Star Wars: Dark Nest I: The Joiner King
Written by: Troy Denning
Published by: Del Rey
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
Do not adjust your HoloNet, Star Wars fans, today the role of Talon Karrde will be played by me. No, Talon has not fallen prey to the Dark Side, only preoccupied with matters in another sector, so I am here to run the galaxy in Talon’s stead. Enjoy.
Following the widely popular New Jedi Order series, Del Rey books tapped Troy Denning—writer of Star by Star—to launch the first book of a new trilogy, Dark Nest I: The Joiner King. I’ve read the entire New Jedi Order series and many of the other Star Wars books and, in my opinion, Mr. Denning has done an excellent job.
Dark Nest I picks up five years after the last book—Unifying Force. The Galactic Alliance is spreading itself far too thin, trying to relocate the many displaced species in the aftermath of the Yuuzhan Vong war; the Jedi are trying to reclaim their numbers and the respect they’d lost, while acclimating themselves to a Force without defined boundaries; Jacen has been pursuing a deeper understanding of the Force. In the mists of all of this, a call—a compulsion—touches the minds of the young Jedi Knights that were involved in the famed Myrkr Mission—the one that cost Anakin Solo his life—and draws them to a planet on the fringes of the Unknown Regions.
One by one the Knights follow the urging, abandon their posts and disappear without so much as a word to the Masters, leaving Luke and the others to answer to the Alliance for their actions.
The Knights go to a world of sentient insects, collectively known as the Colony, where they meet up with another old friend from the Myrkr Mission, who has somehow shared his mind with the insect community. With UnuThul—as he is now known—guiding them, the Colony, along with the Knights, stand on the brink of a war with the Chiss, who they accuse of attempting to commit genocide. The Chiss, of course, claim that the Colony is the real threat, and fear the Jedi involvement implies support from the Galactic Alliance.
When they catch up to Jaina and the other Knights, they find the young ones have become Joiners, linked to the hive mind, barely able to think independently. Even when Luke and Mara are attacked by a group of bugs and Master Saba is ambushed by a Dark Jedi, the Colony—even the Knights—refuse to believe that the Colony had anything to do with it. They even go so far as to deny events ever took place. Friendships are tested, compromising made, and loyalties are changed forever. Can Luke, Mara, Leia and Han, stop their own from provoking a galactic war, while maintaining the weak tether the Jedi have to the Galactic Alliance before it’s too late?
Dark Nest I: The Joiner King, is an excellent example of what has makes the Stars Wars expanded universe series such a success. Not only is it a fast paced, well written, prose, with thoroughly fleshed out characters and engrossing political debates, but it has a great blend of science, actions, swordplay and magic—because face it, that’s what the Force is. It also has enough characters to choke a bantha, but somehow that only makes the story more realistic, without taking anything away from it.
Add to that, a titillating little side story about a sequestered file inside of R2-D2, containing a holo-vid of Anakin Skywalker and Padme, a file which R2 is trying desperately to keep from Luke even under the threat of a memory wipe. That alone is enough reason to purchase the other two books in the series when they’re released. For those of you who are avid readers of the expanded universe, you’ll know that Luke has been searching for his mother’s identity and her fate for quite some time.
I would like to add a personal note that Jacen Solo has developed into an interesting character; not quite as good as Anakin Solo had been—or would have been—but a far cry from the impassive, whiney teenager he had been in the last series, though it takes a while to see how much he’s changed. I look forward to see how he develops in the future.
All in all, Star Wars’ latest book, Dark Nest I: The Joiner King, is a much anticipated and much welcomed addition to the legacy of Star Wars. I only wish that expanded universe books such as this could be made into movies as well. Until we meet again, in a galaxy, far, far away…