May 03, 2005

Jedi Trial

Another day, another Clone Wars book in the can. This time, it is "Jedi Trial" by David Sherman and Dan Cragg. In this one, Obi Wan goes off on some other adventure, leaving Anakin to make friends with another Jedi named Halcyon, who is a bland, generic Jedi (related to a pilot who appears in the very good X-Wing series, though, but nothing is made of that). The two get sent on a military mission to fight back a Separatist invasion of an important communications center.

Basically, the book goes to great lengths (too far) in order to rationalize the need for a bloody infantry battle, in which Anakin leads his clone troopers into combat against a droid army. The authors tried to paint a picture of the battlefield, talking about this hill, that flank, these hills with rocks in front of them, that rise back over there, etc., but without a map, the tactical discussions did very little for me (especially considering how they ended up being completely irrelevant).

Character development in this one was effectively zero. Ventress made a few cameo appearances, as did Dooku, but neither was eventful. The other supposedly colorful characters here were Slake and Tonith, one representing the military genius on either side of the lines, but they were hardly developed beyond a few basic personality quirks. The authors also followed a few grunts around, but there was nothing exceptional about that plotline either. About the only significant plot point in the grand scheme of things is that Anakin got to cry on the shoulder of Halcyon about being married even though it is forbidden because Halcyon is also secretly married.

All in all, this was the most disappointing of the bunch so far, a quick read but really felt like a throwaway effort. This seemed to be geared more toward adolescent readers, a la the "Young Jedi Knights" series (which I haven't read), except for the occasional blood and gore scene. There are a couple more Clone Wars books, but I don't know that I'll get them read before Episode III comes out.

Besides, I just got offered big money to review a healthy chunk of a new textbook, so there goes my reading time during the upcoming break. I love textbook reviews. I'm interested in the subject anyway and always looking for new ideas, new approaches for my class, and publishers pay me to do it. It's a big job perk. Sometimes it just amounts to a legitimate bribe, because all a publisher really wants me to do is give the book serious consideration for adoption ("Keep it fair, kid. Keep it fair."), but I'm pretty objective about these things, and I always review everything thoroughly and pick the best book no matter what.

Posted by Observer at May 3, 2005 09:32 AM

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