Nov 29, 2011

[Books] Star Wars: The Final Prophecy (The New Jedi Order Book 18)

While I don't expect too much from the Star Wars novels as a whole, which are pretty much light reading for me, I wasn't expecting to be this disappointed either. And with The Final Prophecy meant to be the penultimate book of the entire New Jedi Order series of novels, I don't think you can fault me for expecting a lot more than what we ended up with here.

This is a critical moment in the overall story - the moment when things need to be their most hopeful and yet also their most frightening. There needs to be a chance for victory but an even greater risk for defeat. In the same way that the tides seemed to be totally against the Rebels when Endor was discovered to be a lot better defended than expected and the Death Star II was already functional in Return of the Jedi, this needed to be a key moment to set the stage for the final conflict.

Instead, we got a rather confused mess that didn't quite know what to do with itself and an entire living planet in the form of Zonama Sekot that decided to become highly inconsistent in terms of its behavior. And the sentient planet wasn't the only "character" acting rather oddly.

Gregory Keyes
Image via Wikipedia
The Final Prophecy is the 18th full novel in The New Jedi Order series of Star Wars books and was written by Greg Keyes. He had also written the Edge of Victory novels in the same series.

When we last left our adventurers, Luke, Mara, Jacen and the others had finally located the fabled planet of Zonama Sekot. But instead of learning more about the planet and their progress with their mission, we instead shifted over to Nem Yim, the Master Shaper who has been working to develop "heretical" new methodologies and biological technologies to assist the Yuuzhan Vong in their war effort. Somehow a vessel from Zonama Sekot had been captured previously and was now given to her to be examined. What makes the ship most unique is how it is a blending of both biological and mechanical components.

In studying the ship, she realizes that a lot of the biological components share many traits with Yuuzhan Vong technology, and thus it becomes important that she sees the planet for herself to learn more. She ends up getting the assistance of the priest Harrar who in turn sends out anonymous feelers to the heretical movement led by Yu'shaa the Prophet, whom we all know to be the scheme Nom Anor. Thus the group work to get the assistance of the Galactic Alliance to go see Zonama Sekot, which is supposedly the planet that Yu'shaa had foreseen to be of critical importance to the future of the Yuuzhan Vong - a request for aid that is eventually fulfilled by Jedi Knights Coran Horn and Tairi Vella.

Now the core premise of the story seemed really weird to me. I mean seriously, Galactic Alliance just believed the request of the heretics / rebels immediately and made no other plans of first interrogating these individuals before bringing them to Zonama Sekot? After looking for the planet for so long in-between various battles and losses at the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong, they figured it would make perfect sense to immediately bring the subjects to what everyone believes to be the critical factor in winning the war? That totally doesn't make sense!

And then when they do get to the planet, Zonama Sekot never appears to them in her weird astral form like she did so much in the other books? As much as one could argue that a few humanoids on the surface of the planet would be far too small to attract notice, this is supposed to be a planet with such a strong presence in the Force that it blots out everything else in the immediate vicinity. Not only that, but they went to the planet using one of Sekot's own shits - would that not have attracted her interest? Or is it normal for her to lose ships and have them come back under their own power without her explicitly giving permission?

And while the concept of the Sekotan ship was rather interesting, I didn't quite appreciate the convenience that it turned out to be a decent enough interstellar vessel that enough living space to accommodate their small party. Given how they so easily shipped it around the planet in order for it to be subjected to Nem Yim's analysis and investigation, I imagined it was more along the lines of a one person fighter. Instead it was practically like the Millennium Falcon or something. And STILL Sekot did not notice a ship of that size crash-landing on the planet's surface. Brilliant.

The story felt like it was written around key plot incidents that the larger editorial team had given to Keyes to write into his story. And instead of creating a richer tapestry around those facts, he ended up writing the bare minimum needed to hit those points and little else. And I don't see how he couldn't have done better given his work on the Edge of Victory felt a lot more substantial and rewarding than this book did.

The whole plot line about Wedge's battle group being isolated without communications was a more interesting aspect to things, I'll admit. It featured some pretty decent ship-to-ship combat depictions and it still made a lot more sense than Nom Anor's constant need to reinvent himself and betray his own ideals or whatever.

I know, I know, this is not my best review, but I'd like to think the passion of my rather detailed ranting helps illustrate how disappointed I was with this book. The character just felt wrong from start to finish and almost hollow in how they were depicted. The plot didn't make nearly as much sense as it could have and a lot of the key players decided to stop acting like themselves in order to allow the overall plot to take precedence. And clearly that was not a good thing this time around.

The Final Prophecy is definitely a dark spot on the overall storyline - and so close to the end to boot. Still, I'll be decent enough to give it two days of useless wandering about by Corran and company out of a possible 5.

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