Star Wars EU comics: Dawn of the Jedi 3 – Force War (25,792 BBY)

To hear me read this review and its two previous parts, check out episode 525 of the Spiritblade Underground Podcast, go to timestamp 25:38.

This week I’m sharing my thoughts on Force War, part 3 of the awesome Dawn of the Jedi comics TPB trilogy. If you’ve started reading my blog just now, please jump back at least to my review of part 1 of this series.

Publisher’s Summary

(W ) John Ostrander (A) Jan Duursema, Dan Parsons (CA) David Michael Beck
The Rakata, powerful users of the dark side of the Force, have invaded the Tython system to enslave the Je’daii . . . With Forcesabers in hand, the Je’daii fight, led by mad Je’daii Daegen Lok and the mysterious Force Hound Xesh. But when Xesh is captured, the direction of the war is changed . . . Collects Dawn of the Jedi: Force War #1-#5.

My thoughts

Since the third trade paper back (TPB) starts with the perfect recap, let’s insert that here.

This is the perfect last part of any trilogy you’d like: it has our heroes in very dire circumstances, the promise of great love has now come true, the one who seemed to be the Last Hope has fallen to the dark side, mysteries are solved – at least partly – and a gigantic climactic battle covering an entire solar system threatens to wipe out everything. In fact, part of Force Storm reminded me of two SW movies: the way our redeemed hero falls to the dark side (again) leaves us with an “Oh no!” in our souls, maybe not as deep-felt as when Anakin fell in Revenge of the Sith but similar nonetheless. Plus, one of the comics issues in this story arc ends with a cliffhanger which masterfully reminds us of that other great second part of a trilogy: The Empire Strikes Back: all seems lost, our one true hope is nowhere to be found and the evil empire is stronger than ever. Just, wow.

I won’t spoil the ending of course, but suffice it to say that it very satisfactorily follows not only SW tradition but also most of our own historic archetypal hero legends and myths.

I’ll highlight some details of this third and last story arc. First, there seems to be some inconsistency in the way the Je’daii view romance. In part 1 Force Storm it is made clear that according to the Je’daii masters, love is best avoided. We see two Je’daii masters who are obviously former lovers, and one tells the other “There are reasons we cannot be together, and they have not changed. We must concentrate on the Force, on the balance.” On the other hand there is Shae, one of our young Ranger heroes – a Ranger is like a Jedi Knight – who not only falls in love, but then goes on and acts on it. I have to say, in context of the story and the way this was built up throughout the previous two TPB, it came off as mature, not adolescent. So one wonders, was Shae simply not aware of the rule prohibiting love, or did she intentionally ignore it?

Another detail worth mentioning is we learn Xesh’s name was given to him by his evil masters, and that he has chosen a true name for himself, Tau. Of course this had to be one of the not-so-subtle references to buddhism, for inspite of the different spelling it reminds us of the Chinese concept of Tao. Even the meaning of the name here, Soul, refers to something from the spiritual realm.

Third, it’s very nice to learn more about how Force Hounds like Xesh do what they do: they allow themselves to fall into the darkness and send themselves outward, which enables them to ‘sniff out’ almost anything and everyone in the Force, dependent on their own strength in the Force.

Which brings me to the one issue I had with this story as a whole: if Force Hounds are as strong as Xesh and Trill, then why haven’t they risen against their masters? One theory could be their slave mentality: apparently when someone has been reduced to slavery for generations, especially when it’s enforced with brute force, it’s very difficult to break free from that mindset. We can even see that in the Old Testament stories of liberated Israel, which kept longing for Egypt even though they had been slaves there for generations. Nevertheless, the issue is resolved in the end, with Xesh finally rebelling against his hated master, fighting to gain his freedom once and for all.

One final point to make about this entire trilogy, is the artwork by Jan Duursema (penciller), Dan Parsons (inker) and Wes Dzioba (colorist). It is beautiful all the way through. Just look at the money shot below, simply gorgeous.

In conclusion, this was a more than fun, thrilling ride through ancient Star Wars lore, re-kindling my fandom after the so very, very disappointing two parts of the Disney-owned Sequel Trilogy. I wish there were a sequel trilogy to this one!

 

Star Wars EU comics: Dawn of the Jedi 2 – The Prisoner of Bogan (25,793 BBY)

To hear me read this review and its two other parts, check out episode 525 of the Spiritblade Underground Podcast, go to timestamp 25:38.

So, let’s continue right where we left off last time, with part 2 of the awesome Dawn of the Jedi trade paperback (TPB) comics trilogy!

