Lit The JC Lit Reviews Special: THE OLD REPUBLIC: FATAL ALLIANCE (Spoilers)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Havac, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 10
    "We do not recognize your authority!"

    I highly recommend this book- the advanced tech of the Hex droids aside, this was a solid SW novel from start to finish, that just packs a whole lot of stuff into a short span of time. You feel like you've read 2 or 3 novels worth of stuff by time you've finished the book (seriously, there's 50 chapters, and by time you get to only chapters 16-18, you already feel like you're reading the fulfilling climax to a SW novel, and it doesn't feel rushed or short or anything). And it never feels like a video game tie-in, either- just a new era being aggressively introduced.

    A ton of insane action from multi-faction melees to multi-front joint planetary/orbital assaults.

    Some great characters- Ula, in particular, is easily one of the most interesting EU characters to be introduced in a long time. Jet and Clunker were good, too.

    And the Hexes, despite their perhaps-too-advanced-for-any-SW-era tech, were an inventive, dangerous-feeling threat that, at times, come across very creepy.

    Only real shortcoming is maybe that the biological element of the Hexes wasn't that well explained as to it's purpose (other than their function within the story's structure), so it comes across as a bit random.

    9.8/10
  2. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 101.8/15 = 6.79
  3. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2008
    star 5
    Fatal Alliance is a fun novel. It had a strong plot, starting out as a sort of mystery contest to nab this strange prize before anyone else, and then turning into a race against time to stop a large menace in the form of some really strange droids. I don't really remember much from the Force Heretic trilogy, but I remember TFU well enough, and I can safely say that this book is a big improvement. Williams' TFU book suffered slightly since it was a direct adaptation of the game and read like the game too much. Fatal Alliance isn't a straight adaptation, taking place sometime before The Old Republic and after the Threat of Peace comics, so i assume he had some more liberties this time around with the story and prose.

    Being based off an MMO I was fully expecting a diverse cast, and I really like that aspect of the cast, since it makes certain things unpredictable. Shigar was a tad generic at first, but that was made better through his relationship with Larin, who helped him along the way of his hero's journey. I really liked Eldon Ax's development from the blindly loyal sith to the more sure of herself sit who isn't afraid to bend some of the dark council's rules, not unlike Teneb Kel. I would have though her to be a complete idiot if she didn't take down Chratis. Satele served her role pretty well, reminding me of Grand Master Luke at times and Yoda at other times. Ula was definitely one of the more interesting characters in this book. He is the one who you never know just where his loyalties lie. Stryver and Nebula were pretty obviously working in their own interests and merely manipulating the rest of the cast, but Ula actually had power that everyone could see.

    There wasn't anything really wrong with this novel per se, but it doesn't really stand out like Shadows of Mindor or Crosscurrent. The action scenes were really well written and even the politics were interesting. This really felt unlike any other era we've seen so far. The Sith here didn't feel like other groups of Sith like the Brotherhood of Darkness or Krayt's Sith. I'm a bit unsure how I feel about Ula not being uncovered, but then again Drew Karpyshyn is writing a TOR novel, and it may feature some characters from here if we're really lucky.

    I give this an 8.9 out of 10 for a solid read with few faults (I'm looking at you, one-sunned Tatooine *shakes fist*). Even though it's a different author I'm looking forward to Deceived for more fun in this quickly expanding era.

    Also a quick shootout to the Star Wars books Facebook page for giving away a limited amount of copies of books. It's really cool that they gave away autographed copies of some books like this one from CV. :)
  4. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 110.7/16 = 6.92
  5. Liliedhe Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 22, 2009
    star 3
    It is clearly difficult to write a book for a game that nobody has played yet, especially since it is not supposed to be a novelization. Fatal Alliance performs rather admirably. Even though you get the game connections (like the main characters conform to the characters classes of the game) and the book suffers somewhat for them, it?s still a nice story.

    The main plot was very surprising for me. I read the summary on the inside flap and thought ?ancient artefact of doom #573933? *yaaaawn*. And then it wasn?t. And it wasn?t even intended to be a weapon, not in the sense you think. In fact, the main story was surprisingly deep, with this obsessive mother completely unable to come to term with the loss of her child and the incredibly extreme measures she went to over it.

    ?We do not recognize your authority.?

