Lit The JC Lit Reviews Special: SCOURGE (Spoilers)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Shepherd492, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. Shepherd492 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2011
    star 1
    I noticed that this never got a review thread on account of the move hitting about a month before publication. Let's remedy that today!

    Some rules: rate Scourge on a scale of 1 to 10, supplementing your rating with a review, if you want to (It's not necessary but is highly encouraged). However, please do not rate or review the book until after you've read the whole thing. Thanks. :)

    Go for it.;)


    Some previous review threads:

    Republic Commando: Hard Contact, by Karen Traviss
    Shatterpoint, by Matthew Stover
    The Cestus Deception, by Steven Barnes
    Medstar I: Battle Surgeons, by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
    Medstar II: Jedi Healer, by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
    Jedi Trial, by David Sherman and Dan Cragg
    Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, by Sean Stewart
    Labyrinth of Evil, by James Luceno
    Revenge of the Sith, by Matthew Stover
    Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno
    Galaxies: The Ruins of Dantooine, by Veronica Whitney-Robinson
    Tatooine Ghost, by Troy Denning
    Survivor's Quest, by Timothy Zahn
    Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream, by Aaron Allston
    Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand, by Aaron Allston
    Traitor, by Matthew Stover
    Destiny's Way, by Walter Jon Williams
    Force Heretic I: Remnant, by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
    Force Heretic II: Refugee, by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
    Force Heretic III: Reunion, by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
    The Final Prophecy, by Greg Keyes
    The Unifying Force, by James Luceno
    Dark Nest I: The Joiner King, by Troy Denning
    Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen, by Troy Denning
    Dark Nest III: The Swarm War, by Troy Denning
    Outbound Flight, by Timothy Zahn
    Republic Commando: Triple Zero, by Karen Traviss
    Legacy of the Force: Betrayal, by Aaron Allston
    Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines, by Karen Traviss
    Darth Bane: Path of Destruction,by Drew Karpyshyn
    Last edited by Shepherd492, Sep 3, 2012
    Darth-Ghost likes this.
  2. Gorefiend Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2004
    star 5
    9 of 10 Hutt Lords and I fully admit on being very biased on this novel. ^^
  3. RC-1991 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    Alright, so I'm reviewing a book that I read several months ago via my iPod whilst working a cash register, so bear with me as I regale you with a truncated stream-of-consciousness review.

    Scourge, while not without its flaws, was a fun read, and is indicative of the direction that I would love to see the EU take. Mander Zuma is quite a nice change from the Ubermensch Jedi we tend to see in these stories, without verging into the incompetent Jedi cliche. Grubb has a great talent for conveying a setting- Varl in particular was a neat location. The plot itself was entertaining, with a reasonably competent villain whose whole arc was a nice twist. Mander's companions could be a little flat at times, particularly the Bothan, but it wasn't a giant stumbling block. It was great to see a greater range of Hutt behavior than just the Jabba stereotype- while the Hutts are all looking out for their own best interests, the manner in which they do so varies quite greatly. The Endregaad sections dragged a bit, and I seem to remember being confused by the plot towards the end, but overall Scourge was worth my time.

    8/10.
  4. Robimus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    Each table was dominated by a larger spice-jelly crafted to look like Popara, Zonnos and Mika together. One happy family captured in suspended gelatin.

    This is a brilliantly fun novel from start to finish. Its got action a plenty, a mystery at its center that works fairly well and a completely original and well thought out cast.

    I enjoyed Mander Zuma a great deal. As A Jedi Master he's capable but not invincible.

    Angela Krin from the Corporate Sector Authority was another favorite or mine. I really liked her role and getting to visit the Corporate Sector again in general. This novel made me think of Daley's Han Solo books which is never a bad thing.

    I think the breakout star from this was Mika Anjiliac, though I love his father Popara as well. To me this is the definitve Hutt novel and the way Jeff Grubb handles his Hutt family is brilliant. He makes each Hutt different and very individual and that in itself lended a very legitimate feel to the story. The characters in this book, all of them, are not cardboard cut outs like we so often see in this modern age of Star Wars novels.

