Nov 6, 2012

[Books] Star Wars: The Swarm War (Dark Nest Trilogy Book 3)

It's fun to note how the Star Wars books, like the movies that defined the general framework of their fictional universe, tend to operate in trilogies. There's something about the storytelling format that works well since you can easily define your rising action, your dark climax and the eventual success at the end of things leading up to eventual conclusion. It's a format that lent itself very well to the very first Star Wars story and helped carry it through the years, or at least that's how I see things.

Not all trilogies are created equally, and I'll admit that I struggled a bit to finish reading all three books of the Dark Nest Trilogy for one reason or another. I suppose it has a lot to do with me not truly appreciating the antagonist in this series. Sure a fair amount of thought went into the development of these "villains" of sorts, the end result still wasn't all that significant. And the undercurrent throughout the books meant to address the gradual fall of Jacen Solo wasn't quite as big as I had hoped it could have been. At the very least, they did establish what needed to be seeded from a larger narrative perspective, but it just felt a little rushed at the end for some reason. Or maybe I was spoiled a bit since I had inadvertently started reading the Legacy of the Force books before doubling-back and getting started on this series.

Synopsis: Star Wars: The Swarm War is the third and final book in Troy Denning's Dark Nest Trilogy 
of novels. The story takes place not too long after the events depicted in The Unseen Queen.

It is full-scale war between the Killiks and the Chiss and the book begins with an on-going conflict on the Killik planet of Snevu. The Chiss have launched a new type of bomb and the young Jedi who have sided with the Killiks including Jaina, Zekk, Tesar and Lowbacca. The bomb does not immediately detonate and despite their efforts to secure it from the Chiss, the Jedi fail to get to it before it can be detonated.

In response to the ongoing conflict and the somewhat conflicted stance the Jedi Order has taken during the past books, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker decides to take more direct control of the Order by naming himself Grand Master of the Order. In line with this, he then requires absolute loyalty among the Jedi and a willingness to put the Order above their individual views and desires.

But that's just the first step in a much larger plan to find a way to put a final end to this. And while it had long been agreed that they needed to completely destroy the Dark Nest that was influencing the rest of the Killiks, the harsher possibility remains that they may also need to eliminate The Colony by somehow neutralizing UnuThul, who was once the Jedi Knight Raynar Thul.

The whole reorganization of the Jedi Order was a key point in this book, but also one that seemed long overdue. Their actions post Yuuzhan Vong were just far too chaotic to be a sustainable course of action. As much as the goal was to have each Jedi respond to their interpretation of the Force and what it demanded of them, it led to far too much confusion and disorder;. I'm just not quite sure the way it was addressed was quite the best way to go about things.

The whole Killik angle to things, which of course is central to the story, remains rather tiring for me. And while a lot of the Joiner-Killik action did help better explain more of how Killik society operates, it still doesn't make them easier to appreciate. And this isn't just because they're bugs - it has more to do with some of the more nonsensical things that they get around to. That I could do without and I'm just glad that the book made sure to present a big plan for the Jedi to try to eliminate them once and for all.

The book also tries to address the totally left field plot point of R2D2's locked memories from the past. As much as it made sense to want to have Luke and Leia get a better idea of what their parents were like, I don't think it was all that exciting to relive parts of the prequel movies in this manner. I'm not even fully sure how it applied to the overall story and how it was supposed to push the greater narrative forward. It just felt like a distraction that should not have dragged out across the trilogy as much as it had.

There were naturally a few pitched battles in this book and of course the big assault on the Dark Nest, but I can't quite say that the combat was all that satisfying. I enjoy the fun action that these books normally capture but the adrenaline rush just wasn't quite there this time around.

On the whole, The Swarm War just felt like a necessary end to things but not necessarily one that leaves you feeling fulfilled in terms of the whole adventure. And given the role the third book of any trilogy plays in tying all the loose ends together, it sort of fell short and ended up feeling like a weird rush to the finish line. So I can only rate the book as 2.5 dead Kilik communicator bugs out of a possible 5.

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