    Aside from this very nightmarish background to the story, the characterization wasn?t so good ? there were too many main characters, they had to little to do and the plot armor was a little bit egregious. To basically have them all face certain death x-times and then survive... Well, in a game novelization, this happens because game plots only consist of this. Here, it shouldn?t have been so prominent. The most interesting character was Larin, at least for me. She had a character arc, and a clearly defined personality. Shigar was a lot more cliché and therefore stayed rather pale, so did Eldon, despite her intimate connection to the plot.

    The Alliance of the title went as expected, with a little mystery in the end, as the two free agents of the plot tried to out-Xanatos each other. Ok, that was a little too much for me ? especially the Deus Ex Machina Clunker. But, all in all, a solid and entertaining book that gives you a bit of a hint how the game might work.

    7/10
  6. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 117.7/17 = 6.92
  7. xoubara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2003
    star 2
    I am seeing now I hadn't posted my review. I read it some months ago, so everything won't be as fresh as I should like.

    Overall, it was a pretty good read. First of all, I loved the main state the galaxy is in, and the fact that the sith empire is far different than Palpatine's, which was my concern with the game. Bioware and Lucasbooks have come up with an interesting setting for great stories, even if it is by rehashing old elements (smugglers, mandalorians, empire... It all sounds too familiar in every era of star wars). All the characters were interesting, especially Dao Stryver and Jet Nebula; and the story was quite engaging. Was I the only one thinking that the hexs were somehow related to the celestials? :p

    As for the bad, nothing completely bad that I remember. Some continuity issues we have been having since kotor (jedi councils in coruscant, miles of darths before Bane...). Also, as much as I liked the characters, I felt the book lacked a strong main character whom I could connect to. I guess that the idea was to have more than one protagonist, but if this was so, then I feel the book needed more page time for all of them.

    I am giving this a 7,5. Nothing actually bad, but there was not anything worth of an excellent.
  8. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 125.2/18 = 6.96
  9. MistrX Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2006
    star 4
    I enjoyed it quite a bit. I think the book's biggest strength is its characters, who though they fall so conveniently into the classes we'll be getting when the game is released, still have enough individuality and personality for me to want to read about them and find out what's going to happen next. It might be my anticipation for the game spilling over, but I read wanting to know more about the state of the galaxy and the details of what was happening and I can't wait to find out if or how any of this impacts the story of the game. I'd love to see any one of the main characters return and the book certainly hints at other stories to be told, from Shigar possibly taking a more aggressive path (and the reference to "thousands of Jedi willing to fight" a possible nod to player characters?), to the mystery behind Jet and Clunker, to Dao Stryver's hand in everything, and what Mandalore will decide to do. You also have Ula deciding to play both sides and this new apprenticeship for Ax under Darth Howl (which may be the dumbest Darth name in Star Wars history). The collection of varying characters actually reminded me of Death Star, but with better writing and a group that I just plain liked more. They certainly have a danger of falling into stereotypes of their positions, and in a few cases they do, but I felt that there was enough fleshing out of the mains and surprises for each character that it kept them rounded and interesting.

    These strong portrayals were helped by a suitably grand storyline, very fitting for our first extended adventure in this era, though I have to agree with those who have pointed out these droids are rather advanced, even for Star Wars. I wouldn't be surprised if some sourcebook down the road retcons the hexes into being developed at least partially by some discovered Celestial technology.

    Just a fun and solid entry in Star Wars lit. Easy and exciting reading, even if it doesn't quite reach the "wow, that's awesome" levels of, say, Labyrinth of Evil.

    8.25/10
  10. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 133.45/19 = 7.02
  11. DarthDragon164 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2008
    star 4
    This is, IMHO, one of the better Star Wars novels in recent history. I wasn't expecting very much out of this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. This book really felt like Star Wars to me, but it wasn't an ANH rehash. This novel has a nice mix of black and white and gray that, while it is ambiguous at points (Jedi and Sith working towards a common goal), there was enough absolutes to keep it grounded (hexes taking over galaxy=bad). As far as characters go, I like how they aren't too stereotypical (Luke,Ben) while at the same time are not too off the beaten path (Cade). I really felt that all the characters brought something to the table (I especially like Ula and Jet and their interactions), but no single character carried the story. On the downside, there were a few continuity foibles (the Auriga Fire having an interdictor), but other than that, a very good book that far exceeded my expectations.

