Jan 8, 2013

[Books] Star Wars: Revelation (Legacy of the Force Book 8)

As much as I read somewhat more complex or "serious" books like Nexus, I keep coming back to the Star Wars books. They're a fun staple to read that have a nice balance of light yet entertaining reading, at least for me. And it's why I've stuck to the franchise for so long despite all my other interests.

Now the Legacy of the Force series of novels has been sort of hit or miss given the many different authors involved and the rather protracted story line. And while Legacy is still a lot shorter than the New Jedi Order series, it's still a fairly lengthy narrative framework to deal with. To keep a story tight between different authors across 9 books is no easy task.

And while I do appreciate the more involved serialized stories that this format provides for, I'm not entirely happy with how things feel rather distinct for each story segment based on the author handling it. While I understand how this was necessary to keep things efficient and allow each author to work independently, it also means the stories don't blend perfectly well together - and this is something I'll try to address at length.

Synopsis: Star Wars: Revelation is the 8th novel in the Legacy of the Force series. It was written by Karen Traviss, who has primarily been handling the books related to Boba Fett and the Mandalorians.

At this point in the story, the various characters have reached different levels of conclusions with regard to the actions of Jacen Solo - now Darth Caedus, along with their respective plans for dealing with him. On the one had we have young Ben Skywalker who is convinced that Jacen is responsible for the death of his mother, Mara Jade Skywalker. But in order to get his father to truly believe him, he knows that he needs to gather sufficient evidence to implicate Jacen. And that leads him on a deeper investigation into the death of his mother using all the skills that he has learned while with the Galactic Alliance Guard.

On the other hand we have Jaina Solo, Jacen's twin sister, who feels a greater degree of responsibility over Jacen's fate. And given her supposed role as Sword of the Jedi, she has come to believe that if anyone is going to deal with Jacen, it'll have to be her. But she also recognizes that she's hardly strong enough to face Jacen alone and thus she decides to surprise Jacen by seeking help from the last person he'd expect. And that means asking the dread bounty hunter Boba Fett for his help in training her to become a lethal Jedi killer.

Beyond those two arcs, the novel also covers another thread involving the effort to bring in the Imperial Remnant on the side of the Galactic Alliance under Darth Caedus. And from the very beginning when the scenes with Grand Admiral Pellaeon are brought in, you already get a clear sense of where Traviss is going in the long run. It no longer becomes a question of if but of when, which does make sense in the greater scheme of things. Pellaeon has been around for quite some time - dating back to the Thrawn Trilogy of books.

What was interesting was the decision to bring back another old "villain" from the Expanded Universe to sort of change things up in the overall story. The manner in which she is introduced did seem a tad overly dramatic, but I suppose it made sufficient sense in order to give her a greater sense of majesty or even awe to some extent. And I'm deliberately not mentioning her name in order to avoid spoiling the reveal for those of you who actually haven't read this book or the subsequent novels either. It's not a totally amazing reveal, but it's a relatively fun one all the same.

For a Traviss novel, I felt this one involved the most ship-to-ship combat and larger fleet operations, which was a bit of a surprise given her prior focus on more on-the-ground stories. And yes, I will always weigh the merit of any Star Wars book based on a number of tropes including space combat. It's just something that you have to be able to handle well when you decide to dive into this universe.

And for more direct interpersonal combat, the bulk of it ended up being the various training session for Jaina Solo together with different Mandalorians. It was without a doubt that Boba Fett would take her on despite the narrative build-up to the contrary, but at least the various "lessons" were decent enough. I was hoping for more startling wisdom from the likes of Boba Fett and his men, but I suppose we'll just have to content ourselves with what was offered instead. At least this whole decision was certainly an out-of-the-box solution for the Jacen problem.

I did truly enjoy Ben Skywalker's little police segment together with Lon Shevu. The more forensic procedural aspects of the book were written pretty well and I think it did provide a nicely logical solution for what has typically been a more gut instinct decision-making process in the often shoot-from-the-hip Star Wars universe. I do wish the investigation had lasted a wee bit longer, but then one has to respect all the other items that needed to be addressed in this one novel.

Star Wars: Revelation is probably my favorite novel among all those contributed by Karen Traviss to the series. It had a nice balance of the different elements that make these Star Wars books so entertaining, while at the same time providing us with some new insights. I give the book a respectable 4 .5 almost magical super weapons that appeared in the book's final act out of a possible 5.

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