Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Author: Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Published By: Ballantine Books
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I learned that there was a follow-up novel to the Star Wars: Coruscant Nights Trilogy, I was skeptical. It's not that the ending of the trilogy was final and didn't leave room for a sequel. It's that the trilogy wasn't terrific and I wasn't sure I wanted to spend my hard earned money on another novel featuring Jax Pavan and friends. But, as fortune would have it, I was able to buy the book at a discount, so I grudgingly picked up a copy of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, fairly sure that I wasn't going to enjoy the read.
The Last Jedi takes place shortly after Star Wars: Coruscant Nights: Patterns of the Force. Jax Pavan, Laranth Tarak, Den Dhur and I-Five are fleeing Coruscant with Thi Xon Yimmon in an attempt to get the Whiplash leader to safety. Having found his operation headquarters, the Empire will stop at nothing to capture the resistance leader and Jax has made it his mission to find Yimmon a new hideout where he can continue helping those who are facing tyranny at the hands of the Emperor.
Unfortunately, Darth Vader and his troops are tipped off to Jax's whereabouts and Vader is able to capture Yimmon, crippling Jax' ship and leaving the crew for dead. The loss of one of the group's own is more debilitating to Jax than he ever could have expected and that loss pushes him ever closer to the dark side. Will he give in to these urges in order to rescue his mentor and friend? Or will he forego the rescue all together for a little revenge?
Well, I certainly wasn't very happy with the beginning of this book. It's not that it wasn't well-written, it's just that the powers that be sought fit to kill off one of my favorite characters from the series. I won't go into details as it may come to be as much of a surprise for you as it was for me, but understand that it not only threw Jax for a loop, but threw me for one, too. Jax wasn't my favorite character in the Star Wars universe and I thought that this individual was much more interesting and complimented him well. However, since this individual's death is the catalyst that made this novel so very interesting, I guess I can find it in myself to forgive Reaves and Bohnhoff.
As for the rest of the novel, well, it's nothing like the Coruscant Nights Trilogy. There is no real detective noir here. Sure, there is a mystery involved - who was the mole who told Darth Vader of Jax's mission? But that mystery is minor compared to the mental anguish plot involving Jax Pavan and his crew. Jax's loss has him reeling and feeling responsible, Believing he could have stopped what happened if he had chosen a different path, Jax is determined to set things right, even if it takes him on a much darker path...the path to the dark side.
The mental anguish of the main character is quite interesting. Knowing he is, quite possibly, the last of the Jedi, Jax must be very careful not to fall into the same quandary as Anakin Skywalker. At the same time, the pain and loss he is feeling and the anger he feels toward himself and the rest of the world as a result of his loss pushes him toward danger. Could he be willing to sacrifice himself unnecessarily? What if there are no other Jedi left? Of course, the reader knows that other Jedi exist, but if you properly immerse yourself into the storyline, you can see things through the eyes of the characters who truly believe that Jax is the last one of his kind. If you can do that, then you certainly can see the dire circumstances that have befallen Jax and his friends.
The action in this book is spectacular, featuring shootouts, explosions and Jedi tricks that are new to Jax and his buddies. I-Five is as bristling as ever, but now he has opted for a new look...or looks...offering the semi-sentient machine more firepower and greater abilities than ever before. The reader is also treated to some new characters like the Toprawan Resistance and an early version of the Singing Mountain Clan of Dathomir.
After the way the Coruscant Nights Trilogy seemed to drag, I was wholly unprepared by how fast The Last Jedi progressed. I was done with this 460-page novel in a handful of days, loathing to put it down to go to work or sleep. In fact, had I not had to work, I probably would have finished the book much sooner, but try explaining to your boss that you need a day off to find out just how Jax Pavan was going to succeed in his plans with his old nemesis Vader still chomping at the bit to get him. I'd bet that wouldn't go over real well.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is an exciting read, full of twists and turns, flirtations with the dark side and a shocking final action scene that will truly knock your socks off. Well done Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff!