Lit A Cynical Walk Through the NJO

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Cynical_Ben, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. Revanfan1 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2013
    star 5
    [face_laugh]

    Seems that way, dunnit?

    I liked Miko, too, to the point where one of my recent KOTOR 2 characters was named in his honor: Jace Reglia. Anyone who isn't a hardcore Star Wars fan would probably say "who-ko?" but to me, he was a pretty essential character; Danni wouldn't have escaped without him, that's for sure. I'm not as big a fan of Wurth Skidder, especially as annoying as he came off in Vector Prime (I loved when Leia told him off), but his death was pretty sad, too. But of the three "generic followers of Kyp Durron" I'd have to say Ganner Rhysode is my favorite, followed by Miko. Ganner is just awesome. From blue and black robes to yellow lightsaber to that which happens in Traitor, Ganner just doesn't quit.
  2. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2013
    star 4
    Ganner grows as a character. Miko never gets a chance, and I haven't seen Wurth grow yet, just get more insulting and arrogant. Ganner eats the humble pie the Vong set out for him and is willing to admit that the Jedi aren't as infallible as Kyp's cabal likes to think they are. It's an important lesson, one that was set up for the audience in TPM but that the New Jedi Order had to learn for itself as well.

    And, that's interesting info about Siege. I don't know if there's necessarily enough material to bring these out to a trilogy, though, it would probably have dragged quite a bit in the middle, where Ruin begins. I think they work fine as a duology, honestly. I just wish Stackpole had given Ruin another once-over and trimmed a bit more of the extraneous material, or fleshed it out somehow. It just... sits there, not doing anything, it annoys me.
    Revanfan1 likes this.
  3. Shadow Trooper Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 2013
    star 4
    But than you would have a short story instead of a 21 book series. That's why Kyle was conspicuously absent for NJO except that lame cameo in TUF.
  4. Revanfan1 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2013
    star 5
    Lame cameo? Pssh. Kyle was secretly the one who mind-influenced Nas Choka into surrendering after Shimrra's death. Forget that Vong can't be affected by the Force. Kyle did it!
  5. HWK-290 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 29, 2013
    star 2
    What? No. Want to know why he didn't show up on Zonama after Sekot grounded her ships?

    He'd already parked his in Nas Choka's flagship. As he walked to the command bridge, warriors fell to their knees before him and cried out, "Yun-Yammka!"

    And so the war ended.
  6. Shadow Trooper Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 2013
    star 4
    If only he had done this in Vector Prime. That way Chewbacca and Anakin would still be alive.:_|
  7. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    I think the Shedao Shai duel was another Gary Stu moment for Corran Horn, in the sense that it gave the character something to brood over despite a complete lack of failure on his part. It's the Batman Begans "why do we fall?" without actually falling. Corran's metaphorical whipping boy fell for him so he could feel bad about it. I never really liked Corran Horn, but the rampant pet characterism that has ensued since makes me nostalgic for Stackpole's writing.

    Also I think Shedao Shai is a really cool name
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Aug 27, 2013
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  8. Gamiel Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2012
    star 5
    Do we get an explanation to why Borsk try to weekend one of the Republics best assets? After all he is not supposed to be stupid
  9. Gamiel Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2012
    star 5
    No time, he was doing a team up with Ace Rimmer (what a guy[face_love]) saving the multiverse
  10. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2013
    star 4
    Political reasons. He's out to strengthen his position among the less-than-sensible senators who harbor anti-Jedi sentiment, and Borsk tries to appease them without directly making an enemy out of the Jedi. He's a two-faced Bothan whose motivation makes no other sense than for political gain, that's really it. Now, the senators, on the other hand, are even less dimensional.
  11. Gamiel Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2012
    star 5
    OK, that is at least a reason, not a good one, but a reason. Maybe I have to high thoughts about Borsk but I always saw him as a bit more smart than that
    Also have the anti-jedi senators any good reason for their dislike?
  12. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2013
    star 4
    Luke says it in Vector Prime, Borsk does what he thinks best for Borsk. To be fair, he's trying to balance the Jedi, the senators, the public and his own pride, tough enough in peace time, as a threat of unimaginable magnitude is looming in the Outer Rim.

    The anti-Jedi senators vary. Some are tied to smugglers, some hate the Jedi for political reasons, and others just follow along to try and gain favor from elsewhere. Really, at the point I am, none of them have been fleshed out very well, they've only had one-scene cameos in advisory scenes and senate debates. I imagine that latter books will flesh things out a bit more, but I'm not there yet.
  13. Darth_Garak Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2005
    star 4
    I'd say that the New Republic Senate is made out to be very small minded and petty and sadly that's not even unrealistic. I can just take a look at the politicians in my country and ... well, let's just say that these guys are flying us into the ground. And all they seem to care about is who's at the helm. Sigh.

    I also wonder how this would have looked like if it was a trilogy, do we know which plots would have ended up in which books? Also, while the Han scene in this book does nothing but remind us that Han is still grieving over Chewie's death, I'm fine with that. A lot of authors would just skip the broken down state or made it trivial. Here we see that there is no quick healing from this sort of loss and that it can be ugly.
  14. FTeik Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2000
    star 4
    Because to him they aren't an asset, but more like vigilante troublemakers. One of the important points of then NJO is, that the Jedi themselves aren't certain, what their role or how their relationship with the NR should be. Only in Destiny's Way, almost three years into the war we get something of a solution and that one is quickly abandoned with DNT and LOTJ and we are back to square one.
    Destiny's Way is remarkable in that way, because we have one of the Councilors - Fyor Rodan - explains it to Luke Skywalker. Interestingly the Grand Master has recieved a similar dressing down from Mon Mothma years before in Ambush at Corellia, but obviously he learned nothing from it.
  15. Gamiel Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2012
    star 5
    But is not the Republics survival rather high up on the best-for-Borsk-list?

    But what about the pro-jedi senators and groups? It feels like they would be just as many and as strong as the anti-jedi ones, or am I dreaming of more optimistic times?
    Jedi Ben likes this.
  16. Gorefiend Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2004
    star 5
    Given his pretty epic scenes in Star by Star it certainly is, though granted some of it might have been him making sure no one can ever badmouth him afterwards.
    Last edited by Gorefiend, Aug 28, 2013
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  17. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2013
    star 4
    The thing is, Borsk doesn't see the Jedi as being essential to the New Republic's survival, he sees them as an annoyance that serve more to fraction his political base. Which is partially true, the Jedi are proving very divisive among his councilors, but I have a hard time believing that any of the senators who oppose the Jedi fully represent the feelings of their constituents when they do so.

    The few pro-Jedi groups that are mentioned are only seen at the beginning of Vector Prime and aren't present at all in either Dark Tide book. The senator from Kashyyyk and Cal Omas are both mentioned as being pro-Jedi.

    The problem with the senate scenes in this series so far is that it reduces the focus down to the power players, those in Borsk's council, and no others. The New Republic senate probably represents thousands of worlds at this point, and we only get to see the opinions of a vocal minority. It makes things sound worse than they are. The problem is compounded in that the vocal minority represent historically significant worlds, Dac, Sullust and the like, all of which Borsk would probably rather not tick off. He humors them and plays along to try and keep them from splintering their support away from him.
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  18. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    re: Ithor

    Yeah, I never got why more wasn't made of its' destruction at the hands of the Vong.

    re: The Empire

    I love the whole sequence with an Interdictor preventing the worldship from escaping, while 12 Imperial Star Destroyers just blast the crap out of it! Don't think we saw that technique used again either.
  19. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    I had never seen Horn as a Gary Stu until Ithor, and then I got it. We were essentially told that we were supposed to feel pity because awwww, poor Corran, taking the blame for the Vong poisoning of Ithor after he was so brave against Shedao Shai and won the duel.

    Eh, no. I actually like Corran but I'll decide how I feel about that whole scenario, thanks. And how I feel is, "Corran, get off the damn pity pot. It's not all about you and there's a war on."

    @Darth_Garak : I agree about Han. I thought the books covered exactly how devastating his grief was and managed to do so without being all 19th-century-romance-novel melodramatic about it.
    Revanfan1 likes this.
  20. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2013
    star 4
    I loved interacting with the Ithorians in places like KotoR II, they reminded me of 1960's hippies, but because they're connected to the Force, they don't come off as too heavy-handed or over the top. I remember reading about Ithor in Tales from The Mos Eisley Cantina, about how Mowma Nadon saved their planet from destruction by becoming a collaborator, and was exiled. It was a peaceful world, one of the few in Star Wars that wasn't created as a direct parallel of an existing Earth country or culture. Honestly, I felt just as angry about the world being destroyed as I did about Chewie's death, or Miko's.

