19 March 2008

Book 3: Tempest: Check your credulity at the door

Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines
Troy Denning

28 November 2006

This third volume in the Legacy series is perhaps the easiest read thus far. Denning brings a light touch to composition, leading the reader from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, chapter to chapter. It's a wonderful experience to be carried along so effortlessly, caught up in a spell that for a short time obscures the world outside these pages.

The series limps along without any additional information about what's causing this galaxy-wide conflict, so leave behind any such expectations, then get ready to swallow this: Han Solo, the newly minted Correllian nationalist, is sent along with Leia as emissary to convince the Hapes Consortium to remain neutral in Corellia's conflict with the Galactic Alliance. In reality, they've been sent as bait to lure Queen Tenel Ka into the open for an assassination attempt, part of a wider plot to install a pro-Corellian government on Hapes. Realizing they've been set-up, Han and Leia try to warn the Queen, only to be caught up in the shooting once the assassin strikes. Everyone thinks Han and Leia are part of the plan and so the two play along, teaming up with and helping the frustrated assassin escape so that they can uncover the plotters. From there it just gets sillier, as the Solos convince the assassin's handler that they are in fact part of a plot to kill the former Jedi and longtime friend of the family, and later when the shooting resumes to do nothing to save the Queen in order to protect their credentials as Corellian nationalists.

As if that weren't incredulous enough, there's the 80-year old assassin who gives Jacen a run for his money. The big, bad, dark-sider is saved from extinction by his 5-year old daughter (who tawks with an annoyingly steweotypical wisp). Luke and Mara's 13-year old son, Ben, who in the previous volume was for the very first time sensitively written, is reduced by Denning into a whiny, petulant teenager.

Then there's the problem of death, or more specifically how all the major and even minor characters avoid it. This book is packed with violent encounters of all kinds - Mara and Luke take on Lumiya; the assassin shoots it up with the Hapes Royal Guard before trading lightsaber blows with Jacen; Alema goes a round with Mara; Jaina and Zekk are pounded by two YVH battle droids and a dozen starfighters and later have to evacuate spacecraft twice; the Falcon, limping along without shields, is rocked by a massive turbolaser blast; and out of all this carnage, the only corpses in sight are a Jedi you likely won't remember from the Dark Nest trilogy and Leia's two Noghri bodyguards.

In the end, the pro-Corellian plot is put down, all the major and supporting characters have survived (a few with treatable wounds), Luke and Mara seem no wiser about Jacen's turn to the dark side (though they do finally assert their parental rights to take their son back to Coruscant), and about the only development of significance seems to be the beginning of a rivalry between Jacen and Lumiya. In other words, nothing much happens to advance the story.

Which is why Denning's writing saves this from being little more than an exercise in selling more product to Star Wars fans.


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