I started reading the Clone Wars novels with the last one, "Labyrinth of Evil" (2nd best of the bunch) by James Luceno, then I went back to the beginning and read the series, leaving out (for now) the "Republic Commando: Hard Contact" novel because I figured it was just a video game tie-in (I've since heard it is one of the better of the series, which is faint praise, but still, I probably should've started there). So I began with "Shatterpoint" (3rd best) by Matt Stover, which was okay. Then on to "The Cestus Deception" by Steven Barnes, which was disappointing (5th best).
I went out of order based on what I could find at the library (the proper order is found in the front few pages of any of the novels), so I read "Jedi Trial" (6th) by David Sherman, which I liked the least. From there, I went on to the "Medstar" duology by Reaves and Perry (4th), which was comparable in quality to "Shatterpoint". Finally, I finished "Dark Rendezvous" by Sean Stewart (1st). This was a good one to end the series on although Luceno's book would have been best, since it leads immediately into the movie.
Anakin and Obi-Wan make only a token appearance in this book, and their act is pretty much the same as shown in the other Clone Wars novels. The two characters work well together. When either is off alone, I don't think any of the authors does a good job. "The Cestus Deception" deals largely with Obi-Wan alone, and "Jedi Trial" with Anakin alone, and those were the weakest efforts of the bunch. The main focus is around two teenage students on the verge of becoming Padawan learners, a prescient force-strong boy named Whie and a very savvy force-weak girl named Scout. Of all the throwaway characters in the various Clone Wars novels, I liked these two the best. Scout's adventures at the Jedi Academy were reminiscent of Ender's Game without being a ripoff or embarrassingly inept, and I thought the author did a good job with Whie and his foresight.
There are also a couple more semi-sentient droids in this who were pretty good characters. I'd like to see more like that in the future. But this novel more than any other, gives a lot of space for the development of Yoda, Dooku and Dooku's almost-apprentice Asajj Ventress. And all of that stuff is very good. The final confrontation of the novel, between Dooku and Yoda, went off very well, and the adventures Yoda has on his way to that confrontation were also a very good read.
If you're not a nut like me who wants to read everything, I'd say the only two novels truly worth your while in the era between Episode II and III are "Dark Rendezvous" and "Labyrinth of Evil". Neither one advances the plot too much, but between them, they do a very good job developing the major characters (Anakin, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Dooku, Palpatine, Grievous and Ventress) who will play a role in Episode III. I don't know yet if Luminara and Barriss will play a role, but if you want more on them, you can read "The Approaching Storm" by Alan Dean Foster, which takes place prior to Episode II and then "Medstar", both of which are decent.Posted by Observer at May 21, 2005 11:26 AM
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