Author(s): Aaron Allston
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: March 24, 2009
THE NEXT CHAPTER IN THE EXTRAORDINARY HISTORY OF THE STAR WARS GALAXY BEGINS HERE. . . .
After a violent civil war and the devastation wrought by the now-fallen Darth Caedus, the Galactic Alliance is in crisis–and in need. From all corners, politicians, power brokers, and military leaders converge on Coruscant for a crucial summit to restore order, negotiate differences, and determine the future of their unified worlds. But even more critical, and far more uncertain, is the future of the Jedi.
In a shocking move, Chief of State Natasi Daala orders the arrest of Luke Skywalker for failing to prevent Jacen Solo’s turn to the dark side and his subsequent reign of terror as a Sith Lord. But it’s only the first blow in an anti-Jedi backlash fueled by a hostile government and suspicious public. When Jedi Knight Valin Horn, scion of a politically influential family, suffers a mysterious psychotic break and becomes a dangerous fugitive, the Jedi become the target of a media-driven witch hunt. Facing conviction on the damning charges, Luke must strike a bargain with the calculating Daala: his freedom in exchange for his exile from Coruscant and from the Jedi Order.
Though forbidden to intervene in Jedi affairs, Luke is determined to keep history from being repeated. With his son, Ben, at his side, Luke sets out to unravel the shocking truth behind Jacen Solo’s corruption and downfall. But the secrets he uncovers among the enigmatic Force mystics of the distant world Dorin may bring his quest–and life as he knows it–to a sudden end. And all the while, another Jedi Knight, consumed by the same madness as Valin Horn, is headed for Coruscant on a fearsome mission that could doom the Jedi Order . . . and devastate the entire galaxy.
Coming off the heels of a nine-book novel series like Legacy of the Force (LOTF) with another nine-book series seemed foolish, and it is reasonable to think quality here would be substituted for quantity. That is why, as a reader, it thrills me to say that Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Outcast does not. The first novel in the nine-novel Fate of the Jedi series, Outcast has a lot to live up to, if you will. Written by veteran SW author Aaron Allston, the novel takes place in 43 ABY, which is 2 years after the events of LOTF series.
Readers are re-introduced, but not slapped over the head, to the characters of Luke and Ben Skywalker, Han, Leia, Allana, and Jaina Solo, Corran, Valin, and Mirax Horn, Chief of State Daala, Chief of State Fel, as well as a other Jedi and non-Jedi characters.
Allston uses humor early on to bring down a very serious, as readers may know from the reading blurb, time in the Jedi Order. Allston’s story approach is a three-pronged style, much like the SW movies themselves. The main characters are separated into three groups and each has a different effect on an overall story plot. The one main plot, with two branching sub-plot, is simplistic, yet incredibly engaging and fun.
That method of story-telling really works very well in this period and should be used throughout the series. Allston’s references to past works, such as his Rogue Squadron series novels, as well as using characters from said series also makes it very enjoyable for those who have read the series or now want to read the series. The main plot, that involving Luke and Ben Skywalker, is probably the best part about the book; their interactions perfectly match those of a son and father duo.
That is not to say the two sub-plots aren’t interesting, they are, but I found the main plot is the main driving force that kept me reading the novel even when incredibly tired. Allston’s use of all characters types– from Jedi to pilots– is well appreciated and well done.
Speaking of characters, that is yet another place where Outcast truly shines. The main characters are Luke, Ben, Han, Leia, and Jaina, but they, of course, all have friends. Wheater they are Luke’s comrades in the Order, Han’s old smuggling buddies, or Jaina’s meld of close friends, they all have minor characters to help them along in their struggles. The best known character done would probably be Luke; Allston managed to keep him serene and calm, yet fierce and dangerous when the time calls for it. Allston also manages to flesh out a new character very well: Seff Hellin.
While I will not go too far into him and certain philosophies he may have, I will say that Aaron really builds up on this character in a way that reminds me of Qui-Gon Jinn. Another character Aaron is building is Seha, a Jedi Padawan introduced in the LOTF series by Allston. Seeing her character, along with others, fleshed out was truly one of the best parts of the novel for me.
The best part of the novel, I feel, though is the accessibility. The way Aaron writes and introduces all the characters is how it should exactly be done in a series– tell us some important things about them in a conversation, mention it before or after that character speaks, etc. Allston doesn’t bore readers with useless facts about characters, instead giving them thoughts of, say, their past deeds to connect the characters to readers who may not know the character.
I, personally, was not too excited for this series at all, but after reading this novel I can say I await June and the release of Omen eagerly. Thanks to Outcast I now have high hopes for this series and what it can do. I’d give Outcast a 4.5 out of 5, and would recommend picking it up as a hardcover.
By Andrew Lupi
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