Oct 9, 2012

[Books] Star Wars: The Unseen Queen (Dark Nest Trilogy Book 2)

One of the quirks of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, at least in terms of the books, is the seeming need to introduce new alien species with every new series. Sure, it's a common practice among science fiction franchises as part of continuing efforts to expand the writer's options and further flesh out then universe - we've seen a lot of that in the Star Trek books as well. But given the Star Wars legacy of creating stories for every bit character flashed on-screen in the various movies, it seems particularly distinct as a trait of the books.

With the Dark Nest Trilogy of books, Troy Denning introduced us to the Killiks, an insect-like race that seem so inhuman that I was oddly reminded of how The Trust at Bakura introduced us to the reptilian Ssi-ruuk. Theres nothing quite like having a whole race that follows starkly different and yet also familiar evolutionary lines to give the book a distinct angle to pursue.

Thus with the Kiliks we get to explore Denning's spin on how an intelligent hive mind might work along with some of the downsides of a whole race with a single consciousness. I can't say that this series is one of my favorites, at least with rest to what I've read thus far. But it certainly is unique and fits in very well with the rest of the adventures in the Star Wars Universe.

Synopsis: Star Wars: The Unseen Queen by Troy Denning is the second book in the Dark Nest Trilogy of books and is set at least one year after Qoribu incident as depicted in the first book, The Joiner King.

On a mission to capture Tibanna gas thieves, Jaina Solo and Zekk (who are still Joiners) make a surprise disocvery - that the Dark Nest, also known as Gorog, may have survived. Meanwhile in the Utegetu Nebula, the new home of Killiks, it seems that The Colony is harboring a variety of pirates and smugglers with the lure of Black Membrosia. Han and Leia travel to meet with Unuthul / Raynar to confront him about the piracy but of course he completely denys knowing anything about it.

However Unuthul does share a theory as to why it seemed the Dark Nest was particularly focused on killing Mara Jade - something to do with her past and the potential origins of the Dark Nest itself. The information proves hard to ignore for the Skywalkers, but they also need to determine the origins of a diseases known as the Fizz, which is killing Killiks across the new worlds that they've settled on. Once more the Jedi and their allies find themselves caught between the demands of the Galactic Alliance and the Killiks with other adversaries taking advantage from behind the scenes.

Now it was established in the first book that the Dark Nest is somehow the unconscious mind (which is different from the subconscious mind) of the Killiks and thus the active mind (the Colony) actually cannot perceive the actions of Gorog at all. But at the same time, the Gorog are still able to influence the actions of the Colony since that is somehow part of the functions of the conscious mind. It's not exactly the most brilliant or airtight of explanations of why the Killiks operate as they do, but I suppose we'll just have to excuse this quirk for now.

But you have to admit that it does become rather annoying that we constantly deal with Unuthul and the Colony flat out denying Gorog actions even then they themselves witness the events. I can't quite imagine how being the supposed unconscious mind completely hides them from the awareness driving the Colony even when they can see them. I understand memories being altered and the like, but real-time memory manipulation seems like we're pushing the whole unconscious mind theory a bit too far.

The series also appears to be where the new StealthX fighters debuted and Denning has made sure to have liberal use of the Jedi-only fighters across both books. This second novel had quite an amount of combat involved especially in the latter parts. The nuance that these vessels - designed to be hidden from visual and sensor view - are solely useable by the Jedi given the communications restrictions does seem an odd contrast. For an organization that is devoted to maintaining the balance of things and trying to keep the peace, to have their almost signature ship to be of total concealment presents an interesting metaphor. These books are set after the New Jedi Order books where the Jedi realized they needed to adopt a new view of the Force after the Yuuzhan Vong War.

But if anything, we can ignore a lot of the less than ideal aspects of the book (a lot of them to do with the main plot, I fear) and focus on what these books really set out to do - lay the groundwork that will foreshadow Jacen Solo's eventual turn to the Dark Side. And this book seems to best capture the growing changes in Jacen's world view. I'd love to go into further detail, but that might spoil key events depicted in this book for some of you planning to read it.

Star Wars: The Unseen Queen is a decent enough book, but one that feels like too much of a rehash of the first one. Or maybe I'm just getting tired of UnuThul pretty much being an idiot all because of the hidden nature of Gorog. So the book only rates 3.5 Killik-created spinglass sculptures out of a possible 5.

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  1. geeky guide nga talaga ito! hehe. i love star wars too. been thinking twice introducing the toddler to star wars...wag muna..too early my husband said...hindi ko daw kakayanin when he starts getting crazy over star wars :D

  2. Proudly a geek indeed!

    And no, it is never too early to introduce your children to Star Wars. Plus with the on-going Clone Wars cartoon, they're targetted towards children more than ever, hehe.