instead unleashes a plague of ravenous undeath on the students of a Sith Academy.
The character of Jedi Knight Rojo Trace makes for an enjoyable counter point to the lesser characters in the book, being a pragmatic and single-minded Jedi the likes of which we don't see too often. I also enjoyed the concept that the zombie plague is a result of a Sith attempt at immortality.
This book is something of a prequel to 'Death Troopers' but doesn't stand up well in comparison to that book. Where 'Death Troopers' focused on a small group of likeable survivors aboard an atmospherically claustrophobic derelict spaceship, here we're introduced to a much wider cast of characters, each one less well conceived and less believable than the last, all milling about in the snow. Also, there's only so many dozen times you can read about someone gorily battling slavering zombies before getting bitten and then turning into a slavering zombie before the whole thing gets irritatingly repetitive. Throw in elements such as an unintimidating Sith Lord whose Darth name is only out-ridiculoused by the discovery that he's following the teachings of one 'Darth Drear', a Jedi apprentice who's wetter than a kipper and, of all things, a psychic flower and you have a recipe for disaster. Even this book's best element, the hardcore Jedi Knight Rojo Trace, is ruined by the fact that the author shamelessly and inexplicably lifts dialogue for him verbatim from the movie 'Taken'.
Put simply, trash.
This book has the Sith being typical Sith. Their endless quest for self-preservation and eternal life. In doing so the Sith master releases a virus that turns anyone infected into zombies. The Jedi in this book tent to be pretty ineffectual, maybe because it is usually the weaker Jedi who are assigned to the agricultural corps. The main Jedi in this story is an exception supposed extremely powerful, but has dedicated herself to corps rather than becoming Jedi Knight.
The main thing that annoyed me about this book is the Zombies one minute are brutes driven by hunger and nothing else then on occasions are a close knit hive mind, and in some cases allow people to keep their individual personalities. The rate of the infection is also inconsistent some time a person is infected and instantly changed, and then others go hours or days before they are changed.
I also noticed the line from Taken, have to be honest that was my favourite part of the book. The action was pretty rubbish, I was expecting a much better fight put up from the Sith student, and Sith Lords. They used little or no force powers to try and resist the Zombies. Where were all the lightsabers? Even the Blades master was grabbed and eaten within a few moments, the bounty hunter was the only one fighting back and he was using a spear and arrows.
All in this really was a book that was about survival against the odds, fierce fighting and of course lead by a protagonist set to stop this new evil from infecting the universe. All in pretty standard stuff but nothing that I'd have thought of as coming from the Star Wars Universe and to be honest was a title that whilst different to the norm, really didn't feel that it gelled.
I think that this novel attempts to celebrate Darth Scabrous as one of the great Sith, performing feats in parity to those of Darths Plagueis, Bane and Malgus. His success in creating zombies has no real backstory, just leaving the reader to sit and wonder about Scabrous' method, his knowledge, inspirations etc.
Schreiber doesn't make many references, in this novel, to other Star Wars characters, planets or events - leaving the whole novel's events to feel rather inconsequential (for the time being!) and detached from the rest of the galaxy.
Overall, this novel was enjoyable but forgettable, and it can be almost assured that your subsequent Star Wars reads will all but evaporate the memory of this standalone book.
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