Let’s get this out here now: the novel has almost exactly the same failings as the comic series, insofar as it categorically does not feel like a story from the ancient past of the Jedi. Rather, this book actually feels like it would be more at home in the Clone Wars era. Some of the scenes around the middle of the book, for instance, strongly recalled that specific conflict, for me. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad story, don’t get me wrong. The fact that it has the same failings as the comic lead me to believe this is a design failing of the era rather than a storytelling failing from the author. But anyway.
The book is chronologically the first to take place in the Star Wars (legends) universe, though was one of the last to be published before the story group decided it didn’t really happen. It follows the Je’daii Ranger Lanoree Brock on a mission to stop a madcap scheme that could spell doom for the entire Tython system. Adding to the pressure, the man at the head of said scheme is her brother Dalien, who has long been believed dead.
The story is actually really nicely told. It has a blend of past- and present-tense storytelling, with the odd setup of having the past tense for “now” and the present tense for Lanoree’s dreams and remembrances. A bit disorientating at first (as well as slightly annoying), it eventually settled into a really nice rhythm, and makes this one of the best pieces of writing to emerge from the universe.
There are some really nice sequences here, and we get to see a bit more of the system than we did in any of the comics. While it continually annoyed me to see how technological the galaxy was over 25000 years before the classic trilogy, if you concentrate on the story being told rather than the timeline conceit, you will no doubt enjoy it a lot more. As I said already, the sequence on Nox, where a manufacturing city sees an orbital bombardment, could have been lifted right out of the Clone Wars, with a Jedi attack on a Separatist factory world.
In fact, to my mind there are only two things that distinguish this era from others in the GFFA: Je’daii/Jedi use metal swords, and droids can’t speak (though some stutter, or something). But I’ve already whined about this in my first blog on the comics.
Towards the end of the novel, we begin to investigate the possibility of a Gree hypergate on Tython, and delve into the ruins of the Old City. The Gree are a species from the West End Games days of Star Wars, with some info on the Gree Enclave being published back in Adventure Journal #8 (from 1995). Subsequent sources have put the Gree prior to the Rakata in terms of galactic dominance, so it was nice to see some more of that joining-up. While we’re touring the ruins of the Old City, I had a really strong Lovecraftian vibe from the whole place, as Lebbon describes massive staircases much like we see in Call of Cthulhu, though the actual trek into the ruins was more reminiscent of the Yithian city from The Shadow Out of Time. This is something that I really enjoyed!
It’s a really good book, anyway, and one that I’m really glad that I’ve read. I’m just not too sure that I could call it an ancient tale of the Star Wars past…