Author: Karen Traviss
Cover Artist: Greg Knight
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: September 2008
Era: Rise Of The Empire
Hello and welcome to the fourth installment of my Republic Commando book reviews. I’m Tom Pniewski aka Kal_Skirata in the forums and today I will give you my review of the book Order 66 by Karen Traviss.
I intend this review to be an overview of the book trying to hit points that I feel are important while not giving too much away. Yes you can say that I am sticking to my mantra of “if you want more – read the book. Reading is good for you!!!” So, I’ll give you a kind of detailed summery of the first two chapters to get you hooked. Then, I’ll try to summarize a few of what I feel are the main points in the story instead of almost chapter by chapter like I’ve done before. I’ll then cover what worked and what didn’t work in the book. I’m going to try to not lose you all while you’re reading this so I’ll keep “the page count” down to no more then 10 total – Seriously :-) My goal is to try to make this review concise.
If you have read the previous Republic Commando books, you know all the major players in this book. Kal Skirata, Walon Vau, Delta & Omega squads, Bardan Jusik, Etian Tur-Mukan, The Null ARCs, Besany Wennen and …….. oh, you get the idea. Everyone plus the kitchen sink are thrown into this book and why not. This book brings to a close the Republic Commando series and acts as a lead-in to Ms. Traviss’ next series, Imperial Commando.
The book starts out with a short prologue in the first person perspective of Bardan Jusik who has turned away from the Jedi Order at the end of True Colors. Jusik started questioning the Order about how they can turn a blind eye to the use of a slave army to fight this war. This book picks up with Jusik walking through the streets of Coruscant in full Mandalorian armor. While walking through a crowd he’s sensed through the Force by a young Jedi Knight who does not understand why a Mandalorian is radiating such a presence. With questions that need to be answered, the Jedi gets Jusik’s attention. He accuses Jusik of “leaving in the middle of the war that they have to fight.” He further tries to sting Jusik by accusing him of “betraying us like that.” This makes Jusik wonder if the Jedi meant the Order or the Clones. They continue a verbal sparing match about the war and a coming darkness they both are aware of. When all is said and done between the two, Jusik realizes that he made a choice and is living with it. The clones had no choice, they were created to fight and die in this war for the Republic.
Now, the next chapter is used as a back story for Kal Skirata. He’s introduced fifty years before the Battle of Geonosis when he was a seven year old boy being trained by Munin Skirata on the planet Mes Cavoli. We find out his birth name is Falin Mattran, an orphan surviving on his own after his parents were killed during a war before the Mandalorians landed on the planet then walked into town. As with Mandalorian culture, Munin found Falin alone, scared but with a fight inside him. So much fight that Falin (Kal) tried to kill Munin with a three sided blade and threatens to try it again when he’s bigger. Seeing this fire inside the boy, Munin adopts him as with Mandalorian culture and raises him to be Mando.
The next chapter after the introduction of Skirata’s back story begins at the two year anniversary of the Battle of Geonosis. We know the Clone Wars was fought over a three year period so this means there is about a year left of fighting. The original batch of clones are taking a beating on the battle field with no outlook for new replacements on the horizon. Or, are there new clones lurking around out there somewhere??
As you progress through the book, you slowly find out that Palpatine has set up a cloning facility outside of Kamino where he is growing new clone troops at a much quicker pace than the original batch. This new army, as the reader will find out, had a different task then the original batch of clones. To me this plays into the whole Order 66 command that is given later on. They were not meant to be up the same standards as the ones coming from Kamino. Now, how does this information come out you ask??? Kal is using his connection, Besany Wennen at the Republic Treasury Department, to follow the money trail to see where all the funds are coming from, where they are flowing to and who is signing the checks. See, Skirata’s team planted a very smart computer virus in the Treasury system that can cull through records for the trail. The virus was so good it also pulled anything and everything on cloning and genetics within the system. This added information was pulled so Kal can use it to find that “magic bullet” that will slow down the aging process in his clones. Believe me, this all works out as you move through book especially the cloning information since a certain scientist is sprung for a prison to help find a cure.
A thought on the clone genetic code information here. Skirata was passing out pieces of Kamino cloning information to different genetic scientist “around town.” Using an alias, he gave them pieces, just enough to get their attention and a fair amount of credits for them to work on a part of the larger puzzle. He was hoping no one would find out what was going on, that is until one of the scientist felt he needed to be patriotic and turned over the information Chancellor Palpatine. Which you can guess, the scientist ended up “sleeping with the fishes.” Well, that is if Palpatine was able to get him to Kamino and fit him with cement slippers. Hehe, just know that this scientist ended up missing and leads to a price being placed on Skirata’s head.
