Monday, July 6, 2015

David's Review of The Unifying Force

5/5 Rancors - At last I have finished the 19 books of the New Jedi Order. It ends big. James Luceno does his usual good job as he wraps things up in The Unifying Force. Mr. Luceno is one of the best, and I knew he wouldn't let us down. He ties things together and reaches a conclusion while at the same time reminding us of happenings from other books.

As expected, the war with the Yuuzhan Vong ends with a huge battle. The sentient planet of Zonama Sekot has a major role as do the Shamed Ones, the oppressed members of the Yuuzhan Vong society. The Jedi reach a clearer understanding of the Force with the help of Vergere and Zonama Sekot. Everybody seems to work together until things begin to make sense.

A key player in all of this is the Vong's Supreme Overlord Shimmra. He is somewhat of a mysterious leader through the series, and his fortunes take an unexpected direction during the twists and turns at the end of the book. Just remember that everything is not as it seems. Keep a close eye on Nom Anor. The final battle is huge and very satisfying. Jacen Solo is a key contributor here.

I admit to being somewhat relieved that my journey through the New Jedi Order has finally come to an end. I felt bogged down many times. However, the overall journey was worth it. The Yuuzhan Vong were fascinating, mysterious aliens. The ability of the Republic and the Jedi to deal with them was in doubt many times. For the most part the various authors in the series wrote well and kept us as readers on our toes. The New Jedi Order and The Unifying Force are worthwhile parts of the Star Wars saga. In particular, I look forward to reading more of Mr. Luceno's books.

David's Review of The Final Prophecy

4/5 Rancors - Well, at long last I am nearing the end of the New Jedi Order series of nineteen books, and I believe that the last two books will restore my enthusiasm. The Final Prophecy, the next-to-last book, is certainly a step in the right direction. Greg Keyes has done a good job. This book seems more focused on select Jedi and Yuuzhan Vong rather than trying to describe everybody's adventures while at the same time going into never-ending discussions of Jedi philosophy. The New Jedi Order really could have been reduced by about half.

The living planet Zonama Sekot is the crux of the book. I found a sentient planet to be an interesting concept. Corran Horn and Tahiri are sent on a mission to Zonama Sekot. As if that didn't cause enough problems, their companions on the mission are three Yuuzhan Vong - Harrar, an important priest; Nen Yim, a shaper; and Nom Anor in his Prophet disguise. All of this creates an extremely interesting mix of characters thrown together. Plus, Luke Skywalker and Jacen Solo are already on the planet with a team trying to understand Zonama Sekot's potential role in bringing about peace with the Yuuzhon Vong. An interesting plot.

As if this weren't enough, we also have Wedge Antilles leading a campaign to retake the Bilbringer system. Things do not go well and Wedge's forces find themselves stranded deep in Yuuzhan Vong space cut off from help. Trickery and outstanding tactics will be called for. Is Wedge up to the challenge?

The Final Prophecy is a must-read book, especially if you have gone this far in the New Jedi Order series. One more book to go. Hang in there.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

David: Rancor Spotting #38

Force Heretic III: Reunion by Sean Williams and Shane Dix

Location 3840 on iPad - Clearly, it is widely known that rancors are at the top of the food chain.

On Esfandia - "Relatively speaking, the Cold Ones are like rancors, at the top of the food chain, eating anything they can get their mouths around farther down."

David's Review of Force Heretic III: Reunion

2/5 Rancors - I have expressed before my discouragement about how the New Jedi Order series seems to go on forever (19 books), and it doesn’t need to. Judicious editing could have helped things so much. The Force Heretic stories constitute the only trilogy in the series, and they continue the slow pace. I will be glad to see the end of the New Jedi Order and maybe the Yuuzhan Vong.

As in the first two books of the trilogy, the reader’s attention in Reunion has to be divided among Luke Skywalker’s team’s location of the living planet Zonoma Sekot, the adventures of the Solos around the galaxy as they try to help out wherever possible, and Nom Anor’s reformation as The Prophet. I find the concept of Zonoma Sekot to be interesting and Han and Leia’s efforts to be entertaining but I am really tired of reading about Nom Anor. I’m sure there is more to come before I escape the New Jedi Order so I’ll just have to hang in there.

