Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yoda: Dark Rendezvous

Yoda, Dark Rendezvous: A Clone Wars Novel
2004 Sean Stewart

The long day of the Republic had come to an end. (Pg. 1)

I've been in a Star Wars frame of mind ever since Thanksgiving when I began to anticipate enjoying my Christmas Star Wars viewing. As such, I keep wanting to read more, and so this week I did. As you might surmise from the title, the book is set during the Clone Wars, which began at the end of Attack of the Clones and which concluded at the end of Revenge of the Sith. For the uninitiated, the Clone Wars refer to the war between the Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. The CIS is led by Count Dooku, General Grevious, and (secretly) Lord Sideous. Their armies consist of massive amounts of droids (who are kind enough to provide comic relief before they are destroyed) and odd-looking battle machines that look rather ungainly. The Republic's armies consists of Clone Troopers, commanded by Jedi knights. Count Dooku was once a Jedi knight, but left the order and now wars against his former brethren.

During a high point of this war, a Jedi escapes from fighting Dooku and one of his force-using minions with a message from Count Dooku. It seems he wants to parley with his former master and seek an end to the war. His former master is Yoda, perhaps best known for hitting R2-D2 with a stick. Yoda is actually one of the more recognizable characters in the Star Wars universe -- alongside Darth Vader, I would guesstimate those two are the two most well-known. Yoda, two Jedi knights, and their padawans set off in secret to meet Dooku. Meanwhile, the two young padawans are struggling with self-conflicts. One, Whie, keeps have disturbing dreams that suggest he will turn to the Dark Side, while the other -- Scout -- copes with being weak in the Force.

Dooku's plea is of course a ruse, and there's lot of political intrigue here. The book climaxes on a planet steeped in the Dark Side (there seem to be a lot of those in the Extended Universe), where Yoda and Dooku's personalities come into conflict -- first in discussing their philosophies, and then putting a finer point on said discussion. While the main characters are Yoda, the two Padawans, and Dooku, there are a number of assisting characters. Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker appear in the end, and the author weaves in foreboding passages about Anakin's character. A character from the Clone Wars cartoon series who is Anakin's arch-nemesis also appears. She's a Dark Jedi who is not apprenticed to Dooku, but does his bidding in the hopes that he'll off Sideous and they can rule the galaxy. (Say what you will about Palpatine, but he does realize the "Apprentice someone who will try to kill you" tradition of the Sith does not lend itself well to job security.)

The story is quite interesting, as is the characterization. It's a worthy addition to the EU universe, but what I really want to compliment is the author's ability to really give background: we see the Republic changing as the war wears on, in both their view of the Chancellor and of the Jedi. Given the attitudes we witness in this book, it's not hard to contemplate the public's lack of response to Order 66. Also, the ongoing discussion of Sith and Jedi philosophy is really intriguing. The author makes insightful comments about human nature through his characters' discussion of these matters. One quotation I liked was "Loyalty is stronger going up than coming down." Another -- "It's always so easy to avoid other people's vices, isn't it?"

This was an excellent book. I recommend it even over the Darth Bane books, which is saying something given how much I enjoyed them.

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