Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse

The NJO action continues with Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse.

Interesting stuff abounds! Leia continues trying to rescue refugees, while Han and Droma galavant across the galaxy, looking for Droma’s family. Leia ends up having to evacuate a local planet, while Jedi Wurth Skidder gets himself captured to take down the Vong from the inside. Han and Droma wind up at Ruan, a seeming paradise for refugees: the local governor there is allowing all refugees on the condition that they work. Of course, he has it set so anyone who does work there ends up incurring more expenses than they can ever hope to make from working, thus making them all essentially indentured servants. Droma winds up arrested and Han finds out from a droid that the planet is planning on aiding the Vong — they have begun a plan of shutting down all droids, and so their new droid friend enlists Han’s help — in exchange, the droid will help him rescue Droma. The plan is more or less successful and Han and Droma are able to leave the planet, still seeking Droma’s family, who have been moved off-world by Peace Brigaders — who are working with the Vong.

Meanwhile, Leia enlists the help of Prince Isolder and the Consortium in the Hapes Cluster. It’s a really ho-hum affair, with Leia fighting the fact that Isolder once had feelings for her, and so on. Luceno really phones this part in, and while we pick up on a bit of the tension of her and Han being apart, there really isn’t much.

Jacen and Anakin Solo eventually find themselves at Centerpoint Station in Corellia. Anakin shut down the station seven years prior, and only he can bring it back online. Thracken Sal-Solo, who amazingly just looks like a bearded Han Solo (I sure hope he isn’t evil!), is on hand, wanting the kids to re-activate the station so they can bring it’s awesome power to bear. Jacen is still struggling to understand his role in the galaxy and how a Jedi should use the Force, struggling with the idea of pre-emptive strikes and defense. He is able to talk Anakin out of firing the weapon, but Anakin has already brought the station online. While Anakin could fire the weapon flawlessly, using the Force to ensure he only kills Vong, Thracken takes the controls, and fires.

Seriously. Thracken = Evil Bearded Han. While this isn’t his first appearence, it’s the first I’ve seen of him.

While all this is occurring, Wurth Skidder is on a Vong ship, working on infiltrating the mind of a Yammosk — a Vong War coordinator. Him and several slaves — including Han’s friends Roa and Fasgo from the previous book — have been stimulating(?) the strangely phallic yammosk. It eventually clues in to Wurth’s Jedi-ness, and the Vong use it against him, attempting to turn him into a part of the ship.

Finally, everything’s come together — Han finds the slaver ship that kidnapped Droma’s family and they’re at Fondor, known for its massive shipyards. The Vong show up, and everything looks like it’s going to go tits-up. Han is able to rescue Droma’s family and the other slavers taken from Ruan after having been dropped of on an abandoned asteroid base near Fondor. Prince Isolder’s ships are re-routed by the military to Fondor, just in time. The battle begins and a massive beam of energy cuts through half the Vong ships and most of the Consortium ships. The Vong retreat from the awesome power of Centerpoint Station, and Isolder’s armada is left decimated. Thracken is held up as a hero, Droma and the slaves are sent off to Duros, Isolder and his armada leave the war effort, and we find out for sure that Senator Viqi Shesh is working hand-in-hand with the Vong when she gets a visit from Nom Anor.

All in all, an excellent read and another great entry by James Luceno. It was fast-paced, well narrated, and a very thrilling read all-in-all. I didn’t like the whole side-story with Isolder and Leia, though I understand its significance. It was great seeing Anakin and Jacen struggling with the Force, and hilarious to read about Han Solo’s evil bearded cousin, who I understand wasn’t created just for this novel. It was cool to read more into Centerpoint, which represents a section of Star Wars EU I haven’t read quite yet.

I do like the philosophizing of the Force that really goes on here because it does demand attention. Luke’s actions in the main series, for example, are almost always acts of aggression — while he avoids falling to the dark side completely, there is some hint that what he’s doing is not what a Jedi should be doing. It then demands us to look at people like Kyp Duron and Corran Horn and Wurth Skidder — at what point is inaction foolhardy and at what point is action, well, aggression (and a slip into the dark side)? Is a pre-emptive strike ever allowed, as a Jedi, or must you always defend? If after defending, is it aggression to press the attack? These questions are asked more and more in the next books, and it’s great to see that discussion started here.

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