The 7th and latest volume of the Fate of the Jedi saga, Conviction, is here. This time it’s Aaron Allston at the helm and this time…it’s more of the same. First off let me start by saying that whoever wrote the back copy for this book should be summarily fired. I’ve never read a description that tries its hardest to spoil everything that happens in the novel and is, in many regards, patently misleading. Seriously, absolutely terrible job on that part. Furthermore, I’m sure I’ve said it before, that the publishing schedule is all sorts of bizarre for this series. When the final volume is published in April of 2012 this series will have been running for just under three years. For comparison sake Jim Butcher has been known to release a new book every 6 months, by himself. Apparently three authors writing a single series eight books long requires 3 years of writing. If I’m not mistaken I do believe that Allston has had some health issues over this time but I still found that the stop and start publishing schedule is a serious detriment to the series (books 1 to 3 were released every other month followed by a six-month break then two more books every other month then another 6 month break, from there things are a bit more irregular). While I’ve certainly enjoyed aspects of the series so far what is even more distressing is lack of much progress made in resolving any of these storylines. The broad focus on the different aspects of the series has stalled developments to a point where I suspect that this was initially multiple series that have been condensed into a single narrative. If you’ve read any of the other volumes in this series the structure and themes of this book might feel familiar.
The Jedi and Daala circle each other with their teeth bared. Luke, Ben, and Vistara are hot on the trail of Aboleth who, surprise surprise, is busy preparing another ambush(es). Amelia Solo is as precious and adorable as ever. Yes, that’s a bit pithy but it is the same combination of things we’ve seen for the last couple of novels at least. There is no further exploration as to what Aboleth is, nor is her relationship to the scattered bits of ancient technology still even mentioned. Daala is still increasingly irrational and paranoid. The quest to determine what drove Jacen Solo to the Dark Side is abandoned and Force Teleportation is still resoundingly ignored. Despite being “cured” in the previous volume there are still the rather annoying deus ex machina of the mad Jedi running around. The more I’ve listened to this series the more I find the motivations, or at leas the actions, of either side in the Jedi/Daala conflict to be a bit bizarre. If both popular and senate approval of Daala’s actions was so low there has to have been some sort of official action that could have been taken rather than a coup. The Jedi show of force seems to me to play right into Daala’s fears.
Griefing asside I did enjoy Conviction. I though Allston did a wonderful job in playing up Vistara’s growing doubts about her own beliefs and the comparison of her own upbringing to that of Ben was a nice touch. I was particularly fond of Vistara’s letters to her “fantasy dad” and it seemed to me a very teenage response to her emotional state. I also rather liked seeing the a bit of the tactical/calculating side of Luke and his minor confrontation with Abeloth this time out did offer a fair amount of the emotional closure for his character. Han, also gets a nice moment in the sun in the novel even managing to surprise his wife a bit. In the end Conviction was certainly an entertaining entry into the Fate of the Jedi series that actually offers some progress in many of the main plot points, even if it is less progress than I’d like. Marc Thompson is, as usual, top notch and the sound effects and music straight from LucasFilm once again create a wonderful immersive experience. Conviction is not an improvement over the previous volume in The Fate of Jedi Saga but it hopefully marks a turning point for some actual developments in terms of plot; especially given the fact there are only two more volumes left in the series.