19 March 2008

Book 4: Exile: Still nothing much happening

Legacy of the Force: Exile
Aaron Allston

27 February 2007

This fourth volume in the Legacy of the Force series brings us now to near mid-point in the planned nine-volume series and leaves us in much the same spot as we were at the end volume three, with all the major heroes and villains having had another go at one another without serious injury, death, or development of plot.

Now on the run from both The Galactic Alliance and Corellia, the exiled Han and Leia Solo seek the aid and assistance of Lando Calrissian, who joins his old friends in disguise as owners of a gambling and pleasure ship. Together they arrange GA license to operate in Corellian space, where they sit, watch, and wait for the disfigured and deranged Twilek, Alema Rar. Back from his own exile is Chis pilot Jagged Fel, whose personal mission dovetails nicely with Han and Leia's and who under Luke's orders is assigned to work with Jaina and Zekk to capture or destroy the former Dark Nester and agent of the series' arch villain, Lumiya.

Jacen, meanwhile, sends Ben on a mission to test his cousin's suitability as a Sith apprentice, a mission that ends with Ben stranded on the ancient Sith home world of Ziost fighting for physical survival. While Ben struggles to balance the imperative of his mission with the Jedi imperative to protect life, other worlds join Corellia in seceding from the GA, widening the potential conflict and setting up Exile's final scene, in which Jacen infiltrates a meeting to elect a military commander for the newly christened Corellian Confederation

That particular mission turns rather predictably to failure, an end clumsily telegraphed to any reader passingly familiar with action/adventure/fantasy fiction, in which the details of military plans are glossed to preserve suspense for the actual battle scenes. Here, though, author Aaron Allston lays out the entire scheme, a clear sign that the plan is not what it seems - or will very quickly be made moot once the action starts. Authorial ruse was evident as well in Jacen's insistence that he himself act as the spy at the election meeting when under circumstances not dictated by the need to maneuver the characters Jacen would have sent a less noticeable agent.

Allston also treats us to some spiffy new technology, including a device that delivers an electric shock to transfer short-term memories to long-term memory, effectively short-circuiting Alema Rar's ability to erase her presence from the minds of those who have seen her. As electric shock has in the real world been found to cause memory loss, we're left to wonder is this idea is based on anything but imagination.

Still now we don't know exactly what caused the rift between the GA and its member worlds, except for some vague pronouncements, provided in Exile from Leia, that the conflict between the GA and Corellia was the "inevitable conclusion of their respective political directions." Read into that whatever you will. The authors are not likely to provide anything more.

About the only things noteworthy in Exile, besides a few good one-liners, are Allston's revival of the "Sword of the Jedi" prophecy, foreshadowing Jaina's return to center stage (and her possible role as Jacen's foil), as well as his Solo-Skywalker thesis, that the universe has been kept whole only because these families have worked in concert. The corollary, of course, is that the universe is now going to pot because this alliance has been fractured and its members now set against each other. If the Legacy series continues as it has thus far developed, the Solo-Skywalker thesis will probably not be explored in future volumes, although the title for the upcoming fifth volume, Sacrifice, and the announcement of Jacen's Sith name, suggest author Karen Traviss may be giving us something more than another predictable battle-royale.


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