Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide II: Ruin

It’s been awhile since a Star Wars book review. Truth be told, I’ve read several more and am still many reviews overdue. Star Wars is back on the brain, it seems, so I figure I’d continue my journey through the New Jedi Order series with a review of Dark Tide II: Ruin, which obviously continues from Dark Tide I: Onslaught. It is worth noting that the Star Wars EU has far too many subtitles.

Michael Stackpole continues his duology in Ruin and knocks it out of the park with ease. The pacing is perfect, the action is intense, and the characterization of all characters — notably the interactions between Jedi and non-Jedi — is fairly solid.

Ruin sees Luke and Anakin Solo on a questo to find rogue Jedi Daeshara’cor — a Twi’lek Jedi Knight who was infatuated with Miko Reglia (one of the first Jedi casualties of Vector Prime). She’s seeking out plans for a new space station capable of destroying the Vong once and for all (like a Death Star). While all that is going on, Senator Elegos A’Kla intends to speak with the Vong — despite being advised not to – by being captured so that he can meet with Shedao Shai.

All in all, Ruin is a pretty enjoyable read and a good romp through the Star Wars universe. Old characters are reuinited (Grand Admiral Pellaeon makes an appearance), and there is enough inclusion of the rest of the EU to make this title fit in perfectly. Ruin also features some of the largest and most exciting battles yet (sure, we’re three books in…) and has much less to do with politics than many of the other books (because, let’s face it: for some reason EU authors love making Borsk Fey’lya the bad guy by having him ignore good advise and basically spend any and every book engaging in political posturing, complete with the usual requisite paragraphs about Bothan politics…).

Part of the issue with the New Republic vs. Jedi angle that gets so played up in the NJO series is that it seems so utterly hopeless; the politics of the New Republic are such a mess that the Senate can rarely come to an agreement, and because of Fey’lya’s careful posturing, any discussion ultimately ends up anti-Jedi.

That isn’t to say the angle itself is bad: it is actually fairly interesting. Luke Skywalker again finds him torn as to how best to lead the new Jedi order. There is very rarely agreement even amongst the ranks of the Jedi, and Luke constantly finds himself swaying between the Jedi acting as agents of the New Republic or as arbiters of peace and justice. It is actually fairly great to see in action and forces the reader to think and focus on what justice actually is, what role it has in society, and ultimately who can actually uphold justice without becoming hypocrites.

In terms of action, Ruin is full of it, including an old-school Vong vs. Jedi duel to the death to decide the fate of an entire battle. While the end result is actually fairly obvious, it does add some complexity to the Jedi and of course to the Vong (who remain a pretty cool enemy). Many hooks and questions from Onslaught and even Vector Prime are resolved, which is nice — Han Solo barely got any play in this book, which was a huge disappointment. Han’s portrayal continues to be interesting and, I get it, he’s pretty brokenhearted, but for some reason it ends up being hard to read through — I don’t know why.

All in all, Ruin is an excellent addition to the NJO and is certainly one of the best Star Wars entries to date, I think. Michael Stackpole — best known for the X-Wing series — is a great author and it’s a shame that these are his only two entries in the NJO series.

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