Thursday, September 4, 2008

Review: Jedit Twilight: Coruscant Nights I

Yes, I have once more submitted myself unto the Star Wars authors in the hopes of finding a book which would enthrall, titillate and overall give me the chance to enjoy a brief bit of fantasy-escapism for about a hundred thousand words or so. This time it was Michael Reeves' latest contribution to the Expanded Universe, entitled Jedi Twilight: Coruscant Nights I (ISBN: 9780345477507). This particular novel clocked in at 350 pages, which included a 3 page preview of the next Coruscant Nights novel. Now the fact that it took me around two weeks to actually read this book should be a decent indicator of my overall feelings towards it. Especially when you consider that I've purchased three others and finished 4 books in the same time frame--but more on that later, for now let's talk about the other things.

The plot itself is fairly standard adventure stuff, despite the almost noir underpinnings of the cover and the back-cover blurb. This was actually highly disappointing. I was wanting a noir murder mystery. It would have been new and exciting, yet what we ended up with was more of the same. That aside, there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the plot: it just held the promise of so much more.

As far as characters are concerned, eleven people appear on the dramatis personae, giving the impression of a reasonably-sized cast, but in my opinion, that was someone reaching a bit to make it longer. Over half of those characters barely got screen time, and one of them appeared on only a handful of pages. Of those that remained, the important ones were: Den Dhur, Jax Pavan, Nick Rostu and I5.

Of those, the only one who really grew in the story was Jax Pavan. In the end, this was Jax's story. He was the one that had a task to go through, one that related to what it means to be a Jedi and what he should be doing with his life in general in a universe that has suffered through the Jedi Purge.

The villians of the piece were some random Hutt, who didn't get in the dramatis personae, Xizor and Darth Vader. Did they grow as characters? Did we get new insights or concepts for them? No. Not really. And that was a sad thing.

Mechanics were well done, no typos, no glaring grammatical issues and in general a well wrought story. There was one issue I had with it--the author's reliance on using imaginary concepts to describe concepts both imaginary and real. The most annoying to me is probably the oddball terms coined to describe common things. For example pyrowall and conapt. Why couldn't the author have just said firewall and apartment?

But the biggest drawback I had in this novel was that I was bored. The fact that the two primary antagonists of this novel were known to have survived (because they appear in later stories) ensured that I had no sense of danger. Sadly, I fear that this will be a problem with all books set in the Dark Times, and even the Force Unleashed video game. They can't kill Vader because he has to be around for the OT.

This boredom is the problem with this novel. There was no sense of adventure--something that Reaves could have generated by just having the primary antagonists be different people.

Overall, it was an all right book. If someone were to read all the Star Wars novels in chronological order, without knowing about the Original Trilogy, then, that person could be thrilled by this novel. It's a well-written book. But it's not a noir murder mystery set in the Star Wars universe, and by having the antagonists be Darth Vader and Xizor well, you just know that the protagonists just aren't going to win.

In the end, I'm giving this a 1.8 out of 3. Which is sad, because it had the potential to be a great book.

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