Compilation of covers [wiki
So I am through now. What about the series as a whole? Nineteen books plus some shorter stories by about a dozen authors make up the longest story arc in the Extended Universe so far. I do not think it works. There are some books that are better than others, a few are quite good and a few are rather bad. On average, the narrative’s quality is mediocre. But this is not the major dealbreaker for me, it is continuity. Every author has its own darlings that tend to appear and vanish in an ad-hoc fasion. In one book, some Jedi turn up to play their part, only to be not even mentioned in the next one. I can not put a finger on it, but I am pretty sure mistakes happened, too.
Maybe it has to be this way. We have a huge universe with dozens of charakters that have been important in some novel or trilogy. How can you write a series about a galaxy-spanning conflict without touching them all in some way or risking to disappoint readers? How can you keep focus with hundreds of hotspots? Maybe it cannot be done at all. Some authors seem to have realised that instinctively and chose to remove a small set from the big action and let them have a small adventure that fits somewhere in the big picture. Maybe that would have been the better model? I honestly do not know. Read more »
Finally, the last episode of New Jedi Order, The Unifying Force by James Luceno. It is one big action packed finish, starting with a prisoner extraction complete with information smuggling, speeder pursuit and dogfights. Then, a big Vong attack on Mon Calamari, currently capital planet of the young Alliance. After that, everything converges on Coruscant: Zonama Sekot, both fleets and all major heroes and villians come together to wrap things up.
The Unifying Force is non-stop action cover to cover. There are no more attempts at character or story building; to use popular words: “Now begins the killing, followed by light salad.” We get huge space battles, invasion on ground and melee action, everything that is fun to read. We are never told why, though. Why Coruscant Yuuzhan’tar? Even some minor characters voice the question, but do not press for serious consideration. Why does the Alliance risk everything for a worthless piece of space junk? Nobody knows, but they do and nobody should be surprised by the outcome. I was not convinced by all resolutions or their foreshadowing, but they are good enough.
The end is quite open. It is not clear what happens with the Yuuzhan Vong, Zonoma Sekot, the Jedi and the Galactic Alliance. The main characters, now war heroes, are left with a galaxy to rebuild. I wonder how they will go about it and wether they will be able to keep competing factions together again. The next books sit on my shelves so I will be able to find out — after a break.
Greg Keyes’ The Final Prophecy is the second to last volume of series The New Jedi Order. The war finally progresses in favour of the Galactic Alliance. A number of offenses against spread out Vong fleets go well and people start to consider they might be able to win the war eventually. Command starts a big attack on an important system when the enemy takes out the Holonet — Yuuzhan Vong shapers have finally adapted to technological warfare. Without the comfort of instantaneous communication, Alliance fleets have trouble coordinating, which leaves one commandeered by Wedge Antilles alone in a fight against superior forces.
Meanwhile, the Prophet aka Nom Anor contacts Tahiri with a request: he and heretic shaper Nen Yim want to be rescued from Yuuzhan’tar and brought to Zenoma Sekot which he views as salvation of the Yuuzhan Vong people. Corran and Tahiri go and pick them up. Due to some intrigue, Priest Harrar also tags along. During their travel, the Jedi try to assess wether or not their passengers can be trusted. They talk a lot with Nen Yim and Harrar, and finally some mutual understanding emerges. But Nom Anor has, of course, his very own idea of how the visit on the living should turn out.
The Final Prophecy is nicely written. Keyes focuses quite rigorously on two plot lines and tells them at a high pace. Long-time opponents in one tiny ship, talking about philosophy and religion is a nice touch that imparts new knowledge and connections to both characters and reader. On its own, that part might have been boring, but it is nicely balanced by the more action-packed events around Wedge and Jaina. All in all, the novel is certainly entertaining and worth a read.
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.
Destiny’s Way is the fifteenth volume of The New Jedi Order. While Jaina leads a big and successful attack on one of the Yuuzhan Vongs worldships, her parents try to convince the Empire to join the war effort. In the meanwhile the remaining pieces of the New Republic assemble on Mon Calamari and create a new state which is of course immediately in political and military trouble. Jacen’s return is one of the rare happy events but his company, Vergere, helps little. She imparts her knowledge only reluctantly and challenges the modern Jedi’s philosophy. The Yuuzhan Vong, on the other hand, have trouble with their worldmind that Jacen messed with as well as spreading blasphemy.
I read Destiny’s Way some weeks ago and can not really remember most of it. This is not a good sign in itself; I remember not liking it too much. Williams tries to tell too many things on too few pages: military advances, spy war, political crisis, diplomacy, Vong affairs, Jedi philosophy — he does not leave out anything. The ending seems haphazardly placed and offers shallow endings for deep characters plots. So, I can not give a qualified review on this one but can say that it was yet again one of the weaker books in this series.