Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Star Wars: Coruscant Nights 1: Jedi Twilight by Michael Reaves

The Jedi order has fallen, along with their temple, and the few remaining Jedi who survived the fall are on the run. Evan Piell has survived by going to Coruscant downlevels. But now his luck has run out- a bunch of clone troopers have finally tracked him down.

Also tracking him down is Nick Rostu, a former member of the Republic Army, who has rudimentary Force powers and senses, but who isn't a Jedi. Since the fall of the Temple, he's also gone under the city and made a living for himself as a Bounty Hunter/Private Eye.

He happens on the fight of Evan Piell against the clone troopers at the very last minute. Piell has defeated the troopers, but he's badly injured and dying. Nick receives the dying Jedi Master's last request, to track down a special droid with information badly needed by the rebellion on it. The droid, 10-4TO is nicknamed "Bugeyes" and was hidden from the Empire. Evan Piell was tracking it down, but sadly was ambushed before he could finish his mission. Now, he wants Nick to do the job.

But Nick is a wanted man by the empire, and he can't just pull up and leave. He does, however, know someone who *can* take on the old Jedi's mission, Evan Piell's student, Jax Pavan.

Jax was but recently made a Jedi before the fall of the temple, and was one of the few to escape the carnage. Now, he's been reduced to working for the Hutts. Or one specific Hutt, Rokko the Hutt. Jax tracked down a grifter named Chryyx for Rokko, who wanted to talk with him, but the alien was so terrified of Rokko that he killed himself before Jax could deliver him, so Rokko refuses to pay Jax's fee.

This angers Jax, because he was planning on using the money to escape Coruscant, and now he will have to put his escape off. Unfortunately for Jax, he's attracted the attention of an old friend turned foe, Darth Vader. Darth wants Jax, for reasons of his own, and sets his own agents to tracking Jax down.

Meanwhile, Sullustan Den Dhuur is also looking for Jax, to return to him a special droid that once belonged to Jax's father, I-5YQ. I-5 isn't one of your normal sorts of droids, but one with an independent personality, with emotions, likes and dislikes that are more than just programmed responses. He's looking for Jax because of his personal loyalty to Jax's father, and wants to help Jax out.

But even though Den Dhuur and I-5 know Jax is on Coruscant, and in the down planet area, it's still a pretty big place to search, and they are running out of money. Plus, Jax and Nick Rostu aren't the only ones out after 10-4TO. Prince Xixor of the Black Sun is also after the droid for the knowledge it conains, but he may sell it to the highest bidder, or use the knowledge to take over the Black Sun, since he isn't its head yet, just one of the second-in-commands. Add in the various clone troopers still hunting the Jedi and a female Twi'lek from a Jedi offshoot group who rarely use the force and specialize in guns, not lightsabers, and Jax's force abilities coming and going with no warning, and its a sure bet that Jax is going to have his work cut out for him in just staying alive...

This is the first of a new trilogy for Star Wars, and involves minor characters from the films. At least, Evan Piell is a minor member of the Jedi Council in the film, and the second book will be focussing on the pilot of Queen Amidala's/Senator Padme Amidala's private spacecraft as he attempts to get revenge on those who killed her- you can all imagine how that one will end!

I found this an interesting book, even though I wasn't into the prequel trilogy as much as I was the original movies, and I didn't know who Evea Piell was until I was repairing a Star Wars book for the Library I work at and there were pictures of the Jedi Council at the bottom of the page I was repairing and saw his name and picture. What I did like were some of the in-jokes that the author worked into the book, like Rokko the Hutt's guards, a Niktu and a Klatoonian. Which brought to my mind, of course, "Gort, Klaatu Barada Nikto!" from "The Day the Earth Stood Still", but it's stolen from Episode VI, where the same races appear on Jabba's Skiff in a Nikto named Klaatu and a Klatoonian named Barada. The other joke, being the name of Jax's father's droid. Remove the number and you have IYQ or "I Like You".

Not a bad book, but I think unless you are really heavily into the Star Wars universe, this book didn't really need to be told. We find out how Evan Piell died, and we get to see some of Darth Vader's early attempts to stamp out the few remaining Jedi, but it never seemed to me that we found out why Darth wanted Jax dead above all the other Jedi- or why he was devoting such a scheme to killing him off. I like the idea of the Jedi splinter groups, and an actual sentient droid with a real personality, but ultimately, I found the story rather forgettable. It''s good, but not really earthshaking. Recommended.

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