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Lit Heading into the Denningverse for the first time (DNT, LotF reading journal)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by cthugha, Mar 7, 2020.

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  1. cthugha

    cthugha Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 24, 2010
    I am currently reading the Dark Nest Trilogy for the first time, in preparation for tackling Legacy of the Force. (Not sure yet if I'll do Fate of the Jedi too.)

    For context: I ate up anything Star Wars up until the release of the Prequels, then stopped right after Vector Prime. A while later, thanks to repeated recommendations from this forum, I binge-read all of the NJO and loved it.
    Also on recommendations from this forum (or whatever the inverse of recommendations is), I never even considered touching the post-NJO books, a.k.a. the Denningverse. I did read the Paul S. Kemp books and the Wraith Squadron one, as well as Millennium Falcon; but I figured I knew everything I needed to know about DNT, LotF and FotJ from the bits and pieces I'd read here, mostly revolving around JINO and the IWoD. (Also, my personal headcanon for the post-NJO has always been the YodaKenobi-verse anyway.)

    But now, having reread an embarrassing amount of EU fiction over the last months (including the whole Galaxy of Fear and Jedi Prince series), I felt like it was time to shine a light into that blind spot of mine. I mean, I found plenty of things to like in The Glove of Darth Vader, and I seem to be one of the only people here who actually enjoyed Planet of Twilight and The Crystal Star -- so how bad can it be?

    Here it is, then -- my first, heavily spoilered sojourn into the depths of the Denningverse.


    The Dark Nest trilogy, vol. 1: The Joiner King

    The book starts out promising - with a blatant Call to Adventure felt by Jaina, Tahiri and Jacen. Distracted Jaina in the courtroom seemed random but fine, Tahiri on Zonama Sekot mediating between Yuuzhan Vong castes was a great lead-over from the NJO (could have been longer and less shallow though), and Jacen with the Fallanassi was… well. A good way to namedrop the previous steps of his journey; an okay reintroduction of his character; and, in retrospect, a huge load of foreshadowing for Jacen's fall in LotF.

    This is all nice and dandy. But even here, this early in the first book, there's an undercurrent of something that has always left me sort of dissatisfied with much of the later EU. It's this feeling of a small galaxy - of the GFFA as a collection of places that we already know, that we've already been to.

    This is a complicated issue for me. On the one hand, I am a sucker for interconnected stories, references across books and other media, callbacks and allusions etc. My dream EU is mostly authors taking throwaway lines from each other's books (or background characters from each other's comics etc) and building amazing stories around them - like Stover did with the Battle of Mindor. (Both X-Wing series are that, too, basically.)

    But I feel like there is a wrong and a right way to do this. Done the right way, this makes the galaxy feel rich, complex and huge - like, whichever niche you look in, there are more stories for you. Think Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, WEG sourcebooks, A.C. Crispin's Han Solo Trilogy, I Jedi, ...

    Done the wrong way, however, it will turn your universe into a soap opera. Instead of expanding the universe, you are retreading old ground. Instead of adding complex new characters with their own stories, you're just remixing relationships (and probably retroactively ruining character arcs). You're making the galaxy seem small.

    (The prototypical non-SW examples, IMHO, are Fantastic Beasts - doing it right - vs Cursed Child - doing it wrong. Oh so wrong.)

    The NJO already had some of this "everything is already known, we're just playing in a familiar sandbox" feel - most egregiously in (much of) the Force Heretic trilogy. But here, even just in the prologue, I get the sense this is going to be much worse.

    And guess what we get to see next? The Jedi Council debating how to distribute the few named heroes we already know to the various hotspots in a perfectly transparent galaxy. With a few Jedi gone off on a surprise mission, who will keep the peace? "We'll have to ask the Solos", because everything needs to be done by the established characters. And that's not even getting into how the Jedi Council apparently apparently conceives of itself as the State Department with a bit of magic now.

    So this part was mostly annoying, even if I liked the brief view of post-Vong Coruscant. The Chiss visitor was appropriately brusque and efficient, but it still felt off to even have him there at all. Just because they're sort of familiar to the heroes now doesn't mean the Chiss need to go roaming all over the known galaxy in person. Don't they have a secret (or diplomatic) service for that?

