Author(s): Karen Miller
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: December 9, 2008
Era: Rise of the Empire
The Clone Wars have exploded across the galaxy as Republic forces and Separatists struggle to gain the upper hand. But while the Jedi generals work tirelessly to defeat Count Dooku and his rebels, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is hatching his own dark plans.
The Separatists have launched a sneak attack on Coruscant. Obi-Wan Kenobi, wounded in battle, insists that Anakin Skywalker and his rookie Padawan Ahsoka leave on a risky mission against General Grievous. But when Senator Bail Organa reveals explosive intelligence that could turn the tide of war in the Republic’s favor, the Jedi Master agrees to accompany him to an obscure planet on the Outer Rim to verify the facts. What Obi-Wan and Bail don’t realize is that they’re walking into a deadly trap concocted by Palpatine . . . and that escape may not be an option.
Inspired by the full-length animated feature film Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the brand-new TV series, this thrilling adventure is filled with provocative, never-before-revealed insights into the characters of Obi-Wan, Anakin, Padme, Yoda, Count Dooku, and many other Star Wars favorites.
Lucasfilm’s decision to produce a new TV series set during the Clone Wars has spurred numerous new releases from virtually all of its key licensees. In the case of the novels, Del Rey is releasing five new books that build upon and expand the story we are seeing in the cartoon. Authorial duties will be split between two Karens, seasoned Star Wars vet Karen Traviss and new-to-the-EU author Karen Miller. The first book out of the gate, the novelization of the film which kicked off the whole project, was from Traviss. This second entry, Wild Space, is the first in the series to present an original story woven between the spaces in the TV show.
My anticipation for this one was high. (Of course, who am I kidding? It’s always high for a new Star Wars novel.) I have been thoroughly enjoying revisiting the Clone Wars via the weekly show and it’s an era Del Rey had definitely not exhausted in their previous releases. Miller brings prior genre credentials to the table, including SG-1 spinoff novels, so I was quite curious to see how Wild Space would turn out.
The book starts wonderfully. Instead of kicking off post-Battle of Christophsis, Miller goes back to the aftermath of the Geonosis arena battle from Attack of the Clones. She builds an evocative portrait of the turmoil churning within the few Jedi survivors and also introduces an element which smooths over one of the key timeline alterations that the new show has wrought. Anakin now becomes a Knight much earlier in the war than he did in the original Clone Wars multimedia project, and Miller posits that the vacuum created by the deaths of so many Knights and Masters at Geonosis required accelerated promotions of Padawans to Knighthood. This makes sense to me.
However, there is another timeline issue raised by the book that’s harder to reconcile, and that’s placing Anakin’s knighting only four weeks after Geonosis. It takes an incredible amount of retconning to stuff all his adventures as a Padawan during the war into four weeks and I’m not comfortable with that take. For now, my view on the timeline matter is the Battle of Christophsis takes place roughly six months after Geonosis. I’m sure there will be plenty of sorting of the war’s events over the next few years as more is released, anyway.
Miller excels in characterization and if that’s something you’re interested in, this book is a good bet. There is very little action for a Star Wars novel, but she takes a great deal of time in the first half exploring multiple points-of-view and sifting through the emotional debris of Geonosis. This section is excellent and I tore through it. There are scenes from Padme’s perspective, something rarely addressed in prior EU stories, and building upon the Traviss novel we get a couple from the viewpoint of Darth Sidious. Good stuff. She also fleshes out Anakin and Padme’s early relationship and their decision to keep their marriage a secret.
Midway through the novel takes a puzzling left turn. From weaving this rich tapestry of characterizations and emotional states, Miller focuses the story entirely on two characters, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa. I had very mixed feelings about the second half of the book. On the one hand, it’s a delightful idea to begin exploring the relationship between these two, one we as viewers have been aware of dating back to the original Star Wars movie. Miller lays out the interplay between the two in detail and while doing so builds solid foundations for Obi-Wan’s decision to trust this particular politician, a group of people he has little use for.
On the other hand, this section of the book dragged. The plot device of Bail Organa’s informant from the shadowy Friends of the Republic was incompletely sketched, as is the MacGuffin of the Sith planet of Zigoola. There is a lengthy section consisting primarily of Obi-Wan and Bail chatting as they fly from planet to planet. Once they arrive at Zigoola, there is a significantly longer section of them painfully making their way across the planet on foot, all the while being devastated by the effects of the Sith planet on Obi-Wan and by the environment itself. I had trouble getting through this part, and when the payoff comes it’s just a relief to be done. This part of the book has a markedly grim tone, making it an odd match for the cartoon.
Overall, Wild Space shows tremendous promise for Karen Miller as a Star Wars author: I simply didn’t much care for the storyline. She shows an impressive willingness to depict the iconic prequel-era characters as actual human beings and not just as plot points. I look forward to her next entry in the Clone Wars saga and hope to see a more engaging plot coupled with her already strong characterizations.
3.0/5.0 Kath Hounds
Review by Andrew P.
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