19 March 2008

Book 5: Sacrifice: The series begins rocking

Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice
Karen Traviss

29 May 2007

Two major characters die in battle, a minor character is assassinated by one of the principles, a government is overthrown, a leader imprisoned, and the antagonist crosses into territory so villainous he can never hope to return.

Oh, and Boba Fett makes a major discovery about a long-lost family member.

At last, something is happening in the Legacy of the Force series, which until now has been a political drama without politics, punctuated by outbreaks of violence that do nothing to move the story along. The beginning of each book seemed exactly like the one before.

All that's changed now in this 5th of nine volumes. If for no other reason than something actually happens, Sacrifice is by far the best book in the series thus far. It also happens to be mostly well written and suspenseful, at least in the latter half. The beginning plods along like much of the rest of the previous volumes, but as soon as Jacen sends Ben off an a mission of assassination, the story suddenly loses all slack, a taut tale that keeps you turning the pages.

It's fairly hard to summarize the plot without giving away all the details. Anyone who has been following the series and reads the first paragraph above can probably guess who is doing what, though I for one didn't anticipate the identity of the titular sacrifice. I'm not unhappy with the choice, though it does seem a bit out of place given the prophecy that sets it up, that Jacen will kill the thing he loves. Obviously, the real sacrifice will be Jacen's family, which is sure to disown him once they learn who he's dispatched. (Interestingly, all of the Jedi deaths in the series so far have been female characters, including Tresina Lobi and Nelani, plus a non-Jedi Force user in Sacrifice).

Once it gets going, Sacrfice flags only when Traviss diverts from the main plot to write about Fett and the Mandalorians. These chapters actually contain quite a lot of interesting material - Boba learns to accept his new role as leader of his people and their planet, a new industry is launched, the Mandalorians get back into the political game, and Boba makes a surprising discovery about his wife. But dropped in between the action, the Boba chapters interrupt the suspense like bad television commercials.

And after all the pages spent on Jacen's ruminations about what the prophecy means and who he would have to sacrifice, there is no explanation of his new Sith name, why he chose it, and what it means to him.

There are a couple of other nits worth picking, but most can't be discussed without giving away the plot. Suffice it to say that Sacrifice may be the place to start reading Legacy of The Force. Let's hope the writers and editors can maintain the momentum.


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