Sep 13, 2011

[Books] Star Wars: Destiny's Way (The New Jedi Order Book 14)

Star Wars: Destinys Way (The New Jedi Order Book 14)As my reading progress works it way through the vast series of novels that is The New Jedi Order series of Star Wars books, the thought has crossesd my mind more than once about how our heroes could possibly win in the end. Let's face it, this is still Star Wars so it means that good has to triumph over evil at the end of all this - it's just a question of how. And for most of this series, it has been one depressing defeat after another as the intergalactic invaders known as the Yuuzhan Vong continue their conquest of the New Republic and nearby territories.

In any narrative, even one of this scale, there has to be that turning point when the almost invincible enemy begins to falter. As much as there have been isolated victories against the Yuuzhan Vong across the books, you have to admit that the overall tone has been one of slowly giving ground to these invaders culminating with the fall of Coruscant, the home of the New Republic's government.

In many ways, this book certainly felt like that potential turning point. While the book does not end with the New Republic being safe and restored to its former glory, it does present how the beleaguered forces finally find their angle of opportunity and start to exploit it. It's far from the final conclusion of the entire series, but it's definitely a key moment in the whole story arc that is a must-read if you want to fully appreciate the progression of this narrative.

Destiny's Way is the fourteenth book in The New Jedi Order series of books. It was written by Walter Jon Williams together with the eBook Ylesia, which takes place during the events of this book. For purposes of this review, one can assume that I'll factor into the eBook as part of the overall assessment of this title since they really work hand and hand.

After the full withdrawal of Ne w Republic forces from Borleias after the fall of Coruscant, the galactic senate has found a temporary home on the water world of Mon Calamari. However the senate is still without a Chief of State and thus various political groups are maneuvering to get their supported candidate elected to the post. One of the stronger candidates is Fyor Rodan, who could potentially support once again trying to negotiate with the Yuuzhan Vong. Thus the New Jedi Order throws their support behind Cal Omas, who supports the creation of a new Jedi Council as part of his campaign platform.

This is an unofficial map which represents the...Image via WikipediaElsewhere in the galaxy, Han and Leia Organa Solo are bring Imperial Officer Vana Dorja back to the Imperial Remnant homeworld of Bastion. Part of their mission is to try and negotiate a treaty with the Imperials and possibly get their full support in the way. Meanwhile, Jaina remains on the battlefront as she leads an attack group to Obroa-skai to possibly destroy Supreme Overload Shimrra's flagship. And Jacen finally returns to the New Republic by escaping to Mon Calamari together with the enigmatic Old Republic Jedi Knight Vergere.

The book makes mention of this being the "turning point" many, many times, so it is stressed to the reader that something critical is going to happen. Of course it's hard to predict what that turning point just might be until you finally get to that part of the story. I appreciated that they decided to bring back the tactical genius that is Admiral Ackbar into the story as a way of bridging the old and the new in this epic struggle. Of course now instead of the overwhelming force of the Galactic Empire, they now have to deal with the Yuuzhan Vong with their living ships and gravity-altering dovin basals.

There's a lot of rhetoric and lofty arguments thrown around on the Jedi side of things. Anyone who has been reading these books will recognize this as being par for the course especially when Jacen is involved. And this was even more true with the likes of Vergere finally getting to interact with Luke Skywalker and others. It can get a little heavy and a wee bit too metaphorical but in the end there's a lot of be learned here as the Jedi try to rethink their view of the Force to explain the Yuuzhan Vong.

Beyond the philosophical arguments, the book also features a lot of great fight scenes, which I feel are a required staple of any Star Wars novel. And it's no simple feat to manage large-scale ship tactics in narrative form. Williams has pretty much proved himself to have a decent handle of the dynamics of Star Wars style fleet tactics although there are those moments when he gets a wee bit repetitive in terms of describing what's going on.

One nice touch was how the author tried to make sure there was a lot of more natural, comfortable behavior between the characters. This was most true between family members and romantic entanglements, which was a welcome change given how harsh conditions have been in prior books. Despite all the danger and the action that had to happen as part of the story, the characters still had moments of intimacy and even just friendly banter to remind us just why we've come to love these characters over the years.

The book also provided a lot of "air time" with the Yuuzhan Vong themselves as certain plot lines established in prior books are resolved. And this was more than just getting a glimpse of them in battle but it involved more the complex politics of the Yuuzhan Vong forces with characters like the slimy Nom Anor right in the thick of things.

Overall, I liked how Destiny's Way tried to present a logical shift in the conflict on many fronts. We saw new military successes, refining of the New Jedi Order's philosophies and ultimately a few more steps closer to the inevitable conclusion. The book keeps you interested in the the future of these characters and the Republic at large and strengthens the hope that things will work out in the end. Thus it gets 4 surprise revelations from Vergere out of a possible 5.

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