    Anyway, next we're heading into the unknown, which at this point does seem like a relief.
  2. Grievousdude

    Grievousdude Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jan 27, 2013
    All I can say is good luck. DNT wasn't that bad. Like it had a lot of weird moments in it for sure, but it wasn't the worst thing ever.

    However I recently decided to try LOTF and had to bail after Bloodlines because I just wasn't enjoying them. There was the odd moment here and there that I liked, but they were just frustrating to read. It felt a bit like they were trying to copy Marvel's Civil War with the heroes on opposite sides, but it didn't work nearly as well. Mostly because to make it happen they decided to make almost everyone act stupid and out of character.

    Interestingly though, I've seen a lot of hate on the Boba Fett parts for being side stories that distract from the main plot, but I liked those parts for that exact reason.

    LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Lucasfilm Ltd Mod star 10 Staff Member Administrator

    May 25, 2002
    I didn't care for the DNT. By the time I finished it I just wanted to use a can of Raid on the Killiks.
  4. Jedi Ben

    Jedi Ben Chosen One star 8

    Jul 19, 1999
    Just like Marvel's Civil War then!
  5. tsunami1138

    tsunami1138 Jedi Master star 1

    Nov 15, 2012
    See, I'm the opposite. I could take or leave the DNT, but lapped up LotF. My biggest criticism with the entire overarching storyline is the continual retconning of Jacen's descent into Caedus. Did he fall because of the vision he had of killing Luke? Was it because of the vision of the Dark Man on the philosophical Throne of Balance? Or the vision of his (as-yet unbom) daughter sitting at the Dark Man's right hand?

    It's like they had a lot of good ideas about his reasoning, couldn't decide which one to pick so just decided that it could be all of them...
  6. lovethedarkside

    lovethedarkside Jedi Knight star 2

    Oct 10, 2017
    When I read it, I thought it showed progression on how in his own mind he was justifying what he was doing. That it wasn't one thing, but rather a series of things that kept the roll to the dark side rolling. But that it all stemmed back to his conceitedness and willingness to do anything possible to make the GFFA better (using his own definition of better ).

    I mostly enjoyed the series but felt they took a long time to turn Jacen. It had its faults, but I'm glad I read the series. The one after it is a different story. I did not enjoy it nearly as much.

    I liked the DNT but didn't so much care for the bugs.

    I read LOTF first and then read DNT and then randomly read NJO. I thought I'd hit the key Jacen books but then I wanted to know more so I kept reading. LOTF was my introduction to the EU books. I'm still reading SW books and am enjoying most of them.

    Enjoy the series!
  7. Todd the Jedi

    Todd the Jedi Mod and Spokesman of SWTV star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Oct 16, 2008
    The DNT was Denning's most self-indulgent SW work ever, and as a result it's his weakest SW work as well. He actually got better with LOTF* and FOTJ, but then reverted to his old ways with Crucible, closing the Big 3's story on the most lacklustre note possible.

    *Except Invincible- that's easily his worst book, and a huge disappointment for a series finale.

    So my point is- it's all decent work with some actual good bits, but brace yourself as well- you'll be longing for the quality of Jedi Prince once you get to the real stinkers.
    Vialco and cthugha like this.
  8. Grievousdude

    Grievousdude Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jan 27, 2013
    The thing I never got about that trilogy, was that to me it seemed that Denning wanted us to be sympathetic towards them, but they never once did anything to make you feel that way. If anything they did the exact opposite.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2020
    Vthuil likes this.
  9. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Jan 3, 2013
    But why must you confront him? I wish I could go with you...

    ...actually, no, I don't. I reaaaally don't. Good luck, @cthugha - you'll need it.
    cthugha likes this.
  10. Riv_Shiel

    Riv_Shiel Jedi Master star 2

    Apr 12, 2014
    I'm going to offer you my completely unsolicited advice. Do yourself a big favor and hit the reset button on Star Wars. You're in a new continuity, that takes inspiration from some of the stories you know, but re-imagines them in entirely unique ways. When you see a reference to Vergere, don't assume they're talking about the same character from Traitor - just say "Vergere? I hope we learn more about who she was and what her relationship is to our main character." Let Jacen be an interesting character obsessed with saving the galaxy and willing to do whatever it takes - don't try to figure out how this ties back to the guy you knew in NJO. I find that this approach greatly enhanced my reading enjoyment. It gets a bit tougher as you go, in LOTF (and FOTJ if you get there) the revolving author system really disrupts the flow of the story - it helps to read each book as a standalone and not try to think of it as a series.