    9/10
  12. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 142.45/20 = 7.12
  13. wawa00s Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 4, 2010
    star 1
    I found KoToR" Fatal Alliance" to be lacking and wanting....It was a quick read and a short hard cover...BTW has anyone else noticed that what they call a hardcover book is about the length of a paperback w/ a hard cover...Novels are getting shorter and to fill it in some I have also noticed that lately they add 20 plus pages of an upcoming novel...Kinda cheated...
    Anyway the character development was flimsi, the plot was everywhere and nowhere at the same time, many errors( did anyone proof the thing b4 they printed it), and the ending....OMG that was lame...I won't spoil even though I can but WoW that was $%&^ty. The Sith seemed weak and the Sith Lord we meet went out like a duck and the Grand Master we meet...if I wrote it she would have been luck to have been someones Padawan...
    Overall I give it a 2.5 and am calling on the force that the next installment of Old Republic due out early next year will be better since the next book cover the siege and destuction of the Jedi Temple ( the First time)
  14. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 144.95/21 = 6.90
  15. RebelJoseWales Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2008
    star 3
    On the one hand, Fatal Alliance had a number of continuity, plausibility, and pacing issues. On the other hand, I really, really liked it anyway.

    Williams mentions interdictors, Honoghr, and rancors at various points in the story as though they are familiar elements of galactic life, despite the fact that the story takes place thousands of years before they should be invented/discovered. However, he's far from the first person to breach these bits of canon, and he only does so in throwaway lines, so this is really more of a nitpick than anything.

    More grating is the Hexes. Not only are they ridiculously overpowered and way too advanced for any era of Star Wars, but to add insult to injury, they were thrown together in a few years by a small group of fugitives in Galt's Gulch- I mean, Rapture- I mean, in a cave with a box of scraps- I mean, on Sebaddon, a near-uninhabitable world outside the galactic plane. Then we've got a lot of little things like Dao Stryver's Holsters of Holding and endless supply of concussion missiles (obviously, Stryver is not only a Gektl but also a Time Lord with a wearable Tardis). Oh, and apparently the Sith Empire and Republic, despite being locked in a spy-happy cold war, have their fleet communications systems so poorly secured that an obsolete war droid with a damaged memory system can hack them in a matter of hours.

    It might behoove Mr. Williams to spend a little time contemplating internal consistency and why, rather than throwing it out the window, you need to focus on it even more when you have an unrealistic setting like Star Wars in order for suspension of disbelief to remain intact.

    Anyway, the third main problem with this book is the pacing. As The2ndQuest already pointed out, chapters 16-18 feel like the climax of a story in and of themselves. Having the first act possess such a self-contained story arc is not a bad thing in and of itself, but in this case the pacing doesn't quite work. After the crescendo of the battle in the Hutt's palace, the rest of the story feels strung-out as the brief second act has a payoff so low-key that you almost miss it (as the Kiffar Padawan uses his whatsit-metry to trace the alloy globule back to its home) leading into what is essentially a hundred-and-seventy page action scene. This would be tiring, were said action scene not glacially paced, with some surprisingly long and thoughtful discussions between people who are in the middle of a battle.

    Likewise, the wrap-up that occurs after the Courier kills Mr. House, takes control of the Securitrons, kills Lanius with them and forces Caesar's Legion, the NCR, and the Brotherhood of Steel to all abandon the Mojave...

    Er, wait a minute. Sorry, wires crossed.

    Likewise, the wrap-up that occurs after Eldon Ax kills cloned Cinzia, takes control of the Hexes, kills Chratis with them and forces the Sith Empire, the Republic, and the Mandalorians to all abandon Sebaddon is longer than it probably should be and very low key.

    So, given all these irritating flaws, I of course loved this book.

    Despite the continuity nitpicks, magically inexhaustible Mandalorian ammunition, overpowered threat of dubious origin, and pacing issues, I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. Most of this is because of the characters and their interactions. I can forgive a lot in a story as long as it has solid, interesting characters who develop over the course of the narrative, and Mr. Williams delivered that.

    Except for Stryver and Nebula, all of the characters grew in interesting ways over the course of the narrative. Stryver and Nebula didn't grow, but only because they were the catalysts for the plot; the movers and free agent's whose mysterious aims and plans kept the plot in motion and lent uncertainty to its outcome.

