I am now on to books 2 and 3 of the New Jedi Order, starting with Dark Tide I: Onslaught and finally the rather ominously titled Dark Tide II: Ruin. These books are written by one of the fabled X-Wing authors – Michael Stackpole. I enjoyed Stackpole’s writing, it was a slightly denser style than Vector Prime and so I didn’t blitz through these two books, instead I was able to take my time and savour the story. His writing actually felt similar to my beloved Timothy Zahn’s – which is always a good thing!
In these two books, Leia was much more in character which was a welcome relief. The galaxy is also back to mistrusting her and generally ignoring her warnings of impending doom, something which you would think the New Republic would have learned from by now but hey-ho!
Mistrust for the Jedi runs deep and, given their past actions (I’m looking at YOU Wurth Skidder!) I reluctantly understand! We get more time inside Jacen, Jaina and Anakin’s heads which was amazing. In fact, the Solo children have developed into wonderful and interesting characters in their own right. I’ve done a complete 360 on them in the space of three books and they have actually rocketed almost to the top of my list of favourite characters!
Stackpole’s writing is dreamy, he really gets all the old characters we know and love, whilst building lovable and compelling new characters. He wisely sidelines Han for the dulogy, which I think will give him some much-needed grieving time. However I am struggling with why the decision has been made to hamstring Mara so badly by giving her this stupid illness. Maybe they thought it would make the good guys too powerful if they had a strong Mara and this would neutralise the very threatening feeling that the Vong are providing? Who knows? But as one of my favourite characters from Legends this is extremely frustrating to watch.
I need to reiterate that this series really does remind me of the Night’s Dawn trilogy – that sense of dread and despair creeping across the galaxy, spreading from a seemingly insignificant and backwater planet. These two books really ramp up the tension and we get some great clashes between the Jedi and the Vong. Yet I also felt a strong sense of helplessness reading this duology – for every slight victory that the New Republic have, the Vong seem to always pull off a greater triumph. To round things off, in the words of Anakin, we are ‘out of the firefight and into the carbon freeze!’