Waru Express: Fate of the Jedi Part 1

Well.  Here we are.  Reading Fate of the Jedi again.  I had actually just gotten around to reading the series in its entirety the month before I started this project and I can’t really say that I was looking forward to reading it again so soon especially given how long I delayed reading it in the first place.  This series was first published in March 2009.  By then, I was a poor college student and the prospect of reading and buying series published entirely in hardcover was not very appealing to me especially after Invincible.  At some point, I picked up the first book because it was Allston, liked it well enough, but wasn’t overly inclined to run out and read all the others.  In the summer of 2011, I finally convinced myself to read the first four books… and then got side tracked by a New Jedi Order reread and didn’t return to them until fall 2012 right before I started this project.  Basically, this is a very long winded way for me to say that this series never really managed to grab my attention and draw me in like some of the others.  Unfortunately.

I blame Abeloth.

Well, they Allston-ed me again.  It’s nice to see that the previous galactic war had consequences and that they are carrying over here.  However, I still cannot figure out why the heck anyone would put Daala in charge.  It makes zero sense to me.  (Editor’s Note: I STILL DON’T GET IT.)

The good news is that this book has a lot of my favorite Allston moves.  We get a pilot reunion over on Kessel and thankfully, Wedge seems to still be retired.  We also get the Darkmeld group which I positively LOVE and not just because Winter finally get to reappear. (Editor’s Note: Okay, Winter was a big part of the love.)  It’s a rather excellent mix of people.  I also loved that we get Jag referencing his relationship to Wedge because that’s brought into play far too infrequently.  The relationship between Jaina and Jag is also very well written and it’s nice to see them together and functional again.  Also, every time Jag corrects someone about it being the ‘Galactic Empire’ instead of ‘Imperial Remnant’, I crack up.  (Editor’s Note: Jag 4 Emperor.)

In typical Allston fashion, the Horn siblings (and family) finally get to take center stage only for their lives to end up seriously sucking.  Valin Horn, stop being crazy.

The other high point of this book has to be the father/son relationship between Ben and Luke.  I love getting to see Ben’s ridiculous sense of humor (Grand Master Whango Mittpool!) and how well they work together.  The whole plot line of retracing Jacen’s steps and trying to figure out what happened is actually rather intriguing although I think his problem was named Lumiya.  Regardless, it will be neat to see these other Force using orders.  But really, it’s just great watching these two play off one another especially with their different strengths and weaknesses.

I have to give Christie Golden applause for creating Wynn Dorvan.  He’s the Sassy Gay Friend this universe needed ten years ago.  Hmm?  What?  I didn’t say anything.  He’s just a really good character who actually seems to have his head screwed on straight despite working for Daala.

The book goes more or less how you’d expect.  Luke and Ben move on to another Force using order, Han and Leia get Allana a nexu cub, and more Jedi go crazy.  It really sucks to be a member of the Horn family especially now that Jysella’s gone crazy too.    Oh.  And Jaina and Jag got engaged at the end.  Because no one saw that coming.  (Editor’s Note: I really want to address the nexu thing because SERIOUSLY HAN AND LEIA? A NEXU CUB???)  I do have mixed feelings about their Darkmeld operation to go on a date.  On the one hand, it’s funny to see them pull a fast one on Tyrr but on the other, it sort of feels like it detracts from Darkmeld’s more legitimate purpose.

We’re also introduced to the Lost Tribe of the Sith and Vestara.  It’s an interesting society but there’s not much else I can say except that the Sith sphere still just makes me shrug and say whatever.

Golden’s writing is fine.  I don’t have any major complaints about it in this book.  She seems to have a decent enough handle on the characters.  The problem I have with this book is that it feels like filler.  It’s a fairly short book and not enough happens to make me feel like it should’ve stood on its own.  Mostly, it feels like it was written for the last few chapters and to set up the next book and that’s not how this should go.

Mostly, I’m just feeling like this about the series so far:

Well that book happened.  It introduced two characters that I don’t particularly care for: Abeloth and Kenth Hamner.  “But wait, Bria!” you say.  “Kenth Hamner isn’t a new character!”  You’re right.  He isn’t.  This is just the book where I really noticed that he’s been twisted into something completely different.  This series could’ve been subtitled “The Villainization of Kenth Hamner” and I wouldn’t have batted an eyelash.  It ticks me off so much but more on that in a few books.

Abeloth makes me roll my eyes so hard that they might get stuck like that.  I don’t get her.  At all.  She is weird and just… ugh.  Also, this book uses the word ‘tentacle’ way too much.  I was tired of it by page 39 out of 372.  That wasn’t a good sign.  Has anyone ever counted how many times it was used?  They should.

