01/04/2010. Contributed by Tomas L. Martin
pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books/Lucas Books. 298 page hardback. Price: $27.00 (US), $32.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-50906-2.
check out websites: www.delreybooks.com, www.starwars.com and www.AaronAllston.com
Aaron Allston is becoming one of the key authors of the 'Star Wars' extended universe of tie-in books. Rightly so, having made his bones in the excellent 'Wraith Squadron' books, then in excellent additions to the 'New Jedi Order' and 'Legacy Of The Force' sequences. Having produced the first book of the previous tie-in sequence, 'Legacy Of The Force', Allston has again been chosen to open the new sequence, entitled 'Fate Of The Jedi'.
The New Republic has reached another turning point in its tumultuous history. After relative peace following the defeat of the Yuuzahn Vong, the entire galaxy was torn apart across the 'Legacy Of The Force sequence' in which several major characters were killed and Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo's son, Jacen, was turned to the dark side.
Having averted all out galactic war by a very slim margin and with Jacen's evil incarnation defeated by his sister Jaina at the cost of many lives, the Jedi are once again seen as a grave threat by many of the galaxy's citizens. The politicians strive to keep the Jedi out of their affairs, determined not to let a Force user have the same power that Jacen did.
'Outcast' follows two main interlinking plotlines, initiated from the same origin. Jedi Valin Horn causes carnage in Coruscant, the capital of the Republic. When questioned, Horn acts crazed, believing that his friends and family have been replaced by imposters. Sick of the damage inflicted by rogue Force users, the media and citizens turn on the Jedi.
With new Chief of State Daala determined to stamp her authority, a legal trial is organised to determine whether Luke Skywalker was to blame for Jacen's turn to the dark side. In a shocking move, Luke agrees to give up his title of Grand Master if he is allowed to travel across the galaxy in an attempt to piece together the causes of Jacen's fall.
Accompanied by his son, Anakin, Luke travels to one of the worlds where Jacen studied. They manage to find clues as to some of the powers Jacen learned but in doing so find themselves trapped at the mercy of a crazed leader. Meanwhile, on Coruscant, the other Jedi must prevent another crazy Jedi from doing further damage to the capital.
'Outcast' is a nice change of tone and pace from the previous series, which felt a little rushed in places. Allston has grown in his use of the major characters by now and handles the two plotlines well. The action sequences are as electrifying as always, with several covert Coruscant missions really gripping the reader.
The stepping back from Grand Master allows Luke's character to come to the fore more than it has in the recent books, freeing him to be more like the adventurer of old. His relationship with Anakin is well handled, easing the next generation of Jedi into a more influential role.
The exploration of Jacen's turn to the dark side is a nice sub-plot to this sequence which hopefully will bring further meaning to the previous sequence, which started well but ended a little quickly. Allston has put the building blocks of another enjoyable story arc in place, continuing the renaissance of the 'Star Wars' tie-in series. Here's hoping the 'Fate Of The Jedi' series is as compelling as its predecessor.
Tomas L. Martin
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