Author: Karen Traviss
Cover Artist: Jason Felix
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: February 27, 2007
Era: New Jedi Order – 40 ABY, 2 Days After Exile
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by MrNomAnorOn Mandalore, Boba Fett issues a decree that as a people, the Mandalorians cannot take sides in the erupting conflict. However, he does allow his people to hire themselves out individually if they so choose. He also requests that Mandalorians across the galaxy return home to rebuild and strengthen their nation. Fett then takes time out for personal business, leaving with grand-daughter Mirta to locate “Skirata,” a clone that may contain the key to staving off Fett’s death.
The duo head for Kuat, where they go to the place that Mirta first saw Skirata. They learn that he was there to kill a mob boss on behalf of a Twi’lek clan. Heading to find the criminal’s replacement, Fett leaves him hanging after he has gained some crucial intelligence.
Naturally, this draws the attention of Skirata, who is waiting for Fett and Mirta upon their return to Slave I. Briefly incapacitating Mirta – much to her embarrassment – he enquires as to what Fett wants. The masked clone reveals that he is Jaing Skirata, one of the old Null troopers from the Clone Wars. Although he once had the data that Fett currently needs, Skirata himself used, and then destroyed the pertinent information. He does agree to take tissue/blood samples from Fett and concoct a cure back on Mandalore. Fett reluctantly agrees and drops Jaing off on Coruscant.
Not acting on the hope he now possesses, Fett returns with Mirta to Mandalore. They discover that in their absence, Goran Beviin and others have located a vein of “beskar” (the native terminology for Mandalorian iron) that has survived the Yuuzhan Vong invasion of their planet. The discovery of a new source of this minerals means that the Mandalorians could indeed become major galactic players once again.
The organization – under Fett – decides to construct a collection of new starfighters using the mineral, in the hopes that either the Alliance or Confederation will purchase some of the prototypes. Striking a lucrative arrangement with the Verpine, the Mandalorians begin moves to form a neutral third party in the continuing crisis.
Soon after, Fett is visited by a man called Venku, who is an agent of Skirata’s. He has sent the cure with Venku, ensuring that Fett will live for a while yet. Venku himself is in actuality the peculiar Kad’ika, a fierce pro-Mandalorian who is largely responsible for the Mandalorians’ new nationalism. He is also the son of a clone, making him Fett’s nephew after a fashion.
Venku locates a Kiffar Mandalorian, who is talented enough in psychometry to read Mirta’s half of the gemstone (the remaining piece being buried with Ailyn). Upon reading the stone, it is discovered that Ailyn had once been after a now-dead crime lord named Rendozar. However, in his personal belongings, this Rendozar has a carbonite block which for the last forty-odd years has contained one Sintas Vel…
Meanwhile, the building conflict between the Galactic Alliance and breakaway Confederation continues after the battle at Gilatter. Having returned his companions to their home, Ben makes his way back to the Anakin Solo. Although he keeps the Sith sphere away from his personnel, Jacen does let Lumiya have a look at the vessel.
Although he gives the vessel to his mentor, Jacen is told that she will only safe keep it until he ascends to Sith Lord. As a result of the events at Gilatter, political tension is building between Jacen, his tenuous ally Admiral Niathal and Chief Omas. People are concerned that the recent Mandalorian build-up may be due to the fact that Jacen killed Fett’s daughter.
Lumiya gets Alema to track the Anakin Solo and keep tabs on Jacen. This comes as Ben returns home to his parents, with Mara secretly giving him a vibroblade with a tracking beacon inside it. She is still of the belief that Jacen killed Lumiya’s daughter and as a result the Sith is going after Jacen and Ben. Mara also feels that Lumiya is influencing Jacen through the Guard.
Both Admiral Niathal and GAG Corporal Lekauf tell Jacen that troops on the front line keep receiving inadequate war materials, and thus Jacen attempts to solve the issue through mind-bendingly intense Alliance bureaucracy. Jacen enlists a legislation droid to help sort out the convoluted regulations, and in doing so, realizes that he can open the gateway to much larger and more influential personal power. After conversing with the droid and analyzing Alliance legislation, Jacen finds that he can generate new laws that would allow him (and Omas and Niathal) to essentially change many laws as they saw fit. This legislature would also allow them to instantly bypass any Senate oversight or confirmation.
As Ben returns to Guard duty, he is tasked with taking part in surveillance on assorted senators and other power-brokers. Jacen gradually teaches him to disappear in the Force as he himself has been able to do. Ben soon finds that he has a new assignment in the form of an assassination of Dur Gejjen. Despite his myriad concerns, the teen Jedi is somewhat convinced that the death is necessary when a meeting between Gejjen and Omas is intercepted: a meeting that detail Omas’ approval of a cease-fire with the Confederation if he allows the murders of Niathal and Jacen.
