Star Wars: Medstar: Jedi Healer
Star Wars: Medstar is a two-part Clone Wars novel series that takes place on the war-torn planet of Drongar. There are no indigenous sentient life forms on this planet. This isn’t a fight over how many people can be swayed to the Separatist or Republic cause. This is a battle over resources and Drongar happens to be home to a very valuable resource - bota. The fragile plant life known as bota means different things to different species. It possesses great antibiotic powers for some and inhibitors for others. It can be used to heal or to get high, which is why it is so valuable to the Republic, the Separatists and the illegal organization known as the Black Sun. Thanks to the ferocity of this war over plant life, numerous Republic medical bases, known as RMSUs, have been set up, all answering to the medical ship in orbit around the planet known as the Medstar.
Jedi Healer, the second book in the Medstar duology, finds the doctors and various other occupants of RMSU 7 in a new locale, having abandoned the last one after a pretty vicious Separatist attack that killed on of their multi-talented surgeons, a Zabrak named Zan Yant. Jedi Padawan Bariss Offee was originally assigned to this unit to assist the surgeons as well as find out who has been meddling with the harvesting of bota in this area. Padawan Offee is still with RMSU 7, despite the revelation of the bota thieves identities and their separate deaths. Jedi Master Luminara Unduli feels that there is something still not quite right at the RMSU and advises Bariss that she is still needed there.
Meanwhile, Surgeon Jos Vondar and Nurse Tolk le Trenne have begun a relationship, despite the cultural beliefs of his family which forbid it from taking place. Things are going well for them until his exiled Great Uncle Erol Kersos becomes the Admiral of Medstar. Wishing to spare his nephew the pain of familial exile that he underwent after falling in love and marrying someone not in his cultural “caste”, Erol interferes in Jos and Tolk’s relationship.
Jos and Tolk aren’t the only ones with issues. The droid I-Five is beginning to remember his original mission parameters which have him itching to leave Drongar. Reporter Den Dhur is also contemplating leaving. A long life as a war correspondent, Zan Yant’s death and the appearance of an attractive female of his species has Den wondering about the life he could have had on Sullust.
While the various occupants of RMSU 7 contemplate their own personal issues, the bodies keep piling up as the war continues. An attack on Medstar, something considered off-limits in previous military engagements, reminds our surgeons that this is no ordinary war. Padawan Offee is convinced that this attack, the destruction of a shuttle of bota and more are actually sabotage. Unfortunately, her attempts to track down the saboteur are side-tracked by the accidental injection of bota into Bariss Offee’s system. The effects are immediate and powerful, causing a heightened sense of Force perception, but at what cost?
This half of the Medstar duology was much more interesting than the first. We still have the M.A.S.H.-like feel in this one, but Jedi Healer delves a little deeper into the characters’ personal beliefs and wants. There is more than just multiple surgeries and subterfuge going on in this novel. There is a love story as well and numerous occupants on RMSU 7 - both good and bad - enter a period of self discovery in which they realize that things they considered to be important at one time may have lost their value. Several of these characters begin to engage in life changing decisions that will take them on a completely different path than they originally planned.
Jedi Healer also takes some of the shine and naivety off of Bariss Offee as she finally learns about the seduction of the dark side of the Force and what it truly means to be a Jedi. We see how easily one so dedicated to healing and the light side of the Force can slip down the same path as Anakin Skywalker does years later, all in the name of a misguided notion of doing good.
The writing in Jedi Healer was much more fluid than in Battle Surgeons. The first book sets us up and gets us acquainted with the people stationed at the RMSU, but the second novel does a much better job of making these characters’ lives mean something to us. We become completely invested in their lives and their individual outcomes. I also enjoyed the fact that, even though we were fed bits and pieces about the saboteur throughout both novels - seeing things in their point of view in both Battle Surgeons and Jedi Healer - the identity of the saboteur remained well hidden, keeping us guessing until the very end. When the identity is revealed, it is somewhat shocking and I truly enjoyed this storyline twist.
I was hoping that the second half of the Medstar duology would deliver and am pleased to discover that it did. Jedi Healer was well worth the wait. Trudging through the set up novel to find a terrific sentient interest story. On one hand, we have a story about numerous sentient creatures in the midst of a war and how the battle effects them in vastly different aspects. Then we have a true Star Wars tale about an interior struggle of good over evil within one of the last Jedi we would expect to encounter this problem. Although Jedi Healer is definitely the better novel in the series, both novels combine to make a great whole. Despite the fact that it has no involvement with Anakin Skywalker and his journey toward the dark side, this is a Clone Wars novel that does enlighten us on another side of the war and thus, is a must read for any inquisitive Star Wars fan.