Science Fiction

Star Wars: Medstar: Battle Surgeons

Authors: Michael Reeves and Steve Perry

Published By: Random House Publishing Group

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Now that I have finally caught up to recent Star Wars books, I thought Iíd do a little catching up in the Clone Wars series by reading the first novel of the two-part series, Medstar: Battle Surgeons.

            This particular series of novels features Barriss Offee, a Mirialan Padawan who has been sent on her first mission without her master, Luminara Unduli.  Believing that this may be the start of the Jedi trials in which she will discover whether she is worthy enough to be a Jedi Knight, Barriss is determined to succeed in this mission.  She has been sent to the swamp world of Drongar, a hellish world with no moon to keep in in balance. 

            The planet is of strategic importance to both the Republic and the Separatists as the only source of the bota plant, a plant whose special properties make it invaluable in medicine.  Barrissí main mission is to discover who has been stealing from the bota shipments.  As a side mission, she is assigned to assist the medical team of Rimsoo Seven as they struggle to keep the Republic military alive in their operating rooms.

            The surgeons of Rimsoo Seven are a tight knit bunch led by Jos Vondar, the chief medical officer.  Jos has been rather frustrated with the war and the constant death he observes thanks to a lack of proper medical supplies.  The head of supplies is an untrustworthy Hutt with a side operation that local war reporter Den Dhur is determined to uncover.  Meanwhile, an out of control military instructor, spies and members of the Black Sun are lurking among the inhabitants of Rimsoo Seven, causing quite a few disturbances in their wake.  Can Barriss Offee complete her mission efficiently and effectively, possibly leading to the elevated rank of Jedi Knight?  Or will the pull of the ever present Dark Side take its toll on one of the Jedi Orderís lauded Padawans?

            The first novel in the Medstar series plays out like M.A.S.H. in space.  Anyone who ahs ever watched the classic television series knows that the team of war surgeons are a bunch if wisecracking medical pros who blow off steam through card games and pranks.  Welcome to Rimsoo Seven.   In fact, the novel is more about this team of wartime surgeons than Barriss Offee, not that I mind much.  I found it interesting to get into the heads of those who operated on the various species fighting the Clone Wars.  Plus, I liked the banter between the surgeons/friends.

            However, that being said, Battle Surgeons is an incredibly slow moving book.  Itís three hundred-plus pages start to feel like five hundred before you really get into the meat of the novel.  I suppose Battle Surgeons is slow because the main goal of this novel is to give you insight into the characters - to flesh them out so that you understand who they are and why they do what they do in the next novel.  At least, I hope so. 

            If you are into action, there isnít much to be found in this particular novel - just a couple of hand to hand combat scenes here and there.  For the most part, this is a novel of espionage and subterfuge mixed with a bit of philosophy.  If that stuff bores you, you should probably skip over this one as, from what I see, this series has little to do with the main canon of the Star Wars universe and is just an aside.

            I hope that the next novel in the Medstar series, Jedi Healer, has more to offer than its predecessor.  Now that the characters are fleshed out, I hope to see a juicier story to complete this duology.  I also hope that when the identity of the spy is revealed, we arenít disappointed.  Iíve already had some of my ideas trashed by the end of Battle Surgeons and if the spy is revealed to be someone we donít know in Jedi Healer, Iím going to be quite miffed.


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