    My only complaint was an overuse and overly descriptive account of the Jedi Mind Trick. If that had been toned back and left more mysterious this book would have been perfect.

    9.5/10
  5. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2008
    star 5
    Jeff Grubb weaves an intricate story of the various aspects of the underworld of the galaxy, specifically focusing on the Hutts. His main character is a Jedi named Mander Zuma, an archivist of the new Jedi Order. Over the course of the novel Mander interacts with Hutts, corporate police, and worse, as he tries to unravel the mystery behind the death of his former apprentice, as well as a mysterious new drug that has been popping up recently.

    Grubb certainly uses a very diverse and interesting cast. Mander is a Jedi Master, but he is uncertain about his abilities as both a Jedi and as a teacher, since he partly blames himself for the failures of his apprentice. He also presents a unique perspective on the classic mind trick. He explores the ramifications of altering someone's mind, and the moral issues behind it. Mander travels with two spacers, Reen Irana and Eddey Be'ray, the former the sister of Mander's apprentice and the latter her sidekick/partner. Reen is a good example of an action-oriented female star who's not bulging at the muscles, but quick in the head and good with a blaster. Though, I did have to laugh when she knocked out one of the Twi'lek girls. Catfight. :D Eddey is really cool. He seems to have a flair for the theatrical, which actually makes sense for a Bothan. Keeping silent most of the time is a valuable asset, since it makes you unpredictable, as Eddey was to Mander for most of the novel, until they became more used to each other.

    Then there's the Hutts. Nothing much to say about Popara and Zonnos, since they are but pawns in the greater schemes of the mysterious Spice Lord, Mika, and therefore have slightly more than one-dimensional characterisations. It's always the unassuming characters that you need to watch out for. He's one of the most practical Hutts ever, which makes him all the more dangerous and resourceful. He's not a clear-cut villain, though. He's quite a sympathetic character, something not too common with Hutts. He can touch the Force, but this makes him different among his own kind, someone to be feared and rejected. And he's still young, an easy target as far as his power-hungry brother is concerned. Nonetheless, Mika rises to the top of his family through subterfuge and cunning. He manipulates Vago; he manipulates Angela; he manipulates Mander and most importantly the reader (on a meta level).

    Story-wise this novel delivered successfully on several levels. Grubb doesn't give a lot of setup, but it's justified considering the nature of this story as a mystery of sorts. The background info is slowly revealed over the course of the events and helps piece together the facts needed to solve the mystery behind the Tempest spice. I liked the inclusion of the Corporate Sector; Angela Krin was good as an authoritative figure. I found the subplot with Koax and the Rodian clan interesting. The action on Nar Shaddaa was cool, especially the escape from the aftermath of Popara's untimely pop, pun fully intended. :p Parella was another unusual Hutt, but for his mobility and warrior prowess. The final confrontation on Varl was pretty cool. The Hutt war droids had a bit of a creepy feel to them, being thousands of years old and still running and such. The fight between Mander and Mika was cool, but a little predictable, in a good way though, since at this point we're rooting for Mander and want him to bring this Hutt down a notch.

    I give Scourge an 8.6 out of 10 for a really fun one-off, filled with great action and intrigue.
  6. Shepherd492 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2011
    star 1
    I too read this book many months ago when it first came out. Luckily I still have my review of it.

    8.3/10 for very strong supporting characters, an excellent setting, and a fun plot. We need more books like this, though I wish the opportunity was taken to characterize a pre existing Jedi instead of creating yet another character that will no doubt be quickly forgotten.

    43.4/5= 8.68 Average
    Last edited by Shepherd492, Sep 3, 2012
  7. imiller Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2004
    star 3
    I kind of liked this book...

    The idea of a librarian Jedi is a great one, and the way it's handled is fairly decent. However, there's no real sense of relationships or personality to any of the characters - they just show up, do what the plot requires, and leave. I think Grubb has some very good ideas, but ultimately falls a bit too easily into comfortable Star Wars stereotypes - which isn't necessarily bad, but he doesn't provide much more than them.

