If anyone knows whether someone has ever died of a heart attack from reading a book, please let me know: because after reading A Game of Thrones and now Order 66, I’m starting to worry a bit. To put it lightly, these two books, more than any I’ve read since I began this blog last year, have had my heart pounding so hard and fast that I’m really worried I might just keel over and leave this plane of existence with images of the Starks and Lannisters and Republic Commandos and Jedi spinning through my head as I fade away…
Order 66 was an incredible book.
I’ve been following Karen’s adventures in a ‘galaxy far, far away’ since her first Republic Commando novel, Hard Contact, as well as the brilliant work she’s done in the Legacy of the Force series, and I can honestly say that she has become stronger with each book!
At first, it was a bit strange for me to be immersed in a Star Wars universe that was grittier and darker than what I was used to, but I had been prepared for that by The New Jedi Order series – and I still think that it would have been insanely brilliant (instead of just brilliant) if Karen Traviss could have been a part of that series. Why do I say that? Well, the power of Karen’s characterization, for one.
It seemed a wonderful case of serendipity that I had read GRRM’s fantasy epic before reading Order 66, because it became clear to me that Mr Martin has some major competition in the living-and-breathing-characters department. Karen is amazing at getting you into the heads of her characters! Whether they be Jedi, Commandos, Mandalorians, or even Strill ( ) Karen leaves you with the feeling that these beings actually live and breathe somewhere, that you know them intimately, and just as that knowing them keeps you reading, she can still surprise you with how the characters react – but they still react in ways that are true to who they are.
Okay, here’s a bit of a intro to the series (for those unfortunate enough not to have read the previous Republic Commando books or any of Karen’s books): We all know that old Count Dooku, acting on Palpatine’s orders, placed an order for clones with the Kaminoans, that the material from which the clones were created came from Jango Fett, and that these clones formed the Grand Army of the Republic in a time when the Republic had no standing army at all. (And if you didn’t know this, leave that cave – this is Episode Two Attack of the Clones guys and girls)
But did you know that Jango arranged for select numbers of the clones to be trained by Mandalorians? We’ve seen these clones before – they are the ARC (stands for Advanced Recon Commando, Master Kenobi) troopers in the Clone Wars cartoon, and the guys from the First-Person Shooter Star Wars Republic Commando. These kids were almost ‘terminated’ by the Kaminoans because they were failures – they didn’t toe the line as the millions of others did, and would have all died if not for some of the Mandalorian Cuy’val Dar (those who Jango had brought in to train the clones) who stepped in and saved them. One of these guys, Kal Skirata, is now one of my favorite non-existant people. Ever. Get Ned Stark and Kal Skirata in a room… man, sorry for Palpatine and the Lannisters!
Anyway, Kal saves the clones he can save, and teaches them everything he can that could possibly ensure their survival. Because, you see, these clones are human beings to him; human kids who have been given the very short end of the stick; they have no choice in any aspect of their lives. None. Period. Not only does Kal believe in them, but he treats them as his own sons.
Then Geonosis happens, and the Clone Army is thrown into combat. Our two main Commando-groups emerge – Omega Squad and Delta Squad (Delta are the guys from the game), and we follow these two groups through the four books that make up the Republic Commando series. Along the way, we’ll meet the Jedi, and some of them will begin to see just how human these clones are; foundations are shaken and destroyed, let me tell you. If you ever wondered how the Jedi could just use a slave-army and stand for all they stand for… well, lets just say that some of them deserved the culmination of Order 66.
But good along with the bad: the books are also populated with characters who you all know – people who are selfless and stand by their convictions, people who love without reservation or judgment, people who reach out a hand to these poor men who fight and die for them.
And you’ll be in the thick of the action, too: running battles, suicidal attacks, guerilla warfare, it’s all there. And there are also touching moments, moments where you might just spit out you coffee while swearing or cheering unexpectedly. Every book in this series is amazing!
And I thought that The Force Unleashed was the only book that made me see the Star Wars saga in a new light? Well, Order 66 did that, too. I’ll just say this: Jango Fett was one clever and ruthless barve, no doubt.
So, if you want to see Star Wars through a different (but no less incredible, breath-taking) lens, read Order 66. And if you haven’t read the previous Republic Commando books, read them too. Savor these books, because Karen Traviss is an incredible writer, and the Star Wars saga needs more writers like her. This lady knows her stuff, and then knows the stuff behind the stuff, too.
Star Wars The New Jedi Order Star by Star by Troy Denning was my all-time favorite Star Wars novel; Mr Denning, you’re going to have to inject something huge into the Fate of the Jedi books you’re writing, because Order 66 has over taken what you did for us there. Order 66 rocks!
To check out Karen’s website, follow this link (where you’ll also be able to follow links to order the books).