Sep 15, 2008

[Books] Star Wars: Survivor's Quest

Star Wars: Survivor's QuestI have a lot of respect for Timothy Zahn as a writer. He's done so much for the Star Wars Expanded Universe, although not necessarily in sheer number of contributions or anything silly like that. No, what he did was to create some of the most pivotal characters in the world beyond Return of the Jedi and truly helped define the Expanded Universe and the many storylines to come with his contributions to the collected stories.

While I generally enjoy most of his books, every now and then any author is bound to do something less than ideal or not quite as enjoyable and you end up with books that are decent but nowhere near as significant has his prior works.

In many ways, I felt this book one one such example for the case of Timothy Zahn.

Luke with his wife, Mara JadeImage via Wikipedia Survivor's Quest is a very loose sequel of sorts to the events originally in Outbound Flight. In this tale, the Chiss have reached out to the Jedi regarding the discovery of the remains of Outbound Flight, the failed mission to explore beyond the known Galaxy that was destroyed by Grand Admiral Thrawn before he joined the Empire. Thus Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade set off into Chiss space to visit the wreckage of the crashed Dreadnaughts. They are joined be representatives from the Empire of the Hand and by the surviving Geroons, who claim to owe the members of Outbound Flight their lives.

The journey itself plays out like a mystery novel given various "accidents" and unusual occurrences along the way, all of which reach a head once they enter the Redoubt and start to explore Outbound Flight and the survivors and descendants of the original mission.

In many ways, this novel felt more like a duology for the prior novel, Outbound Flight, given a lot of the characters and references were drawn directly from that book. While it's not necessarily essential to read that book prior to this one, it certainly enriches the experience given how many characters seem to have survived the 50 years and are part of the current tale. It reminded me way too much of how Hunters of Dune, which was presented as a sequel to the original 6 Dune Chronicles, conveniently made numerous references to many of the prequel novels written after the death of Frank Herbert, the original author. Regardless of the original intentions behind this book, part of it felt too much like a marketing ploy designed to draw us into buying at least two titles.

As much as the writing was still quite skilled and the characters well-defined as Zahn tends to exemplify consistently over his titles, the overall quality of the plot could have used work. the pseudo-mystery aspect of the story was a but trite and predictable and I found myself anticipating certain plot twists early in the story. As much as I like being able to understand the story enough to predict the ending with some accuracy, I prefer the experience to have some degree of difficulty or challenge as opposed to how obvious some of the finer points of this tale was.

This is not to say that this is a bad book itself. It was executed as best as was feasible given the core story and it does the trick of providing one with entertainment and light reading. Just don't expect this to totally change your perspective of the Star Wars Expanded Universe nor do you have to go out of your way to acquire a brand new copy of this title.

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