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Star Wars: The Clone Wars by Karen Traviss

01/10/2008. Contributed by Tomas L. Martin

Buy Star Wars: The Clone Wars in the USA - or Buy Star Wars: The Clone Wars in the UK

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pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books/Lucas Books. 256 page hardback. Price: $20.00 (US), $23.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-50898-0) .

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For me, the 'Star Wars' tie-in novels are among the better tie-in novels and Karen Traviss is one of Lucas Books' best writers. Having written four 'Star Wars: Republic Commando' novels and three of the interesting new 'Legacy of the Force' series, she has now been picked to write the novelisation of George Lucas' latest addition to the 'Star Wars' canon: the animated 'Clone Wars' film released this summer.

I haven't seen the animation, which is set between films two and three of the blockbuster sci-fi prequels, 'Attack Of The Clones' and 'Revenge Of The Sith'. By all accounts, 'The Clone Wars' details many of the events people criticised the main films from leaving out but on the whole reception to the new film has been lukewarm.

The book follows the events of the animation. Count Dooku's separatists with his robots and Sith are leading a war against Chancellor Palpatine's Republic and Clone Troopers and Jedi. Anakin Skywalker fights with his Clone Trooper team, battling the enemy and the demons within him.

The 'mcguffin' for this story that the protagonists are fighting for is a nifty idea. Both sides of the war are petitioning the Hutts for access to the space-lanes controlled by Jabba and co. In a double cross befitting of a Sith villain, Count Dooku kidnaps Jabba's young child Rotta and blames it on the Jedi.

Anakin, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin's new alien padawan learner Ahsoka are sent to the planet where the Huttlet is being held. They have to rescue young Rotta and return him to Jabba or else the whole outer rim of the galaxy will be lost to Dooku.

The story is decent and if told as well as Traviss writes it this could be a decent action movie. The author's main skill is in the characterisation of the side characters. Her history of affection for the Fetts and the clones produced from them shines through here. Anakin's relationship with Ashoka, Clone Trooper Rex and his squad brings him pain and stress as the troopers he bonds so much with are killed by impossible situations. The anger and guilt Anakin feels as the troopers are killed improves Lucas' heavy-handed treatment of Anakin's turn to the Dark Side immeasurably.

The action is decent and the rest of the storyline works reasonably well but the camaraderie and responsibility between Rex and Anakin is a real highlight and the main reason to read this book. It's a real shame the film versions of Anakin's betrayal couldn't have been done with this much subtlety and an ironic shame that nowadays the tie-ins of George Lucas' opus are better than his own additions.

Tomas L. Martin

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