Science Fiction

Star Wars: Republic Commando: True Colors

Author: Karen Traviss

Published By:
The Ballentine Publishing Company

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            When we last left the heroes of the Republic Commando series, the group had just completed an undercover mission on Coruscant that proved especially revealing for the clones.  It was the first time they were truly exposed to civilian life, and for some, it produced a longing for that life that they never knew they could have.  By the end of the mission, Jedi Knight Etain Tur-Mukan was pregnant with Clone Republic Commando Darmanís son, but promised their Sergeant and surrogate father, Kal Skirata, that she would not reveal this to Darman.  True Colors, the third novel in the Republic Commando series, picks up a couple of months from where Triple Zero left off.

            Omega Squad has been given a new mission.  They find themselves on a new world helping the native lizard-like population rebel against the ruling human class.  While conducting a routine intelligence mission into the heart of the capital, Omega Squad stumbles on something they never knew existed, a clone deserter. 

            Meanwhile, Delta Squad has been charged with finding Ko Sai, the Kaminoan geneticist who has defected from Kamino, taking her precious cloning research with her.  She has fled to parts unknown and Emperor Palpatine has a special interest in capturing her.  Unfortunately, Kal Skirata and his NULL troopers are also hot on Ko Saiís trail, but for a very different reason.  If Skirata can capture Ko Sai and force her to reveal how to slow down the rapid aging process of the clones, he could give them a much longer lifespan and quite possibly offer them a life outside of the Grand Army of the Republic.

            Things are going well for both squads until the discovery of the clone deserter.  From there, everything begins to unravel and, when one of the commandos is seriously wounded, the commandos and their civilian friends begin to learn exactly what kind of healthcare a clone is provided, especially when he is no longer viable as a soldier.

            Although Star Wars: Republic Commando: True Colors starts off slowly, the third novel in the Republic Commando series is quite possibly the hardest hitting.  There are a great many thought-provoking questions posed in this novel.  The idea that there could be a life outside of the war was posed in Triple Zero, but to discover that a clone had actually deserted and had begun to live such a life is something the Republic Commandos had never expected.  Alluring to some and worthy of court martial to others, things become even more confusing for Kal Skirataís men when it is discovered that clones are being used to put an end to the lives of other clones who refuse to conform to army standards.

            Even more unsettling is the idea that a clone trooper is not considered a human in their own right, but government property and therefore expendable when no longer capable of functioning up to par.  Itís very similar to the slavery that took place in America - the slaves were good enough to work the fields, prepare the meals, do domestic chores in the home, but they werenít worthy of much more than a meager ration of food, sparse cabins and little to no medical care.  Much like the clone troopers, the slaves were often worked quite literally to death and considered property rather than living human beings.  They dare not leave on penalty of death, much like the clone troopers in this novel.  It just makes you wonder how the institution of slavery lasted so long in this country.

            I love how some of the Clone Wars books clear up things mentioned in earlier novels in the Expanded Universe.  For one thing, how the cloning process in later years produced clones that werenít up to the same standards as the earlier models.  This book explains that the contract with Kamino was running out and that the Republic was using secret facilities in which to work on creating their own clones.  Hypothesizing that Palpatine would want to create clones faster, it is suggested that the clones that would be created at these facilities would be inferior to the batches created in Kamino and quite possibly faulty, as is suggested in other novels in the Expanded Universe.  I also loved that Karen Traviss tied this novel in with the Legacy of the Force series.  Those who have read the Legacy of the Force series will finally understand just who Gotab and his nephew Venku really are by the end of True Colors

            This novel marks the first time that the idea of life after the war comes up for the clones.  Kal Skirata loves the soldiers he trained so much that he is willing to do whatever he can to offer them opportunities the Republic never will.  He has learned what happens to those clones who are no longer able to perform the duties of a soldier and he isnít going to let that happen to his men.  As he sees it, his boys never had the opportunity to say no when it came to signing up for this war.  They had no choice in the matter.  Kal wants to give them that choice and he finds that he is not alone in that way of thinking.  This is also the first time the readers are actually exposed to the dispassionate way the clones are treated when it is felt that they are wounded beyond repair.

            Thus far, the Republic Commandos series of Star Wars novels have been action-packed and fun, but True Colors is more of a thought-provoking book than an action-packed extravaganza.  Sure, there are firefights and exciting explosions, but this book is more about the emotional and moral issues facing those who are fighting in the Clone Wars.  It gives the reader insight into how the Jedi and civilians alike felt about their manufactured army.  It also gives the reader some insight into how the clones felt about fighting the war.  Up until now, readers were led to believe that the clones lived for this sort of thingÖit was what they were manufactured for, after all.  But, for once, we start to see the beginnings of doubt creep into the minds of the clones.  They are maturing and, as maturing individuals, they are starting to get a grasp of the whole picture of the war they are fighting.

            I loved Star Wars: Republic Commando: True Colors and canít wait to read the next novel in the series!  Karen Traviss has a way of making the reader become completely invested in the outcome of the characters.  When you reach the last page in each book of this series, you find yourself yearning for more.  Luckily, there are more novels in the series to check out, including the notorious Order 66.  I canít wait!

For more about the Republic Commandos, check out:

Star Wars: Republic Commando: Hard Contact

Star Wars: Republic Commando: Triple Zero

Star Wars: Omega Squad: Targets

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