    That technique is something I always imagined the Empire using, but I don't think they ever do on that kind of scale. The Legacy of Torment is explicitly stated to mass as much as an SSD, and they utterly demolish it with a concentrated barrage from the entire remaining joint NR and Remnant fleet after an Interdictor managed to catch it off-guard. And I love how the battle shows that fixed tactics simply won't work against the Vong. Battles like this one show that the old fixed ways of battle, with by the book tactics, simply won't work. The Vong learn and adapt too quickly for any tactic to work for more than a battle or two. Kre'fey isn't Thrawn, but he has one of Thrawn's best traits: his willingness to adapt and ability to keep thinking, to try to keep one step ahead of his opponents.
  21. Revanfan1 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2013
    star 5
    I can understand he was upset about being blamed for it–what I don't get is pouting about it and running away from the galaxy. Corran never seemed the pouty type to me; that was unnecessary. But to be fair, he was much better written in everything before he started pouting, and especially in Keyes' books after.
    anakinfansince1983 likes this.
  22. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2013
    star 4
    Hero’s Trial was one of two books in the NJO that I’ve read before, as I noted, and was the only NJO book I owned until recently. As such, it was a quick read, since I knew most of the character and plot events already. As with the Dark Tide books, I’ll be posing my thoughts on the book as a whole here. This is going to be long, so be warned.

    First: I said it in my Darth Plagueis review and I’ll say it again here: James Luceno is the master of novel-length continuity. I had no idea this was his first novel, either, it certainly isn’t obvious on the page. Whereas Plagueis was a terrifically crafted prequel-era assembly of existing stories and characters (something I’ve seen people here say is a bad thing, which mystifies me) this novel does a lot of the same. The difference is, this novel takes place in an era that isn’t as defined as the prequel era, or wasn’t at the time of writing, so Luceno is plotting a course through mostly uncharted territory, aside from what Salvatore and Stackpole put together and what they had determined through story meetings and such.

    This doesn’t mean that there aren’t references here. On the contrary, the callbacks to other books, WEG material and comics, even the Holiday Special, fly thick and fast. Especially other books. I read up on the Wook about how much work Luceno put into what was originally supposed to only be a single paperback book rather than a duology: creating the Ryn as a species, reading the Han Solo-centered Bantam books and determining that he could do better, using his own friendship with Brian Daley as inspiration for the sorrow Han goes through with the loss of a dear and precious friend. I recommend the Wook article about the story, someone put a lot of work into it.

    But I’m here to review the book, not to give a history lesson.

    Hero’s Trial is a Han book, utterly and completely, yet still stands apart from the older Han books, both Crispin’s trilogy and the Corporate Sector books, in that it deigns to give Han a serious character arc. As with Vector Prime before it, and in the few scenes in the Dark Tide books where Han is present, his pain and sense of agonizing sorrow bleed off the page to a degree that’s almost tangible. Luceno’s own experience definitely shows, his descriptions of Han’s mood and tone are uncompromising and unflinchingly honest. Han pushes his friends and family away, sometimes literally, in an attempt to deal with his grief in his own way. He can’t just mourn and move on; Han is a loner by nature, and his relationship with Chewie was so close and deep, it took a vulnerable and seldom-seen part of him away when the wookiee died.

    That’s the goal of this book, to illustrate Han’s pain and to show the healing process as it begins. It doesn’t detail it, it doesn’t go to trite lengths to show exactly what it takes to recover from the death of a friend. And, as fun as a character like Droma is, he’s not meant to be a replacement. Because no one, not the Ryn, not Malla, not Lowie, not even Leia, can replace Chewie. And they’d be foolish to try. Chewie can’t be replaced, but that’s not the healing that this book points Han toward. It points him toward the future, forces him to stop focusing on the past and take him on a mission against the Yuuzhan Vong that only he, with his trademark mixture of luck, skill and charm, could accomplish. To show Han that, even without Chewie, he’s still a whole person, he can still live life without having to browbeat himself.

    Han begins to see that, even without Chewie, he’s still Han Solo.

    Luceno caught flack for separating Han and Leia through the course of the story aside from one or two intersections, where Han treats her coldly and even physically pushes her away. I don’t mind. In fact I think that, above all else, it goes to show how imperfect a man Han Solo really is. He’s so wrapped up in his own grief that Leia, the woman he loves above all others in the vast galaxy, the woman he married and fathered three children with, is nothing but an obstacle to his own efforts to resolving his troubles on his own. It makes Han human.

