Science Fiction / Horror

Star Wars: Red Harvest

Author: Joe Schreiber

Published By:
The Ballentine Publishing Company

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            When I had first heard about Star Wars: Death Troopers, I was appalled.  A Star Wars novel set in the horror genreÖwith zombies?  Ridiculous!  But then I read the book by Joe Schreiber and I was pleasantly surprised.  So, when it was announced that he was writing a prequel novel called Star Wars: Red Harvest, I was quick to scarf up a copy.

            Star Wars: Red Harvest takes place during the years of The Old Republic, sometime before the events of Knight Errant.  The story takes us to Odacer-Faustin, a planet housing an aging Sith Academy filled with acolytes and teachers and one very interesting Grand Master.  Locked away in his tower, Darth Scabrous is the highly respected and extremely feared lord and master of the academy.  When Sith acolytes start to disappear, it is believed that Darth Scabrous is culling the herd by destroying the unworthy among them.

            Although not quite correct, the rumors are correct in assuming Darth Scabrous has played a role in the studentsí disappearance.  He has actually been taking them to his laboratory in the uppermost reaches of the tower, conducting experiments.  Using the information found in a Sith holocron, Scabrous has been attempting to create an elixir meant to stave off death.  His previous attempts had failed due to one missing ingredient, but all of that is about to change.

            A skilled Whiphid bounty hunter is about to bring him a Murakami orchid, complete with its Jedi handler Hestizo Trace.  Unfortunately, the effects of the completed elixir are much more than Scabrous had planned for.  The elixir reanimates the dead, turning them into flesh-eating zombie killers and the ďdiseaseĒ released by one of the acolytes kept locked in the lab of the tower spreads extremely quickly.  Soon the whole planet is filled with flesh-eating zombie Sith acolytes.  Can Hestizo Trace escape the planet unscathed or will she succumb to what Darth Scabrous believes is her own special destiny?

            I expected a book that would explain the creation of the Blackwing virus from Death Troopers, but I got so much more.  The book doesnít exactly explain how the virus came to fruition, but it does give us an indirect idea as to where it came from.  Scabrous is more than a Sith Lord, heís the epitome of the mad scientist, creating something for his own evil purposes that grows quite out of control.  I didnít exactly get a prequel in Red Harvest, but I did get a great Star Wars horror storyÖan even better one than the first, in my opinion.

            First of all, I love the planetís name - Odacer-Faustin.  Breaking the planetís name down reveals an omen of interesting things to come.  Odacer is somewhat like the name Odoacer, the name of a barbarian mercenary of old.  Faust is the scholar that makes a deal with the devil.  When you think about the events in the novel, the name of the planet is quite apt.  Scabrous is already evil, but he is still a scholar and he does seemingly make a deal with the devil for everlasting life.  The mercenary aspect is ever pervading in this novel and the barbarian, well, if you donít call the purposeful creation of a flesh-eating zombie barbaric, I would question your sanity.  And speaking of the planet, I thought it was cool that the planet was an icy planet like Hoth, which of course begged for the appearance of Tauntauns.  Remember the scene with Luke inside the Tauntuan carcass?  You are not going to believe Schreiberís take on that scene!

            I enjoyed the use of a Jedi Agricultural Corps member as the heroine in this novel.  After all, we have been taught over the years that the Jedi who entered the Agricultural Corps were usually students who did not show enough potential to be chosen by a master for training.  Some would say that these Jedi were failures of the order, but in truth, they really just served another purpose in the order.  In this adventure, a Jedi in the Agricultural Corps gets a chance to prove her worth in the agricultural sense and as a Jedi.  We get to see a side of this type of Jedi we have never seen.  And before you scoff at the idea, remember that Obi-Wan was almost placed in the Agricultural Corps.

            I also enjoyed the way Schreiber allowed us to listen in on the thoughts of the infected.  We were actually able to see the transformation of individuals into zombies, how they tried to fight the process and how they ultimately succumbed.  Zombie-driven horror books donít usually present things in the perspective of the zombie and I found that to be a unique and exciting part of the novel.

            I thrilled at all of  the twists and turns in this novel.  Just when you think that someone has been killed, you learn they are alive, and just when you think someone is going to survive the planet, they are killed.  That sort of surprise factor keeps you on pins and needles throughout the novel.

            Star Wars: Red Harvest is a horror fanís dream, filled with plenty of action, adventure and gore.  In case you think that a Star Wars book canít be all that gory, just  know that I have a very active imagination and the descriptive nature of the writing in this novel created numerous pictures in my mind as to the events in the novel.  Trust me when I say that I cringed on quite a few occasions.  A fast and enjoyable read, this novel is a must for fans of the horror genre who just so happen to be Star Wars fans as well.


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