Traitor, by Matthew Stover

traitorThis threshold is mine.  I claim it for my own.  Bring on your thousands, one at a time or all in a rush.  I don’t give a damn.  None shall pass.
-Ganner Rhysode, Jedi Knight

The character of Vergere has been a bit of a strange enigma.  This alien works with the Yuuzhan Vong, originally as a familiar of an assassin, and later climbing to the attention of the Warmaster Tsavong Lah.  She was responsible for the capture of Jacen Solo during Star By Star.  But she has also provided her tears to Mara Jade Skywalker, curing her of the disease (or at least pushing it into submission at that time) that had threatened her life in spite of her Jedi skills.  She aided Jacen before she betrayed him.  And other novels indicate a history for Vergere that makes it difficult to believe that she could be here, now, and working like this (see Rogue Planet and Cloak of Deception).  Well, at least some of that mystery has begun to be revealed.

Traitor fills in a very big loose end in the present New Jedi Order storyline:  whatever happened to Jacen Solo?  Most characters believed him killed (including his own sister).  Readers, on the other hand, probably didn’t buy that for a minute (never believe a death without a body).  And these readers are proven right, although Jacen probably wished otherwise.  He opens up in the device the Vong call “the Embrace of Pain”, a device that the Vong believe make them stronger, and proves the weakness of other races who don’t handle that kind of pain all that well.  A visit from Vergere doesn’t set his mind at ease, either-she casually cuts off his connection to the Force, but not before he comes to a realization that she is herself powerful in the Force.

In time, Jacen finds a way (with Vergere’s help?) to deal with the agony of the Embrace; what he does not know, however, is that our good buddy Nom Anor and Vergere have a plan for Jacen.  Reflecting the growing opinion of the Vong that Jaina is an avatar of their trickster goddess, Nom Anor proposes to teach Jacen the Vong way, make him come to accept it, and groom him as the avatar of Yun-Yammka, their warrior god, and twin of Yun-Harla, the trickster.  And one of the big highlights of that plan is to have Jacen willingly sacrifice his own sister in the Great Sacrifice of the Twins.  Of course, Vergere’s motives remain shadowy….

Traitor is written in a significantly different style than most Star Wars books.  While most of them take a fully objective third person view, this one in many ways feels as if it is addressing the reader.  This can backfire, but I found it worked very well here.  Jacen’s undergoing an ordeal unlike that of any other, and with some big questions about the Force, why the Vong don’t show up within it, and the final fate of Coruscant (and perhaps, its population).  And yet, with each ordeal, Jacen is forced to accept some truths that may shake the foundation of the Jedi Knights.

Vergere’s a character I’ve wanted to learn more about once she started popping up in the Republic Era novels.  There’s a bunch of open questions, but Traitor makes serious headway into others.  The big trick is trying to figure out if she’s trying to help Jacen, or set him up for the fall.  Stover kept me guessing until the end (and to be honest, I’m still not 100 percent certain!  She plays a double game better than anyone I’ve seen in Star Wars!)

Another big advantage of Traitor is a much smaller cast list.  The last few books have had very large casts, with just about all the main characters and a good hunk of secondary characters.  But we really only have two major players on this one:  Vergere and Jacen, with two others sprinkled around.  As such, we get more of a focus on just what is happening than in most of the other books in this series.

Fans of Jacen Solo, and his journey to understand the Force better, will likely enjoy this book; while some of the things introduced might make some readers a little leery, I felt they made sense.  While the book doesn’t contribute much in the greater scheme of the New Jedi Order, it contributes bunches to Jacen and perhaps the Jedi as a whole. Traitor is well worth a read.

Categories: New Jedi Order, Star Wars | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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