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Star Wars: Order 66 by Karen Traviss

01/01/2009. Contributed by Tomas L. Martin

Buy Star Wars: Order 66 in the USA - or Buy Star Wars: Order 66 in the UK

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pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books/Lucas Books. 432 page hardback. Price: $27.00 (US), $32.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-50618-4. . pub: Orbit. 467 page paperback. Price: 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-649-8.

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Karen Traviss' role in the 'Star Wars: Legacy Of The Force' novels impressed me, with her broad knowledge of the canon, deft introduction of Mandalore characters like Boba Fett and careful plotting. Her participation in the main timeline was preceded by a series of books about the Clone soldiers, of which 'Order 66' is the fourth.

Some of the Republic Commandos, the best of the best of the soldiers cloned from Jango Fett to fight for Chancellor Palpatine against the Separatist robots, have been adopted by the Mandalorian Kal Skirata. He acts as a mentor to the clones, convinced they can become more than just carbon copies of a bounty hunter.

This fourth book catches up to the various commandos as they are entangled in the events that lead up to the Republic's collapse and the rise of the Empire. George Lucas showed us many of these events in 'Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge Of The Sith', possibly the best of the mediocre prequel film trilogy.

Traviss has gone to great lengths to show the humanity and character of some of the many white-armoured cannon fodder shown in the films. Some of her soldiers have married and fathered children, others are coping with battle injuries or post-traumatic stress.

The war draws to its conclusion and Skirata learns of another clone army. He begins to plot his end game, to get as many of his adopted clones out of the army before they are all killed. Chancellor Palpatine moves closer to his own endgame of wiping out the Jedi.

Whether Skirata will save his men before the events we know to be coming provides a thrilling pace to events but having not read the first three books in this series I felt unconnected to what was a huge cast of characters. Traviss has tried her best to give each clone its own character and story but even so it was hard for me to distinguish between a number of them.

The large number of characters made the story feel muddy and indistinct. Similarly, Traviss obviously did a lot of research and world-building around the Mandalorian part of the 'Star Wars' universe that alienated rather than excited me. Sometimes it felt like half the dialogue was in untranslated alien language and the fact that each character had several names didn't help my confusion.

I think Traviss is one of the better tie-in writers but I didn't enjoy 'Order 66'. I felt like I needed a companion to explain who everyone was and what everything meant. I'm all for complex world-building but this novel did little to draw me into an alien world. Some of the 'Star Wars' tie-ins add a lot to the mythos of George Lucas' creation. Possibly because it relies so much on that third film, this one fails to do so.

Tomas L. Martin

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