Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Review: Legacy of the Force - Tempest

I always enjoy Denning's writing; it tends to be clean & concise with a wonderful pace - as long as he's not writing large fleet battles (which are usually chaotic things that lead to confusion on the reader's part). That weakness aside, Tempest is a much better offering than Bloodlines. I know it's not exactly fair of me to compare two such different authors, but they are supposed to be writing a cohesive story here.

And so far, that is where LotF is failing the most. I've enjoyed two of the three books so far, yet even those two don't really flow together as a cohesive storyline - maybe it will be better by the end, and I can only hope that it is, but I can't help but think that DR/LFL would have been better served by commissioning three trilogies rather than a nine-book series.

With that said, Tempest still works, both as a stand alone novel and as an entry in LotF. It clears up a few of the more glaring issues which Bloodlines introduced and introduces surprisingly few of its own. In fact outside of the Chu'unthor issue (which Denning didn't introduce) there were none that I could remember after reading.

Of course there are stumbling blocks in the narrative, mainly Nashtah. She's used effectively and is characterized nicely, but I just don't see the point. Why introduce another bounty hunter when Traviss spent so long on the most widely known bounty hunter in the GFFA?

We have characters reintroduced into the story as well - and at least one that could easily be viewed as a resurrection, despite the "issues" which DR/LFL and Denning himself supposedly have about bringing characters back to life. And of course there's still no Anakin Solo - but at least he's actually mentioned, unlike in Bloodlines. And for the most part these reintroduced characters work well within the story - and play vital (if contrived) functions in service to the plot.

Of course, there is one major problem with the book. I can't seem to remember it. I've read the thing three times so far, and I still have to go back and thumb through the thing while I'm writing this review. It's obscene. With Bloodlines the stunningly bad characters and horrid continuity glitches allowed me to easily see what was wrong - and literally dreading a second reading for the review. On the flip side, in Path of Destruction, the vibrant characters and training sequences left me happily able to write a review after only one reading - and wanting to read it again. That said, I know at least one person who would describe "book amnesia" as the epitome of good storytelling: You read the story, it works well for you, and there's nothing so offensive that it interrupts that sense of joy you've got from reading.

My ramblings aside, I really did enjoy this book. The characters tended to stay in character, though Ben did come across as a bit more of an idiot here than he has in previous books - but that's okay because he's a thirteen year old idiot. The fight scenes are well wrought with the exception of the large fleet battle - and in Denning's defense it is insanely hard to write clear fleet battles on paper. They are best suited to visual mediums. Yet the battle itself isn't that bad; I knew what was going on, I just had a hard time visualizing it. Regardless, by now, you probably already know if you like Denning's writing or not and this is more of the same - my thoughts are that his writing would probably best be described as "cinematic."

All in all, I recommend this book and give it a 9 out of 10.

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