As for the rest of the book, my response is mostly to shrug.  I like the Jedi plan to get the Horns in to see their children because not only does it work but it just feels right.  What I don’t like is the artificially crafted conflict between Jaina and Jag.  Also, I again really have to question the wisdom of getting Allana a pet nexu.  Seriously, Han and Leia?  Are you just trying to win the ‘Worst Parents’ award now?

Aside from that, I’m starting to figure out my problem with this series.  (Or at least one of them.)  Nothing happens in the first half.  Obviously, I don’t mean that literally but I had this exact same problem with the Force Heretic Trilogy.  Every stop the Skywalkers make doesn’t need to take up an entire book and it feels like they only do so because of the three author trilogy cycle.  If the series had been cut down to six books, it would’ve helped fix the pacing issues because too much just feels like filler.

“What’s this big, weighs forty kilos, and eats people?”

Get in, losers!  We’re going back to Dathomir!  (That joke never gets old for me, sorry.)  (Editor’s Note: I’m not sorry.)

This is probably my favorite book in the series so far.  It actually feels like the Star Wars that I know and love.  Again, Luke and Ben’s relationship is one of the highlights of the book and I particularly love that we got to see them with Han and Leia.  The storylines were starting to feel far too isolated.  This helped make things better.  I also loved the little cameo by Zekk and Taryn even if that paragraph about his not-death makes me wistful for Blood Oath all over again.  (We could’ve had it all. 🙁 )

Allana is once again proving to be a true Solo spawn.  There’s a checklist you have to work your way down for that.  It includes being kidnapped, annoying Threepio, and sneaking away and inevitably getting yourself into massive trouble.  She’s a bright kid though so hopefully that will one day come in handy when she’s Queen Mother.  I’d enjoy getting to see her interact with Jaina more though.

The Treen and Lecersen Conspiracy is actually fairly interesting so far.  I don’t remember what happens with it except that it fails   Poor Kuat though.  They can’t seem to get a decent senator who’s not trying to overthrow the government.

Clearly, another one of my favorite parts was when we got to see Tyria Sarkin-Tainer for a bit.  What I’ve always loved about her is how she still kicks ass despite not being the best pilot or the best Jedi in the galaxy.  She doesn’t let things like that get in the way of being awesome.  Tyria can hold her own.  Hey, maybe one day, we’ll actually get to see her interacting with one of her kids or her husband.  Come to think of it, we haven’t seen any of the Tainer family interact despite all of their cameos.  This makes me sad.  (Dear Mr. Allston: Please write a book and fix this.)  (Editor’s Note: If anyone needs me, I definitely won’t be in the corner over there crying.)

On a happier note, this is the book that made me actually like Vestara.  I didn’t dislike her before; I was just indifferent.  On Dathomir, it feels like she’s finally coming into her own.  She’s incredibly intelligent and thinks fast which is something you’d have to be in her position.  I’d say that it’ll be interesting to see where her character goes in the future but… well…

The actual best thing about this book?  No Abeloth.

Well, the good news it that I enjoyed this book for the most part.  The Skywalkers having to become temporary allies with the Sith was interesting because who doesn’t love a good ‘enemy of my enemy’ situation?  Unfortunately though, there’s something about Luke that just feels a bit off during parts of the book.  On the other hand, Ben’s smart-ass sense of humor never fails to entertain.  I also enjoyed reading about Tahiri’s trial even though I’m still mourning her character derailment.  Her lawyer is different and it’s nice that he genuinely wants to help her.  Too bad her trial’s not going well.

What I didn’t like was the unnecessary conflict and break up with Jaina and Jag.  She’s what?  In her early 30s now?  Can’t we give her a plot line that doesn’t at least half revolve around her love life?  [If unsure how to do this, please call Tim Lebbon.  He seems to understand how to write a female lead without making her story all about her love life.]  It’s unnecessary as is her running to Jag with every problem in hopes of a solution.  Jaina’s a smart cookie.  She doesn’t need the weight of the Empire to help with everything.  It’s gotten to be overkill and I’m just really cranky that this is still her major plot line with a side of Sword of the Jedi.

Where the book really lost me was in the last 50-60 pages when Abeloth makes her return to the page.  I don’t get the character.  I really don’t.  I also don’t appreciate the reappearance of Callista especially with all the possessive terms that go through Luke’s head when he sees her.  He was happily married to Mara and it’s been over 20 years.  I find it hard to believe that he’d still think in terms of ‘his Callie’.  Ugh.  Let me roll my eyes so more.  

At least Luke killed Abeloth.  Oh wait, no he didn’t.  IT’S A TRICK.  Mostly given away by how this is only book 5 of 9.  Help.

The good news for me and the bad news for you is that this is one of the final posts.  Next up, I read the second half of Fate of the Jedi and then sob into Mercy Kill tears that are of relief and grief.

Originally posted to Tosche Station on May 20, 2016

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