Star Wars: The Approaching Storm
Author: Alan Dean Foster
Published By: The Ballentine Publishing Company
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In Star Wars: The Approaching Storm, by Alan Dean Foster, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Padawan Anakin Skywalker find themselves paired up with Jedi Master Luminara Unduli and her Padawan Barriss Offee for a very important mission to the Republic. The novel is set sometime before the events in Attack of the Clones, a time in which the Republic is struggling to keep a separatist movement from tearing it apart. To this end, the Jedi are sent to Ansion, a seemingly insignificant planet with very significant strategic value to both the Republic and the Separatists. The people of Ansion have been toying with the idea of separating from the Republic. Their ties with other neighboring planets could bring about a large secession of numerous worlds in the Republic. Seeking to prevent this from occurring, the Jedi are charged with solving Ansionís internal conflicts between its peoples as a sign of goodwill from the Republic.
This task will not come easily as there are those on the planet who wish very much for secession to take place. Making matters more difficult is the fact that one of the two warring factions is a nomadic race. Upon forming an agreement with the city peoples of Ansion, the Jedi must locate this nomadic race and secure the same such agreement with them. Should they refuse, any hopes of Ansion continuing to stay within the folds of the Republic will be lost.
The Approaching Storm offers a look at some of the more interesting Jedi featured in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Prior to reading this novel, I knew very little about Luminara Unduli and Barriss Offee, other than the fact that Barriss was a healer and Luminara was a very powerful Jedi. After reading The Approaching Storm, I can tell that these two characters will have great significance in the events leading up to the Clone Wars and all that takes place during them.
Anakin Skywalkerís relationship with his master seems to have improved in this novel, although we do see signs that Obi-Wan continues to question some of Anakinís instinctive and often brash reactions to certain situations. It seems that Anakin canít get his mind off his homeworld long enough to concentrate on the here and now. All thoughts lead to home and the mother and life he left behind. We also witness a sense of impatience in Anakin Ė a desire to get things over and done with without first thinking of the consequences of his actions. It is this impatience coupled with his attachments and his overconfidence in his abilities that become Anakinís eventual undoing in Revenge of the Sith.
I thoroughly enjoyed the creatures encountered on Ansion, most especially the two clanless Alwari kidnappers-turned-guides and the comical Gwurran. I also enjoyed the sub-story involving the infighting between factions of the Separatist movement. The Approaching Storm is actually numerous stories in one. We learn about the growth of the Separatist movement and the various factions that rise to the call of leadership within. We also learn of the Ansion people and their desire for more from the Republic besides corruption and dirty infighting amongst its politicians. Finally, we ponder the reasoning that creates such hate and animosity between with species very similar to one another in visual aspects, yet just as different in ways of thinking. The people of Ansion and their issues with one another mirror those of our world today Ė despite the similarities between our people, we always seem to focus on the differences.
Although I didnít really feel that Alan Dean Foster had captured the characters of Obi-Wan and Anakin perfectly, he did so well enough to hold my attention. I loved the little bits of insight he supplied into the minds of Luminara and Barriss. I also enjoyed the bits of comic relief Foster offered up Ė the Gwurran offered up just the right amount of comedy to break up the tension in some of the more serious moments of the novel. All-in-all, The Approaching Storm proved to be one of the more enjoyable novels I have read in the Star Wars prequel era. The novel contained action, intrigue, a look at new characters and cultures and an opportunity to think about oneís own views of different cultures. I would definitely recommend this novel to all those Star Wars fans looking for a way to enter the realm of prequel era novels that are unsure which ones to read.
For more Star Wars, check out:
Star Wars: Episode I: The Visual Dictionary
Star Wars: Jedi Quest: The Shadow Trap
Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: The Cestus Deception
Star Wars: The Hive
Star Wars: Jedi Trial