Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic
Author: Sean Williams and Shane Dix
Published By: The Ballentine Publishing Company
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Force Heretic, by Sean Willams and Shane Dix, is a trilogy of stories within The New Jedi Order series of the Star Wars saga. Australian Sean Williams is an acclaimed fiction author with several well-known series such as Evergence and The Books of the Cataclysm under his belt. He has written Star Wars fiction before, in the form of a short story for Star Wars Insider (a fan magazine) called Or Die Trying. Shane Dix, also Australian, works often with Williams, having co-authored Evergence and other novels with him in the past.
The first novel in the trilogy is Remnant. The Galactic Alliance is struggling to grow, but its new leader, Cal Omas, knows that in order to defeat the Yuuzhan Vong, the people of the galaxy must find a way to unite. Unfortunately, communications is down in several remote areas of the galaxy and Cal is suspicious. Worlds have supported the Yuuzhan Vong and their allies, the Peace Brigade, in the past and Cal wonders if the communications are actually down, or if these worlds are choosing to ignore the Galactic Alliance in an effort to keep their own tentative peace with the invading forces. He enlists the help of Han and Leia Solo and requests that they travel the galaxy checking out communications anomalies and correcting communications blackouts when able. Allowed to assemble their own team along with military forces chosen by Cal, Han and Leia select Jagged Fel and Jaina Solo’s squadron. The addition of Tahiri Veila to the team puts a strain on things as Tahiri has not been herself lately. An internal struggle is going on in Tahiri and no one, not even Tahiri herself, is certain what the cause of it is. Thanks to a mysterious message, the communications restoration mission begins with the planet N’zoth, a location that has seen much strife in the past, having battled the Yevetha, an alien race with goals not unlike the Vong in nature. Meanwhile, Luke and Mara Skywalker, Jacen Solo, Saba Sebatyne, Danni Quee and Tekli set out on a mission to discover the location of Zonama Sekot, a living world which could be the key to the Galactic Alliance’s survival against the forces of the Yuuzhan Vong. And deep in the bowels of Yuuzhan’tar, formerly known as Coruscant, the disgraced executor Nom Anor, struggles to survive. He stumbles upon the camp of a heretical group of Shamed Ones who have formed their own religion based upon the Jeedai and a plan begins to form as to how he could exact revenge on those who caused him to fall from grace.
In the second novel, Refugee, the mysterious Ryn Network directs Leia’s team to Bakura. Having discovered the new Yuuzhan Vong / Peace Brigade divide and conquer tactic of using enemy forces within a world against each other, the Galactic Alliance emissaries find Bakura to be a world ripe for the picking. Bakura is on the verge of forming an alliance with the P’w’eck, former slaves of the Bakuran enemy, the Ssi-ruuk. Not everyone is happy about the alliance as is evident after the Prime Minister is kidnapped and a resistance cell, led by Malinza Thanas, is blamed for his disappearance. While on Bakura, Tahiri internal war with her Yuuzhan Vong personality is discovered by Leia, and Tahiri goes into hiding, finding an unlikely ally in a member of the Ryn Network. Luke Skywalker’s team, now aided by Imperial Forces, sets out for the Unknown Regions in search of the elusive Zonama Sekot. But the Chiss have other ideas. Meanwhile, on Yuuzhan’tar, Nom Anor has found his niche as the Prophet of the Jeedai Heresy.
Reunion is the final novel of the trilogy. Communications have unexpectedly ceased between the Unknown Regions and the rest of the galaxy. The Solos, with the help of an old friend, Droma, set out for Esfandia, the only communications station capable of receiving from the Unknown Regions. Jaina Solo remains aboard their Galactic Alliance escort frigate along with the now comatose Tahiri. Sensing that the internal struggle within Tahiri is at a peak, and knowing that the medical team on board can not help her, Jaina uses the Force to meld with Tahiri’s mind, but will Tahiri accept her help, or will her alter-ego seek to destroy her. Skywalker and his team have found Zonama Sekot, but its inhabitants are reluctant to join in the cause against the Vong. It is up to Luke and Jacen to find a way to persuade the planet to join them in their struggle. On Yuuzhan’tar, Nom Anor believes he will finally destroy his enemies. A member of Shimrra’s own court is one of his followers and will do anything the Prophet suggests. But will Nom Anor succeed in destroying those who shamed him or will he only sink himself further into that well of shame?
There are some good things to be said about this trilogy. The fact that the authors chose to bring us back to worlds the readers have visited and become acquainted with in the past is a plus. Readers always desire more information about former characters, so it is pleasing to see the return of Admiral Pellaeon, Malinza Thanos, Droma, Belindi Kalenda and more. The idea of using the divide and conquer method is perfect and reflects our world’s current events quite well. Tahiri Viela’s inner struggle with her implanted Yuuzhan Vong personality was slightly surprising, since readers had been led to believe that the Vong personality had been destroyed. However, with Tahiri’s state of depression after losing Anakin Skywalker, the re-emergence of Riina is conceivable. Saba Sebatyne’s struggle with the destruction of her world and her unwitting part in destroying the people of Barabal was well written and rounded out nicely in the last novel.
The ideas behind the novels are good, but they seem long and drawn out and undeserving of three separate novels. The interior struggle Tahiri endures is confusing enough without all of the grammatical errors these novels contain. Whoever was doing the proof reading needs some glasses. There were several grammatical, tense, and pronoun errors which often times leaves the reader scratching his head in confusion. Many of our favorite characters are portrayed uncharacteristically. Danni Quee becoming jealous of a teenage Chiss having a discussion with Jacen Solo is not only silly, but extremely uncharacteristic of the normally analytical scientist. Mara Jade is more hot-head than Jedi in this series, having to constantly be held in check by her husband. Leia and Han’s banter is normal, but the scenes between Jaina and Jag were just too sappy. Over the top sappy! Yes, the two are supposed to be falling in love, but Jaina is most like Han in this relationship and she should be portrayed in a more hard-case manner. This fawning all over each other routine got very cloying in the end. Readers will find that they are at war with themselves as to how they feel about Zonama Sekot. Some will find the planet to be quite sanctimonious and somewhat annoying. Yes, in the world of Star Wars, anything is possible. It’s even possible to be annoyed with a living planet.
What is most surprising about Force Heretic is the bond the reader will find himself forming with Nom Anor. The reader will go from hating the former executor to rooting him on in his gorilla war with the Overlord Shimrra. Never mind that Nom Anor is deceiving innocent Shamed Ones and is sending loyal disciples to their deaths. So long as he strikes a blow at Shimrra, the world is a happy place.
All-in-all, Force Heretic is a long, drawn out series of novels and it is rather unfortunate that one can not skip this series without missing out on important details that they will need to understand the rest of tale of The New Jedi Order.
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