So I just finished Backlash and the Allies excerpt. And let me sum it up quickly before I get into my detailed analysis:
1. For the most part, I enjoyed Backlash as a standalone Star Wars novel. I did not, however, feel that it was a worthy addition to the Fate of the Jedi series.
2. The brief excerpt from Allies that I have just read has sickened me in more ways than I can express.
So, now onto the detailed analysis:
1. Perhaps it is simply that I have not read Abyss (or any of the others) in so long, that I've forgotten what this series is about. Perhaps. But I do not seem to remember the citizens of the Lost Tribe of the Sith to be knowledgeable in all that is the Star Wars galaxy. As far as I knew, they've been stranded on Kesh for 5,000+ years. So please tell me, how does Vestara, and the rest of the Sith, for that matter, possess detailed information about planets and trade routes and, dare I mention it, piloting a ship?! Vestara seemed to know off the top of her head that Dathomir was a planet full of force-sensitives. How did she possess this knowledge? She also seemed to know how to fly this yacht, all of a sudden. Not to mention that she realized she could land on Kessel and refuel said ship. All as if she'd grown up doing this kind of thing. But no, the Lost Tribe of the Sith has just recently begun to amass a fleet of ships, and way too quickly I might add, and yet she seems to know everything about the galaxy at large. I didn't buy that for a minute, and it really soured the beginning for me, which is an important part of any story.
2. Speaking of beginnings, this one went way too quickly. Way, way too quickly. Everything that set the stage for the rest of the story, the foundation for this novel (and the foundation is the most important part of any story) was established in a few short paragraphs. This was way too fast, and way too brief. I wish there had been much more introduction.
3. Pace. The book was paced at two extremes. Too fast, and too slow. It seemed rare to have a well-paced moment in this story. The only well-paced moment that I can remember was the battle between the Nightsisters and the Bright Sun Clan. I'll get to that in more detail later, but it was very well paced. To try and explain what I mean about the pacing, let me put it this way: Things happened inbetween the lines of the story that were barely mentioned in passing later on in the novel. Important things that were vital to later plotlines. But they were seemingly left out, only to be quickly and briefly touched on later on. To reassure us, I suppose, that what was happening was perfectly plausible. I'm not sure, but this began to get on my nerves about halfway through the book, and continued throughout.
4. Zekk. The boy dropped out of thin air and landed right in the middle of our story as if he'd always been there. Apparently we were supposed to know that despite Blood Oath being canceled, that storyline has still taken place and been canonized! :|
5. Senator Treen. Where did she come from? I don't buy her story one bit. But, unfortunately, I feel that we're supposed to. As if her story is meant to be the true, author-purposed reason for her actions. But it's ridiculous. In my opinion.
6. Allana's side story. The girl is too much, for one thing. She can do too much, and she's too smart. I'm sorry, but flying the Falcon? I think not. You cannot take an eight-year old today and have them successfully fly an airplane by themselves. And we're talking about something similar in the Star Wars world. To have flown the Falcon a few feet, perhaps. But to actually fly it out of the spaceport and across the Dathomir forest, and, the coup-de-grace, to land it?! No, no, no. And before you say anything, this greatly annoyed me about Jacen and Jaina when they were little. They were capable of the same ridiculous accomplishments, and it annoyed me to know end. But back to Allana's side story. What in the world?! It was not entirely boring, but...pointless?! Almost definitely. Why the heck was R2 in Monarg's shop, and why did he have a restraining bolt on? Monarg stole him? How, and why? See all the questions that are being presented? Too much information left for the reader to fill in. The only saving grace of this entire section of the novel was C-3PO's brave rescue. I was actually very impressed with that. But that was it.
7. Jaina's lack of action. As I read another reviewer state, Jaina should have been given Allana's page time.
8. The Temple attack. Mandos? What?! I know, Daala was supposed to be using the Mandos the entire series, and they've finally shown up. But it was so abrupt and so...pointless! I don't understand. One minute Daala is on the offense and attacking the Jedi left and right. Mandos pound into the temple and blow everything to smithereens. But the next, she's practically on their side! Trying to bring about negotiations and make everyone happy. But I'm sorry, throwing Mandos on someone's doorstep is not the way to accomplish this.
