Star Wars: Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen
Author: Troy Denning
Published By: The Ballentine Publishing Company
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
It would seem that the heroes of the New Jedi Order will never find a momentís rest. In Dark Nest I, Raynar Thul, thought to have been killed in a mission during the war with the Yuuzhan Vong, has resurfaced. He, and the two dark Jedi that kidnapped him, were rescued by a race of insects known as the Killiks. With the assistance of Raynar Thul, the Killiks learned to value individual life and grew to become a successful colony, seeking universal expansion. Unfortunately, their expansion soon put them at odds with the Chiss as they began to encroach upon the Chiss borders. The reason for the border dispute remained hidden until the Jedi uncovered a Dark Nest, run by the dark Jedi and feasting on captured Chiss warriors. The nest was destroyed by the Jedi and Princess Leia formulated a plan that would find the Killiks new worlds and at the same time bring peace to the galaxy, away from Chiss space.
However, in Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen by Troy Denning, we soon learn that the peace is short lived. Members of the Dark Nest, thought to be extinguished by the Jedi a year ago, have begun selling dark membrosia to insectoid species everywhere. They are hiring pirates to steal large quantities of fuel as well, leading the Galactic Alliance to believe that the Dark Nest is preparing to launch a major attack. Worse yet, the new world found for the Killiks is making them sick. Something known as the Fizz is attacking everything it comes in contact with, including the insectoids themselves. Blaming the Jedi for their misfortune, Raynar Thul holds Han Solo and Luke Skywalker captive until a cure for the Fizz can be found. He also offers an explanation for attacks made by the Dark Nest, stating that two Joiners harboring a past issue with Mara Jade are responsible for having created the Dark Nest and the attacks they have launched against the Jedi. Meanwhile, Jacen Solo is besieged by a vision of apocalyptic proportions Ė one in which he foresees an intergalactic war without end.
Star Wars: Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen is a book of revelations. Old secrets are revealed and new ones abound. We discover bits and pieces about Mara Jadeís life before she met Luke Skywalker. Clues supplied by Dark Nest ally Alema Rar place doubt in Lukeís mind regarding his wife and her dealings with the Emperor. More hologram segments of the secret hiding in R2-D2ís memory banks are revealed. Readers will be left slack-jawed when Tenel Ka reveals her special secret to an equally shocked Jacen Solo. And then there is the secret of the Dark Nest. Is the nest a force bent on controlling the Killiks or is it just a part of a species bent on conquering Chiss space, and possibly, the rest of the galaxy?
Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen is an enjoyable sequel filled with intrigue and suspense. Princess Leia plays a very large role in this novel, having realized her calling as a Jedi Knight and training under the Barabel Jedi Master, Saba Sebatyne. The reader sympathizes with Leiaís frustration as she goes from being a powerful political being to a Jedi Padawan. Instead of wielding power, she must learn to accept the words of her masters. The Unseen Queen also allows us glimpses into the past of Mara Jade. Little is known about her missions as the Emperorís Hand and the revelations in this book are well worth the read, though I would have preferred that they would have been written in flashback format. And, speaking of flashbacks, readers will enjoy the bits and pieces of Revenge of the Sith revealed in the holographic excerpts provided by R2-D2. Knowing his fatherís past was filled with atrocities carried out in the name of the Emperor, it is surprising that seeing them firsthand would have such an effect on Luke Skywalker.
One unfortunate leftover of the first book in this trilogy is the collective mind of the hive as exhibited by Jaina and Zekk. It was annoying in the first book and does not get any less annoying in this novel. Jaina Solo was one of my favorite characters in the New Jedi Order series, with her rebellious nature and her warrior heart. She has now developed into my least favorite character, having become part of a collective mind. Jaina is no longer the loner with rebel tendencies. She shares a mind with Zekk and has been toned down in warrior status. Hopefully, the final book of the trilogy will see the return of the character I grew to love almost as much as Mara Jade.
This second installment of the Dark Nest Trilogy is a thinking-manís novel. Yes, there are plenty of action sequences, but readers will discover that the main attraction of this novel is the unraveling of mysteries. Secrets swarm throughout Star Wars: Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen and not all of the mysteries are solved in this segment of the series. After reading this novel, readers will still question the intentions of the Killik species. Are they evil or simply misunderstood? And what about Jacen? After reading his actions in The Unseen Queen, a reasonable person would begin to think that the powers that be are leaning toward sending Jacen Solo over to the dark side. One will never know until they read the next installment of the Dark Nest Trilogy.
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