May 17, 2017

[Books] Star Wars Fate of the Jedi: Outcast Review

It's been a while since I resumed my efforts to cover all of the Star Wars Legends novels to sort of complete that chapter in my life. Things bogged down after they announced the end off the old Expanded Universe and it being relabeled as Star Wars Legends. I understand the need for the change given the new movies coming out but I still feel very strongly about the old EU.

Star Wars Fate of the Jedi: Outcast marks the end of my efforts to acquire physical copies of the Star Wars books and focus on digital versions instead. I try to limit my Kindle purchases to sales or when I'm certain that I'm going to start reading the book. And so we begin a new chapter in my Star Wars reading.

This represents the last major story arc in the Legends-timeline before it ended and we moved into the new canon era of books. It had been dragging my feet in terms of getting around to reading these books for some reason but once I was in things moved along at the usual steady pace that we've come to associate with the stories of Star Wars.

Synopsis: Star Wars Fate of the Jedi: Outcast is the first of the 9-book Fate of the Jedi series of novels. It was written by Aaron Allston, long-time writer for the Star Wars Expanded Universe books.

It has been two years since the events of Second Galactic Civil War as depicted in the Legacy of the Force series of books. Given the Galaxy had once again fallen to the sway of a Sith Lord, the reputation of the Jedi is at an all-time low. And just as the Imperial Remnant and the Confederation begin final negotiations for unification with the Galactic Alliance a series of unfortunate events begin to unfold.

Things start off with Jedi Knight Valin Horn suddenly doubting everyone's identities as real and goes on a mad rampage across Coruscant. The Jedi eventually capture him but it's not clear what is wrong with him and why his sense of the Force is telling him that everyone is an impostor. Then the Alliance arrests Jedi Grand Master Luke Skywalker is arrested under the orders of Chief of State Daala.

What I Liked: There's something wonderfully comfortable about slipping back into the old EU with books like this. As dark as things had become once the New Jedi Order books came along, there's just so much history that comes with these titles. And as I've read so many of the older books that are now considered to be Legends, there are so many references that make sense to me.

The book also starts with an intriguing premise - with a former Imperial in charge of the Galactic Alliance and Luke finally stepping away from the Jedi Order that he had created. And so even in these books there was an exploration of going beyond the old concept of the Jedi Order and discovering more of what role the Jedi should serve in the universe. It's a concept that was first raised in the New Jedi Order books when they are made to face enemies who are somehow outside the Force. Luke's journey of discovery by retracing the steps Jacen Solo had taken years before promises to be an exciting and interesting one.

What Could Have Been Better: The crazy Jedi angle to things worries me as it does seem too convenient. What sort of ailment can resist even Force-enabled healing in this manner beyond a condition that the plot demands? And given the wonders we've seen the Knights accomplish with the Force, it seemed frustrating that nothing seemed to be able to break through to Valin. But for now we can only wait for the eventual explanation that should come in a later book.

The whole story of Han and Lea on Kessel with Lando was quirky but felt very dissonant compared to the rest of the plot. And while this happens a lot in Star Wars novels eager to involve a lot of major characters but can't have them all in one scene all the time. Maybe the relevance of the story will make more sense later on but given the way it was handled in this book, it felt a little off.

TL;DR: Star Wars Fate of the Jedi: Outcast is a decent start to a new Star Wars adventure and the sort of grand arcs that represented the tail end of the Expanded Universe. It certainly offers a lot of questions and I just hope it doesn't take too long before they start answering some of them. Thus the book gets a good 3.5 Jedi surprises out of a possible 5.

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