One last complaint. The Force Heretic trilogy doesn’t believe in chapter breaks, but I am used to that. In Reunion the action or the story constantly shift around no matter what is going on. I found it to be very disconcerting.

As far as a brief plot summary is concerned, Luke’s team has found the mystical living planet Zonoma Sekot. We are not sure why that is so important, but it certainly seems to be. The Jedi are uncertain what to make of the place and why Vergere placed so much importance on it. It is a good part of the plot. Han and Leia are helping to defend a communications relay on Esfandia and meeting new alien species. Nom Anor is continuing his nefarious ways of trying to get back into the good graces of the leaders of the Yuuzhan Vong.

I am coming towards the end of the New Jedi Order.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

David: Rancor Spotting #37

Force Heretic II: Refugee by Sean Williams and Shane Dix

Page 5 - Luke and company being pursued

"With their great rancorlike heads bent low, sniffing for a scent, Luke knew that the smooth- and pink-skinned aliens wouldn't be too far behind, converging from around the ruined palace to join in the hunt for the landing party."

David's Review of Force Heretic II: Refugee

2/5 Rancors - Just so you’ll know where we stand, Refugee is the second book in the Force Heretic trilogy by Sean Williams and Shane Dix and the 16th book in the New Jedi Order series, a series that seems to go on forever. I am determined to read all of the Star Wars books, so I am not giving up now, but I have to admit that I am pleased that I only have three books to go in the New Jedi Order. The publisher should have insisted on some extensive editing in the entire series. I think it is entirely possible that the authors were paid by the word.

In Refugee the story goes slowly. We continually break away from the interesting quest to find the sentient planet Zonoma Sekot to read about other side quests that are going on. We also spend a huge amount of time reading about Nom Anor’s progression into his new role as the prophet Yu’shaa. To add to the book’s lassitude it has no chapter breaks. It just keeps plodding along.

The three Force Heretic storylines continue here. Luke Skywalker along with Mara Jade Skywalker and Jacen Solo continue their search for Zonoma Sekot. The particularly interesting factor now is that they have entered Chiss space. However, don’t get your hopes up for a huge amount of action. Much of their time is spent doing research at a library.

The second storyline is Han and Leia’s efforts to restore communications and diplomatic relations throughout the space that used to be the New Republic with their efforts focused here on Bakura. The third storyline is Nom Anor of the Yuuzhan Vong. We keep reading about him so he must play an important role somewhere down the line.

I will keep reading. Surely at some point soon the good guys will find a way to deal with the Yuuzhan Vong aliens. One can hope.

Monday, December 8, 2014

David's Review of Force Heretic I: Remnant

3/5 Rancors - Well, in Force Heretic I: Remnant by Sean Williams and Shane Dix, the New Jedi Order has become sluggish once more. I have had problems with many of the books in the first half of the series because too much time was spent worrying about Jedi philosophy, arguing about the most appropriate way of doing things, and describing exotic things about the Yuuzhan Vong that I am incapable of visualizing. We very much need a pictorial guide to the Yuuzhan Vong.

Remnant is a long book without the usual chapter breaks. I kept looking for a good place to stop. Show some action. Keep things moving along. You are not being paid by the word.

A few interesting things happen. The Yevetha, a skeletal, death-centered species are back. Admiral Pellaeon has returned with the Imperial Remnant and is a welcome character. Other connections to the past happen as well. Our plot basically focuses on a group led by Luke that is going to the Imperial Remnant, a second group led by the Solos that is trying to improve diplomacy and communications everywhere, and a third story involving Nom Anor’s attempts to survive on the Yuuzhan Vong capital world (used to be Coruscant). The story also sets the stage for Luke’s future attempts to find the sentient planet Zonama Sekot. That effort may turn out to be the solution to the ongoing war, but it does not happen in this book.

Remnant is a stepping-stone to the next books, so it needs to be read. Plus, I think the concept of Zonama Sekot will pique your interest.