Star Wars: Dark Nest II: The Swarm War
Author: Troy Denning
Published By: The Ballentine Publishing Company
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When we last saw our heroes in Star Wars: Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen, they had just fended off another Killik attack, but had lost one of their prize possessions. A Galactic Alliance Star Destroyer known as the Ackbar was commandeered by Raynar Thul and the Killiks for use in his war against the Chiss. Luke Skywalker had gone head-to-head with Gorog Nest Queen Lomi Plo, the former dark force wielder who had been rescued by the Killiks years before. Luke Skywalker lost his battle with Lomi Plo and almost his life. Meanwhile, Leia Organa Solo began training under Barabel Jedi Master Saba Sebatyne in an effort to attain her true calling as Jedi Knight. Her children, Jacen and Jaina Solo seemed destined for very different paths – Jaina seeking to keep the Chiss from committing speciecide against the Killiks and Jacen intent on preventing any harm from his daughter without revealing his relationship to the child.
In Dark Nest III: The Swarm War, Luke Skywalker has decided that the Jedi Order has grown too distant from their purpose. The Order is filled with Jedi who are conflicting amongst each other as to what path the Order should take. Luke has decided that this has gone on long enough. But, in becoming the Grand Master of the Jedi and requesting that all Jedi swear an oath to put the order first above all other interests, is he saving the order or bringing about its destruction. Meanwhile, Luke must discover the answers about his mother’s demise before facing Lomi Plo again. Since their last encounter, Luke has realized that the seeds of doubt she planted in his mind kept him from seeing her true form and fighting her effectively. Only when all doubt is erased will he finally be able to face his nemesis and perhaps bring an end to the threat of impending war. Leia and Han set out on a mission to rescue their daughter from the front lines at Tenupe and stumble upon a Chiss secret that could bring the end of the Killiks in one deadly swoop.
Where Dark Nest II was a thinking man’s novel filled with mystery and intrigue, its sequel is an action novel. Between the battle raging on, above and all around Tenupe, the Jedi battle with the Gorog Queen, and the mini-space battles in between, there is no way to be bored with this novel. The reader is bombarded with tons of action – even the one interrogation scene leaves you with an adrenaline rush. Once again, readers are treated with flashbacks of Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker in the final days of the Old Republic. However, this time Jacen Solo is present to view the holovids along with Luke and Mara. It is interesting to note Jacen’s feelings about Anakin Skywalker’s actions. That, and Jacen’s newly expressed belief that one needs power to defeat their enemies only seems to point more to the idea that we are about to see a new dark lord emerging in the form of Luke Skywalker’s oldest nephew.
Troy Denning is to be commended in his artistry throughout this novel. Banter between Luke and Mara, Leia and Han is flawless. He reminds us why we fell in love with these characters in the first place. Jaina is a little less annoying now that her link with Zekk is finally starting to diminish some. Her frustration over losing communications officer (bug) after communications officer actually becomes comical – one must remember that the Killiks are a collective hive and all memories from each Killik are shared. This adds some humor to very intense moments on the battlefield. Denning also brings some growth to already strong characters such as Leia. We see how her newly honed Jedi skills make her a more intelligent and more dangerous adversary than ever before. Luke finds new growth in how he faces certain situations, realizing that he must put all fears and doubt aside if he is to truly defeat a dark side enemy.
Lovers of the Jedi will delight in noting that the Jedi are seemingly much stronger in their use of the Force in this series, let alone in this novel. At one time, it took a collective order of students to turn away an armada. Now, it would seem, the Jedi have learned to toss star fighters at will. Their use of Force-pushing and willpower has grown considerably in the past decade.
All-in-all, Star Wars: Dark Nest III: The Swarm War is an excellent wrap up to a slightly annoying series. If for no other reason, you will love this novel just for the fact that it puts an end to antennae-forearm rubbing and throat clicks. Ground and aerial action abound – any lover of the X-Wing series will delight in this novel. The book is at once fast-paced action and intriguing in its character development. Overall, a good read and a jumping-off point for ominous things to come.
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