In light of this development, Jacen and Niathal agree on a legislation change; one that allows for the arrest of anyone (including politicians and government leaders) presenting a security risk to the Alliance. The duo make preparations to retrieve and present evidence on Omas in order to put him under house arrest and rule by themselves, with the option to turn their powers over to the Senate if necessary.
As Ben journeys to the meeting on Vulpter with Shevu and Lekauf, Lumiya begins taunting the Skywalkers by putting some of Ben’s attire where they know she has taken it. This causes more of a desire in Mara to hunt and kill Lumiya. This distracts them all the more from Jacen, who has decided that Ben is the sacrifice he must make to attain the rank of Sith Lord.
On Vulpter, the assassination squad moves close enough to record the meeting between the two galactic leaders. The dialogue of the meeting gives Jacen enough evidence to take Omas down. Ben fires the shot that kills Gejjen, sending the site into chaos. In the confusion, Lekauf sacrifices himself, ensuring that Ben and Shevu can escape undetected and giving credence to the cover story that disgruntled Corellians killed their leader.
Back on Coruscant, Mara finds Lumiya and the pair of former Hands both give each other a royal beating. Mara is incapacitated by the interference of the Sith Sphere, which saves Lumiya. Before Lumiya flees, Mara is able to plant another homing beacon on the ship. Soon, Ben returns, and as Mara knew where he went from the first beacon, she confronts him over Gejjen’s murder. Ben admits his role in the assassination, and Mara finds that she only wants to help Ben through the same things she went through in her youth.
Jacen plays his next hand in his power consolidation by arresting Omas for attempting to conspire with Gejjen against the best interests of the Galactic Alliance. Niathal has revealed the situation to Senator G’Sil (head of the Senate’s security forces) who will back them up. The Galactic Alliance will now have a dual Chief of State in the form of Jacen and Niathal. While Niathal plots to have Jacen sidelined, he plans to use his new role to benefit his ascension to becoming a Sith Lord.
Events start to come unraveled a short while later when Ben goes to visit Jacen in his Guard offices and overhears (after hiding in the Force) a conversation between him and Lumiya, which reveals that they are working together and that he mind-wiped Ben and killed Jedi Dinn. Self-rationalizing that Jacen is actually under Lumiya’s control, Ben goes to Mara and reveals what he learned.
After instructing her on how to disappear into the Force, Mara plans to do away with Lumiya, but secretly believes that the real problem is Jacen. She has a conversation with Leia – currently lying low with Han and Lando – regarding Jacen and whether or not Leia believes he could be brainwashed by Lumiya. Leia believes Jacen is too strong in spirit to be coerced in such a fashion, confirming Mara’s assumptions and fears. Taking it upon herself to stop Jacen, Mara finds him and accuses him of conspiring with Lumiya. Jacen denies things over and over, but both Jacen and Mara know that there is now no going back.
Caught up in the tumult of events, Jacen sneaks off to visit Tenel and Allana. Lumiya follows him in the sphere to keep an eye on him, and she in turn is tracked by Ben (following the sphere) and Mara, who is tracking the beacon she planted. Even as Jacen has a rendezvous with his daughter and lover, Lumiya watches, and finally understands why he had such trouble deciding who to sacrifice. Lumiya believes that Jacen will sacrifice Allana, much to her despair and pity.
Mara arrives at Hapes and checks in with the Hapan authorities. She learns of Jacen’s audience in the royal grounds, and starts to piece together his true relationship with Tenel. Jacen leaves his family and senses Lumiya, deciding he will have to kill her to keep his secrets. Trying to chase her down, he is found by Mara. Lumiya then interrupts, trying to get rid of Mara.
Being beset upon by Jacen and Lumiya, Mara is forced to go to ground in the tunnels of nearby Kavan, while Ben, unaware of what is going on, forces the Sith Sphere to land. Amid the caves on Kavan, Jacen and Mara alternatively hunt each other, finally leading to a physical brawl for survival. Mara manages to bring a section of ceiling down on Jacen, but he is able to throw it off before it kills him. They continue to scuffle until Jacen throws up a Force illusion of Ben. The quick lull is enough for him to inject Mara with a poison dart, and his aunt dies with Ben’s name on her lips. Mara’s death (and farewell to Luke and Ben) sends a shockwave through the Force that Luke, Leia and a host of various other Jedi are able to detect.
Ben, after forcing the Sphere to land, is able to locate his mother’s body. Jacen turns up to console Ben and ensure that people believe it was Lumiya (or one of her agents) who killed Mara.