    The references to past events in Han’s life are thick and fast around them, befitting the story for the most part, but also being a little self-indulgent in places. Things like running into Bossk on the Jubilee Wheel, meeting characters like Roa and Boss Bunji again after not seeing them or having them mentioned since their initial appearances, references to the characters and events of the Crispen books and The Han Solo Adventures (written by Brian Daley), those are all well and good. The problem lies in the fact that if you haven’t read those books, these characters mean nothing to you aside from Bossk’s appearance. I’ll admit, I had no idea who most of these people were when I first read this book, and it reduced the emotional impact a bit. I felt nothing when Roa got taken by the Vong, because he was just a name and someone I was told was an old friend of Han’s.

    But this book isn’t all references, though. Pioneering the existence of the Ryn is an interesting thing. I caught on to the fact that they were basically gypsies IN SPACE before I even finished the book this time around. They’re an odd race, fleshed out from two different sources: hearsay and from the Ryn themselves. They’re viewed with suspicion and superstition in most places, but they’re no more thieves or dark magicians than any other race is. If it weren’t for the fact that Luceno makes it explicit that Ryn are rare, to the point where Han’s never seen one before, I wouldn’t mind seeing them more often. They’d be a great race to role play.

    Droma is a pretty decent character here, as well, he’s smarmy and sarcastic, but still clever and, at times, almost unnaturally wise. He trades barbs with Han at one turn and is left speechless by his antics at another. I look forward to reading more about him in the next book.

    Something that is easily lost in this book’s focus on Han is the fact that it’s in this book we’re introduced to the Yuuzhan Vong priest caste, reintroduced to Nom Anor after his disappearance at the end of Vector Prime, witness the internal politics and strife between the castes that are hinted at in Dark Tide, and are introduced to Darth Chicken herself, Vergere. Luceno is canon-welding within the very series he’s writing for, and we’re only four books into the series at this point.

    Vergere is something I’ll talk more about later, I’m sure, but, I have to mention it here: her initial description does not at all match the bipedal bird she’s become in most illustrations. Yes, she has feathers and knees that bend backward, and her movement is often described as bird-like, but let me paraphrase the relevant passage. Page 33, fourth paragraph. She’s spotted thanks to the down on her body, with a feathered ridge on the back of her head, has visible ears and antennae, a slightly concave face with slanted eyes, a wide mouth and whiskers. Where in that description did every illustrator and later author get the idea that she’s suddenly a 1.5 meter tall bird with a beehive made of gigantic feathers?

    We also see, for the first time, that Nom Anor’s machinations are still at work in the galaxy at large. The Peace Brigade is seen here, bumbling their way through trying to appease the Vong via outright treason against, well, the entire civilization of the galaxy. We’re also introduced to Viqi Shesh, who I know will be important later on, there’s too much of her here for it not to be. And the meeting of the Peace Brigade mooks with the collaborator on Kuat, Shesh’s constabulary, one of the only POV scenes that doesn’t follow either the Vong or Han, can’t be a coincidence.

    Before I wrap on this book, I want to touch on one thing that Luceno did very right here: Mara. She’s only in two, maybe three scenes in this book, but she still comes off better here than she did in all of the three previous books. She doesn’t whine about wanting to have children, people don’t go on and on about how great she is, and the scenes between her and Luke come off with more potency and emotion than they did in any of their other scenes thus far. The scene where Vergere’s tears heal Mara, even if it is temporarily, has more punch to it than any of the discussions of her condition in Vector Prime. Cheers, James, much appreciated.

    Overall, I enjoys this book, especially since this me re-reading it with more of the overall knowledge of the series now. I remember thinking this book was okay on the initial read, and my opinion is definitely better now. It’s right about on Onslaught’s level, and I enjoyed it more than VP or Ruin. So far, so good. Next time, we tackle part two, Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse!
    Rew likes this.
  23. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    You said the magic word.
    [IMG]
    Vergere has antennae and whiskers in this picture.

    The way Stover describes Vergere, I saw her being roughly Yoda's size but frequently reclining in a quadrupedal position. Basically the Chesire Cat!
    [IMG]
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  24. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2013
    star 4
    Well, yeah, she's got the whiskers and the antennae, but her face is supposed to be concave not convex. Per the book, her head is elongated and disproportionate, but her face is bent inward, not curved outward. Where did the beak come from? Even the Wook says the Fosh have convex faces, when the book clearly says concave. :mad:
  25. AusStig Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 3, 2010
    star 4
    Did some one say controversy! (floats in)


    Also retcons :mad: