Dec 4, 2012

[Books] Star Wars: Inferno (Legacy of the Force Book 6)

The on-going saga at the heart of the Legacy of the Force is somewhat a "classic" one as far as the Star Wars universe is concerned - or perhaps in terms of literature as a whole. This is not the first time that we've followed a character in his descent into what is generally termed as evil, no matter how well-intentioned things were at the start.  Before we saw the fall of Anakin Skywalker as he became Darth Vader in the Star Wars prequel movies and now we see the same thing happen to Jacen Solo, son of Han and Leia.

But what is a bit more interesting this time around is how the writing team behind the series tried to give a greater degree of plausibility to why Jacen fell as compared to the movies. Let's face it - Anakin Skywalker seemed to have rather shallow and petty reasons for embracing the Dark Side whereas the writers had a bit more leverage to plot the slow but seemingly inevitible fall given the events that started all the way back in the New Jedi Order series of books that covered the Yuuzhan Vong war.

Jacen becoming a Sith Lord was no idle whim or kneejerk reaction. Instead, it was a rather methodical corrupting of his life to leave him pretty much doomed to take on the dark mantle. And I think this book helped better capture a lot of that versus the other ones in the series thus far.

Synopsis: Star Wars: Inferno is the sixth book in the Legacy of the Force series of novels. It was written by Troy Denning, who also wrote the Dark Nest Triology of books.

At the end of the last book, we saw Jacen complete his transition from Sith apprentice to full Sith Lord as he took on the name Darth Caedus for himself after killing Mara Jade Skywalker. And while he generally keeps his Sith identity secret for now, he has internally embraced his new identity and actually feels uncomfortable being referred to as "Jacen". And he has started to work on getting Tahiri Vella as his new apprentice through the lure of his time-warping flow-walk ability that finally allows her to see Anakin Solo back when he was still alive.

Meanwhile the Jedi have gathered for the Funeral of Mara Jade. Grand Master Luke has withdrawn into himself after the loss of his wife and his mistaken killing of Lumiya, whom he had believed to be Mara's killer. And just as Galactic Alliance fugitives Han Solo and Leia try to join the event, they are surprised to find a squad of GAG soldiers inside the Jedi Temple, there to arrest them. And this is just the first in a string of surprising orders from Jacen including holding the Jedi Academy on Ossus hostage and preparing a strategy that will sacrifice thousands of Galactic Alliance lives all in the name of a "greater" strategic victory in the long run.

Now the transition between the troubled Jacen Solo to the pretty dark Darth Caedus may seem abrupt across the books but also show just how little was really holding him back. With the supposed cleansing and demonstration of his resolve after killing Mara, he's certainly learned to fully embrace his legacy and have little to know qualms sacrificing anything and anyone in the name of galactic peace. And it is a tad disturbing how noble that seems despite his increasly cruel and vile methods of achieving his goals.

But at the same time, the book also leads to the good guys really getting their acts together and starting to come around to realize what a threat Jacen has become. Ranging from his parents all the way to Luke Skywalker, everyone is pretty much in agreement about just how far Jacen has fallen and the need to put him in his place.

Without spoiling too much, I really enjoyed the confrontations between Luke and Jacen in this book. And while initially Luke manages to find calm and deal with Jacen as if he were nothing more than just a child with his truly impressive Force abilities, in the end Jacen still proves why he is in fact a Sith Lord and not just some apprentice dabbling in the darker arts. He does manage to hold his own against Luke, although I can't help but feel that Luke is still holding back.

And don't forget Ben Skywalker's role in things as he as started to see Jacen for who he truly is and attempts to use all that he has learned from Jacen to turn things around and avenge his mother.

The book also represents an interesting turning point in the overall civil war where the Jedi continue to figure out what their role in the entire conflict should be. But it is through finally accepting that Jacen has crossed too many lines and the need to put him in his place that helps the Jedi find their focus and determine a new path forward despite the challenges around them. It's going to be rather interesting to see how they try to stand up to Darth Caedus given his increasingly Emperor-level Dark Side Force abilities.

I genuinely enjoyed Star Wars: Inferno and felt that it made a lot of progress in the story and got the characters to stop milling around like idiots. Thus I rate the book an impressive 4.5 moments of Luke being a badass Jedi Grand Master out of a possible 5.

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