Coruscant Nights #2: Street of Shadows

Author: Michael Reaves
Cover Artist: Glen Orbik
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: August 26, 2008
Pages: 320
Era: Rise of the Empire

summary

With the Jedi all but wiped out in the grim aftermath of Order 66, the Empire’s power seems unchecked. But one lone Knight continues to fight the good fight–against all odds and when all else fails.

Deep in the bowels of Coruscant, Jedi Jax Pavan ekes out a living as a private investigator, a go-to, can-do guy for the downtrodden. Now a mysterious Zeltron knockout named Deejah approaches Jax with a case that needs to be cracked: to find out who killed her artist lover Volette, brutally murdered hours after his triumphant unveiling of a dazzling new light sculpture with obvious links to lightsaber pyrotechnics.

Finding Volette’s killer won’t be easy–too many secrets, too many suspects, and all kinds of motives. But with the droid I-5YQ’s help, and ex-reporter Den Dhur’s excellent snooping skills, the investigation is soon operating like a well-oiled machine.

Unfortunately, there’s a far more efficient machine hunting Jax. It’s a deadly game of cat-and-mouse as the clock starts ticking toward the final explosive showdown . . . to see who strikes first and who will die first.

review

Coruscant Nights: Street of Shadows was an interesting break from the run of the mill Star Wars book. In fact, the Coruscant Nights trilogy seems to be stepping away from war and deep into the world of Star Wars itself. Where Jedi Twilight re-introduced us to the characters and brought the seedy levels of Coruscant to life, this one dives more into a detective hunt sprinkled liberally with the details of a dozen species. At the end of the chase you’ll find yourself asking some questions, perhaps, but ultimately you’ll be wondering just where this trilogy is going to end.

First off, let’s begin with the aliens. Just as Jedi Twilight dug deeply into droids, this one goes off on the organics. Throughout this story over a dozen species, both new and old, are re-examined and new light is shed upon them. Reaves seems to like to toss out little details about each race when we encounter them. Whether it’s the paranoia of Nuknogs or the ritual insults of the Jenet, the tiny revelations can’t help but bring these aliens more to life, fully fleshing out their little quirks. One small detail I found odd was that Bothans were revealed to have fleshy tendrils on their upper cheeks. To my knowledge, this is a new detail, much like the Elomin having tusks. And as the story progresses, there is always another species that interjects itself in to interact with the main characters. One thing is for sure, you never get the feeling that humans are the majority on Coruscant, at least not in the lower levels.

Among those aliens is the new protagonist cameo of this story: Aurra Sing. Vader is still on the hunt for Jax Pavan however he’s also short on time, so he sends Sing to do the dirty work. Her role is rather large in this book, thus in a way this is her first novel. We get to see Sing in action quite a bit, plus a few rare glimpses into her thinking and passion. She isn’t as fully explored as some might want, but the expansion upon her character is worthwhile nonetheless. I would equate her presence to that of Xizor’s in Jedi Twilight, though a bit larger and more relevant to the main story. Which raises the question of who will show up in the third novel of this trilogy? Thrawn perhaps?

So now on to the main story which is more or less a detective’s tale. First there is Captain Typho of Padme’s personal guard. We learn from the get go that he’s out for closure and he means to find Padme’s killer. Then there is Jax Pavan and his myriad group of pals who have now joined up with the Whiplash, one of the sprouting seeds of Rebellion. Pax quickly ends up trying to solve the murder of his client’s partner. His client being a female Zeltron named Dejah. The final element of the mix is Aurra Sing. She’s the only one not trying to find a killer. Instead, she’s a killer, working for a killer, to find Pavan. Through the twists and turns of the book, these three story lines merge and cross paths to create an interesting and enjoyable experience.

More so than perhaps any other Star Wars book in recent memory, Reaves creates a lot parallels between Street of Shadows and Jedi Twilight. Both have an overarching objective that is the driving force for the characters to come together. In Jedi Twilight it was the droid Bug-eyes, in this one it is the search for a killer. For extras, Jedi Twilight laid on the exploration of droids and their role in society. In this book we’re given a torrent of insight into different species, though each in brief. And then there is the uncomfortable, grating relationship between characters. Jedi Twilight had the hair wrenching agony between I-5, Pavan, and Den. Street of Shadows does the same but this time between organics and through intimacy. And again there is a triangle, this time Pavan, Dejah, and Laranth. Though it’s not exactly a love triangle, the three of them do struggle to work together and by the end you may find yourself hating Pavan all over again.

All around this was a sound book that held up well. The ending was better than Jedi Twilight, though it still raised some questions. My only real gripe with this book was the consistent use of the term “cools” to describe the Coruscant police. Other than that you can expect a good story line sprinkled with all sorts of interesting tidbits for us EU fanatics: taozin worms, Darth Maul references, the truth about Jedi child kidnappings, Hutt brains, and Velmorian energy swords, just to name a few. If you’ve been putting this one off, now’s the time to catch up. It’s a relatively short read but a fun one and worth your time. The real question is whether Reaves will be able to wrap up his trilogy with the next installment, Patterns of the Force, and tie up all the loose threads he has swirling around.

Again, thanks for reading and I hope I was able to give readers a good idea of what to expect, without blowing it, and perhaps a few things to think about afterwards.

-By Stephen H

All staff members can be contacted at staff@eucantina.net

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