Author: Paul S. Kemp
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: March 22, 2011
Era: Old Republic
We all remember the day when we first watched the Deceived trailer. You may not remember where you were or even what the exact date was, but you certainly recall the sense of awe that swept over you as the plot unfolded before your eyes. More likely than not, you immediately watched it again. And even more likely than that, you’ve watched it multiple times since. It begs the question: Why?
Surely you could say it was due to the gorgeous visuals presented to you. Or surely you could credit the fact that it was Star Wars, and what other reason does one need? But the truth of the matter is that there was untold story there. In those three minutes and fifty-two seconds, there was more story presented to us than could be found in a mound of Star Wars novels. For the first time we saw multiple Sith fighting multiple Jedi, and it was glorious. We saw beginnings and endings, we saw good and evil, we saw dynasties rise and fall. So many characters, so many implications, so many questions left unanswered.
Which of us could honestly say that our minds didn’t explode with the possibilities that this trailer presented to the Star Wars universe? Mine certainly did. And it seems that so did many others. Because before we knew it, there was a novel being written. And that novel’s title: Deceived.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was beyond excited to hear that Paul S. Kemp was going to be writing this book. I had absolutely adored Crosscurrent and had since joined his fanclub with reckless abandon. It was like reading Heir to the Empire or Hard Contact. Those authors rocketed to the top of my favorite list and stayed there, bad novels to follow or no. They had so captured my interest with their first novels that I had no reason to believe any story of theirs could be bad. And so it was with Paul S. Kemp.
Deceived may only be Kemp’s second Star Wars novel, but you would never know it. Honestly, I was a little worried that he would be dealing with all new characters. That can be a tough situation for any author. But he handled it expertly. I grew attached to nearly every character, including the Sith, and had trouble keeping my eyes on the page. I was so interested in what I was reading that I kept skipping ahead to find out how situations would turn out. That’s breaking one of my own self-imposed rules, however, so I did have to keep that habit to a minimum. But I can promise it wasn’t easy.
Let me stress that you shouldn’t go into this book expecting all of your questions to be answered. It doesn’t work that way. As I said before, there’s too much story to deal with, too many characters to flesh out, too many plot lines to follow. Deceived only begins to scratch the surface of the possibilities presented to us with the initial trailer, but it does so beautifully.
Remember that Deceived is based off of the trailer of the same name. Personally, I thought it would be rehashing to explain the trailer in detail, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Only in written form do you catch all of the details that you missed in the trailer, and only in written form can you truly appreciate the gravity of the situation. Kemp’s description of what happened in the trailer only serves to immerse you even more fully into the era. You begin to realize just what kind of shape the galaxy was in at the time. And if you’ve read Fatal Alliance, you finally begin to realize what those characters were referring to whenever they would discuss “The Sacking of Coruscant” or the “Failed Peace Treaties on Alderaan”.
Character-wise, you have what would seem to be your typical Star Wars cast: Jedi, Sith, smugglers, soldiers, good guys, bad guys, dashing heroes and distressing damsels. But each main character in these categories has something special to surprise you with. The Jedi doesn’t act quite like a Jedi, nor does the Sith act quite like a Sith. The smuggler is not a smuggler by choice, and the good guys and bad guys are only such from a certain point of view. But I believe this is primarily what makes the characters so memorable. Who is really interested in the stereotypical Jedi? No one.
The character that sticks most in my mind is, of course, Malgus. There is so much more to this Sith than you could ever possibly imagine. He makes Bane look arrogant and Darth Vader almost petty. In all honesty, I want to call him the perfect Sith. There’s enough about him that I like so as not to alienate me from him completely, but there’s also enough self serving motivation that I realize he’s the bad guy. However, Kemp does an excellent job of getting you emotionally attached to everyone, including Malgus. In a battle, you almost don’t know who to root for. When you’re seeing things from a random citizen’s point of view, and you are made aware of his sense of revulsion concerning Malgus, you almost want to reach out and say, “But you don’t understand, it isn’t like that.” And that, in my opinion, is the mark of a truly good author.
Malgus isn’t the only character that’s going to stick with you, though. You would be hard pressed to forget Zeerid Korr or Aryn Leneer, either. Not to mention characters who were never even physically present, such as Ven Zallow. They all make their way deep into your consciousness where you can mull over their personalities and become more attached than you realize. I’m going to be rather vague about this next reference, but there are even characters that you don’t care too much about, though their relationship with someone else is ridiculously important to you. It’s not them that you’re worried about, but their significant other. I know my reaction to the situation I’m referring to had me quite puzzled for most of the book. But again, I chalk it up to excellent writing. I have little doubt that my reaction was the author’s intention.
While this book is mainly about the Deceived trailer and the events surrounding it, Kemp does an excellent job of referring to the Hope trailer, as well. Aryn Leneer, especially, makes several references to it. Almost to the point that I wondered if she might not be the mysterious Jedi seen there. However, it is specified that she has a single-bladed lightsaber, so I would assume this was not the implication.
Concerning groups, and not necessarily individual characters, The Exchange makes a decent appearance, which I thought was a great nod to the KOTOR games. It, of course, greatly resembles an organization like Black Sun. The only thing missing was Xizor.
The Jedi aren’t talked about at length, but when they are mentioned, it’s as you would expect. The typical Jedi Order that we’ve come to know.
But lastly, the Sith. The Sith are the ones you need to keep your eye on. They’re not the Sith of the movie era, nor are they the Sith of Bane’s era. They mostly resemble, and rightly so, the Sith from Fatal Alliance, and the Sith we find on Kesh in Fate of the Jedi. However, we see into their hierarchy a bit more, and it’s more than intriguing. One finds the plotting and backstabbing and subterfuge that would be expected, but other things are also present; loyalties and almost friendships that one wouldn’t expect. Not to mention that the Sith Empire is really no different than the Empire from the movies, though with multiple Sith present. The Sith Empire is not a force that the galaxy at large fears. It is a government, an Empire that owns territory the same way the Republic does. I know at least in my mind the Sith have always been bad guys that everyone feared, always. If a Sith was known to be a Sith, he was either served out of fear, or he was destroyed. In Malgus’s time, though, worlds had a choice. They could either join the Sith Empire, or they could join the Jedi and the Republic. It was really no different than the Republic and the Separatists during Palpatine’s day.
Needless to say, Deceived opens up so many possibilities for the Old Republic era. I can’t promise that it answers too many questions, because it doesn’t. It honestly presents new ones. But if nothing else, we are provided with written details to go along with the stunning visuals we were presented last year. It promises that The Old Republic era is as rich as the New Jedi Order with possibilities and characters. We know how the timeline beyond the NJO has struggled, so perhaps they should take a step back, a rather large step back, and explore Malgus’s day. If done right, it could prove to be the future of Star Wars.
Reviewed by Elyse Bond
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