A lot of my criticisms of the first book hold strong here, also. For an ancient timeframe, we’re sure seeing some standard tech – at one point, we see jet packs that are virtually the same as that of Jango Fett, for instance. There’s next to no sense of temporal space in this story, which is a shame, as one of the main selling points, it seems, was the fact that this story takes place in the ancient past of the Jedi.
A small point, too, is the Noghri battle-master character, Tave. I must admit, whenever I see a Noghri prior to Heir to the Empire (that isn’t a member of the Imperial death clans), I just cringe. One issue of the Republic storyline (#68: Armor) in particular really grates on me. The reason being, Noghri are supposed to be something of a backwater race before the Clone Wars, unheard of in galactic society. So I was unimpressed there. I was also unimpressed at how he’s shown as being the same height as the others, when Noghri are supposedly much smaller. Hm.
But, you know, if you put these things aside, this is actually a pretty good story. While it seems to labour under exposition at times, it nevertheless feels much more action-packed than the last book, which really suffered from its own exposition.
The story contains the meeting of the mad Je’daii Daegan Lok – the prisoner seen in the first arc – with Xesh, the imprisoned Force Hound who was sent to Bogan in the previous book. Daegan Lok had a vision of an invasion of people wielding laser swords, and when Xesh appears and recognises them as Forcesabers, Lok is determined to forge his own and lead the Je’daii to victory. There are some really interesting themes coming out of this, and I particularly liked the way the story plays around with the perception of Lok as mad.
As it turns out, another Je’daii Ranger, Hawk Ryo, shared that vision with Daegan Lok, but he renounced it and returned to the Je’daii fold. We get to explore the system a bit more, as Hawk leads a band of Je’daii in an attempt to recover the fugitive prisoners. On Tython, however, there is discord as the Masters begin to consider the possibility that Daegan Lok may have been right, after all. By the end of the story, they’re forced to admit they were wrong, and begin to muster for war!
We also see more of the Force Hound Trill, above. The Force Hounds were an interesting idea from the last story, and while I’m not sure I really wanted to know more about them, we get it here anyway, and it is pretty interesting. Turns out to be a lot of subterfuge and intrigue going on in the Rakata camp, which I actually got a bit confused by at first, I think because we haven’t really seen all that much of the Rakata so far.
Above all, however, I suppose I most appreciated the way this story ties in quite wonderfully with previous Star Wars comics. The biggest, for me, was the return of the Kwa and the Infinity Gates. Remember Infinity’s End, from 2000? Quinlan Vos, still recovering from his flirtation with the Dark Side in Twilight is sent to Dathomir and all sorts of nonsense starts happening around the Star Chambers and such? Well, the story is taken up again here, and merged into the birth of the Rataka and the Infinite Empire. While I didn’t really care for that story, it was nonetheless nice to see these odd bits of information taken up every so often, helping to keep it all one big story!
So yeah, a better story than the first, though still not without problems. It serves as a nice segue into the third arc, however, with the promise of war coming to the Tython system…