– Spoiler Review –
Del Rey employee, and Twitter user, Tom (@DarthInternous) once described this book as “Storage Wars gone very, very wrong.” As The Old Republic tie-in series continues, we meet a cast of Sith, Jedi, bounty hunters…and literally everybody else in-between. Join our Legendary Adventure as we find out the secret behind Tassaa Bareesh’s auction…
I usually think I finish every novel far too quickly. Between my two jobs, I get at least two hours of lunches/down time/breaks that help me read a bit more than the usual person (Well, that, and extreme antisocial tendencies more often that not.) This way, I usually end up finishing a Legends novel in about three or four days. Fatal Alliance changed this tendency in a few ways. This novel took me well over a week to finish. The prose is fine, not as dry as Zahn can be, nor is it a big info dump like Luceno. The real reason this book took me so long to read was because it had so much going on. I had to keep a handwritten dramatis personae on my person while reading this to keep track of all of it. I was simply exhausted!
Now, if you have trouble remembering a few character names, you’ll have a really tough time with this book. Usually, even when I can’t remember names, I can remember relationships. Unfortunately, so much happens in this novel that it takes almost 300 pages for me to connect with most of the characters. Most characters remain rather flat until the climax, where a new, unexpected context forces them into new territories and new ways of interacting with each other. On top of that, I had difficulty following the book because a lot of The Old Republic‘s context was not explained in this novel, nor any previous ones. Whether or not you’ve played the MMO, or read the Visual Guide, the learning curve for any of The Old Republic novels would be tough, but this one stands out especially.
Returning to Tom’s comparison of this novel to Storage Wars, the novel’s main plot is focused on a Hutt led sale of a treasure recently stolen from a ship destroyed in Wild Space. As the Republic learns about the prize, they send an envoy to retrieve it. Similarly, the Sith Empire is interested in the prize, sending a Sith apprentice to return it. Finally, Mandalorian and Hutt interests intersect with both major government’s desires. It seems like a lot of the most famous crews and factions are pitted against each other in the book. In the end, the prize turns out to be another superweapon: this time, a formidable army of hexagonal droids. These droids are insanely hard to destroy, first due to their design and second due to their ability to learn from their enemies and adapt to their fighting styles.
Most stories in the novel take place in pairs or at least are colored by a pair of characters. One of the more interesting characters, a disgruntled Jedi named Shigar Konshi is teamed with Republic trooper Larin Moxla. Shigar struggles with his abilities as a Jedi, and his abilities are called even further into question when the Jedi won’t let him take the Trials. He has the power of psychometry, which, for Quinlan Vos was a deus ex machina at times, but Shigar’s power is limited by an inability to use the power when he needs to. This takes what could be a run of the mill superpower and turns it into an actually interesting character quirk. Shigar struggles with the Order as a whole, but also with his Master, who does not give Shigar the complete confidence he feels he requires. Moxla is similarly given grief by current Republic troopers for a hard decision she had to make years ago before leaving the force. Both of the characters being out of sync with organizations we usually know to be the good guys was an interesting take. Where the characters never felt fully formed on their own, it was the context which really drove them out of forgettable status.
Another pairing features Eldon Ax, who recently failed a mission for her Master, Darth Chratis. She fights Mandalorian Dao Stryver, who is able to learn about the shipment from Eldon. Eldon seeks to redeem herself in the eyes of her Master and the Sith Council. Unfortunately, she is too tied to this mission: the ship was named after her birth name, seemingly designed by her mother. Chratis labels Eldon’s mother as an enemy of the Sith. Because of this, Chratis charges Eldon to find her mother. This leads to an interesting dynamic, where both mother and daughter are in a position to change the galaxy drastically. In a galaxy where most stories focus on the father and the son, it is refreshing to finally have a mother-daughter story, even if the mother was dead from the start of the story. Instead, we find out that her mother mapped Eldon’s mind onto hexagonal droids hell-bent on getting revenge on the Sith for taking her daughter.
The Republic envoy, Ula Vii, is sent to retrieve the prize for the Republic. The Republic fears that the Sith could use the weapon, if that’s what it is, to balance the power between the two factions and turn the tide of the war. Unfortunately for them, Ula is a Sith spy, working within the Republic to learn its secrets. Working for the Sith, he has to play a dangerous double game as he moves between interactions with Shigar and Eldon. Ula’s character doesn’t really come out until the climax, where he interacts with Dao Stryver. Dao brings out a lot of the rogue in Ula, making him question where he is coming from and why he does what he does. Unfortunately, as before, it takes hundreds of pages to get to this point.
The climax of the novel, in space and on the ground of Sebaddon, features a massive Sith Empire and Republic union. The droids turn out to be too much for a single fleet or army, so the two opposing forces are left no choice but to team up. The hexagonal droids are too strong to fight for both Jedi and Sith alone: it would take the entire fleet to prevent them from destroying the galaxy. Thankfully, Satele Shan leads the charge and kills Eldon’s clone. Though Satele is the Grand Master of the Order, her appearance here is a bit of a bummer. It seems to rob the victory from one of the main characters, the ones we have been following throughout the novel. Thankfully, it is Eldon who eventually wins: she controls the droid army, and commands them to both kill Chratis and then destroy themselves.
300 pages in, you’ll find an excellent book full of characters who have to make exceptionally hard choices. Eldon deals with her family line, and her devotion to the Sith, as Shigar battles Darth Chratis and is tempted by the dark side. Ula questions his allegiences as both of his bosses team up to fight a greater threat. This book, in the end, is a hard sell: it is not a bad book! But I feel that readers who aren’t fans of The Old Republic will find themselves far too lost to enjoy the book entirely. It also starts slowly and there aren’t many handholds to grasp on to, so you have to push through the novel to feel fully connected. Ultimately, I say you won’t miss a lot by passing. If you are willing to hold out, I think the climax itself is worth at least checking out at the library.
Canon Novel Reviews:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars Young Reader Reviews:
Adventures in Wild Space: The Escape (Prelude)
So You Want to be a Jedi?
Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
Poe Dameron: Flight Log
Princess Leia: Royal Rebel (Backstories)
Darth Vader: Sith Lord (Backstories)
The Force Awakens: Finn’s Story
LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Reviews:
“A Hero Discovered” 1×01 | “The Mines of Gabralla” 1×02 | “Zander’s Joyride” 1×03 | “The Lost Treasure of Cloud City” 1×04 | “Peril on Kashyyyk” 1×05 | “Crossing Paths” 1×06