Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review: Star Wars - Conviction by Aaron Allston

Unlike some of the other Star Wars books I’ve reviewed recently for this blog, Aaron Allston’s Conviction is not really a good book for newcomers to just hop in and read. This is the seventh book in the Fate of the Jedi series, which in itself takes place decades after Return of the Jedi and assumes the reader has some knowledge of all that has transpired since (such as Luke Skywalker getting married and having a son of his own). I’m not going to spend any time in this review going over all the plots that have brought the series to this point, instead just focusing on the three main plotlines of this specific novel and the pluses and minuses of the story. The main action takes place on the city-world of Coruscant, and it’s easily the best part of this story. It is here that the Jedi are putting into motion a plan to overthrow the government, deciding that former Imperial Admiral Daala (and current Chief of State of the Galactic Alliance) is a danger and must be forcibly removed from power. Ironicially, there are other conspirators looking to take down the weakened Daala, and they find themselves as strange bedfellows in the aftermath of the coup. Also on the line is the result of the trial of former Jedi Knight Tahiri, accused of murder while under the influence of the Sith. With the Jedi taking control of the government what kind of backlash might she see in the courtroom – where her death sentence is all but confirmed. Former Jedi Knight and former Chief of State will find themselves teaming up with Boba Fett in order to escape their Conviction. Because of their actions on Coruscant, the Jedi are looking for a way to do some damage control – and they find it in the form of trying to help the slave revolts going on throughout the galaxy. Han and Leia, along with their granddaughter Allana, are sent to Klatooine to throw their support behind the most prominent revolt. Meanwhile Luke and his son Ben, along with the Sith girl Vestara, continue to track the dark side creature Abeloth through to the planet Nam Chorios. They wind up getting involved in solving the mysterious death of a scientist investigating various uses for the Death Seed plague, found only on this one planet in all the galaxy, figuring it will lead them to Abeloth herself. Most of this plot is really well done, and had me anticipating what would happen next each time the plot turned to another set of characters. Unfortunately, I feel like Tahiri’s trial get’s a bit of a short shrift – after all the set-up and build-up in prior novels, the trial just comes to an immediate resolution in a very short amount of time. I understand the reasoning behind it, so it’s not a case where I think the author made a poor decision, but I rather wanted to see the Star Wars justice system really take the forefront in this book, instead of it playing just this minor part. I couldn’t help but feel that the Klatooine story was almost tacked on to the end of the book. The bulk of the action has already taken place, the main plot as it were, before the reader is ever taken to Klatooine. The slavery plot has seemed a bit like filler in some of the prior books of this series, and it’s not a lot different here. For the most part, I enjoyed Conviction thought I’m not sold on the fact that both in this book and in Backlash the author revisited planets from older Star Wars books that I didn’t find all that interesting the first time around. In general it may just not have been a very interesting idea to have this “revisiting the past” thing that Fate of the Jedi is doing as the over-arching idea behind the series, but that isn’t necessarily the fault of any one particular author. I look forward to seeing some of these plot lines begin to wrap up in Ascension (the next book in the series), so in any case, the novel achieved its objective in ramping up my anticipation for the next Fate of the Jedi book. Even more, I look forward with great anticipation to reading Aaron Allston’s return to the X-Wing novels with a new book in that series in 2012.