Monthly Archives: April 2012

Review: Allies

Allies by Christie Golden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, I have a confession: series books {a.k.a. a book like Star Wars Fate of the Jedi: Allies by Christie Golden} are my guilty pleasure. I don’t read as many as I used to and I don’t read as many series as I used to, but my love of “Star Wars” knows no bounds and so therefore, I gobble up any and everything related to that long ago and far away galaxy.

It’s been a while since a “Star Wars” EU series has captured my attention like Fate of the Jedi. I’ll admit that I missed some of the Yuzhan Vong hoopla (I have always believed that aliens belong in the Star Trek ‘verse, not SW), but when I found out that the end of the series featured a showdown between Solo twins, Jacen and Jaina, I quickly got up to speed. Because not only am I sucker for Star Wars, but I am a huge sap for Han and Leia’s kids, and Luke & Mara’s son, Ben. Which is probably another reason why I am so digging FOTJ.

The premise of the series is interesting and different from other EU works. Instead of being worshipped like a demigod by the powers in charge, Luke Skywalker has been banished, cut off from the Jedi Temple and the universe at large by dictator–er, leader–of the Galatica Alliance, Admiral Natasi Daala. (Yeah, she’s a chick and she’s ex-Imperial. This ain’t your mama’s Star Wars.)

The series begins with Luke and Ben leaving Coruscant, deciding to travel the galaxy together, while being forced to leave behind their family, including Leia, Han, Jaina, and Jacen’s illegitimate daughter, Amelia. (Babies out of wedlock? What would George say?) But, I digress, for many of these events happened during the whole Yuzhan Vong series.

Let me get back to Star Wars: FOTJ Allies. This book finds Ben and Luke in the soup, forced to ally with Sith (Yeah, those Sith.) and find and destroy an ancient creature that someway, somehow is causing Jedi the galaxy over to go crazy. Not a little bit crazy either, but batshit, I-think-the-moon-just-winked-at-me crazy. Meanwhile, Daala is warring with the Jedi in a pissing contest for control that would make Palpatine proud. This of course means, Han and Leia are alternately Prime Suspects No. 1 and 2 for anything that appears to go against the GA, appears to aid the Jedi or might involve Luke getting illicit help from his former students.

But where FOTJ and Allies in particular really shine, is in the illustration of the relationships. Gone are the semi-uncomfortable realization that you once kissed your sister, replaced with complex emotions. These characters grieve and struggle to find meaning in a galaxy that constantly disappoints and amazes them, just as we all do. While Han and Leia deal every day with the fact that both of their sons met early deaths, Jaina must also deal with being the last surviving Solo offspring, the Sword of the Jedi, and oh yeah, the fiancee of the GA’s top military leader. She must also contend with the fact that her Jedi ways and her boyfriend’s ex-Imperial leanings don’t always mesh and may end up costing her love in the name of family loyalty.

And then there’s Luke. Another confession for you: He’s my favorite original Star Wars character. I love Han and I love Han-and-Leia, but I have always had a special place in my heart for Luke, an orphaned farm boy on a distant planet dreaming of something more. And for the most part I have been quite pleased with how the EU has treated young Skywalker, especially Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire series, which is still the shining achievement in established trilogy EU (in my opinion).

And I loved Luke and Mara Jade together. I loved it when they had a son and I loved it when they named him Ben. I thought it was even more interesting when this son, while he was just a toddler, but already strong in the Force, eschewed his father’s and his family’s legacy, afraid of what wielding such power might mean. What an interesting place to put our hero, looking at his own child who wants nothing to do with the family business.

Luckily, Ben came around and he is now quite the Force user. But along the way, he lost his mother and Luke lost a wife. And this is something that Allies brings to the fore so very well. In a twist I won’t reveal, Mara comes back to help both her boys and it’s Luke reaction to seeing her again that resonated deeply with this particular reader. The knowledge that Mara is gone, but can never really be dead (because she is now one with the Force) is at once the greatest gift and the harshest cruelty.

Perhaps the best part is that Allies set up a hell of an ending that has left me eager to get my hands on the next book in the series, Vortex. I’ve had some luck recently reading series of books that have made me anxious to read the next and that is such a gift as a reader, and so enviable as a writer. I for one am immensely glad that the Star Wars EU is still alive and well. And that all of our intrepid heroes still are too.

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