9. No mention of Jacen or his quest. Wasn't this the point of Luke and Ben's travels? Ah, but apparently it isn't important anymore. Oh, well. Whatever they feel like writing for us today, I guess I'll read it. *rolls eyes*
1. The Battle of Dathomir, as I'm going to call it. This was amazing! The entire escapade on Dathomir was excellent, save for Allana's part, and I couldn't have been happier. It brought me back to the Bantam days, in a good way. It was a very nostalgic return to the Star Wars I've been missing. I greatly enjoyed it. The Solos and Skywalkers being able to be together again...that was great. The entire battle on top of the hill? Amazing. The deception and duplicity of Vestara and Halliava? Excellent. A+++ for this part of the novel.
2. Daala. I know many people will not be happy with her recent portrayal, but I was extremely grateful for it. The only thing I regret is that she hasn't been portrayed this way the entire time. It's inconsistent and annoying. But this is my favorite portrayal of her by far.
3. The Temple defense. Raynar, Jaina's, Tainer's, and Geffer's retaliation on the Mandos was beautiful. I adored it. How come more could not be shown of the Jedi? Who knows. This puzzles me to no end. Of course one major, if not the entire, point of this series is the battle between the government and the Jedi. We see plenty of government, but where are the freaking Jedi? Nowhere. Nowhere to be found. It's horrible. So this point should be in the cons section.
4. Tahiri. I loved that she was actually shown! The poor kid has been ignored, and if she is going to have an important part in this series, I don't know when it's going to happen. They go so quickly within the stories themselves, but so slowly through the series overall! I can't even remember what led up to Tahiri's arrest in the first place. I just know she's been arrested for something to do with Jacen, and there she sits.
5. Vestara. Yes, I know. Vestara is turning into a Mara, with a predictable line of site for Ben. So we have Ben and Vestara falling for each other, just like Luke and Mara. Oh, and the nostalgia of it all. But I have to admit that I actually like it. I don't like Vestara as much as I could. She's a little too smart. But I like her overall plot. I wouldn't be upset if she and Ben got together. Granted that she followed Mara's example and became a Jedi, of course. And I suppose this feeling of acceptance has come from my recent and very abrupt change of heart. It was a very overwhelming feeling, and it almost made me cry. But it occured to me that it was finally time. I had to let the original generation go. Of course I could still follow their stories and love them and miss them. But it was time to embrace the new generation with no reference to the old. It's the main reason I haven't been able to enjoy their storylines. Because I keep comparing. But there can be no comparison. Han and Luke and Leia and Mara and Chewie...there will never be better. They will always be the original, and they will always be the best, and they will always be unbeatable. But I have to give the new generation a chance as their own generation. And so I can finally see Jaina and Jag together. Jaina as Han, and Jag as Leia. I can see Ben and Vestara together. Ben as Luke, and Vestara as Mara. I can see this new generation, and I can handle it. It's sad to think of it this way, but I can finally do it. It has finally allowed me to enjoy their storylines for what they are, instead of comparing.
But anyway. So to reference my earlier summary: Backlash was a good standalone. But it did absolutely nothing for the series as a whole. Nothing. So, as I've heard others saying, they better start cracking. The book moved too fast in general, but the series is moving too slow. They lost my attention very early on, and they better do something real quick to get me excited again. I haven't bought Abyss or Backlash, and I don't currently plan on buying Allies. They will be the first and currently only three Star Wars books I haven't rushed to buy. I am very sad to say that I don't expect them to be the last. I certainly hope they prove me wrong.
Allies...agh! All I can say, at the moment, is that I feel Luke is an absolute idiot. Again, this alliance happened way too quickly. What's with the zipping and the zapping of subplots? The series itself is certainly crawling. Luke allows Vestara's dad to come onboard and speak with Vestara privately. What?! Luke is the Grand Master of the Jedi, he's been around. He knows about alliances, and how everyone breaks them. He certainly knows that Sith are not to be trusted. But he breaks the rules simply because this is family? I think not. And since when are the Sith so cordial? Had it been reversed, as Ben mentioned, Luke would certainly not have gotten the same privileges. And yes, the Jedi and the Sith are not the same. I realize this. But that does not mean that the Jedi are stupid! There would have been nothing cruel or Sith-like for Luke to have simply said, "No." Grrr...it makes me so angry when authors write characters and even entire plots out of character, and out of Star Wars itself! Like Mara's death, for instance. Mara would never have been so stupid as to chase down Jacen without mentioning it to someone. She was Mara, for crying out loud! And so it makes her death so much worse. I know it's just a series, but in loving that series, I don't think I'll ever get over Mara's death. I miss her character every time I pick up a Star Wars book, and sometimes inbetween.
Anyway, I must stop before I begin a crusade to march against DelRey and others. Arg.