Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Abyss
Author: Troy Denning
Published By: The Ballentine Publishing Company
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Wow, I’m finally catching up with a Star Wars book series! Yes, you read that right - I am now only one book behind in the Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi series after just having completed the third novel, Abyss.
When we last left the Jedi, they had discovered a possible link between all of the young Jedi who had recently fallen ill. Jedi Master Healer Cilghal and her assistant, Tekli, theorize that this mysterious mental illness plaguing this particular generation of Jedi may have something to do with the time they spent in hiding in the Maw during the Yuuzhan Vong War. This becomes less of a theory when two more Jedi who spent time in the Maw fall ill.
With more and more Jedi succumbing to the disease and Chief of State Daala’s demands that all ill Jedi be turned over to the Galactic Alliance for immediate encasement in carbonite , it becomes apparent that Cilghal can no longer keep the sick Jedi at the temple. With the help of Han, Leia, Jaina and Jag, the Jedi devise a plan to escape Coruscant with their fallen Jedi. But will Daala’s new enforcers foil their plans?
Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker and his son, Ben, are visiting the Maw themselves in search of the Mind Walkers, attempting to recreate Jacen Solo’s five year journey before the Killik incident. They believe that something on this journey caused Jacen to turn to the Dark Side. As they approach the Mind Walker’s lair, Ben begins to feel extremely uneasy. He is reminded of the haunting presence he felt as a child hiding in the Maw during the Yuuzhan Vong War that caused him to retreat from the Force. Is this feeling something created by the Mind Walkers? Could it be that Jacen’s time among the Mind Walkers of the Maw was the very thing that sent him over the edge?
And let’s not forget the Sith contingent from Kesh who are currently somewhere near the Maw searching for Ship. Finding themselves on a planet covered in dangerous fauna, Vestara and her Master Rhea discover that they are not only struggling to survive the planet itself, but their own people, as another member of their party threatens to wrest control from Rhea.
Troy Denning is the author of the third novel in the Fate of the Jedi series and, as a regular writer in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, does an excellent job in portraying our favorite characters. As always, Denning doesn’t pussyfoot around when it comes to the action sequences - they are plentiful and begin right away at the very beginning of the book with an attempted escape by one of the sick Jedi.
However, there is a difference between this novel and some of Troy Denning’s other Star Wars works. This one is a bit more philosophical, offering us a different view of the Force. This is in keeping with the rest of the series as Luke and Ben begin to see the Force through different eyes and learn more about the various philosophies of the different sects who wield its power. While there is plenty of action in the Fate of the Jedi series, this is definitely a thinking man’s tale and those who lack a philosophical turn of mind may find some parts of this novel boring. Happily, I’m not one of those people and could fully appreciate this new look at the Force.
My only issue with this novel is the Lovecraftian turn it seems to have taken. For those of you not familiar with H.P. Lovecraft and his style of writing, Mr. Lovecraft dabbled in horror, fantasy and science fiction, his most famous works featuring Cthulhu. The Cthulhu was described as a multiple tentacled entity with scaly skin that is somewhat impossible to describe but that possesses a frighteningly powerful ability to captivate one’s mind and bend it to its will.
We see two such creatures in this novel, perhaps of the same species or even actually the same being manifesting itself in two different places. The title of this novel, Abyss, would have been a dead give away to Cthulhu fiction followers. I’m not sure I like this idea of the Cthulhu Mythos entering the Star Wars Universe. In fact, when I first read the description of the creature found in the Maw, I began frowning, thinking, “What the hell?! This is Star Wars, not The Call of Cthulhu!”
But now that I have had time to calm down from the initial shock, perhaps this is like that classic case of, “You stuck your chocolate in my peanut butter…No, got your peanut butter on my chocolate…mmmm!” This may just turn out to be an interesting turn that totally revolutionizes Star Wars storytelling. Or it could be a disastrous attempt to meld weird fiction with that of the Star Wars science fiction we’ve grown to know and love. Only time will tell, so I’ll suppress my reservations for now until I read a bit more of this series, but I will say that I have to wonder at where the powers that be are trying to go with all this.