Oct 25, 2011

[Books] Star Wars: Force Heretic II: Refugee (The New Jedi Order Book 16)

Star Wars: Force Heretic II: Refugee (The New Jedi Order Book 16)When you read certain books, especially in a franchised as highly regulated as the Star Wars Expanded Universe, you can pretty much imagine how the meetings went or the kind of decisions that led to a particular story. One day the board (or whoever) decides that there's a lot of buzz around the likes of Boba Fett going on, so it would be a good idea to write a few books about him and the other bounty hunters. The next time a committee may come up with a plan to explore the lives of the younger Jedi in greater detail and thus they start writing about that. It's like a geekier version of SEO-like principles applied to the writing process or something.

In this case, I've come to surmise that the Force Heretic books were design not just to advance the overall story of The New Jedi Order, but also to revisit a number of locations prominently featured in past Star Wars books to generate some cross-title interest. This was probably a theoretically good idea if they had provided more NJO plot points for the writers to address. Instead, it felt like they only had 2-3 major NJO plot points to tackle across three separate titles, thus the rest was a lot of filler fluff focused on the older story being revisited.

In the first book in this trilogy, we sort of returned to the story of the Yevetha as featured in The Black Fleet Crisis books. In this second book, we end up going back to the world of Bakura, as previously featured in The Truce at Bakura.

Star Wars Force Heretic II: Refugee is the 16th in the fairly epic Star Wars novel series, The New Jedi Order. It was written by Sean Williams and Shane Dix. The book continues to follow three main story paths involving Luke and his team searching for the sentient planet Zonama Sekot, The Solos trying to reestablish ties with far-flung Galactic Alliance systems and Nom Anor trying to climb back up the rungs of Yuuzhan Vong society to reclaim his power and position.

Luke's group how has some help from the Imperial Remnant in the form of the Imperial frigate Widowmaker escorting the Jade Shadow. The group eventually wanders into what is apparently Chiss space and thus their quest to find the mystery planet now involves finding a way to convince the Chiss of the legitimacy of their operation and to get their support in their search.

The Solos venture off to the world of Bakura, as recommended by their mysterious  Ryn contact in the last book. But despite all reason, the Bakurans appear to be engaged in diplomatic talks with the P'weck, who were the former slaves of the Ssi-ruuvi Imperium (the big bad guys in the original book). Prime Minister Molierre Cundertol is missing and the blame for his disappearance seems to have fallen on the shoulders of Bakuran activist Malinza Thanas. But as is the way of these things, not everything is as it seems.

And Nom Anor continues to try to use the Shamed Ones for his cause by now posing as Yu'shaa the Prophet as he tries to reshape the Jedi story into a myth powerful enough to change the thinking of the Yuuzhan Vong to serve his ends.

Cover of "Force Heretic II: Refugee (Star...Cover via AmazonI think what annoyed me the most about these three books is the fact that there's so much hype around Zonoma Sekot when nobody has any idea as to what makes the planet so important. It's bad enough that it's a sentient planet that somehow has hyperspace capabilities, but we still don't know how it might help against the war against the Yuuzhan Vong. And the name has been thrown around quite a number of times to the fact that we're the final stretch and still without a clear idea of why the planet might be valuable seems a tad ridiculous to me.

Then there's the whole Bakuran story, which was interesting enough I suppose but it still felt more like a distraction from the rest of the overall plot. It's another decent story but it just didn't feel like it was a story that needed to be told. Now that we know how they resolve the issue of Bakura, will this play a role later on in the overall story? I highly doubt it.

Thus the book still feels like another attempt to generate more book sales based on the overall story even though the individual title leaves much to be desired.

Star Wars: Force Heretic II: Refugee is a decent enough book but not an essential piece of the overall New Jedi Order Story. I'm pretty confident you can get by without having read this book and still enjoy the conclusion of the series when you get there. It gets 3 not very subtle political maneuvers on Bakura out of a possible 5.

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