The second of what will be nine spoiler-free reviews of Fate of the Jedi is ready. For those of you like me who hear “spoiler” and run as far in the other direction as possible, you can finally find out if Christie Golden’s Omen– her debut in the Star Wars expanded universe- is any good or not.
Luke Skywalker, founder and Grand Master of the Jedi Order, is in the midst of what has already been an event-filled exile to atone for the mistakes of Jedi past. At the critical time period where Skywalker’s wisdom and ability are denied to them, the Jedi Order needs him most, as Jedi continue to succumb to the mysterious delusions that have been affecting the generation raised during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. Even as Luke searches for the cause of this mysterious affliction, another danger to the Jedi and the galaxy arises in secret.
My job’s not to hint and squeal at the properties this novel has for a canon fanatic such as myself (although there are many), but to review its quality as a book. That’s good for me, because I’ve been cutting out near-spoiler after near-spoiler and a whole bunch of stuff that really doesn’t matter to you if you can’t tell what I’m talking about. Most people reading this review will have read the excerpt included with Outcast, which many believed was written by Aaron Allston as well. I say to you, the quality of this excerpt was not a fluke. While you come to see evidence that Christie Golden and Mr. Allston are not the same person, her style and quality of writing is very similar to his, which is definitely saying something. Characterization is outstanding. She pushes me along the intended course of the novel, but I don’t feel like I was pushed.
Star Trek, at least, what little I know of it, is known for introducing new societies and species and within an hour, making you feel as though you’re familiar with much of their society. In this light, there’s no surprise that Christie Golden, best known as a Star Trek author, began her work in the Star Wars universe in Fate of the Jedi, which may give us our first novel glimpses of as many as eight such societies (oh, how I hope it does so). She does her job well, though I would have liked to see a little more of this. Unfortunately, the novel is just too short to give us more of what we want, and I see it less as a flaw of her planning than as knowing what is completely irrelevant to the novel (despite me personally wanting it). In the end, I think since we got what we need, and that it would be beyond the scope of the novel for me to expect Miss Golden to give me more.
Golden does just as well with pre-exisiting characters, giving us some scenes very reminiscent of Allston or even Matthew Stover. The banter rode the line between campy entertainment and over the top, but I don’t think it really fell in one direction. Universally true facts about humans hooked us on the characters, which is becoming more and more common in Science Fiction lately. Hand in hand with this (the human aspect) was the humor, and the emotion in the novel. We get some really good emotional scenes, happy and sad, and there’s a lot of humor that requires you to like and dislike the characters Golden does. Thankfully, this is a task the author makes easy to do. See if you can spot who her favorite character seems to be. Oh, and her favorite species- count the blue plush elephant guys! (No offense to any Ortolans intended.)
Probably the only thing I was disappointed at, other than a few things I mentioned that were pretty much necessary to the plot, was some lack of appearance. I don’t want to go into much about the lacking character or characters, but suffice it to say that it’s a pet peeve of mine and it really held back some joy when I realized I wasn’t going to see them as much as I expected.
In the end, I would recommend this book to any Star Wars lover. It’s a very character based, slightly plot driven novel, which holds a lot of appeal in the aftermath of the darker, more plot driven Legacy of the Force. Only time will tell if this focus can remain once the plot swings into high gear, but if Omen is any indication, Christie Golden will pull through. May the Force be with you.