Star Wars: Republic Commando: Triple Zero
The Omega Squad of Republic Commandos are back in this sequel to Star Wars: Republic Commando: Hard Contact. This time around, the members of Omega Squad - Darman, Fi, Niner and Atin - are after Separatist terrorists whose bombs have been targeting clone troopers stationed on Coruscant. Kal Skirata, a Mandolorian mercenary who helped train the clone troopers prior to the war, wants to get down to the bottom of these bombings and stop the terrorists who have been targeting his troopers. In order to do so, Kal and Omega Squad must go undercover and flush out the terrorist group.
Joining them on this mission are Skirata’s specially trained Null-class Advance Recon Commandos Ordo and Mareel, Delta Squad - a unit trained by Walon Vau that has never lost a single trooper, Jedi Bardan Jusik and Etain Tur-Mukan and Mandalorian mercenary / clone trooper trainer Walon Vau. Their mission won’t be easy. For starters, how do you hide a bunch of troopers who look identical in a crowd of Coruscanti people? They’re bound to stand out. Second, the commandos must learn the art of covert operations. All of their missions thus far have been straight out commando versus bad guy, get in and destroy missions. This mission requires subtlety and subterfuge. Third, one of the commandos has a score to settle with Walon Vau.
With all of these obstacles in their way, the Republic Commandos are nonetheless dedicated to terminating this terrorist group who is targeting their fellow troopers. However, they are unprepared for the emotional stress that begins to heap on them as they try to blend in with the civilian world. As they flirt with the normal civilian world, they are harshly reminded of the life they will never have a chance to participate in. Bred to fight and die for the Republic and existing in a shortened life span, each trooper knows that the life of an average civilian can only be a fantasy for a clone. But more than one clone is willing to take a chance on tasting that life even for a fleeting moment. Will taking a chance at some civilian happiness distract the commandos enough to endanger the mission at hand?
In Star Wars: Republic Commando: Triple Zero, we are given the opportunity to become better acquainted with the Republic Commandos we are introduced to in the first-person shooter game, Star Wars: Republic Commandos, and the book based on the game, Hard Contact by Karen Traviss. We learn about the Null Troopers, a specially trained unit who take orders from no one except Kal Skirata. We discover why their relationship with Skirata is so strong. We also meet Kal Skirata for the first time and discover why he is so revered by the clone troopers he has trained.
Triple Zero is less about the mission to root out a terrorist group as the emotional turmoil present in each and every member of this mission. The book explores the clone troopers in a new way, reminding us that each clone, although extremely similar, is unique in emotion, skill and personality. We discover that clones can love - not only their brothers and their “fathers”, but other people, both in brotherhood fashion and in romantic fashion. The forbidden relationship between Darman and Etain, begun in Hard Contact and further explored in this novel, is extremely important to the Republic Commando storyline. For a clone to have a relationship outside of war is extraordinary enough, but for the romantic relationship to be with a Jedi is next to impossible. Both are supposed to shun attachments and yet both become attached to one another. The repercussions of this relationship are far reaching, effecting the present and future of the clones.
You begin to see the downfall of the Republic Jedi, the Jedi who shuns attachments. Jedi Bardan Jusik becomes very attached to the troopers he works with, even going so far as becoming brothers with them, wearing their armor, learning their language and participating in their cultural activities. Etain also questions this detachment, believing that to not feel at all is wickedly close to the path of the dark side. Unfortunately, these “new” Jedi have made life even more complicated for themselves than ever before and there is no turning back now.
Despite the fact that attachment is what brought about the creation of Darth Vader, we understand the necessary evolution of the Jedi into what they have become since the emergence of Luke Skywalker. This new war did exactly what the Sith wanted - it destroyed the Jedi as we once knew them. They became questioning their faith from the very beginning of the war. But in doing so, did they form the bonds that would make the Jedi even stronger in the future?
I love Karen Traviss’ writing. She has fully immersed herself in the Mandolorian culture…hell, she has created most of it. Her readers finally have some understanding of the mysteriousness behind the Mandalorian warriors, their relationships, morals and more. We even understand the language thanks to the glossary found at the back of the book. Her attention to detail is what makes her books so interesting. Sure, the action and intrigue of the storyline are great, and the emotional strife that is always present in her novels (the battles with one’s self) are gripping, but it is the little extra added details - the language, the Dha Wherda Verda ritual warrior dance, the glimpses into the family and cultural life of clones, Mandalorians and Jedi alike and more - that add a captivating sense of realism to what would otherwise be classified as just another sci-fi novel.
Star Wars: Republic Commando: Triple Zero by Karen Traviss was a great sequel to Hard Contact filled with action, intrigue, emotional turmoil and a truly gripping story. I am so emotionally invested in these characters that I can’t wait to see what new adventures lie ahead for them. Thankfully, I won’t have to wait long - I already own the next novel in the series, True Colors.