Publisher’s summary

(W ) John Ostrander (A) Jan Duursema, Dan Parsons (CA) Wes Dziboa, David Michael Beck
Xesh, a mysterious alien warrior, is enthralled with the madman Daegen Lok and his obsession with conquering known space. Hunter teams are dispatched by the Je’daii to stop Lok and save the misguided Xesh, but they’re not alone. Xesh’s former masters have sent their own hunter-with orders to kill! Collects Dawn of the Jedi: Prisoner of Bogan #1-#5.

My thoughts

In this second TPB we find our dark side protagonist Xesh on Bogan, one of Tython’s two moons, banished to meditate on finding balance between the dark and the light sides of the Force. There he meets Daegon Lok, banished seven years earlier for the same reason. Daegon immediately issues a challenge, striving for dominance between them.

Daegon manages to take Xesh by surprise, overwhelming him with dark force magic – a term which is not used in this story, but which we know from at least one other Star Wars Expanded Universe novel series, the Darth Bane trilogy. Bane’s apprentice Zannah shows remarkable talent in this area and Bane makes her study the ancient writings and holocrons to learn about this specific dark side skill, which he himself lacks. It may well be that the ancient knowledge Zannah is studying, stems from this Dawn of the Jedi period. Who knows, I haven’t read any of the other EU stuff yet, so this is my theory for now 🙂 Fact is that Darth Zannah applies the exact same magic as Daegon Lok: preying on other people’s fears and using it to their detriment and sometimes even demise. Maybe the writer wanted to help us make this connection by naming one of Daegon’s victims Bel Zana (Dawn of the Jedi was created some years after Darth Bane).

Since the Je’daii have taken Xesh’s force saber from him, Daegon wants him to make another. Which is how we learn how a dark side force saber is made: not only does one need a special crystal, but one needs also to practice alchemy, which I guess is also a form of dark side magic.

We get to know Xesh’s strength even better than we already did in part 1, Force Storm. We already know he’s a formidable force fighter, and can track almost everything through the force, but now we also learn about his pure, raw power in the force: he can power an entire space craft through the force!

While Daegon en Xesh plan their escape from Bogan to get the materials for new force sabers, the Je’daii study an ancient holocron to try to find out more about the threat that is coming, the threat Daegon Lok saw in his force visions years ago, that they say drove him mad and made them banish him to Bogan. What’s interesting about this holocron, is that it looks like a mini replica of a Tho Yor, the huge ancient force ships that brought all force users to Tython – about which we learned in part 1 of the trilogy.

Daegon and Xesh manage to escape from Bogan fairly early in the story arc, which turns the rest of the adventure into a hide-and-seek kind of manhunt, with ranger Shae Koda as the lead ‘search dog’ because of her special bond with Xesh (see also Force Storm). This offers us readers a nice view of the solar system, as they visit several planets and moons and the cities upon them.

The Je’daii are of course also studying Xesh’s force saber, trying to get it to work and if possible to replicate it. The reader now learns that the energy blade is not so much hot as it is cold!

Although most of this TPB’s story arc is a manhunt with a lot of chase and action scenes in true Star Wars form, Xesh’s character is also more fleshed out with more interesting details about his back story. This time we learn more about his past as a child, life as a member of a force hound brood, how they are torture-trained, and about the big sister-like female who always protected him. Although Xesh doesn’t really remember much about her because of a memory block his masters put into his mind, we readers immediately get it: this is Trill, the second force hound in this story, who we also met in Part 1.

There is much more to say about this story of course. I will highlight two things that stood out to me. First, the way Daegon treats Xesh. It reminds us of the Master-Apprentice dynamics between the Sith of later times. However, there are significant differences too: Xesh in the end is not only not an apprentice, he far out-matches Daegon in strength. It seems Daegon made a devastating error of judgment about their relationship…

And second, there’s the motif of close friendship & brotherhood vs betrayal, that echoes that of Obi-Wan & Anakin – and again between two friends that became Je’daii masters, namely Daegon Lok and Hawk Ryo. They also end up fighting a fierce forcesaber battle…

Conclusion

This TPB reads like a movie and is a truly fun and thrilling adventure. I can do nothing but recommend this – although it is not a jumping-on point, you really should read part 1: Force Storm first.

Stay tuned for part 3: Force War!

Star Wars EU comics: Dawn of the Jedi 1 – Force Storm (25,793 BBY)

To hear me read this review and its two next parts, check out episode 525 of the Spiritblade Underground Podcast, go to timestamp 25:38.

