I won’t let the news that the Star Wars novels after Return of the Jedi will no longer be considered canon sway me from my quest to read them all in order.
I have a lot of books to review, so I’ll get right to it.
Star Wars: Kenobi
In this story, Kenobi has just arrived on Tattooine and cleaning out and fixing his new hut. He of course stumbles on a couple of women in distress and he has to help them without showing that he is a Jedi. It’s a Wild West type of story that has ‘Ben’ Kenobi getting close to a woman but in the end having to push her away for everyone’s sake. This was a nostalgic piece in the sense that it was great to stay “in touch” with an old friend, but not really integral to the overall story of the Star Wars universe. I was driven to read because I really enjoy the Kenobi character, but also because I was driven by curiosity. Will he expose that he is a Jedi? “Is he gonna take that”? was another common one. But it kept me reading and if that’s the mark of a good book, then bravo. But for someone just reading a handful of Star Wars books for casual enjoyment, this one is probably a pass.
Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
This was a fantastic novel. The sequal to Revenge of the Sith and the final book of the trilogy within a trilogy, this one explores Anakin’s transition from Skywalker to Vader. Getting used to the new body and the power of the Dark Side. And Anakin didn’t even make his debut until about 10% into the book, as the story begins with a handful of Jedi escaping Order 66. Vader hunts them down and at the same time nearly discovers his daughter Leia when he’s on Alderaan. We get some insight into the struggles of Bail Organa as he tries to do what is best for his planet, but also for Leia and his wife.
Furthermore, we are given great background not only on the demise of the Wookies (mostly killed or captured), but also on how they managed to build the Death Star in what amounts to maybe 30 or 40 years (Wookie slaves). There is also conflict between Vader and Palpatine and we are given great insight as to their relationship – essentially, Vader will obey the Emperor because he needs to learn all there is to know about the Dark Side, but as soon as he does – Palpatine will die. Or so he believes. Both men have this understanding and are able to move forward with that in mind.
Unlike the Kenobi book above, I was spurred on with this book because it was vastly entertaining and I really did want to know what was going to happen next. A fine novel from start to finish and would definitely recommend even if you’ve only seen the Star Wars movies and never read a single book.
Imperial Commando: 501st
I stand corrected. I had thought that the Republic Commando series had ended after four books. But in fact, this is the fifth book – but since there is no longer a Republic, but rather an Empire, it is called “Imperial Commando”. That actually makes Book 4 a little better, because it didn’t “end” when I thought that it did.
That being said, business really didn’t pick up in this one. Although I was starting to see the overall picture that author Karen Traviss was trying to paint after six or seven or eight books, this book on its own was just good enough to keep reading, but not exciting enough to make me race through it. Two of the clones – Darman and Niner, were in Darth Vader’s 501st legion of troops, trapped there thanks to Dar’s injury and Niner staying with him (at the end of Book 4). It explores Darman’s pain of losing his wife so violently and suddenly, as well as their “father” Kal Skirata and the pain he was dealing with. It touched upon other characters of books that go way back in the timeline as Skirata tries to find a safe haven for a couple of Jedi who were relying on his help to survive Order 66. One of the Jedi was “Scout” from Yoda: Dark Rendezvous. The safe haven ends up being with the alternative Jedi group led by Djinn Altis – remember in The Clone Wars: No Prisoners, Altis led a group of Jedi who believed in marriage.
While I always enjoy catching up on familiar characters, it’s not enough to gloss over the fact that there was little to no action in this one and little in the way of intrigue. There was a brief fight with a notorious Mandalorian mercenary, and discovering that the Jedi Arligan Zey was not actually killed by Captain Maze was a brief moment of excitement…but that’s about the extent of it. Darman’s stupid reasoning for remaining with the 501st instead of going home to his infant son made zero sense and only served to frustrate.
And then, to top it off – Traviss quit writing. There will be no sixth book thanks to a beef with Star Wars (likely in relation to their screwing around with the canon so much). Anyway, just give all five of these books a pass. Maybe read the Cole’s notes. If a couple more books were written and released, I think I’d sing a different tune as I really think Traviss was building up to something. But because she didn’t make it there, I can’t recommend.
Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight
I loved this book! It brings a handful of my favorite (surviving) characters of the past together. Jax Pavan is a surviving Jedi, young (close to Anakin Skywalker’s age and apparently friends with him at one time) and working in the depth levels of Coruscant as a bounty hunter. The name was familiar to me because an earlier book about Lorn Pavan and his buddy the droid I-5YQ discussed his having to give up his baby son Jax to the Jedi Order. And when we last left I-five, he had left the Med-Star surgeons with the journalist Den Dhur on a quest to find and protect Jax Pavan.
We are introduced to another form of Jedi – the Paladin. They are similar to regular Jedi except they do not use lightsabers but instead are free to use whichever weapon they wish. The Paladin in this book is Laranth Tarak, a female Twi’lek. Also in this book is Nick Rostu – who was Mace Windu’s partner in Shatterpoint. Having these five familiar characters team up to fight Prince Xizor of the Black Sun, and run into Darth Vader, generated a lot of excitement. The Empire continues to hunt surviving Jedi, but Vader’s special interest in Pavan was both believable and makes you want to read more.
Coruscant Nights II: Street of Shadows
This novel furthers along the storyline of I-Five, Jax Paven, Den Dhur, Laranth and Vader’s former assistant Haninum Tyk Rhinann. In this one, two people are on the hunt. The first is Gregor Typhon – who we know as the “eyepatch guy” that kept watch over Padme Amidala in the Star Wars movies. He was in love with Padme and was on the hunt for her killer. He later dies at the hands of Vader after Vader admits to him that he killed both Padme and Anakin. The second hunter is the return of Aurra Sing, a bounty hunter who we met in the Boba Fett books. She was working in the mines when Vader pulled her out of there to work for him. Her job – to find Pavan.
The novel was a mix of ‘Star Wars Universe’ meets ‘detective novel’ in that Pavan’s group starts hiring themselves out and the case they solve in this story is that of a murder. The victim’s lover is named Dejah Duare, who hires the group and in later novels bankrolls them.