Williams & Dix: Force Heretic


Sean Williams and Shane Dix wrote mini series Force Heretic, volumes 15 to 17 of The New Jedi Order, namely Remnant, Refugee and Reunion. The Skywalker-Solo Clan splits up and embarks on two missions in order give the Galactic Alliance room to breath. One half moves into the Unknowns Regions to find the living planet Vergere told them about. Their hope is that the planet can somehow help them against the Yuuzhan Vong. The other half investigates recent communication losses with former New Republic worlds to ensure that the locals are still there and protected. Of course, both groups run into one trouble after the other, including Vong collaboraters, hostile natives and local feuds. In the meantime, old nuisance Nom Anor works in Yuuzhan’tar’s underground to destabilise Shimrra’s reign.

Force Heretics is so dull. I started to have a bad feeling right in the beginning, when basically all major heroes — some integral to the still fragile Alliance — leave for extended, remote tasks without very good motivation. The search for Sekoth is declared incredibly important which is completely unfounded; why would a planet of unknown power that has obviously chosen to withdraw itself from the galaxy be of any help? The Solos looking into communication black-outs is even more irrational. In the end of book three, Cal Omas says so himself: others could have done the job, the heroes could have seen to more pressing matters.

Even though the parent series depicts the war against the Yuuzhan Vong, there is hardly any confrontation with them in the majority of the trilogy. I wonder how most of the tale relates to the war effort; many plots have the taste of little adventures, inderludes meant to entertain. Only they do not entertain. The narrative appears unnecessarily drawn-out; the events and developments relevant to the major plot lines could have been told in one book instead of three. The authors’ writing is less than compelling in general: weird point-of-view changes in the middle of paragraphs, all-the-same sounding characters and arbitrary cuts as cheap replacements for real suspension are only examples. Be it emotional, philosophical or action scene, I never felt drawn into the books.

To be fair, a number of small ideas, adventures and character arcs are well conceived. In another context and written more concisely and with a bit more skill, parts of Force Heretic could have been fun. As it is, I had to force myself to finish it. Only knowing that I had two more volumes in New Jedi Order to go — written by other authors — kept me going.

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