Author: Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnoff
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: February 26, 2013
Era: Rise of the Empire
This review contains minor spoilers.
In 2008, Del Rey published a mini-series of novels over the course of a seven-month period known as the Coruscant Nights trilogy. The story followed the adventures of Jedi Knight Jax Pavan, his unusual droid I-5YQ, and news reporter Den Dhur as they attempted to avoid the Empire and help the fledgling resistance during the months after Order 66. Now, four years later, authors Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnoff have returned to pen the fourth and final chapter in this story arc.
While not technically under the Coruscant Nights banner, The Last Jedi fits right in with the rest of the series. The story picks up a few months after Patterns of Force, which ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger. Darth Vader is presumed to have perished during the events of the previous book, but Jax Pavan isn’t so sure. The few chapters start off slowly, but the book quickly picks up speed once the Dark Lord of the Sith appears and kidnaps Whiplash resistance leader Thi Xon Yimmon. While the majority of the book is focused on the rescue of Yimmon, it also deals with important issues like the fate of Whiplash and the lengths Jax is willing to go to for rescue — or revenge?
Unfortunately, while the story itself was enjoyable – many of the plot threads near the end were especially engrossing – I had a very difficult time connecting with some of the characters, particularly Laranth, Yimmon, and all but one of the Whiplash resistance leaders. I wasn’t particularly enthralled by these characters during the Coruscant Nights trilogy, and The Last Jedi doesn’t give you much time to get attached (or re-attached) to them after being away for four years. A few interesting things about Yimmon are revealed near the end, but both he and Laranth never really get a chance to grow on you. And as soon as I finally began to care about the Whiplash subplot, the authors abruptly wrapped it up with a series of events which largely occurred off-camera.
On the other hand, Jax, I-Five, and Den are the same great characters they’ve always been. At least, for the most part. Jax’s journey takes him down a fairly dark path at times, and you’re never quite sure how far he’s willing to go to rescue Yimmon and stop Vader – even if that means turning to the Dark Side in the process. The fact that Jax is in possession of a Sith Holocron doesn’t help either. As a result, there is a fairly large divide between Jax and his friends, filled with deceit and the growing seeds of mistrust. The fact that we have no knowledge of Jax’s ultimate fate makes things even more interesting.
I-Five, for his part, is cooler than ever before. Early on, he gains the ability to swap chassis on the fly, making him even more unique in a galaxy filled with iconic droids. By making his synaptic grid cortex portable, I-Five is able to move between his standard I-5YQ chassis, an R2 unit, a DUM pit droid, a BB-4000 Leisuremech, and more. This ties in nicely with The Clone Wars animated series, which recently featured the intelligent WAC-47 pit droid in the D-Squad arc. Of course, as you might expect, all of I-Five’s chassis are tricked out with numerous gadgets. The one thing the authors never really address, however, is how I-Five has a Force signature, an interesting twist which was introduced in Patterns of Force.
In addition to I-Five’s upgrades, The Last Jedi features a number of interesting technologies, including an intriguing antisurveilance device, an electromagnetic manipulator and phantom power unit, an external sensor field, and a sensor recursor. Pyronium also plays a large role as well, amplifying Force powers and enabling some fascinating Force powers. Reaves and Bohnoff also introduce the term “Eerie Coulee Disorder,” a Star Wars version of the “uncanny valley.”
Although one could incorrectly assume that, based on the official description, The Last Jedi deals with the fate of Darth Vader after the The Force Unleashed II‘s jaw-dropping ending, there are a number of references to major events in The Clone Wars, as well as fun connections to the films like the Delta-7 Aethersprite-class starfighter. If you haven’t yet caught up on the latest season of The Clone Wars, you should know that The Last Jedi makes explicit references to the recent Darth Maul / Mandalorian arc. The New Mandalorians, Satine, Death Watch, and the Shadow Collective are all mentioned by name. Unfortunately, there isn’t much in the way of details regarding the aftermath of these events. A significant part of the book takes place on Mandalore, but it primarily deals with the Black Sun. The Nightsisters briefly make an appearance as well.
At 496 pages, The Last Jedi is one of the longer Star Wars novels in recent memory. The writers also have a penchant for using uncommon words, so some fans might find themselves pulling out their dictionaries from time to time. I wasn’t too thrilled with the novel early on - primarily due to my ambivalence regarding some of the characters – but things slowly picked up until I found myself thoroughly enjoying the story by the end. Reaves and Bohnoff have penned a fitting conclusion to the Coruscant Nights arc. But while some of the characters meet their fates, one has to wonder if we will see the others return at some point in the future.
Advanced Review Copy (ARC) courtesy of Del Rey. All staff members can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.