And, as I already mentioned, the majority of these clones are being held back for what Skirata feels will be a big push at some point. It’s this “big push” that Kal is now looking to as the perfect spot to pull his boys out of a senseless war. He’s tired of seeing these clones spilling their blood for a war they did not willing sign-up for nor will they really have a life once this war is over. So Kal starts in motion a Star Wars version of the “Underground Railroad” for any clone that wants to leave this war behind and live as a free man on Mandalore. His first priority for the pull out, his own boys in Omega squad, Nulls, ARC’s, girlfriends and yes daughters-in-law.
What did I just type you ask?? Daughters-In-Law??? Yup, that’s right. Three of the clones perform the Mandalorian marriage rite during this book. One was done “as a long distant phone call” which still counts. So, to figure out who all gets hitched – RTB (read the book).
Now I can hear another question coming, If Kal can get his clones out of this war, how is he going to slow or stop the aging process, how is he going to support this new family – where are the credits coming from, and where are they all going to live?
First, Kal plans to bust out of a high security prison Dr. Ovolot Qail Uthan. Does the name sound familiar?? She was the Separatist scientist that was tasked to build a virus to kill the clones from the book Hard Contact. Remember, she was taken to prison after being pulled off the planet Qiiluar by Omega squad. She’s been there sitting around playing with flies until Kal sent his boys to bust her out.
Second, oh I think Kal has the credits issue covered. Remember, the Nulls ARC are smart especially Jaing who can hack into any computer system. He was able to insert into the computer network a nice little virus. Oh, the virus didn’t bring down the banking network, it just skimmed a half credit here or a full credit there from over a trillion bank accounts. Yes, I did type trillion, Kal and his clones are very wealthy men.
Third, Kal has set up a hide-away fortress on Mandalor so he and his new family could escape to. So I believe Skirata has his bases covered.
So, I’ve covered some good ground here so far but there is still one thing that needs to come out before I get to what I liked and what I didn’t. That last piece is what happens with Darman, Etain and Kad (their son). Well, I will let it out that Darman does find out he’s a father in this book. Etian has come to the point in her life that she does want to leave the Jedi Order for a normal life. Does she get out before Order 66? That’s a cliffhanger that I will keep close to my chest.
Now, I can make this part quick. What I didn’t like about the book, it started out way too slow for me. You can make the case it needed to because it had to set up a lot of plot points. Some of these points were resolved and naturally some left hanging. Remember, Karen Traviss already said there will be follow-on books called Imperial Commandos. What a better way for these books start from then jump off points left open in this book.
What I loved about the book was when it picked up steam, it just kept going until the end. Karen Traviss has a knack of writing really good, suspenseful action sequences that keep you glued until it’s over. She really makes this point felt toward the end when you are left slack jawed about who made through “the escape” and who didn’t. Karen makes you feel for characters that had a life ahead of them then suddenly have it taken away right from them. A case in point is when a character, by choice, decided to stay behind because of kinship and an oath that no one is left behind. In another case, someone didn’t make it out at all because this person felt they needed to protect an innocent when a melee broke out. The ultimate sacrifice was laid down. It was a very heartfelt moment and sad to see this character not continue further.
Yes, again there are points that I have left out from this review. To name a few in no particular order, Jango had a sister, the empire putting a base on Mandalor and a friend of Besany Wennen being framed for a crime she didn’t commit. There are other points that have been left out but hey, it’s big book and I’m only supposed to review it. Cliff notes was not something I signed up for when I committed to this. :-)
I want to thank you for reading this review and comments are always welcomed either good or bad. Anything to help make these reviews improve are always welcomed so don’t be afraid to speak-up. I do have to apologize for taking so long to get this done. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the “Skirata” household of late that’s taken up my time. Sadly this was kinda on the back burner (along with my I, Jedi review which I really want to finish). Thank you all for your patience.
Thanks again for reading this review. I’m looking forward to the Imperial Commando books to see where the Skirata story line progress’ from here. I do plan on reviewing these books as well.
This is Tom Pniewski aka Kal Skirata in the forum’s and blog – signing off, Good Night :-)
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