Jul 17, 2012

[Books] Star Wars: Bloodlines (Legacy of the Force Book 2)

It's quirky to note that even among authors who have written books within the Star Wars Expanded Universe, there are certain tropes or at the very least patterns that one can observe time and time again. Any maybe this applies outside of the Star Wars limitation to any author who writes several novels within a certain franchise or other such limitation of scope.

What I'm talking about is the inevitable security blanket that is sticking only to the characters that you as an author created rather than stepping on other writers' toes by "borrowing their characters". At first it's understandable and kind of cute as the author works with their creations and helps expand their back story and such. But over time it can get annoying, especially when they keep returning to these same characters - thus it feels like they lack the ability or courage to move out of that comfort zone and create new characters and thus new stories.

This book really felt that way to me, in the negative sense of the concept. As in I'm talking about the same levels of excessive referencing of past works like how Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (who is ironically a Star Wars author as well) mangled their ending to the Dune Chronicles with their books.

Yes, that bad.

Synopsis: Star Wars: Bloodlines is the second book in the Legacy of the Force series of Star Wars novels. It was written by Karen Travis, who also wrote the Republic Commando books.

This second book, as the cover suggests, focuses a bit more on Boba Fett, the legendary bounty hunter. He had last been seen together with his Mandalorian warriors fighting the Yuuzhan Vong during the war and now he's the prey. Boba Fett is dying and unless he can locate the missing Kaminoan scientist  Taun We who may hold the necessary cloning knowledge to cure what ails him. Along the way he meets another bounty hunter named Mirta Gev who claims to know the whereabouts of Fett's daughter along with knowing how his wife had died.

Elsewhere, Han and Leia Solo continue to do their best to keep some lines of communication between the increasingly belligerent Corellia and hardline Coruscant. But when a terrorist attack disrupts life on the capital world, the Galatic Alliance is forced to revive the need for an internal intelligence group. And this secret police of sorts is eventually led by none other than Jacen Solo, who is increasingly demonstrating a willingness to take matters to more extraordinary measures in his pursuit of his personal sense of justice.

And thus the galaxy slowly tips towards potential war once more.

Now my main pain here is how much Karen Traviss had to reference her Republic Commando novels in terms of this narrative. Thankfully she doesn't have Boba Fett extensively code-switch to the Mandalorian language as she did in those books given the characters lack of interesting in learning too much about the very people that he's supposed to "lead". And I'm not just talking about those books - she even had to link cross-generational characters derived from the Darth Vader short stories that were included at the end of the paperback edition of Betrayal. I mean come on, whether or not this came with clear direction from the big wigs at the publisher, we could have been more subtle about things!

To be fair, maybe my dislike for the book has a lot to do with how much I didn't enjoy the one Republic Commando book that I had actually read - Order 66. And I really didn't enjoy that book, so perhaps that may have created some bias in me. But seriously, to connect this story to those Clone Wars characters as well? That seemed a bit too much for me. And yet on the flip side, I generally enjoyed how she handled Boba Fett: A Practical Man.

Boba Fett, the most well-known Mandalorian in ...
Boba Fett, the most well-known Mandalorian in fan culture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Plus I know that I'll never get used to the post-prequels Boba Fett that suddenly has all this back story baggage. The clone-source father who died when he was ten and the life of living on his own among other bounty hunters and all that nonsense. And in this book, we have a version of Boba who is starting to get all sentimental because of the news of his inevitable death within a year. Somehow I still don't agree that this is how Boba Fett was supposed to turn out in terms of how authors initially handled his Expanded Universe adventures.

Beyond Boba Fett though, the rest of the story weaves a complex yet also familiar pattern. We see the Galactic Alliance falling into the mistakes of the Republic before it as it descends into the kind of heated situation that led to the Clone Wars and the formation of the Empire to begin with. We see Jacen Solo slowly descend down the path of the Sith. But as much as all these signs seem overly familiar, at the same time it's clear that there are much more complex forces at work. Jacen isn't totally bad - he too seems like an anti-hero of sorts but on a slightly different path as Anakin Skywalker before him.

Although I do worry just how long the writers are going to collectively drag this evolution into whatever he is bound to become across the books. If it lasts all nine books, I'm going to be seriously ticked off.

On the whole, Bloodlines performed the function of addressing several key plot points in the overall series in order to get all the necessary pieces placed on the board. I know that the action is just heating up in terms of the overall meta-plot narrative and so I'll remain patient to see how things pan out in time. For now, this book rates 3 odd moments of Boba Fett talking about his dead father out of a possible 5.

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