At this point in my (what’s looking to be a two-year) adventure, business really picks up. It’s clear to me that the big wigs behind the Star Wars universe made the Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith movies to work on multiple platforms – from games, to novels, to novellas, to TV series, to the animated movie to comic books. Each platform ties into the Star Wars universe in general and the legendary Clone Wars specifically. The movies themselves, as we know, fell short of expectations. But idea behind the movies was genius. And had everyone read all the books and backstories between movies, they movie would have been 1000 times more enjoyable. But I suspect that less than 1% of movie-goers did this.
All of the questions that you had about plot, or all of the things that didn’t make logical sense in the movies, are answered in the books. The books seem to tie up every loose end. As I work my way towards RotS, I get to know many of the lesser characters such as Mace Windu and Kit Fisto. I also get introduced to some great new characters such as the evil Asajj Ventress, the lesser-known Jedis and Padawans as well as some of the surprisingly likable clones.
The Cestus Deception
Obi-Wan Kenobi goes to Cestus with fellow Jedi Kit Fisto, leaving Anakin behind “to study”. The story loses me on that part right away, as a Jedi and a Padawan do not separate. At least, not in the 60-odd books that I’ve read up to this point. But after that little hump, the book was much better. Kenobi goes to Cestus to convince the powers that be to stop making these new droid “Jedi Killers” for the Seperatists. Fisto, meanwhile, trains some rebels on the planet, with the help of clones, in case Kenobi’s negotiations fail.
I’ll leave the full book description to others and just touch on the key points that helped me learn more about the Star Wars universe. The Separatists send Asajj Ventress to Ord Cestus to disrupt Obi-Wan (and kill him, if possible). Meanwhile, we get to know some more clones, one of whom falls in love and eventually gets a woman (Sheeka Tull) pregnant prior to giving up his life to save thousands. This is my first view of Ventress and I am given to believe that I should know her already. Some online research tells me that yes – she is introduced in the computer-generated Clone Wars movie and series.
I also got to know Kit Fisto, who has quite an online following and is clearly a cult favorite. Not enough though, just a small role – but enough to make me hope for a novel in the future that centers around him.
This one was an easy read, just a couple of hours. It takes place about two-thirds of the way into Cestus Deception, but gave us great insight on the inhabitants of Cestus – insect-like creatures called X’Ting. Obi-Wan and an X’Ting warrior delve deep into the mountains in order to acquire eggs of the royal family that were stored there some decades earlier.
This one takes place during Obi-Wan’s stay on Ord Cestus – Anakin gets put on a mission after developing a friendship with Jedi Master Nejaa Halcyon. Nejaa and Anakin had taken to sparring every day and getting to know each other, so when Nejaa was given command of the next mission and the ability to put his own team together, he chose Anakin as his second. Another entertaining novel, which seems to be commonplace during the Clone Wars. Anakin is out from under the shadow of Obi-Wan and he really spreads his wings, showing strong leadership skills and making sound decisions. We also caught a glimpse of the dark side in Anakin when a woman who reminds him of his mother is killed in front of him. His ensuing rage and rampage is a great read, as he becomes virtually indestructible, mowing down enemy droids like a hot knife through butter. In the end, he almost won the battle single-handed. He was granted Jedi Knighthood by the Jedi Council for his deeds.
I hope to read more about Jedi Nejaa Halcyon in the future (or at the very least know of his fate), as he too is secretly married (and he has a child, as well). Asajj Ventress makes several appearances as the contact for the Separatist leader of the fleet Pors Tonith (who is a Muun like Darth Plagueis)
The Clone Wars
These Clone Wars books are based on the TV series and animated movie (at least, that’s my understanding). Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are assigned to find Jabba the Hutt’s son, who was kidnapped (by Count Dooku in league with Jabba’s Uncle, though Jabba doesn’t know who did it). While Obi-Wan goes to speak to Jabba and let him know that the Jedi will help find his son in exchange for free use of the space lanes in Jabba’s region, Anakin goes to the planet where they believe the child has been taken. Much to my surprise, Anakin is assigned a Padawan – Ahsoka. I didn’t even know he had a Padawan, so this was a nice turn of events. Ahsoka is a little mouth, a little brash, not unlike Anakin. A nice addition to the storyline. Obviously she either dies or leaves the order – I can’t wait to find out which.
