Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Andrew's Review of Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse



4/5 Rancors - James Luceno's Jedi Eclipse, the conclusion to his Agents of Chaos duology, ratchets the pace up a notch and provides one of the more memorable events of the New Jedi Order in its climax. The invasion of the galaxy continues. As the story starts we find Princess Leia desperately attempting to aid New Republic citizens about to be overrun by the Yuuzhan Vong. The opening also features arrogant Jedi Wurth Skidder and sets his story on a very intriguing arc, as he permits himself to be captured by the Vong. Han is continuing to travel with Droma and needs to complete Droma's quest to find his missing Ryn relatives to help heal his own emotional turmoil. Jacen and Anakin Solo set off to the Corellian system as part of a plan to re-activate Centerpoint, the massively powerful space station featured in the earlier Correllian Trilogy.

Wurth's journey as a Vong captive provides new insights into the culture of the extra-galactic invaders. He is forced to serve a yammosk, the massive creatures which serve the Vong as war coordinators. The risk is high, as the yammosk is able to peer into sentients' minds. Wurth walks a fine line of attempting to maintain contact with the yammosk while keeping his identity as a Jedi unrevealed. Eventually things fall apart, and Wurth takes a character leap forward as he accepts his destiny. I liked what Mr. Luceno did with the character and his sacrifice sets up interesting themes to come in the New Jedi Order, especially as a young Hutt travelling aboard the Vong ship comes to idolize him. At a point in the series where Luke and many of his closest advisors are taking relatively little action, Wurth provides a needed Jedi alternative.

Han and Droma continue to journey through the galaxy, and we also spend time with the refugee Ryn they are tracking as the Ryn are shuffled through a depressing series of refugee ships and camps. Han's emotional state continues to stabilize as action helps him to put the events of Vector Prime behind him. I can't say I find this emotional arc to be a story I ever particularly wanted to read but Mr. Luceno handles these stages of Han's journey well. While Han moves around the galaxy, Leia ends up in the Hapan system with her old suitor Prince Isolder. Nice to see a tie to The Courtship of Princess Leia, and though I found the duel storyline a bit trite, the end result of the Hapan commitment to the war is staggering.

Which brings us to the most interesting aspect of the climax: the Solo boys arrive at Centerpoint station in the middle of conflicting internal and external pressures. Jacen is continuing to question his relationship to the Force. Anakin is dealing with guilt from Vector Prime. Thracken Sal-Solo reappears and unsurprisingly is not entirely benevolent in his intentions. The Corellian system itself feels ill-used by the New Republic, a theme which will be explored thoroughly in later series. In the midst of all this, there is a simple scene where Anakin must decide whether to fire the weapon or not. His decision and the following ramifications are excellently depicted and the debate over what the right course of action was is fascinating.

Mr. Luceno handles the end of his duology quite capably, and of course manages to work in numerous call-outs to other Expanded Universe material. In the grand scheme of things, these books are part of a larger issue I have with the New Jedi Order storyline, as book after book hit similar points and the invasion drags on, but this one is a standout within that framework.

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