    Likewise, the chemistry between the characters was interesting and entertaining. The counterparts provided by the Kiffar Padawan versus Ax, Larin and Ula, and Chratis and Shan were all interesting juxtapositions of the Sith Emp
  16. KnightDawg Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 26, 2007
    star 4
    Though not as good as 'TOR: Deceived', it was still a fun ride. With 'TOR: Revan' now in the works, I really hope we start seeing a lot more TOR hardcover novels. I'm starting to love this era. My only gripe with this novel was the ending (happens a lot in the SW, i.e. 'Millennium Falcon') and it didn't deliver the epic finish that the book was building up too. Even that being said, I really liked the flow of this one.

    7/10
  17. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 160.45/23 = 6.98
  18. DarthStymi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 10, 2002
    star 3
    I enjoyed it more than I thought I would (William's TFU was maybe the worst book I ever read).

    Some parts got a little boring near the middle, but for me, it all came together nicely in the end.

    One thing that bothered me, however--for a story that took place so far in this universe's "past," it did not seem to be very different from the "contemporary" stories.

    But, like I said, I enjoyed it.

    7.75
  19. Malachi108 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 8, 2009
    star 3
    I was really pleasantly surprised by this book. It was WAY better than another MMO Tie-In Ruins of Dantooine, is was definitely better than another Williams' Video-Game Tie-in TFU and it was even a bit better than another TOR Tie-In Deceived.

    Practically everything was good about this book. First, it was a solid read and not one you can finish in under 4 hours, which for late SW Literature is achievement by itself. Second, it actually had interesting mystery/adventure plot that really had me interested from about Chapter 3 up until the story's climax. Third, each of the characters was equally interesting, most of them were sympathizing and all of them received plenty of development throughout the book. It's especially interesting how all but 2 of 8 character essentially ended in the same place/position where they were at start, but very different due to being changed by experience. Oh, and even though each main character was apparently based upon an MMO's class, it didn't really interfere with the story at all.

    Williams being a senior SW writer by now shows when the throwaway names of planets/species come from obscure EU references and are not obviously from the MMO (one of things I hated about Ruins of Dantooine). He also manages to keep the plot suspenseful by revealing the mystery one bit over time, with each layer revealing another - it actually kept me interested all the way through. Some oddly-named characters didn't really bother me either. And as a whole, it shows how successful a book set in unexplored time period with brand new characters can really be - later proved again by Deceived and Knight Errant and ignored by Red Harvest.

    9.2/10 Seriously. It's a solid read, one you could without shame recommend to a newcomer to EU when Matt Stover's work isn't around.
  20. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 177.4/25 = 7.10
  21. Darth_Gamek Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2009
    star 6
    8/10

    Really enjoyed this book, though the large cast of characters was difficult to keep track of.
  22. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 185.4/26 = 7.13
  23. Kalphite Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2009
    star 2
    Finally got around to reading this book -- YAY for all the new e-book releases!!!!!=D=

    Like the other ToR novel, Deceived, I really enjoyed this book. I find it interesting that by the end of Deceived, we discover that Malgus will likely oppose the Emperor's plans/treaty and try to find a way to end the peace. Then at the end of this book, it's revealed that there is a 'splinter' group of Jedi apparently also very intent on striking out at the Sith. Could tensions be rising for the game...:p

    The Good: Great new era for novels. The mystery of the Sith Council and Emperor, the turbulent setting of the 'cold war', it's good stuff. I get so tired of reading these lame books we've been getting recently with Luke/Ben chasing around Abeloth, and Han/Leia doing these random unimportant and boring side quests. It's really great to have these other books around, like Knight Errant that have original characters and original settings!

    Speaking of the characters, I liked them all. I find it intriguing that apparently the Sith Empire is very prejudiced against all non-humans. Makes me wonder what it's going to be like playing a non-human Sith in the game?

    The story, for the most part, was entertaining and kept my attention.

    The Bad: Only one complaint here - the action scenes. The first fight scene against the 'Hexes' dragged on and on, and really didn't have to. Most of the fight scenes seemed to drag on during the book... And it annoyed me slightly that it took Stryver/Shigar/Ax so long just to kill a few hexes on Hutta, but by the end of the novel they were slashing and killing their way through dozens of them with seemingly little effort.

    Overall, great book! Can't wait for more! 8.7/10
  24. BoromirsFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2010
    star 4
    6/10

    Really it was a struggle for me to finish this book. It was boring, and all of the characters were really dull.

    After speeding through Deceived with excitement, i actually found myself wanting to put this book down. It just didn't do anything for me.

    :(
  25. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 200.1/28 = 7.15