    P.S. I liked Crystal Star and I LOVED Planet of Twilight (the latter being the greatest Leia novel in Legends).
  11. cthugha

    cthugha Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 24, 2010
    That's interesting, because (to me, reading the DNT right now) this sounds a lot like what Raynar keeps doing -- coming up with new rationalizations for what he's doing all the time, while the actual reason behind it is something completely different (manipulation by the Dark Nest).

    This sounds like a good idea! I will try to take each story on its own merits, and I've noticed I don't find many supposed "out-of-character" moments as jarring as many others do anyway, so I'm curious how well I'll manage.
    Xammer, AusStig and Riv_Shiel like this.
  12. cthugha

    cthugha Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 24, 2010
    Next bit!

    I have to say I like the pacing of this book. Denning tosses us straight in the deep end, plunging an ill-tempered Han into a weird spaceport experience that makes him feel nostalgic and traumatised in turn.

    What I liked: The description of the colony and spaceport were actually fine, I think the familiar-but-not vibe that Denning was going for actually came across - contra the usual trend of Denning bungling the description of settings (like the Myrkr worldship). There is an element of creepiness in not knowing whether any given character there is a Joiner or not - that ambiguity is much more interesting than simply having everyone borged. And the mystery around the Jedi team's location works well, though it seems a bit anticlimactic when Juun just tells them everything.

    What I did not care for: All the old guard main characters being needlessly in the same place - especially having Luke and Mara there seemed utterly pointless. Again, even out here, we get the feeling of the galaxy being a small playground.

    And the whole Tarfang/Juun conflict-non-conflict simply confused me. I suppose it was meant to be funny? Anyway, so our heroes have picked up two new potentially-shady sidekicks now, let's see where that goes.

    The next deep end: The Myrkr PTSD team is in an even stranger situation. Again, I like the mystery pacing, letting us puzzle over exactly how they got there. Their dynamic is weird - what could be banter and cameraderie among veterans feels more like a high-school reunion with the awkwardness turned up to eleven. Extra weirdness points go to Denning's gratuitous sexualization of Alema Rar, who comes across like a prototypical abuse victim but played for laughs.

    While this scene is sort of effective in ratcheting up the mystery and establishing the conflict, having the group be this dysfunctional from the start seems like a poor narrative choice. Why not give us something good, some friendship and cameraderie first, sprinkled with hints of darkness if necessary, but something basically good that we could look forward to seeing restored (or improved on) at the end?

    To me, this is not so much a "grimdark" issue (I have less of a problem with dark turns than some here) than a failure of narrative hedonics. If there is nothing good for the crisis to threaten, nothing that I would like to see endure, I simply won't be as invested in the story. If, as an author, you are going to do horrible things to your characters, make your audience like them first!

    Let's see if I can learn to sympathize with these people.
    Havac , AusStig, Gamiel and 1 other person like this.
  13. cthugha

    cthugha Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 24, 2010
    Jacen chapter! The one in which he finds the Tachyon Flyer, the ship in which Lomi and Welk escaped from Myrkr. If it wasn't obvious before that this story is meant as a direct sequel to Star by Star, it sure is now.

    Jacen "seeing through the illusion of authority" and refusing to be pushed around is fun. More people could do with seeing that.

    Somehow, Jacen using bits and pieces of various Force traditions as tools is much less fun, though. It feels like bad roleplaying Fan fiction: "and then he Force Choked his opponent and used Suppress Thought to make him enjoy it." (Not by Troy Denning, but it sure could be.)

    Jacen having no problem with the insect language is very Jacen.

    The time travel / overly-literal visions thing feels wrong in this franchise, but I am given to understand that there will be a lot more coming of that sort. Oh well.

    The next chapter is Han and Leia (and, apparently, Luke is still somewhere around for some reason).

    The Prime Unu's description as "melt-faced" is crude but surprisingly effective. I almost didn't need the rest of the description, as it just explained what I would expect a melted face to look like.

