Science Fiction

The World Before

Written By: Karen Traviss

Published By: EOS

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                When I learned that Karen Traviss would no longer be writing Star Wars novels, I was bummed.  I loved her take on Mandalorians and Clone Troopers and enjoyed her entries into the Star Wars universe.  I wanted to read more of Karen Traviss’ work, but didn’t know where to start.  Who better to ask then the author herself, so I wrote Karen Traviss and she suggested I read her Wess’har Wars series.  I’ve been addicted since the first novel (check out reviews of the first two novels at and  I just finished the third novel in the series, The World Before, and I’m no less enthralled.

                When we last left the Wess’har Wars, former cop Shan Frankland had spaced herself rather than allow the amazing mutating organism inside her known as c’naatat to fall into the wrong hands.  But not before members of the Marine team, led by undercover government agent Mohan Rayat, deploy cobalt-laced nuclear bombs on the planet Bezer’ej, in an effort to prevent the spread and/or military study of c’naatat.  Unfortunately, this bomb deployment has had an adverse effect on the local denizens of the planet, the fragile water-based bezeri.  The Wess’har, sworn protectors of the bezeri have called on the World Before, their ancestor planet, for assistance with the humans and isenj, an alien race that once destroyed the bezeri ecosystem and became the sworn enemy of the Wess’har.  Oh yeah, and Ade Bennett, Marine Sergeant, has accidentally been infected by c’naatat.

                In The World Before, the Wess’har from the World Before, known as the Eqbas, have arrived, seeking immediate justice for the bezeri.  Although more technologically advanced than the Wess’har of F’nar, the Eqbas have the same beliefs regarding the sanctity and preservation of planetary ecosystems, but there methods are a bit more extreme.  Seeking to occupy the worlds of the people who are responsible for the destruction of the bezeri, the Eqbas send vessels to isenj and Earth.  Will their occupation spark a galactic world war?

                Meanwhile, a miraculous find in outer space changes how all species think about the organism known as c’naatat.  Incredibly curious about c’naatat, the Eqbas begin studying it, but what do they plan to use their research for.  And when the possibility arises that the Eqbas scientists can remove c’naatat from their hosts, what could this mean for the infected?

                The World Before contains quite a few startling revelations.  We learn a bit more about Ade Bennett’s past and how these things shaped the man Ade has become.  Revelations about Shan’s original mission and how it coincides with that of Mohan Rayat are quite surprising and somewhat telling as to the ruthless nature of the politicians of Earth

This book brings quite a few changes for reporter Eddie Michallat, who finds himself questioning his role in all of this – is he a reporter, a hero, a spy…more importantly, which of these roles will Eddie actually be able to live with.  There are also quite a few changes on F’nar itself as the differing matriarchs of the Wess’har and the Eqbas Vorhi finds themselves differing strongly in opinion on a number of issues. 

I loved the unexpected alliances in the novel and the unexpected acts of heroism from characters we had pretty much written off as lame.  There was a greater character development in The World Before, revealing quite a bit about the characters we thought we already knew.  I found the sense of finality in certain storylines in this novel to be interesting.  Considering that there are three more novels in this series, I have to wonder whether Karen Traviss had toyed with the idea of ending things here or if she had a contract to complete six books and the sense of finality is all my imagination.

Whatever the answer, I can honestly say that after reading The World Before, I feel more addicted to this series than ever before.  I want to know what happens to my favorite characters.  What will happen once the Eqbas Vorhi enact their plans for the isenj and Earth?  What does the future look like for Aras and his new family?  Could it be that calling the Eqbas for assistance was a mistake that could be the undoing of the civilization on F’nar?  I can’t wait to find out in the next novel, Matriarch.  Just the title alone has me wondering – could a new matriarch be in store for the Wess’har…and what will it mean for the community on F’nar?


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