    4 out of 10.
  8. The_Forgotten_Jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2010
    star 4
    A really fun and enjoyable read. It's the kind of SW's book I really like, an out of the way side adventure staring a minor character or no one we ever heard of. Diversity among the Hutts is great, and I like how Mander wasn't a super Jedi or a bumbling Jedi: he was just a average Jedi that was more used to operating in archives than in battlefields, something that we don't get to see much. Some of the supporting characters were a bit flat, but I always felt they were distinct enough to make me care. I hope Jeff Grubb gets to follow up on this someday. It would be cool to see Mander and crew again.

    9/10
  9. Whuffa Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 30, 2001
    star 1
    Hmm,am I the only person who thought it was really underwhelming? it just felt very flat and like it was put together quickly. loads of cool EU tie-ins and references, yes but the story never drew me in fully and i thought the characters weren't developed enough. 3/10
  10. Shepherd492 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2011
    star 1
  11. Force Smuggler Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    9/10
    Very good book. Had low expectations going in but was blown away by it. This is what Star Wars needed. An adventure not related to any of the movie characters. We even got to see Hutts and the Corporate Sector. I had some theories on what would happen but was proven wrong a couple of times. I hope we can have some more stories with those characters
  12. Tim Battershell Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 5
    Took me two tries to read it through (got seduced by CoO), but that can happen with new (to me) authors. Actually quite enjoyed it when I did get further than the first couple of chapters - thanks to the discussion on the Temp Board.

    8/10
  13. Shepherd492 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2011
    star 1
  14. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Jeez, you wait one day and the kids get restless.

    Of the non-big-three sidestory attempts from DR up to this point, this is easily the best. It's not great, but Mander is a solid enough character, one who manages to be a less-than-spectacular Jedi while avoiding the "Oh, another poor underpowered Jedi who has to overcome weakness" trap. He's not some weak student -- he's a Master -- just a librarian who's out of his element. The Hutts make for interesting supporting characters, and there are some other pretty good characters in there, though they're not amazingly developed.

    The plot hops around enjoyably -- it's not spectacular, but it's enough for a fun adventure and it manages to handle its red herrings and clues well enough to keep the mystery of the Spice Lord's identity up in the air long enough. Grubb uses a lot of fun elements, from the underworld and the Hutts to the CSA, and it's got a cool retro feel overall. The main weaknesses are that the dialogue is sometimes clunky, and Grubb doesn't always seem to have the strongest grip on the setting (though some of that ends up being interesting anyway [I like the idea of the still-few Jedi managing to have a small archives division anyway], some of it ends up being easily retconnable [the Jedi have recovered some information from the old Temple, but that doesn't mean they're using the Temple itself], and some of it ends up being interestingly retconnable [sure, the Jedi don't formally have a Council, but the Jedi at large know about the old Council and tend to colloquially use the term "Jedi Council" to refer to the senior leadership of the Order, a term that falls out of usage as Luke gets serious about establishing a formal Jedi Council and it becomes confusing]). But it's fun, it's fresh, and it's interesting.

    Solidly recommended. 8.7/10
  15. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 76.1/10 = 7.61
  16. JackG Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 15, 2011
    star 4
    I borrowed it from the library but couldn't find the effort to finish it before I had to return it, especially when I had A Dance With Dragons to read at the same time. These reviews make me regret that somewhat. Maybe I'll borrow it again in the future.
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  17. Kuag Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 11, 2009
    star 2
    Scourge was exactly what I expected it to be: the novelized version of the RPG module Tempest Feud. Grubb's strengths in the book were largely attributable to his underlying familiarity with the "adventure," seeing as how he wrote Tempest Feud as well. I don't hold anything against him and I ran TF when I used to GM a d20 campaign years ago.

    The Good

    -Rich cast of characters.
    -Solid settings.
    -Interesting and likable main character in Mander Zuma.
    -Decent plot.
    -Not another "galaxy on the verge of destruction" story.
    -Relatively fast-paced.

    The Bad

    -Relatively stiff dialogue.
    -Poor development of Zuma's companions.
    -Occasional confusing scenes, especially toward the end.

