Jul 31, 2012

[Books] Star Wars: Tempest (Legacy of the Force Book 3)

As I venture deeper and deeper into the Legacy of the Force series of books, I have to admit I find myself more and more annoyed that I did not first read the Dark Nest Trilogy of books. The series has made extensive references to the books time and time again and I can't shake off that feeling of having entered a theater in the middle of a movie. And I really hate that feeling.

Putting that aside though, the story is certainly interesting on its own and this particular installment brought us right back into the thick of things. And like most interstellar sagas set in the Star Wars universe, this goes beyond the big space battles alone. There has always been a significant political side to such events and this book did its best to capture one such potential conflict as the galaxy seems to move inexorably towards war.

There are a lot of quirks to Troy Denning's writing style that I'm coming to appreciate across the various novels he's contributed to the Star Wars Expanded Universe. I'll go into more detail in the course of this review, but needless to say I've started to see a relative pattern in how he handles the various Star Wars characters. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Synopsis: Star Wars: Tempest is the third novel in the Legacy of the Force series and was written by Troy Denning. Denning was also the author of the often-referenced Dark Nest Trilogy that came immediately prior to this story arc.

The story begins with the return of a character thought dead - Alema Rar, who had been last seen being consumed by a spidersloth after a battle with Leia Organa Solo. She's determined to seek revenge for what transpired during the Dark Nest Crisis but in the course of stalking Jacen Solo, she stumbles upon the Sith Lumiya and the World Brain still alive on Coruscant. Jacen continues his efforts to impose order on the Galactic Alliance and now he has a new tool to aid him - a Star Destroyer dedicated to GAG named the Anakin Solo.

Meanwhile the Solos - Han and Leia - continue in their efforts to assist Corellia while somehow balancing the interests of the Galactic Alliance. But when they're dispatched to the Hapes Consortium on a diplomatic mission to try and convince Hapes to stay out of any coming conflict, they immediately suspect that there may be more to things than what's on the surface.

Millenium Falcon
Millenium Falcon (Photo credit: elbragon)
Now this story inevitably centered a lot around Han and Leia and the growing complication of their involvement in this particular interstellar stand off. On the one-hand you have Corellia wanting to retain some degree of its independence while still cooperating with the Galactic Alliance and yet you have the GA needing Corellia to fall in line and disarm its independent fleets. And thus Han and Leia are town between their loyalties to both sides as they try to negotiate some sort of a third path that balances the two forces out.

Thus here's our story and Denning does a pretty remarkable job of capturing this conflict and more importantly bringing Han and Leia to life. The way he crafts their scenes and the inevitable banter between them is a lot of fun and almost feels like the on-screen chemistry we witnessed in the movies, which is a tricky thing to capture in just words. He's certainly developed a good feel for these characters and how they interact with one another and how they deal with complex (read: dangerous) situations together.

The Jacen-Lumiya-Alema triangle is a bit of a strenuous one and a bit of a downer to follow around. While this book really clearly shows how Jacen is falling further and further to the Dark, it also makes him a real jerk. At least he's not a whiny annoyance like the original Anakin was in the prequel movies, but he is becoming a rather unlikable character more and more. In the prior books it was just about order and good intentions. Here it seems we're seeming him tipping more and more over the edge.

But Alema Rar is the most annoying of them all. But that's just me.

I liked how this book focused more on the Hapes Consortium beyond the almost buffoonish image the region used to carry in the older books. Naturally a lot of the changes have to do with Tenel Ka running the show, but naturally a single monarch is not enough to change an established aristocracy. And so we still have plenty of silliness left over - but in this case dangerous thinking as well as the nobles continue to chafe until Tenel Ka's rule.

I'll admit that I enjoyed Star Wars: Tempest a lot more than some of the prior books. It had a good balance of political intrigue, interstellar conflict and of course the Jedi in action (whether for Light or Dark). The whole Dark Nest Crisis thread in all three books thus far has forced me to stop my journey down this path in order to read those books first. But I'll resume this arc once I'm done with that set. In the meantime, this book happily rates 4 Hapan nobles being all, well, Hapan, out of a possible score of 5.

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