Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Backlash
After reading Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Abyss, I was worried about the direction the novel series was taking. Not being a huge fan of the Cthulhu mythology, I was unhappy to find it had begun to seep its way into the Star Wars Universe in this novel. Would this be something I was going to find in each successive novel in the Fate of the Jedi series? There was only one way to find out - by reading the next book in the series, Backlash.
When we left off in Abyss, Luke and Ben Skywalker were chasing Vestara Khai through the Maw, attempting to capture the young Sith and discover where the rest of the Sith followers had been hiding all these years. Vestara was able to get away, but Luke was tracking her through his blood - blood he spilled on her before she left. A message was sent out to the Jedi at the Temple on Coruscant that the Sith were indeed very much alive in the universe and that they should be kept in standby mode should the Skywalkers find their headquarters.
The Skywalkers eventually track Vestara Khai to Dathomir, home of witches who wield the Force through spells and enchantments. Luke is very familiar with the Witches of Dathomir having traveled here with Han many years ago when he was first courting Princess Leia. His run-ins with the witches and their evil counterparts, the Nightsisters, are still fresh in his memory. Knowing that he and Ben will need assistance in hunting down Vestara among so many Force users, Luke sends for Leia and Han who bring along their adopted daughter Amelia (who is actually Allana, the daughter of Jacen Solo and Tenel Ka, present ruler of Hapes and a descendent of the Witches of Dathomir).
However, Luke soon discovers that things have changed quite a bit since he last visited Dathomir. Some of the clans are integrating, no longer seeing the males in their tribes as slaves, but as equals, much to the chagrin of the Nightsisters. It is one such new-thinking clan that Vestara Khai has joined and they are not exactly willing to give their new “sister” up to Luke Skywalker, no matter how famous he is.
Meanwhile, back on Coruscant, an attempt has been made on Jagged Fel’s life and someone is putting out some very negative press about the leader of the Galactic Alliance, ensuring that her standings in the polls remain very low. Plans are in the works to rid the Imperials of Fel and the galaxy as a whole of the rule of Natasi Daala. But who is behind these plots and what could they possibly hope to gain?
Now this is the Star Wars Universe I remember - Cthulhu-less with a great plot, plenty of action and intrigue and an excellent cliffhanger. Already having proved himself to be one of the masters at space battles, Aaron Allston changes pace for this novel proving yet again that not all of the action in a Star Wars novel has to take place in an interstellar dogfight. Ground fighting is just as much fun and returning us to Dathomir meant for an even more intriguing battle as the weapons (besides the Force spells) are extremely primitive. Less lasers and more spears make a battle that much more difficult when waged against huge monsters like rancors and evil Force-wielders like the Nightsisters. Of course, he does reveal a bit of his starfighter dogfight prowess when Ben relates how the strategy used against the Nightsisters could be likened to a starfighter battle and goes on to describe the different weapons they use and how they would relate in starfighter terminology. I must admit that I really loved that scene.
The return to Dathomir was quite welcome. It was like returning to a simpler time in the Star Wars Universe and it was nice to see Ben Skywalker’s impressions on a world he has only known through the stories told him by his father. I even enjoyed the fact that Luke Skywalker’s visit from so long ago had such a profound influence on the various clans on that world. His visit brought about a change and we all know how much traditionalists loathe change. Luke Skywalker appears to be a catalyst for change wherever he roams.
The book provided for some interesting bits of dialogue between Ben and Vestara which made you wonder about her character. True, Sith are always confusing when speaking to Jedi - they always tell the truth in such ways as to make you think they are lying - but you begin to wonder if Vestara is as deeply into the Sith culture as she appears to be. When one remembers how young and impressionable this girl truly is, one wonders whether the Skywalkers could instill a change in her way of thinking.
Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Backlash gives me hope for the Fate of the Jedi novel series. I think with this novel, we have gotten back on track with things. We didn’t learn anything new about why Jacen turned to the Dark Side or why the younger Jedi have been losing their grips on reality, but this almost doesn’t seem to matter. What does matter is that we have returned to what made us want to read these books in the first place and I want to thank Aaron Allston for getting us there. I can’t wait to read what happens next in Allies.
For more about the Fate of the Jedi series, check out these links: