Star Wars: The New Jedi Order Series

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Agents of Chaos I: Heroís Trial by James Luceno

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The latest entry in the New Jedi Order series of Star Wars novels is penned by an author new to the Star Wars universe. I am happy to report that he has handled the transition to this universe exceptionally well. Die hard Star Wars fans and new readers should find something to interest them in this novice effort.

Han Solo has taken the death of his partner Chewbacca extremely hard. Chewbacca fell during the initial invasion of the Yuuzhan Vong into New Republic Space. Hanís reaction thus far has been falling into a drunken stupor accentuated by misery and self-pity. However, when an old friend comes to Han and informs him that an old smuggling associate has been collaborating with the enemy, Han becomes the loner he once was and charges off bent on avenging the death of Chewbacca. Nevertheless, Han is not as young as he used to be and is now without a partner for the first time in twenty years. Therefore, Han must deal with his inner conflicts about the death of his friend, his increasing waistline as well as his inability to rely on anyone for help. Han has been incredibly lucky all his lifeÖbut perhaps this time, his luck might be running out.

Luceno is faced with a monumental task in his first novel. Not only must he adapt his writing style to a universe he has never tackled before, but he must guide Han Solo (a complex character to begin with) through the most severe crisis of his life. Fortunately, Luceno is up to the challenge and creates a very thoughtful character study of a grieving Han Solo. Solo is portrayed as very emotionally vulnerable while still retaining much of the bravado that made him so endearing to Star Wars fans. Luceno also creates several other interesting characters to help Solo navigate the minefield of his grief. The only complaint I have about the handling of Solo is that he seems to take on a new partner a bit too readily for my liking. After losing Chewbacca, who was like a brother to Han, I would think he would need more healing time before trusting anyone again.

Previously, we had only encountered the military and political sects of the Yuuzhan Vong. In this volume, we are introduced to the religious sect who seem even more vicious that the other two. Very reminiscent of the three classes of the Minbari culture in the Babylon 5 series, these three sects should provide ample storylines in future novels as they wrestle for control of the offensive against the New Republic.

The plot is adequate and moves along at a steady pace. However, I was surprised that the plot launched by the Yuuzhan Vong against the Jedi was wrapped up in this volume. Although it was a decent plot, I thought it could be sub-plotted and made more complex to provide additional material for the next volume of the series (which Luceno is also writing). However, I am sure he will be able to come up with something just as engaging for the next volume. Han is on the road to healing at the end of the volume, but he still has plenty of demons to wrestle with in the future.

Reviewed by: Alan

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Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse by James Luceno

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The Yuuzhan Vong are continuing their seemingly unstoppable march towards the core systems of the New Republic. The Vong are making alliances along the way; the latest with the Hutts, in order to avoid spreading their military forces too thin. Presumably, the Vong will use their allies now and crush them later. However, for now, they are using the Hutts to feed information to the New Republic that will distract them from the Vongís next target. Leia, still estranged from her husband Han, is busily engaged in relocating refugees from planets smashed by the Vong. However, due to crushing losses by the New Republic military she is forced to undertake a mission to the Hapes Cluster to attempt to seek support from the neutral Hapans. Of course, this means dealing with Prince Isolder, a previous suitor who Leia may still love.

Meanwhile, Anakin and Jacen venture back to Corelia, their fatherís homeworld, to attempt to reactivate Centerpoint Station. The Corelians hope to turn Centerpoint into a superweapon to use against the Yuuzhan Vong. Since the weapon was attuned to Anakin and deactivated by him during the Centerpoint crisis, he is probably the only person in the galaxy who has a hope of rearming it. However, Anakin does not believe the Jedi should be going on the offensive or aiding those who are.

Han and his new partner Droma are searching for Dromaís lost clan mates (of the mysterious species Ryn). What they accidentally uncover is a plot involving refugees and the betrayal of the New Republic by privateers. Can they survive long enough to warn the New Republic and turn the tide of the battle?

This volume carries plot lines in all directions with most of the major characters (except Luke who gets only superficial treatment). Unfortunately, it does not advance any of them very far. The series actually bogs down a bit in this volume (volume 5 of the New Jedi Order series). The Yuuzhan Vongís unstoppable rampage is growing a bit tiresome. Letís get it over with and defeat them already! In addition, this volume brings back many characters from previous books in the other Star War series. If you havenít read many of the original series books, youíll find yourself saying "Who?" quite a bit. Still, the action with Han and Droma is engaging and fast paced which keeps the plot moving briskly along. The negotiations with the Hapans felt like an unnecessary distraction to me, although the fight between Isloder and his political rival was entertaining. We do gain some new information about the Vong war coordinators thanks to a daring mission undertaken by a rogue Jedi Knight.

The next volume in the New Jedi Order series is out now and does not wrap up the conflict with the Yuuzhan Vong. Previously, the major plots/threats were wrapped up in three volumes. Letís hope this isnít turning into a Robert Jordan-like 12 volume excursion. I for one would probably lose interest before the conclusion.

Reviewed by: Alan

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