Author: Aaron Allston
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: May 24, 2011
This review of Fate of the Jedi – Conviction contains minor spoilers for the novel.
As Allies in fandom, it is my Conviction that we should band together against the Vortex of negative comments swirling like a bad Omen across the internet, lest we reap the Backlash of these actions and each become an Outcast to our own beloved saga.
Yes, yes, I hope you enjoyed my rather lame attempt to compile the current titles of the Fate of the Jedi series into a witty opening statement! I apologize for the apparent lack of creativity, but I do want to address the issue it refers to.
We, as fans, seem to be expecting far too much out of the Star Wars novels Del Rey presents us. We have become so cynical and so critical that we cannot even enjoy the simple entertainment that once determined how many meals we could afford to eat in a day. I, for one, would sacrifice frozen coffees to buy a Star Wars book. Once upon a time, anyway. But it seems lately that my frozen coffees have become more important, and it isn’t because they are starting to taste phenomenally better.
After the New Jedi Order, it seems that Del Rey can do nothing right in this era. But is that perhaps because they did so much right in that 19 book series that they will never again be able to top their own excellence? Of course we all have our own opinions on how excellent any given book is, but I personally believe that the New Jedi Order has tainted the following series.
Del Rey has presented us with incredible stories such as Crosscurrent and the Republic Commando novels, but these were not large undertakings on the scale of the NJO. The next attempt at such a series failed pretty badly, in my opinion. I had high hopes for it, considering what an amazing ending the New Jedi Order had given us, and those hopes were rather dashed. I took that disappointment, though, and crafted it into a microscope with which I examine every little detail in every little novel that has chronologically followed Legacy of the Force. In other words, I have been reading the Fate of the Jedi series with a biased outlook.
Despite this biased outlook, however, I have found myself greatly enjoying entries such as Abyss, Allies and Vortex. Omen and Outcast were also great reads, with Backlash lowest on my list. But even as such, Backlash was a great book. I just felt that it did not move the plot of the series forward enough.
I say all this to finally come to my point. I first read Conviction with a skeptical eye. But as the story progressed, it was clear that the novel could stand on its own two feet, or whatever equivalent novels may have. I would still rank Abyss and Vortex higher, but I would put Conviction somewhere on par with Allies. I apologize for the lengthy intro, but I hope this helps convey the point that Conviction succeeds despite the skeptical outlook looming over it.
Overall, the story was very well balanced between all of the plots and subplots. I didn’t feel that any one plot overshadowed any other, or at least not relative to their importance. The political side of things gained a lot of momentum as the story progressed, evolving into an even more complex affair than was previously present. The slavery subplot seemed to take another important step forward, as did that of Tahiri’s trial.
Unfortunately, and the main negative point I have, is that the Abeloth plot did not seem to do anything. Luke, Ben and Vestara spend a great deal of page time leading up to a confrontation with Abeloth that doesn’t do much more than not occur. I realize that Vortex just spent a lot of effort building up a great deal of Abeloth’s story, but I wish Conviction would have taken Luke, Ben and Vestara’s time and used it more wisely elsewhere, rather than heading it toward a climax that did not really happen.
Granted, we are presented with a great moment regarding Callista. I am not a Callista fan, and I never have been. A Mara Jade Skywalker fan at heart, I have always hated Callista with every fiber of my being. But I have to give credit to Allston. He does an incredible job of causing me to actually care about her character in at least this one moment.
Another female character that was handled well was Vestara. I thought we were given a great view of her character from various sides. At times throughout the Fate of the Jedi series, I feel Vestara’s character is forced. But not once in Conviction did any of her actions seem unnatural.
The female characters certainly seem to shine in this novel, as I found myself very happy to read any page dealing with Daala, Tahiri or Leia. All three were well portrayed, especially Leia. Too often we see only her political side, or nothing at all as has seemed to be the case as of late. But Conviction presents us with one of Leia’s best Jedi moments, one I would quote for you if I could.
Speaking of Tahiri, she only happens to be on the cover. And while I did not find that the book dealt especially closely with her character, we did reach a defining moment in this particular chapter of her life. Also, we were presented with the Tahiri of old for the first time in a long time. I suppose her character has been growing back to where it should be ever since the end of Legacy of the Force, and we are finally seeing the real Tahiri peeking through the darkness surrounding her situation.
The male characters, Han especially, are also well represented in Conviction. We were even presented with a new character, Javon Thewles, that I grew particularly fond of. One male character in particular that I have my eye on is Wynn Dorvan. I think there is lot more to this guy than they are letting on, and I keep expecting something unexpected to happen in relation to him. I would definitely advise you to keep an eye on his character.
It’s hard to review the story without revealing any spoilers, but I will say I was rather surprised at the lack of surprises. I expected more shocking reveals than we were given. This was probably a good thing, however, to keep the shock factor from becoming the staple of every novel.
As usual, Allston does a great job with the humor. There were several lines that had me laughing out loud, something I rarely do when reading a book. The humor seemed a little lax at first, but picked up pace as the story progressed. If you enjoy Allston’s humor as reflected in his other Star Wars novels, you should not be disappointed.
Speaking of humor, I have to take a moment to mention my favorite new word: Topato! I must admit that I smiled every time I read that word. Allston created an excellent application for such a simple concept.
There are a couple of negative points I would like to mention. First of all, Valin and Jysella did not play nearly the integral role I was expecting. Honestly, they played almost a pointless role. Or so it seemed to me. I certainly hope they have something more meaningful in store for those two.
Second, and this has nothing to do with Allston as an author, but the blurb was very disappointing! Why in the world would you advertise an event that doesn’t even take place until at least halfway through the book? Yes, perhaps it is inevitable, but more than one fan was confused as to why such a major plot point would be revealed on the front cover. I, for one, would not necessarily have been expecting such a turn of events were it not for the blurb. Or at least not in this particular book. It just seemed very odd to divulge the contents of the plot on the front cover blurb itself.
Conviction has its negative points, as all books do, but overall it certainly succeeds, which brings me to my earlier point. Were I to dissect this book page by page looking for disappointing material, I am pretty sure I could find plenty. But putting aside my microscope built of previous disappointment, I am able to read Conviction for what it is: an entertaining novel that lends itself to the development of Fate of the Jedi as a series.
As fans, we might need to back off a little. Revisit the Bantam days when we were simply happy to have Star Wars. I hope each of you that reads Conviction will be able to do so without comparison. Simply enjoy it for what it is: an addition to our beloved Star Wars saga.
Reviewed by Elyse Bond
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