December 07, 2005

Vector Prime

"Vector Prime" is the first book of a new 25-book series by lots of different authors. Each book is sort-of stand alone, but the whole story arc involves the invasion of the Star Wars galaxy by a militaristic race that uses organic technology and pretty much exists outside of the force. Kind of like an organic Borg race, with a collective mode and an individual mode.

R. A. Salvatore, who has written tons of Dungeons and Dragons related pulp which I haven't read (but 16-year-old J*stin seems to like him), was given the honor of kicking off the series, which begins 21 years after events in Return of the Jedi. During this post-Jedi era, Han and Leia have had a pair of twins, Jacen and Jaina, along with a younger kid named Anakin. Their childhood and adolescence has largely been covered in the main series of books (wayyyy too many kidnapping plots), but they are covered in more depth in a series of books for kids about "Young Jedi Knights" and so on.

Luke has gotten married to another force-strong person who flirted with the dark side, Mara Jade. No kids. Luke is sort of the "elder Jedi" in the galaxy, and over the 21 years, he has trained others, who are now training others, etc., so the Jedi are repopulating, but there is no central academy (yet). This series of books is called "The New Jedi Order", for reasons which I imagine will become clear as events unfold.

All of these people are major characters in this book, which for me is kind of a bummer. In the post-Jedi universe, I have a strong preference for Star Wars books that involve new major characters because you don't know what will happen to them. Salvatore was given license to break this rule and kill off one major character, but I guess I won't spoil it other than to say I wasn't really impressed with the way this character was killed off. Kinda felt like how they killed off Tasha Yar in ST:TNG, though there was a little more to it than that. I guess it was supposed to be a symbolic thing, breaking with the past. Salvatore has given a lengthy interview about this book, and he talks about that a bit.

I guess I should talk about the book itself. Like all good pulp, this was a lot of fun to read but pretty forgettable once I was done. Now that may be because I was using chapters of this book as breaks between spurts of grading essay exams over the past 48 hours, I'll admit. The action was good, and I was interested in the new characters. As I said before, there is a downside to having a lot of the action fall around the central characters (Han, Leia, Luke, Chewie, Lando, R2D2, C3PO, et al) because you know they're essentially never in danger (well, okay, one is). Hell, even the major secondary characters (Mara, the kids, Kyp) are never in danger because no author is allowed to kill off big characters without permission from On High or radically alter the plot.

But since this is a brand new major story arc, there is a lot of new development going on. So while this story has a definite end, there are many plot threads left hanging. That got me interested enough that I will pursue the series further. I'm also going to go back and fill in the timeline up to this point, and the next book I'll read is Zahn's latest Star Wars effort. Zahn remains the best author in this genre, and his three-book trilogy (revolving around Grand Admiral Thrawn) is the standard nothing has quite lived up to yet.

Posted by Observer at December 7, 2005 09:22 PM
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