    Right, the Prime Unu is Raynar - I remember the name UnuThul from old spoilers. He seems like a random choice (Leia agrees); I'm curious to see if any of his established personality or history is relevant to the plot. Or maybe he was just there and disposable?

    Two chapters later, I still don't see the point of Luke, Mara or Ben being here. Any conversations and any insight that Luke contributes could easily have been Leia's - that is, if Denning weren't so insistent on portraying her as the "eternal student" and "not a real Jedi" even after all this time. (And Luke's half-baked explanations of the supposed new Jedi philosophy would not have been missed.)

    Waaait… Jacen "fixed Leia's future" by talking to her in his vision? That seems like a potentially continuity-breaking superpower. At least the Jedi masters figuring it out seem suitably concerned.

    Still, I have a bad feeling about this.
    AusStig, Iron_lord and Riv_Shiel like this.
  14. cthugha

    cthugha Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 24, 2010
    Update: No, I haven't yet managed to really sympathize with the "AWOL Jedi". At one point Denning says "The awkwardness finally dissipated between the two generations of Jedi", but with the ensuing dialogues that is hard to believe. I get that the author is trying to keep up the mystery by withholding information, but that makes all of the abortive interactions between the characters seem so dysfunctional it's terrifying. The Jedi in particular seem unable to communicate without launching into full-scale drama in a heartbeat. "Helping the weak is not the Way of the Jedi!" - "You're literally Palpatine!" (The last one must be the GFFA equivalent of Godwin's Law.)

    Luke creates a Force illusion, which taxes him so much he looks like Palpatine afterwards. (Mara doesn't mind.)

    Ben is casually racist (apparently "I'm not a Gamorrean" is an acceptable way to say "I'm not stupid"). Mara doesn't mind that, either.

    Leia is casually classist, calling Zekk "that unwashed vent-crawler Jaina brought home".

    Then there's another confusing battle, this time to bring Lowie home. While I thought Denning's narrative economy was nice at the beginning - not spending too much time on setup, dropping the reader into complex new situations that gradually reveal their backstory - it feels seriously irritating now that there is so much left unsaid. What were Jaina and the others trying to do, exactly? What was Han's plan, and Leia's role in it? Maybe I'm too tired and not inferring everything I'm supposed to, but this all seems needlessly opaque.

    Whoa, the Saba/Welk fight is brutal. Sort of disturbing how much Saba is enjoying the hurt, but this still was a lot more entertaining (and comprehensible) than any of the other fights so far, if in a crude way.

    Luke sees his mother for the first time, in a hologram hidden in Artoo. I am confused by the relationship between hardware and software in this story. So Artoo's memory is hardcoded in discrete sectors that can be seen with the naked eye and insulated from each other by holding a wire to them? That seems… odd.

    Also, I'm curious to see if this will have any impact on the plot, or whether it was just an easter egg that seemed like a good idea at the time.
    CT-867-5309, Havac , AusStig and 4 others like this.
  15. Todd the Jedi

    Todd the Jedi Mod and Spokesman of SWTV star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Oct 16, 2008
    Ah yes, Luke watching ROTS on Blue-ray, that was surely the best way for the twins to find out who their mother was.
  16. ColeFardreamer

    ColeFardreamer Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 24, 2013
    She married a scumrat that grew up in Corellias sewer herself... like mother, like daughter! Maybe that is her way of saying she likes him.
  17. GoingInside

    GoingInside Jedi Knight star 1

    Mar 31, 2013
    I don't want to be negative or sour your experience too much, so I'm going to be careful how I phrase this: I think Denning is a good writer from a technical standpoint, I just think... he needs improvement as a storyteller. Someone else called DNT "self-indulgent", and I would agree with that. To the point of being gratuitous. There are things that happen in DNT that are... very indicative of Denning's headspace. There's the weird torture-porn stuff, the strange, out-of-place sexuality, the jarring shifts in tone... it makes me vaguely uncomfortable, even if the pacing is good and there is some "cool" stuff.

    But yeah, Denning is insistent on making us believe Tarfang and Juun are funny, and his overt disdain for some other authors' ideas is on full display here.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2020
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  18. ColeFardreamer

    ColeFardreamer Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 24, 2013
    To be completely honest, Denning is an epic writer, but he like any author has his flaws that are more and more apparent the longer he contributes. Same to Karen Traviss, even Timothy Zahn, Dave Filoni and others. The best even.