    Overall

    7.5
  18. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 83.6/11 = 7.60
  19. RC-1991 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    So far, reading and rereading ASOIAF has prevented me from finishing the first book of Wheel of Time, although Jordan's authorial tics don't help. I started both series in February.
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  20. Manisphere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2007
    star 5
    I had to struggle to get through Scourge. The mystery was fairly easy to solve. It was interesting to base the mystery around this fairly unremarkable Jedi. The problem beyond the ease with which I figured out the mystery was that Zuma himself was as boring as, well, one might imagine a librarian to be.

    There is a running theme about the issue of mind control in the Jedi traditions. That part is a little political and interesting.

    6
  21. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 89.6/12 = 7.47
  22. Darth_Foo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 24, 2003
    star 4
    This is the novel I have been waiting for once the NJO series started, a Jedi going around helping people and getting into adventures set before the YV invasion so I could continue to ignore it. Mander was a great main character because he isn't overtly powerful but smart enough to survive tough situations. The mystery was interesting and kept me guessing, that is until I accidentally opened to the wrong page and read a certain name that gave it away :(.

    I also found it interesting that one of the primary companions is a Bothan considering the Caamas Crisis wasn't that long ago (IU terms)

    Not the best SW novel by far and shouldn't be someones introduction to the novels but it is a fun one-shot. Hope for more of these in the future.

    Bonus points for the one liner: "We had a falling out" [face_rofl]

    8/10
    Last edited by Darth_Foo, Sep 22, 2012
  23. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 97.6/13 = 7.51
  24. MistrX Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2006
    star 4
    I wanted to like Scourge, I really did. It has a lot of elements that I really did enjoy. It has the type of story I want to see more in Star Wars novels, a self-contained story with new characters, different settings, sections of the galaxy that we don’t see too often, and crises that are a challenge and danger but don’t threaten to take down the entire galaxy. In some ways, it reminded me of Daley’s or even Crispin’s Han Solo trilogies with action for once far away from Coruscant and a little bit of planet hopping. There are some elements of the Knight Errant novel in that structure as well. We have all new characters and things are almost a blank slate. There’s a mystery involving a new illicit drug and a Jedi doing what I think many of us imagine the independent Jedi doing, investigating evil and taking care of it.

    Mander Zuma is that new Jedi and in my eyes he ends up being the most interesting and fleshed out character. It’s his former apprentice who reaches his end at the beginning and kicks off most of the plot. He joins a long line of “average” Jedi, not your council masters but they're still Jedi and therefore still capable, following a trend we’ve seen with such figures as Jaden Korr, Hestizo Trace, and Dass Jennir of late. He has his doubts, his lacking in areas of ability, and he has something of an arc as he comes to terms with his apprentice’s death and his own culpability in it. It’s not perfect and his transition from self-doubt to complete confidence occurs kind of suddenly but also arrives in a moment where it needs to happen.
    The supporting cast does not fare as well. Though they’re a diverse lot, from Hutts of various demeanors, to a couple of spacers, one of whom has a very personal stake in the plot and the apprentice's fate, and a strict military officer, they suffer from a lack of development and depth. The book is more about plot than character and it shows. It’s unfortunate because I really would have liked to get to know these new characters, but even the character whom it seemed had the most revealed about her and had a familial connection to the situation, by the end I still felt I hardly knew her.

    The plot itself is fairly solid and it’s fun to see the truth unravel. A few elements feel underdeveloped, such as a secondary criminal working for the main villain and a family vendetta that does little more than add the occasional dangerous encounter, but these also serve as something of a red herring for what’s really going on.
    Mechanically, the book has a few problems as well. The dialogue is often stilted and hard for me to hear a person saying seriously in my head. Calling back to our good friend Excellence, one of the characters is repeatedly referred to in the narration and sometimes the dialogue by her full name. That just seemed unnatural to me.
    Overall, fairly solid and the type of story I’d love to see more often. I’d even welcome the characters back for further adventures. The execution was lacking, though, and what could have been a great book was merely adequate. 6/10
  25. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 103.6/14 = 7.40