For much of Abyss, the state of the galaxy remains the same: young Jedi Knights go insane, Luke and Ben search for answers, the Jedi Council deals with the uncooperative Natasi Daala, and the Sith continue their search for the mysterious Ship. And like Outcast and Omen before it, Abyss is much more about characters and galactic politics than action. In what has now become a tradition for the Fate of the Jedi series, Troy Denning wastes no time making two more Jedi go crazy. Of the six insane Jedi, four are now held in the bowels of the Jedi Temple, with the remaining two frozen in carbonite by the Galactic Alliance. With Chief of State Natasi Daala breathing down their necks, the Jedi eventually decide to move their patients to a new location off-planet. This leads to one of only two battles in the book, as Leia and Han fight a small skirmish against Mandalorians secretly hired by Daala. Later, Han and Allana pilot the Millennium Falcon in what can only loosely be called a space battle, since hardly any shots are fired.
Meanwhile, Luke and Ben Skywalker enter the Maw in search for answers regarding Jacen Solo’s fall to the dark side. This storyline is one of the stranger parts of Star Wars, with the Skywalkers discovering Sinkhole Station, a smaller version of Centerpoint Station. Inside live the Mind Drinkers, beings from all over the galaxy who leave their bodies behind to go “beyond the shadows,” where time does not exist. Luke and Ben eventually join them, and they meet every major character who has died since the middle of the Yuuzhan Vong War: Anakin Solo, Mara Jade Skywalker, and Jacen Solo. While they are not Force ghosts, they are definitely real. Even Denning has a difficult time explaining this part, describing them only as heads that float just below the surface of the Lake of Apparitions. Near the end of the book, the Sith subplot that has been running throughout the series finally goes somewhere when they attack the Skywalkers on Sinkhole Station. Sadly, the battle is won almost too easily. Luke and Ben barely break a sweat as they dispatch more than a dozen Sith, leaving a single survivor to follow home.
Like most Star Wars books, the three plots (or four, depending on your certain point of view) are intertwined. While the book is well written, I found the Sith chapters less interesting than the main plot in which young Jedi are mysteriously becoming sick. Denning suggests that the answer to the increasing Jedi insanity lies with the Mind Drinkers, but he never wraps this subplot up. Where Denning does succeed is the characterization. That’s a good thing, because with only 38 pages of action, the book is 87% character driven. With a few small exceptions – Allana sounding older than her eight years of age while co-piloting the Millennium Falcon – the personalities of the main characters are captured perfectly. Javis Tyrr is less annoying than he was in Omen and for once, the Jedi don’t break the law by attempting to contact Luke. And like the films, C-3PO’s scenes are always funny.
The only real problem I had with the book was the ending, which seemed a little too abrupt. With the relative calmness of most of the book, it would have been nice to have a few more pages of epilogue after the action ended. Sadly, fans of the Fate of the Jedi series will have to wait six months for book four: Backlash. With the release of Omen less than two months ago, it would have been nice if the releases had been spread out a bit more. Fate of the Jedi: Abyss is a great novel that kept me wanting to read more. There isn’t as much action as other Star Wars books, but the main plot alone is enough to keep me interested. What will happen to the insane Jedi? Will Ben be the next to go since he grew up at the Shelter? Will the Horns ever rescue their children frozen in carbonite? Can the infected Jedi be cured? With six books to go, the series has plenty of time to answer these questions. If you liked Outcast and Omen, you’re sure to enjoy Abyss too.
Reviewed by William Devereux
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