The Fate of the Jedi series has ostensibly been a trilogy drawn out over nine books. Lacking forward momentum, and somewhat unfocused it never managed to unite all of its cohesive parts into a unified whole. At least not until the final volume Apocalypse. This isn’t quite enough to save this series and doesn’t make up for the haphazard mess the series was but at least makes for an exciting tale in its own right.
Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Vortex
Troy Denning, read by Marc Thompson
Random House Audio (Lucasbooks/Del Rey), 2010
So whoever it is at Lucasbooks/Del Rey that decided it would be a great idea to mingle a little bit of cosmic and Lovecraftian horror into the Star Wars Universe (or horror in general given Death Troopers and the forthcoming Red Harvest) deserves some sort of award. I for one think it is a brilliant combination. That adherents to the Force pale in comparison to entities too horrible to fully comprehend adds a wonderful new flavor to the tried and true space adventure that defines Star Wars. While there is a real strong reaction amongst fans to this series (most reactions fall either towards love or hate with rarely anything in between) I will say that it decidedly different from previous arcs of the Star Wars Expanded Universe but that is most definitely a good thing. Talking about Vortex will necessitate some spoilers from previous volumes and at least one rather large twist from this volume. So, fair warning….
So the latest Star War series, Fate of the Jedi, features the following: explorations into the mysteries of the force, courtroom drama, political drama, romance, teenage infatuation, horrible abomination from beyond space and time, an indictment of slavery, family drama, and internal Jedi squabbles. The largest problem of this series has been rationalizing all of those disparate thematic elements into any kind of cohesive whole and it a problem that Vortex moves towards fixing; though it doesn’t quite get there. Of course as in past volumes, perhaps more so than before, each of these elements are fascinating in their own right.
Star Wars (FotJ): Abyss
Troy Denning, read by Marc Thompson
Random House Audio, 2009
I’m am really enjoying the entire Fate of the Jedi series perhaps even more then I enjoyed those first Star Wars I read way back in the 8th grade. I don’t know if 8th grade me would agree. He would likely balk at the idea of 70 year-old Han Solo raising his grand-daughter or a slightly younger Luke Skywalker on a state-enforced (i.e. exile) father/son road trip through the galaxy; I mean what kid wants to read about old people? Well, 26 year-old me is finding the more tangible weight of the Skywalker and Solo clans’ personal and political histories/legacies to provide a surprisingly enjoyable aspect of Star Wars fiction that I’m not certain was always present in the past.
Further more Fate of Jedi seems more willing to discuss the dichotomy and relationship between force sensitive individuals and the force blind; especially with how the latter perceive the former. The best part is that both sides manage to have valid points: the Jedi’s (especially the Solos/Skywalkers) constant and blatant subversion of law for their own needs is not necessarily congruent with the ideals they espouse while, at the same time, Daala’s opinions of the Sith-are-just-evil-Jedi-and-we-need-to-control-the-Jedi mentality is obviously wrong. Both sides are obstinate and seem unwilling to communicate in a meaningful way, a fact compounded by the Force-based psychosis that is plaguing the Jedi order and lending credence to Daala’s claims of the “Jedi Menace.” For the reader actions from both sides, with the growing threat slowly being uncovered by Luke and Ben Skywalker, casting the whole situation as an giant train wreck occurring in slow motion.
Of course Abyss expounds on that threat in two ways that further sold me on this series:
1.) It has tentacles.
2.) It is referred to as an Old One.
Lovecraft, welcome to a galaxy far far away….