Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Review: Star Wars: Coruscant Nights Book 1 - Jedi Twilight by Michael Reaves

I finished reading Michael Reaves’ latest Star Wars offering yesterday, and I thouroughly enjoyed it! :-)

For those of you who have read Reaves and Steve Perry’s previous contributions to the Star Wars universe (Star Wars Darth Maul Shadow Hunter, Star Wars Medstar 1 Battle Surgeons, Star Wars Medstar 2 Jedi Healer, Star Wars Death Star), you’ll all know that Michael and Steve have created some very memorable characters that are carried through into the various books, and Coruscant Nights is no exception. But let’s get to the meat of the tale first: Coruscant Nights is, at its heart, the story of a Jedi Knight trying to survive on post-Order 66 Coruscant (now named Imperial Center).

We follow Jax Pavan, living in the seedier sections of the planet-wide city; he is part of an underground resistance group determined to undermine the Empire any way they can, and arrange for the escape of any surving Jedi. Jax has taken on the role of a bounty hunter, a job that, to say the least, is extremely at odds with his being a Jedi Knight. Jax then finds out from Nick Rostu (a character created by Matt Stover for the Clone Wars novel, Star Wars Shatterpoint) that his old master has been killed, and has asked Jax to complete his mission: find a droid that has some valuable information for the resistance. And so the adventure begins, ushering in more characters that, more often than not, steal Jax’s limelight.

We again meet Den Dhur, the Sullustan reporter from the Medstar Duology, the droid I-5, Kaird, an avian working for Black Sun, Prince Xizor from Shadows of the Empire, and Darth Vader. Den and I-5 have come to Imperial Center looking for Jax, Kaird is trying to get out of Black Sun and return home, Prince Xizor is arranging a devious trap, and Vader is looking for Jax.

All these plot-points converge, and cleverly, as the novel comes to its end, and all the characters are written extremely well and practically jump and dive and dodge off the page – I-5 in particular is one of the most intruiging characters I’ve met in a Star Wars novel, not only for the fact that he may just be the first completely self-aware droid ever. Den Dhur, too, is perfect as the cynical reporter, just trying to get some peace and quiet and forget the events that took place on Drongar (Medstar Duology) and help his droid buddy find Jax. Xizor, too, is the same devious prince from Shadows of the Empire, and a surprise is waiting in this book that practically sets the scene for Shadows. Vader is present, but doesn’t do much, although his role will grow in the following books.

The action scenes are pure Star Wars, thought there are no space battles, and lightsaber duels are surprising to say the least, not only because of who fights them but also what they fight with, and the underbelly of Imperial Center was described well-enough to immerse but not overwhelm.

As I said earlier, those who have followed Reaves and Perry’s Star Wars work will really enjoy this book; a plot-point from Shadow Hunter comes full-circle, old characters are brought along and play important parts, and the humour that Reaves and Perry bring to their work is spot-on and laugh-out-loud funny, but…

Here we come to the two issues I had with the book.

The first? There is no France, or frenchmen, is Star Wars, so the inclusion of a french expression completely threw me out when I read it; it just doesn’t have a place in Star Wars.

And the second: Jax’s unrealistic attitude towards droids, especially I-5. I thought Jedi (even Jedi in hiding) were supposed to have a deep respect for everything, but from the beginning (and this in a galaxy where anything can and does happen) Jax was terribly put out by the idea of droid self-awareness. I mean, we all know C-3PO and R2-D2 – those two have never been anything less that self-aware, it’s something we almost come to expect from droids that take center-stage in Star Wars, so it seemed a bit weird to me.

Other than that, the book flowed along nicely, it was exciting, clever, and the characters were wonderful! Book 2 should be even better, because the main plot will be revealed, but Jedi Twilight was a great start. :-)

8/10

For more info on Michael and his work, check out his website here; to order this book, click here for US, here for UK and here for SA.

This book is published in SA by Random House Struik.

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