    As you said, some authors at some point slip into fanfiction mode or headcanon instead of the distance of a professional writer. Allston and Stackpole managed to do it consistent with their awesome and funny works. Yet some other authors you really notice "that part of the book was written like a pro" and "this part was written when the writer was in a mood or otherwise slipping selfcontrol".

    As a writer myself, there is nothing against using moods or personal headspace with writing, if it fits that is. Writing needs consistency and that is lost when writers switch methods in the middle of scenes or books because they stopped writing them and continued them in a completely different mood.

    That's like watching a movie you paused after continuation with a different soundtrack and emotional flair.
  19. Jedi Knight88

    Jedi Knight88 Jedi Knight star 3

    Sep 4, 2018
    Totally those writers are amazing
  20. cthugha

    cthugha Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 24, 2010
    To be honest I went into this expecting it to be worse than it is, because I'd been exposed to habitual Denning-bashing on these boards. I'm pretty sure that still colors my reception of the books, even though I'm trying to read them with fresh eyes as much as possible. That said, so far your description feels very much like my own impression.

    On to the rest of volume 1.

    We're back on Ossus (wait, are the Jedi based on Ossus or in the new temple on Coruscant now? I'm confused), and the returned AWOL Jedi are having their brains scanned in the Jedi Temple. If you liked the idea of counting Midichlorians, you're gonna love Cilghal explaining the neurological correlates of Force usage.

    We also learn that auras exist, separately from the Force - and that among the Jedi, "Fallanassi nonsense" is what we would call esoteric woo. So the Fallanassi are… Hippies, I suppose? Okay.

    The next chapter is more technobabble, followed by Leia reversing the Falcon in hyperspace. Flying... backwards through hyperspace? Which makes… time move backwards? Or at least the words coming out of Han's mouth?

    I am really concerned about how time works in this universe now.

    Also, will you stop talking about Alema's "svelte curves"! If you really cannot do without innuendo fanservice, at least take a cue from Lusa. That was subtle enough to be almost funny. This is just cringe.

    Back to Ossus. The Jedi are basically Boy Scouts now, and they seem to have a lot of kids to train. Nice!

    Aristocra Formbi is visiting, and we finally get a dialogue between adults exchanging information without everyone stopping mid-sentence for drama or mystery. So the Chiss are afraid of the Killiks because Raynar made them value individual lives, disrupting their Malthusian equilibrium and causing explosive population growth and expansion because they obviously need more resources if they want to keep everyone alive. That is one nice science fiction-y idea that I can get behind.

    (A shame Raynar didn't also give them a concept of contraception, or cultural norms encouraging lower reproduction rates to go with the concept of individual value. Too individualist to sacrifice millions to keep the population small, but not individualist enough to make the bugs want to have a fulfilling life and career before saddling themselves with kid bugs. Bummer.)

    Stuff happens. Politics suck. We get it.

    Meanwhile, I keep losing track of where Jacen is. In quarantine? On Hapes? With the Hapan fleet? On Ossus? Maybe I'm just not paying attention like I should.

    Ghent is Denning's idea of an autistic person, apparently, which I suppose is because he's a slicer and we know all techies are autistic. Right. Anyway he manages to bully Artoo into letting Luke and Leia watch Revenge of the Sith.

    Still curious if anything will come of that. The end of the chapter implies they will try to chase down a mystery programmer to get a zero day exploit for all R2 units… now that could be an interesting subplot if done right.

    Jaina is watching her nest gear up for battle. There's a weird sense of tension as her thoughts slip back and forth between being her own and the nest's.

    When she finally does break free, prompted by Jacen (wherever he is now), she uses her anger over Anakin's death to sustain her resistance. That… does not sound like the best idea.

    Also, how did she suddenly figure that it's Welk-and-perhaps-Lomi trying to mind-control her, rather than Thul/Taat? Did she get that from Jacen too?

    Again, it feels like there is too much left unspoken.

    Ah, so Jaina eventually notices that maybe anger might not be the best solution, and uses her maybe-love for Jag instead. Good on her.

