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New 'Star Wars' book a disappointing follow-up


Arizona Daily Wildcat

By Christopher Jivan
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 10, 2000
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"New Jedi Order," the second book in an ambitious new series of "Star Wars" spin-off novels, fails to live up to the high standards of its predecessors.

Written by Michael A. Stackpole, "New Jedi Order: Dark Tide: Onslaught," takes place some 21 years after the film "Return of the Jedi" and just a few short months after the first "New Jedi Order" book.

Stackpole fills the latest novel with a number of returning characters from the movies like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and R2-D2.

Unfortunately, Han Solo and C-3PO are barely in the novel, which would be excusable with suitable replacements.

Instead, Stackpole fills the book with a number of new characters that, for the most part, pale in comparison to the originals.

This includes young scientist Danni Quee, a woman with no real relevance other than shadowing other characters and developing her "Force" powers.

Like all the characters, Danni engages in a number of drawn out conversations where the characters over-explain things - definitely not a trait of the "Star Wars" movies.

This over-explaining is also present in the author's description of the action.

For instance, during a heated space battle, Stackpole fills the pages with so much techno-babble and mechanical explanation it is almost easy to forget there is a space battle going on.

Still, Stackpole makes do with what he has. The characters all possess a distinct flavor - quite an accomplishment considering the amount of characters.

The story is a worthy bridge between the new "Star Wars" trilogy and the original movies, most notably in the sub-plot involving Luke Skywalker's attempts to learn more about the Jedi Knights.

The main plot of the story, however, centers around an outside invasion by a race of evil aliens called the Yuuzhan Vong.

In the previous novel, these aliens have already attacked once and in "Onslaught" are back for more.

It is up to Luke and his new Jedi Order to stop them. However, halfway into the book the invasion gets slightly boring and repetitive, resulting in a lackluster conclusion that paves way for the third book in the series.

This is not to say that "Onslaught" is a bad book.

On the contrary, it has enough action and adventure to make it a fast read. There are definitely some interesting ideas about the Force and the Jedi Knights.

The book, however, lacks a central villain - something so necessary to the "Star Wars" movies from which it draws inspiration.

This would be like "Star Wars" without Darth Vader - nothing more than a bunch of stormtroopers chasing around the heroes.

For devoted followers of "Star Wars," there are definitely some great aspects to this novel and it is well worth picking up.

But for anyone who has yet to read "Vector Prime" - the first book in the "New Jedi Order" series - "Onslaught" is not the best place to start.

Christopher Jivan can be reached at catalyst@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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