Science Fiction Novel
Star Wars: The Cestus Deception
A Clone Wars Novel
Author: Steven Barnes
Published By: The Ballentine Publishing Company
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Obi-Wan Kenobi has a bad feeling about this mission. Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Kit Fisto have been sent to Ord Cestus, a planet on which the inhabitants’ chief form of profit resides in mining and droid manufacture. Recently, the Republic has discovered that Cestus Cybernetics has made a deal to mass produce droids for the Separatists. The Republic is worried about this sale of JK droids in particular because the technology used in their creation makes them force sensitive. The letters JK stand for Jedi Killer, which makes the Jedi Order a tad nervous as well. If these droids were mass-produced, the Separatists could use them as a new droid army to thwart that of the Republic.
Thus, Obi-Wan is sent with a master barrister to negotiate with the leaders of Ord Cestus and Cestus Cybernetics in an effort to negate the sale. Meanwhile, Kit Fisto and members of an elite unit of Clone Warriors are sent to another area of the planet to build up an army of dissenters who have grown tired of their oppression at the hands of Cestus Cybernetics. If Obi-Wan should fail, it will be up to Kit Fisto and the Clone Warriors to shut down Cestus Cybernetics until an agreement can be made. The Jedi are uncomfortable with such subterfuge, but understand that the JK droids can never be mass-produced or it will spell out doom for the Republic.
Things begin to go terribly wrong when negotiations break down between Obi-Wan and the leaders of Cestus. They get worse when an agent of the Separatist Army, one with a serious grudge against Obi-Wan Kenobi, arrives to ensure the agreement made with Count Dooku remains intact. They become disastrous as one member of the elite Clone Unit begins to exhibit strange characteristics, such as a desire to be unique and other feelings Clone Warriors were designed to ignore. Will the Jedi mission on Ord Cestus be successful, or end up in disaster with the Republic declaring war on the planet?
I was excited to read Star Wars: The Cestus Deception. After seeing Kit Fisto in Attack of the Clones, I couldn’t wait to see him in action again. Unfortunately, his character was short-lived movie-wise. He faced and was defeated by the Emperor so quickly that, if you blinked, you would have missed it. Thus, disappointed in the way Lucas handled the character, I was interested in seeing him take a more prominent role in Steven Barnes’ novel. I wasn’t disappointed. Steven Barnes’ handling of character development is flawless. He introduces his characters, offers glimpses into their pasts and draws you in, making the future of his characters important to his readers.
What I found interesting about this novel and other Clone Wars novels is the way that the different Jedi styles are discussed. Until the prequel movies, there was very little discussion about the lightsaber fighting styles. However, in the new Clone Wars novels, the fact that different fighting styles did exist becomes readily apparent. As an author, Steven Barnes is very descriptive and thus paints a very good picture as to the differences between Obi-Wan’s defense-driven style (Form III) and Kit Fisto’s style (Form I) which concentrates on the ancient sword fighting maneuvers, a style that requires raw emotion from the practitioner and thus puts the user at risk. Reading about the different styles and how they applied on this mission was very intriguing and I hope to read more about these in the future.
I also found the rogue Clone Warrior side-story to be incredibly intriguing. In the past, I read a Star Wars novel which told of a former Clone Warrior going rogue and beginning a family which eventually turned into a colony of farmers. With the powers that be seeking to tie the old novels in with the rest of the timeline, I wonder if this particular story was meant to explain the farmer colony introduced in latter tales. I actually found Nate’s storyline to be the most fascinating part of The Cestus Deception. His self-discovery and eventual uniqueness makes the clones seem more than just military fighting machines.
There was one part of the novel that I did find a bit on the tedious side. The X-Ting underground grew to be annoying after a while. Even with the appearance of Asajj Ventress to spice things up, I grew weary reading about the gender-changing Trillot and his evil underlings. I will say, however, that I did enjoy it when Trillot finally received his/her due for all of the creature’s wicked dealings.
All-in-all, a good read with a surprising twist that throws the Jedi mission on its ear. Plus, if you buy the paperback version, you’ll receive a bonus story called The Hive, a tale previously available only in e-book format. That’s two enjoyable stories for the price of one, a terrific value for the $6.99 U.S. price tag. Steven Barnes is an excellent addition to the wealth of authors who have helped to create and mold the Star Wars Expanded Universe. I hope to see more Star Wars novels from him in the future.
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