Rebel Stand, by Aaron Allston

rebelstandI’m not a politician anymore, Han.  I’m just pretending to be one.  I’ve come over to the scoundrel side of the Force.
-Princess Leia Organa Solo


When we last left off, Luke and Mara, along with one Jedi student, Tahiri, and the intelligence unit Wraith Squadron, landed on the captured world of Coruscant.  In the meantime, Wedge Antilles was keeping things interesting on Borleias for the Yuuzhan Vong by apparently creating a superweapon designed to blow up their worldships, while at the same time building up the image of Jaina Solo as the incarnation of their trickster goddess.  And Han and Leia were off attempting to keep worlds from supporting the Vong.

Rebel Stand covers all this territory, but the biggest thrust is on Luke’s group, as they explore the new reality of the former capitol of the Republic.  They quickly come to the conclusion that Coruscant as they knew it is gone forever, as they begin to see what the Vong are doing to the hi-tech world (not entirely surprising; given the Vong’s hatred of machines, one can understand how much they’d love to reshape this world).  However, there are a couple of details that must be attended to; survivors on Coruscant are being stalked by a being they call Lord Nyax, a being of childhood stories…and not nice stories; and a frequent thorn in the side of the Republic is here as well, and fares better than I really expected.

On another front, I have mixed feelings about the portions centering on Han and Leia.  I’m perfectly fine with their activities (and for the most part, they sideline the character of Tarc, who to be honest I never really liked).  Their banter, though seemed a little forced to me; I could see it just fine a few books ago, but given the recent tragedies that have slammed them, it doesn’t seem quite right to me.  On the other hand, I can’t deny that I liked the interplay between the two (there’s a lovely segment where they demonstrate that they aren’t impressed by the idea of being tortured, given that both were tortured by the quintessential Star Wars villain, a long time ago).

Jaina’s plot doesn’t get advanced all that much, which may be for the best for now.  Too many plots spoil the broth….  Even so, there’s time enough for a turning point, perhaps, with Kyp and Jag.  Wedge gets a chance to shine again in the latter portion of Rebel Stand as well, demonstrating his full strategy for Borleias (and demonstrating the most unique use of a Super Star Destroyer I’ve ever read about).  He also gets to deal with certain unexpected situations that don’t turn out as well as planned.

Rebel Stand also hits us with a concept we haven’t seen too much of in the New Jedi Order, and that’s the Dark Side of the Force.  We’ve really only seen the subtle temptations or the shades of gray that might stand between it and the Light, but it is once more demonstrated that a being in full possession of the Dark Side is an incredibly dangerous threat.  There’s also continuity referred to in here that I don’t recall reading about, unless it was something in the Young Jedi Knights books, which I’ve never read (or worse, the comic books).

The only flaw with this book (and by extension, the Enemy Lines duology) is that it doesn’t seem to really advance the main plot of the New Jedi Order.  Oh, there’s a couple things that will likely carry over, but it seems like it was just like the action on Borleias-a holding action.  On the other hand, it’s about as self contained a duology as we’ll get in the New Jedi Order, and that’s why I don’t really have any problems with these books.  If you’re money-short, you can probably skip these books without too much problem, but otherwise, I’d recommend reading them; if for no other reason, they’re fun to read, and that’s something that’s been lacking in the New Jedi Order for quite some time.

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