Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force
Author: James Luceno
Published By: The Ballentine Publishing Company
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When we last left our heroes, Zonama Sekot had agreed to assist the Jedi in their fight against the Yuuzhan Vong invaders. It had been revealed that the Yuuzhan Vong were not beings that lived outside the Force, but ones that had been cast out – virtually stripped of the Force. The planetary conscious, Sekot, believed that the planet had an integral history with the Yuuzhan Vong, but was either unable or unwilling to elaborate on this. Meanwhile, the Galactic Alliance nearly lost the war in an attempt to recapture Bilbringi thanks to the disabling of holonet communications by yet another Yuuzhan Vong creation. Nom Anor had fled Zonama Sekot after a botched attempt at destroying the living planet.
In The Unifying Force, the final novel in the Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, we discover that Nom Anor has returned to Yuuzhan’tar, and that he has received a promotion rather than being executed. It would seem that Nom Anor has once again placed himself in high regard with the Supreme Overlord by infiltrating Zonama Sekot and attempting its destruction. Amidst grumblings that the Gods have turned against the Yuuzhan Vong, Shimrra calls for a grand ceremony, central of which will be a huge sacrifice to the Gods. The Galactic Alliance learns that the sacrifice is to include several high ranking prisoners – prisoners who are key to uniting the galaxy against the Vong.
Meanwhile, on the living planet of Zonama Sekot, Luke Skywalker and his fellow Jedi struggle with the concept of the Unifying Force – a Force in which there is no light or dark. The concept throws everything Skywalker has ever been taught about the Force on its ear and at a time where Luke’s path should seem clear, things are more confused than ever.
When Zonama Sekot finally makes an appearance in Known Space, the galaxy is thrown into turmoil. For in the midst of a giant push for extermination by the Yuuzhan Vong, arrives the mythological world that, to the Shamed Ones means deliverance, and to the hierarchy of the Vong means eminent destruction and the desertion of the Vong peoples by their Gods. To the Galactic Alliance, the planet’s arrival means that the Yuuzhan Vong are distracted from their big push to recapture Coruscant. However, one unknown factor could catastrophically tip the balance of the scales, as the dreaded and believed destroyed Alpha Red virus makes its way toward Zonama Sekot.
As the final novel in this series, The Unifying Force, makes every effort to tie up loose ends. It took thirteen novels to get to this point and James Luceno does his absolute best to make certain that it was well worth the wait. The entire New Jedi Order series has been one long journey of unexpected twists and turns beginning with the death of a favorite long-standing character in Chewbacca. Unlike in past novels where the heroes were always expected face their challenges valiantly, come out victorious and live on to fight another day, The New Jedi Order series taught readers to expect the unexpected from this new era of Star Wars. And like the very first novel Vector Prime, The Unifying Force brings readers on a tumultuous journey filled with twists and turns that culminates in a jaw-dropping surprise ending. Will the Galactic Alliance prevail? Will the Yuuzhan Vong rule the entire galaxy? What is the secret of Zonama Sekot? All of these questions and more are answered in The Unifying Force.
Though many may find fault with the way the novel ends – many Star Wars fans have found fault with anything and everything about The New Jedi Order series altogether – the fact still remains that there is one annoying factor present throughout The Unifying Force. Readers are plagued with numerous typos that should have been rooted out and corrected before the novel went to print. Much can be taken away from the content with the existence of too many typographical errors and Star Wars editors should be a tad more careful about rooting out these evils.
The hardcover edition of this novel comes with a bonus feature – a CD-ROM. The bonus CD can be accessed by Windows or Mac users and sports a readable version of the novel that started it all, Vector Prime. Also included is a highly informative New Jedi Order Round Robin Interview with Del Rey Books Editorial Director Shelly Shapiro, Lucasfilm Managing Editor Sue Rostini, Lucasfilm Director of Publishing Lucy Wilson, and author James Luceno. This interview gives readers insights into the behind-the-scenes planning that went into The New Jedi Order. Did you know that the makers of the series had originally planned to kill off Jacen Solo, but that George Lucas changed their minds? Did you know that the powers that be had considered killing off Luke Skywalker, but George Lucas had been adamant about his survival? In fact, the search for a major character to kill off became an extremely difficult one until someone suggested that they “kill the family dog”, otherwise known as Chewbacca. The reaction of the staff members, who were all visibly upset by the idea, is what made the theory a reality. If the staff could become undone at the loss of this character, imagine the fan reaction! Also included on the CD is the “bible” of The New Jedi Order series. This served as an ongoing reference source for all authors and editors working on the series and included information on all things Yuuzhan Vong, from their religion to their living creations to their hierarchy. There’s also a list of the novels of the series and pictures of Yuuzhan Vong ships, the Millennium Falcon, and Jade’s Shadow, complete with technical readouts. This is a must have for any fan of The New Jedi Order Series, just as The Unifying Force is a must have for any fan of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
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