So having finished Wheel of Time, The Malazan Book of the Fallen and caught up on the Drizzt Do’Urden adventures, not to mention the Jack Reacher novels, I was on the hunt for a new fantasy series. I had been kicking around the idea of reading some of the Star Wars novels, seeing as the three original movies are my three favorite movies. Maybe I would enjoy the books?
This turned out to be a daunting task. Have you seen how many novels and novellas there are about the alternate universe that is the Star Wars universe?
I decided to give a shot. See how it goes. I think I have the advantage that the hardcore Star Wars fans – truly hardcore, I mean – do not have. I haven’t been reading these books as they get released. And since books have been released over the years that take place at all different times, the hardcore fans were reading them out of order. Back-stories, forward-stories, side-stories…I’m betting that they wished they could start over and read the books in order of the timeline (find the timeline here).
When the ‘hardcore’ fans read the backstories, I’m guessing they don’t get into the characters as much. Whereas I’m reading them for the first time. And I must say, in almost every story I’m truly impressed. The biggest disappointment is the fact that many of these great characters don’t appear in later books. I’m getting ahead of myself.
Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void was not out yet when I started this project, so I did not read that one. My journey began with a collection of novellas:
The Lost Tribe of Sith is a collection of novellas by John Jackson Miller and represented my first foray into the Star Wars books. These nine novellas describe a world that is for the most part unreachable and undiscovered by the Sith Empire or Jedi Federation. But a Sith ship crash lands (the story takes place 5000 years before the Death Star explosion), and the passengers are unable to repair it using any materials found on this planet. The books span 4000 years, with each novella pretty much getting me attached to the characters – but all too quickly their story ends. In reading this series, I wonder what the story as a whole is telling us? Is it the ancestry of Anakin Skywalker?
1 – Precipice – Describes the Sith ship that crash lands on a planet with breathable air. Commander Yaru Korsin leads his crew to safety, killing his ambitious brother and in so doing he pisses off his brother’s wife Seelah. Korsin has seen life on the planet (in the form of a rider on a winged creature). At this point, I’m drawn into the character that is Korsin. I like him, and I’m also drawn into the Seelah-Korsin hate relationship.
2 – Skyborn – This book explores the race that is on this planet, Kesh – the Keshiri. Adari Vaal is a female in some trouble with her people, and she was actually fleeing them on the winged creature when she discovered the Sith. The Keshiri were deeply superstitious and had foretold of god-like beings called “Skyborn”. She befriends Korsin and brings his people to her city, where they are embraced as gods and she is given a position of high regard. But she is starting to believe that the Skyborn may not be the gods that the religion foretold.
3 – Paragon – and 4 – Savior – Delving deeper into the Sith politics on the planet, as well as their relationship with the Keshiri. Twenty years have passed and Adari plots with a group of natives to wipe out the Sith and their leader. Meanwhile, Seelah plots to wipe out Korsin as well. Korsin, in his brilliance, foresaw the latter years ago. He had married Seelah after killing her husband, but it was a marriage based on politics. Years ago, he began training his (and Seelah’s) daughter Nida in secret. She foiled Seelah’s plans, although it was too late to save Korsin’s life. Adari and her followers took off over the ocean, with a few of them surviving the trip and landing on what they thought was an island.
5- Purgatory – and 6 – Sentinel – Skip ahead 1000 years. We meet two new characters and again I become attached. Orielle is a Sith who is condemned to slavery. She finds refuge in a slave who she had bonded with in friendship. It turns out that the slave, a dirt farmer, is Jelph Marrian – a male Jedi Knight. The two end the story taking off into the forest and living a life together away from society. The books give insight about how the Sith and the Keshiri evolve together, and the new traditions that spring up. But I’m left wondering – what the point? Ori and Jelph, a Sith and a Jedi, fall in love? There has to be a story that I’m to read later about their ancestors? A later novella/e-book hints that they have children.
7 – Pantheon – Fast-forward another 1000 years (so still 3000 years before the Death Star explodes), Caretaker Hilts discovers a message that Korsin left for his ancestors to discover. By this point, Sith society is ruthless and quickly degenerating. The message from Korsin – that there is another continent on the planet.
8 – Secrets – and 9 – Pandemonium – (Caretaker) Varner Hilts becomes the new Grand Master and leads his people to finding a way to cross the ocean. Edell Vrai leads the scouting fleet. Meanwhile, on the other continent called Alanciar, the Keshiri there are prepared for the Sith. You see, Adari landed on this continent, and not on an island at all. She prepared them for the ‘evil’ Sith. And the Keshiri on Alanciar become familiar with and trained in the Force over the course of 2000 years. We are introduced to Quarra Thayn, a Keshiri who has some power in the Force. She eventually befriends her captor Edell. Again, the characters are solid and you wish that there were more stories about them.
Hilts, rather than seize control of Alanciar, he “befriends” them. He earns their trust. And the story hints that the Sith will eventually reign supreme – but through cunning and betrayal as opposed to all-out war.
All-in-all, a fantastic start to the Star Wars novels. I enjoyed the books, and if their only weakness was the lack of books about some of the more intriguing characters, that’s not so bad.