Am I worried about what’s happening to us? Sure. this war is bringing out all that’s selfish and wicked in the New Republic, corrupting the galaxy star by star. I see it pulling one Jedi after another to the dark side, making us fight to win instead of protect. But I can’t push others down my path. Everyone needs to choose for themselves.
-Jacen Solo, Jedi Knight
For this book, I feel the need to paraphrase from another cult movie: It’s always darkest before it gets really dark.
For those who haven’t been following, here’s the situation: the New Republic has been dealing with an invasion by the Yuuzhan Vong; they’ve temporarily stalled their drive towards the Core Worlds in order to let the Republic turn against itself, offering not to conquer the worlds of Republic if they turned over all of the Jedi Knights, especially Jacen Solo, who had earned himself a place in the Warmaster’s “heart”; mainly because he’d just love to sacrifice the Jedi to his gods.
The Jedi have had a hard time of it as a result. While the Jedi are slowly beginning to take some action, it’s still a holding action more than anything else. But now, they are being forced to action. The Vong have unleashed a strange creature upon them, capable of hunting the Jedi through the Force, and certainly capable of killing lone Jedi-and the fear is that they will be released in a widespread manner. This is the opening of Star By Star, the latest hardcover in the New Jedi Order.
When the New Jedi Order began, it was stressed that the hardcovers would cover major events in the continuing saga of our heroes. Well, believe me-this one certainly fits that description. And at slightly over 600 pages, it comes in as the most densely packed Star Wars novel released to date (feel free to correct me…I’ve been wrong before). I was slightly skeptical of this book; followers of my site will recall that I absolutely trashed the last book by Denning that I’d read (The Summoning). Well, now I know why it was so bad-because his creative juices were going full steam ahead on this book!
The Vong are now hitting the Jedi on a couple of different fronts-first, the new creature unleashed upon the Jedi is hurting morale-not to mention cutting down the supply of Jedi Knights. Another announcement from the Vong indicates that they are prepared to destroy refugee ships unless the Jedi surrender themselves. It doesn’t require much imagination to realize that the Jedi aren’t going to stand for it-regardless of their internal dissension. While Luke Skywalker starts the wheels turning to carry the war to the Yuuzhan Vong, as he consolidates the various factions of Jedi, a daring plan to infiltrate the source of the Jedi-killing creatures is begun. This is of great concern to Han and Leia, because the effort is being led by their youngest, Anakin, who is also joined by both of his siblings.
Lest one believe the Vong are just sitting there, though, they are also continuing to maneuver both politically and militarily. There’s enough political action going on that one almost starts to feel sorry for Borsk Fey’lya, the Chief of State. Of course, longtime readers will be able to squash that feeling fairly quickly….
The book does a fairly good job on covering the rather large number of subplots that have been rolling around for the last year or so. Han and Leia are finally beginning to become comfortable with each other again; Luke and Mara are not only beginning to take action, but are also learning how to be parents (one of the best quotes in the book comes from Mara late in the book; I almost used the quote, but I felt it might spoil some things-you’ll know it when you read it!). Lando Calrissian shows up once more, with a rather…interesting…set of tools to use against the Vong invasion. The droids are still there, too, although they really don’t get all that much time in this book. You’d think that such a large book would have a bit more room for them….
Star By Star is a big book, with a price tag to match; but I think it was definitely worth the money. By the end of this book, enough will have happened that the events of Vector Prime will look like a small burp in the storyline. Take that as a warning. And remember the first sentence in this review. And keep in mind that there’s a very, very good reason why the next book (probably paperback, although I haven’t really checked) is called Dark Journey.