    There's a big battle in which both the Chiss and the Hapans are being frustratingly unreasonable, the Taat are mostly just in the way, the Falcon does some more weird things, and Luke and Mara beat down Welk somehow. (I am legitimately not sure about the specifics.) This is followed by a lengthy debate with Raynar, in which he is being less secretive for a change, but much more psychotic to make up for it. He can't face the thought of Lomi and Welk having survived the crash because of trauma, so Leia feeds him a more digestible lie to make him agree to relocate the swarm. Being 'psychotic', Raynar then claims it was his idea all along.

    And then the book just stops. There's no reunion, no debriefing, no talk of what's up with Ben, Alema, Lowie, Jag, or Artoo's damaged copy of RotS. No idea how Jaina will react to being kicked out of the Colony, or what the deal is with the other Jedi joiners now. Were they just props? (Not asking about Juun and the Ewok - I know they were.)

    I mean, I get this is a trilogy, so you can leave some plot threads dangling - but this is not that. This feels like they were simply forgotten, or irrelevant in the first place. I actually checked to see if my copy was incomplete, missing the final chapter for some reason.

    Well, seems like I'll just have to dive into part 2. The Lomi part, according to the title.
  21. cthugha

    cthugha Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 24, 2010
    The Unseen Queen, I suppose, will be Lomi. Now let's see if having a former Nightsister controlling a hive will amount to anything interesting.

    "Like thieves all across the galaxy, Tibanna tappers worked best in darkness." True or not, this makes for a great opening sentence - and it's nice to start with a scene that is neither set in bugland nor does it deal with high politics. Jaina and Zekk playing cops and robbers on Bespin sounds refreshing after the oppressive atmosphere of most of the first book.

    Exposition: it's a year after vol.1, and Jaina and Zekk are still joined at the brainhip. To make sure we don't forget it, they finish each other's sentences. They find Killik drugs and conclude the Dark Nest is still around.

    So… back to bugland!

    In bugland, Raynar's new homestead is literally called "whatever". Leia, Luke, Han and Mara (yes, it's all of them in one place again) have to deal with some fresh bug delusions, a plague, and Alema attempting to manipulate Luke in a weirdly specific way - namely, by offering him a steady supply of RotS spoilers provided he leaves the Dark Nest alone.

    Back in volume 1, I thought I would enjoy the subplot about finding the Astromech programmer. But no luck - the whole Daxar Ies story comes out so quickly, and yet in such a disjointed manner, that it feels rushed and shoehorned in.

    In other news, politicians are evil (even the supposedly good ones that you helped put in office). Apparently there was a disaster involving a pilot on Killik drugs that killed Sien Sovv among others (and that happened off screen), and now Cal Omas wants to go to war against the Killiks.

    Somehow a lot of this story seems to be people reacting to interesting things that all happened off screen. Like watching YouTube reaction videos without ever seeing the original thing. Why not show us, say, the accident from the membrosia-addled pilot's point of view? Or Daxar Ies' Joiner wife and daughter? I thought the storyteller maxim was "show, don't tell", not the other way around?
    CT-867-5309, Havac , AusStig and 3 others like this.
  22. Darth Invictus

    Darth Invictus Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Aug 8, 2016
    Denning strikes me, as sometimes getting bored or disinterested with certain aspects of writing. Maybe its not him but some sort of page limit he has to abide by.

    Denning is good from a technical standpoint, I would say though the criticisms you have-you'll see the same sort of thing in Denning's works repeated the further you go. And that's all I can say without spoilers.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2020
  23. AusStig

    AusStig Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Feb 3, 2010
    So I read Legacy of the Force before and Fate of the Jedi before I read Dark Nest.

    It is better than Crucible I will say that.

    The books have a coo premise, a war that the heroes aren't a part of and instead can work towards making peace, but that isn't really what happens.

    Also Cal just seems to go full evil, he was alway grey in NJO but that was a desperate time, this is... not.

    Also back on Coruscant like nothing happened sucks.
    cthugha likes this.
  24. Christus Regnet

    Christus Regnet Jedi Knight star 3

    Mar 10, 2016
    Besides frequently referencing everything that's changed, and how little of it is inhabited now, sure.

    I guess if you visited Berlin in 1950, and found everyone downtown moving about and business as usual, even though for miles beyond everything lies in ruin, you could say "What's wrong with these people? Why are they acting like nothing happened?"
    Xammer likes this.
  25. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Why did no one alert me to this? You have failed me!