Luke – rebuffing help from his colleagues on the Jedi Council – arrives with Jaina at Tenel’s palace, and despite his grief, rushes off to confront Lumiya. Lumiya herself intentionally makes Luke believe she killed Mara in a successful attempt to divert attention from Jacen and let him complete his sacrifice. The two engage in a fierce but brief duel in which Luke saves Lumiya from falling to her death only to decapitate her.
As Luke takes dubious solace amidst his grief, Ben informs him that Lumiya cannot be the murderer as he was with her when Mara was killed. Luke realizes that even in death Lumiya can haunt him. As Jaina – and an arriving Han and Leia – consolidate to mourn Mara, Jacen returns to Coruscant realizing that his sacrifice has occurred twofold.
Although Mara herself was not his intended sacrifice, her death (and the eventual revelation of him committing the act) will ensure that Ben’s respect and love for him is destroyed. Jacen theorizes that this destroyed relationship and Ben’s eventual hatred for him might make him an ideal (and powerful) Sith apprentice. His final task before becoming a Sith Lord has been achieved, and in a battle with Confederation forces, Jacen finds that he has also acquired the famed skill of Battle Meditation.
In the secrecy of his personal chambers, Jacen completes his metamorphosis by proclaiming his new Sith name: Darth Caedus.
Karen Traviss returns with the fifth book in the Legacy of the Force Series, Sacrifice. In this story, Jacen must take the final step in becoming a Sith Lord but he will have to sacrifice something close to him in order to do it. This book had much anticipation for it is the middle book in the series and a major character wasn’t going to be around any more at the end of the story.
Like the Republic Commando books and Bloodlines, Karen Traviss really digs into the psyche of the characters. Readers are better able to get an idea of what Jacen Solo is thinking and why he is doing the dark deeds he is. Mara Jade Skywalker and Ben Skywalker are also heavily looked at, and let’s not forget Karen’s favorite group of warriors, the Mandalorians led by Boba Fett.
Jacen starts to grow worried about the sacrifice for he knows it is coming soon. He wishes someone would tell him what it has to be but the only advice Lumiya can give him is soon. But Jacen doesn’t spend all his time dwelling on this. He continues to bring peace and order to the galaxy, even joining with Admiral Niathal to take drastic measures against their own government as well as Corellia and its allies.
In the meantime, Mara Jade Skywalker decides to hunt down the root cause of all this galactic trouble. Going against Luke’s wishes, Mara decides it is time for Lumiya to meet her end to stop the possible influence Lumiya may have on Jacen Solo and being after Ben.
As for Ben, he continues to stay with Jacen and the Galactic Alliance Guard (GAG), even being sent on a mission that will lead to him discovering a truth that Ben won’t recover from for sometime. And while he is with Jacen, Ben learns a key secret to Jacen’s powers that Jacen regrets teaching him not too far down the road.
And how does Boba Fett fit into all this? That’s a good question. We know he last left for Geonosis to take his father back to Mandalore. He found out he had a granddaughter who is now with Boba Fett wherever he goes. Boba Fett continues to look for a cure to his illness, finding it from people he has to put a lot of trust in without really knowing who they are.
But when you read the Boba Fett sections, it’s as if you’re reading another book. At the start, Boba Fett seems to have no connection with the overall story, making those chapters seem a waste of the readers’ time. However, towards the end, although Boba Fett’s story seems to still not be connected, it is connected on the Mandalorian front. As Mandalore, leader of the Mandalorians, Boba Fett may have to get involved with the war between the GA and Confederation, connecting him to the overall story better than he was at the start of the book.
Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo make only a few appearances in the story, so those fans won’t be all that happy about that. And it’s not just them, but Jaina only shows up for a bit, without Zekk or Jag Fel, and doesn’t really do anything. But I can let Karen off on this for this particular book isn’t about anyone but Jacen Solo and his sacrifice. Plus, Troy Denning will be back for the next book and he does a great job with all these missing characters, count on them being back then.
For the hype, a major character does indeed die but for reasons that I couldn’t really see coming. I’ve had my doubts whenever the next book is coming out and the authors have repeatedly shown me that they do indeed have a deep, fascinating story going on, and now that we’re over half way, expect it to get all the more fascinating.
And it’s not just one major character’s death. A second one does occur, maybe making many fans think, ‘finally,’ but the damage may already be done to the galaxy.
Finally, Jacen Solo does make the ascent to Sith Lord and a new Darth name. The Darth Who contest winner is thanked at the start of the book and Jacen announces his Sith name at the end. Fans were allowed to vote for Jacen’s Sith name, and I’m more than glad with the name that won. Even if fans out there aren’t all that happy with it, the name will grow on them for Jacen is now a Sith Lord and the galaxy is going to be in trouble.
4.5/5.0 Kath Hounds
by Lawrence D.
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