Wednesday, November 05, 2003

The final book of the Star Wars: New Jedi Order series is out this week. It is, believe it or not, the _19th_ book in the series (plus two ebook novellas you could only get online). I haven't been a regular reader of the Star Wars novel series, although I've probably read about half of the ones they've released.

The thing I like about the Star Wars novels is that there is a nice continuity to them. Characters that appeared in previous novels may show up in other novels, and the characters refer to events that happened in other books. Most of the characters are very interesting and "real" as well. You find out a lot more about characters who had only bit parts in the movies (like Wedge Antilles or Admiral Ackbar), and some of the new characters can be as interesting as the main characters we saw on the screen. It's obvious Lucasfilm cares a lot more about the quality and continuity of these books than Paramount cares about the Star Trek novels.

Anyways, I initially picked up the first book in the NJO series for two reasons. First, there was a lot of publicity surrounding the first book because Chewbacca is killed in it. Second, I happened to pick it up for half price at Bradlees going-out-of-business sale.

So, I read the first book and was instantly hooked. The storyline is basically this. About 25 years after the events of Star Wars Episode 4, the New Republic (which is what replaced the Empire after it was defeated) is attacked by an extra-galactic race. This race, called the Yuuzhan Vong, believe that all mechanical and electronic technology is an affont to their gods, and the people who use this technology are infidels. All the Yuuzhan Vong technology is biologically engineered, so even their spaceships are alive. These aliens have no regard for life in any form, even their own, which they willingly sacrifice to their gods on what seems to be the slightest provocation. They take slaves, murder people as sacrifices and think pain is a good thing. Finally, they don't appear to the Jedi in the Force. That's a really interesting hook, since the Force is supposed to encompass all life. If they don't appear in the Force, are they really alive, or is the Jedi's ability to perceive the Force limited?

If you're interested in starting this series, be prepared for a big investment. 19 books don't come cheap, but I thought the cost was well worth it. The books are all well written and have a consistent storyline. The familiar Star Wars characters can easily be seen as older versions of the ones we know from the classic films, and many of the new characters are welcome additions. I'm looking forward to reading the final book and seeing how Luke, Leia, Han and company save the day this time.


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