    A few points:

    I disagree with @Todd the Jedi that this is Denning at his worst. DNT is not good, but it's still the best work Denning's done post-NJO. Jacen's mystery-man persona and pragmatic descent into evil is terrible Jacen characterization, but it's vastly more subtle and interesting than anything he did with Jacen as a character in LOTF (Invincible tried to get back there, but it was a way-too-late patch job). The Killiks are actually a pretty great antagonist -- a threat that cannot be reasoned with because of its warped logic, that means no harm, but is dangerous nevertheless, and in a really insidious way -- the ability to sap you of your own identity and free will. It's a brilliant idea that forces the heroes to ask hard questions and make serious decisions. It's just that Denning ultimately bungles the handling of it, because, as suggested, he's a self-indulgent author who's not inclined to subtlety and, when left to his own devices, tends to veer off into creepy and authoritarian subtext. But at least there are some interesting ideas behind the trilogy, which give it some interest, as opposed to LOTF, FOTJ, and Crucible, where Denning's books are either emptily dumb or just outright repulsively bad, and in the two series are almost always the ones that least engage the potential of the ideas behind each series. This is a bad series, a total failure, but it's a failure that's at least kind of interesting. And it's actually a coherent trilogy, not a chunk of a multi-author car crash, so it's got that going for it. I'll give you the fact that Denning's series contributions tended to have a bit more pulp entertainment value than DNT, which gets a bit dull and repetitive and suffers from way too much unlikability in the scenario and on the part of most of the characters (it probably should not have been a full trilogy), but I'll still take some substance and potential over Denning's series work, which after all follows a pattern of bland, dumb, but pulpy and not overly objectionable first book; wildly problematic second book that "gives the people what they want" in ways that are terrible ideas for the series and really highlight the problems with the series; and absolute five-alarm dumpster-fire disaster of an ending that basically crushes the entire series down to miserable failure.

    As to flow-walking and fixing futures, fixing the future is the only way to keep the power from being continuity-breaking, actually. Introducing time-travel, or even the sort of confused, limited version of projecting-through-time that Denning starts with here (he keeps ramping up the power, because he's got no self-control), is a terrible idea, but if you have to, the only way to make it actually work is a closed model where everything is fixed. That is to say, the timeline is a straight line without branching. Just as the past is fixed -- whatever happened happened -- the future is fixed in the sense that whatever will happen, happens. It doesn't mess with free will because the free will is there. The present is the future of the past, yet our present being fixed doesn't affect our free will in the past any more than the future being fixed affects our free will in the present. You can look back now with the advantage of being in the "future" and know what you chose for dinner last night, but it doesn't mean you didn't have an actual choice at the time. Treating the timeline as a single line, and time travel as a closed loop, is the only way to avoid the kind of quantum-branching nonsense where not only does the logic of the setting fall apart, but the continuity is actually threatened. If Jacen can't "change" the future -- if he's just fast-forwarding the video to see what happens five minutes from whatever point he's at -- it also means all he can do is rewind to look at history -- he can't go back to the past to save Anakin, because if he had saved Anakin, it would have already happened. This is the way Harry Potter did it -- Harry always saved himself with the patronus -- and thus avoided the common paradox you get into with bad time-travel logic where people go back into the past to change something, and then they actually change it, resulting in this super messed-up paradox where they return to a "present" that is now changed, meaning that either the character(s) now are living in an alternate reality where everyone else has a different past, so do they have the same past, or do they now "remember" a different past, or some weird mix of both . . . like if Jacen saves Anakin, and returns to a present where Anakin's alive, does he just not have any memories of Anakin in the intervening years, or does he because now Anakin's "always" been alive, and if Anakin's always been alive how did Jacen ever have the motivation to go back and change something that doesn't need changing anymore . . . it's an illogic that only works in stories where you can ignore all the conflicting-reality and causation-paradox issues by hoping no one notices or cutting your story off right after they get back to the present without having to deal with it, but which would fit terribly with an ongoing shared-media franchise like Star Wars.

    So that's a really long-winded way of saying that, the way Denning introduced flow-walking (though not how it ended up), was actually the right way, the only non-continuity-breaking way for Star Wars.
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