We are also introduced to Anakin’s unit, led by Captain Rex, a clone. And we see the growing bond between Anakin and Rex and the other clones. Asajj Ventress is also a key part of the storyline and does battle with Ahsoka briefly before the two Jedi make their escape. You can see her growing hatred of Anakin and later Obi-Wan.
Before it’s all said and done, Anakin also briefly does battle with Count Dooku. This book was a light, easy read that was entertaining and moved the overall plot along nicely.
Clone Wars: Wild Space
Some background plot filling early on in this one, as Yoda asks Obi-Wan to talk to Padme and basically have her back off when it comes to a romance with Anakin. This is a flashback scene which happened months before the events in this novel. So instead of backing off, she married him (as we know). The Separatists employ a terrorist attack on the Republic’s capital Coruscant, and the bomb seriously injured Obi-Wan. As a result, Anakin was sent off on a mission with his Padawan Ahsoka to stop General Grievous from taking a key planet near the Outer Rim. But that just sets up the main plot. It sets it up so that Obi-Wan, just getting back to full health, is the only one that Padme can turn to when Bail Organa (played by Jimmy Smits in the movies) requested Jedi help. So the novel is about Bail and Obi-Wan traveling to a Sith planet. We get great insight on the life and personality of Bail Organa, as well as some further insight on the way a powerful Sith holocron can sicken and weaken a Jedi Knight.
The Clone Wars: Secret Missions 1-4
These four novellas are easy reads with a lot of coincidences that helped move the plot along – but that’s because they were aimed at youth. The story itself was enjoyable, centering on a Jedi Padawan named Nuru Kungurama, a Chiss (remember Thrawn?), who had a premonition that his Master Ring-Sol Ambrase would die, so he stowed himself on the ship and tagged along. The ship was destroyed, Abrase was knocked out and Kungurama ended up leading the small group of clones in what eventually liberated the planet. This series of novellas painted a picture of just how long and in-depth some of Darth Sidious’ plans have taken, with the events in the story having been set up as far back as 10 years ago. Everything – even the Kungurama victories – were according to plan.
But what Darth Sidious and Count Dooku did not plan on were the added friends that Kungurama made. Like the giant “Big Gizz” and the reprogrammed droid commando “Cleaver”. Those two are quite capable of changing the results on their own – Gizz can step in front of a blaster bolt and survive, while Cleaver is often mistaken by other Separatist droids as a friendly. I love this little band “Breakout Squad” that formed (though I doubt we see them again):
Nuru – the only Chiss Jedi, and the only Chiss living in Republic space for that matter
Breaker, Sharp, Knuckles, Chatterbox – clone troopers
Gizz – a dumb, giant alen humanoid with a temper, but loyalty
Cleaver – a quick-learning droid commando
Lalo Gunn – a human female and captain of the ship after she befriended “Breakout Squad” and they helped her off of the planet she was trapped on.
The books also had a skilled bounty hunter named Cad Bane, who did most of the ‘setting up’ on behalf of Darth Sidious, as well as a shapechanger who infiltrated Breakout Squad as Sharp. We were introduced to a Mandalorian Warrior – this is after those warriors were defeated and killed or disbanded, so thought to no longer exist. He was a member of a secret Mandalorian group called “Death Watch”, hinting of perhaps involvement in later books.
Besides the high-level planning of the Sith, the books also set us up for future encounters with the Chiss. It’s nice to have further background, as I noted earlier that Thrawn was one of my favorite characters to date.
Finally. A novel revolving around Mace Windu. And this one was even better than anticipated. Granted, there were some unnecessarily slow parts that dragged on that we could do without, but the fight scenes more than made up for it. Since you’ve seen Samuel L. Jackson in the Star Wars movies, you can picture his character perfectly. And his skills as a warrior are incredible. He’s the master of a rare Jedi style/forum called Vaapad. It involves intense speed and dexterity with the lightsaber, but also flirts dangerously close to the dark side. ‘Watching’ him use that forum against three battle ships (or star cruisers or whatever the smaller fighters are called) was entertaining to say the least.
Windu went to his home planet (Haruun Kal) to find his former Padawan (Depa Billaba), fearing that she went to the dark side. The planet is mostly wilderness and the natives are Force-sensitive, to varying degrees. But the most powerful of them all is Kar Vastor. And Windu’s inevitable battle with Vastor was one of the best battles I’ve ever read, worthy of a Drizzt Do’Urden novel. I came away from this very satisfied with the story, and happy to better know the Jedi Master known as Mace Windu. This is one of a handful of books that could be made into a movie.