Well, by now I’ve dived deep into the Star Wars Expanded Universe, after a first few tentative steps with Darth Plagueis and the Darth Bane trilogy. In fact, I’ve gone full Obsessive Mode, which means I have now taken it upon myself to read all novels (a/o audiobooks) and all comics in chronological order, story-wise, as much as I can manage. Which does not mean I’ll review every single thing I read I don’t think, there is simply too much content to accompish that, but I’ll at least let you know about the things I liked, the hidden gems and also the things I found awful or simply incredibly dull. I’m planning to avoid reviewing the stuff I found simply okay, say the 3 out of 5 stars works.

For this undertaking I am using the Wookieepedia Legends timeline (the Expanded Universe has been declared non-canon by Disney and is now called Legends) that includes all novels and all comics at the same time. And for all of you who are into all that, they have also included movies, video games, tv series and even RPG scenarios – all in one big chronological timeline 🎉.

Although their entire timeline starts with a novel, I’ll review that one next time, since – spoiler alert – I didn’t like it very much and I really want to kick off this new blog series with a hit straight out of the ball park. My excuse is that both the novel and the comics are situated in the year 25,793 BBY – which means the actual order between the two doesn’t really matter.

On to Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm, the first of a TPB trilogy set in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

Publisher’s Summary

(W ) John Ostrander (A) Jan Duursema, Dan Parsons (CA) Wes Dziboa, Gonzalo Flores.
Here begins the tale of the dawn of the Jedi, the Star Wars of 25,000 years ago-before lightsabers, before hyperspace travel, before the Jedi spread throughout the galaxy, when connections to the Force were new.

On the planet Tython, a group of beings – scientists, philosophers, and warriors – strive to maintain peace and to balance the mystifying power known as the Force. But a stranger is coming, one who will disrupt the balance with his arrival and his own connection to the Force. Everything in their system is about to change . . . The doors to the galaxy have been opened! Collects Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi-Force Storm #1-#5.

My thoughts

To start with the ending: I LOVED this entire trilogy of trade paper backs (TPB)! Or, 15 comics issues if you manage to still find these. These stories have a lot of so-called Star Wars tropes, and I mean that in a positive way, while being completely new and original at the same time, since the story takes place so long before the Skywalker era that the Jedi and Sith didn’t even exist. Let me start with the five tropes I recognized in Force Storm, the first part of our trilogy: First, there’s a truly badass villain in the Darth Vader tradition, long before there even were any darths. He even shares some similarities with Anakin Skywalker: he grew up to be a slave, his personality oozes the possibility of redemption, and there are even hints of a great love in his future (see pic below).

And as for the darth part, he dresses all-black complete with a face-covering mask, he’s a powerful master of the dark side of the force and kills without hesitation.

As for the heroes, in this first TPB there are several protagonists, none of which stand out – yet. The focus seems to be on three adolescent apprentices though, continuing the SW tradition of picking fairly young heroes on a quest that will also make them grow in strength and wisdom. Nice little detail is that one of these three is an actual Sith, that is to say the Sith as a species, one of the myriad of alien races in the Star Wars universe. They are red-skinned and originated on the world of Korriban.

There’s also an easter egg for SW fans: the symbol on the ancient pyramid spacecraft Tho Yor is the same as the symbol for the Rebellion – an unimportant detail but very nice if you happen to notice it – see pictures above and below.

Fourthly, in what I would call an eye-wink to fans, one of the Je’daii masters resembles Mace Windu, both in looks as in strength and wisdom 😉

And the last but not the least of the tropes I found, was the cover of the first TPB, which is designed to look like a SW movie poster – and I love it! Too bad they didn’t do it for all three covers.

As for the Story, Force Storm takes its time to introduce us to these ancient times of the SW lore, but manages to keep it well-paced. We learn why force wielders are from different races all over the galaxy, how they all came to live on a world called Tython in the core of the galaxy and that they came to be known as je’daii – which is pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable. In those days, the Force was known to be both dark & light, in an eternal balance. The je’daii trained many years to keep this balance within themselves – which is of course a huge difference with the SW of the Skywalker era: in the ancient days there were no Light Side wielders and Dark Side wielders – every je’daii wielded both, and trained not to lose the balance. Interesting! In later EU stories like Revan we also see this phenomenon of force users wielding both sides of the force.

After the introductory pages, not so subtly disguised as a history lesson to our young journeyers (which we might call Padawan), the actual story starts. We meet our three young heroes, their masters and their force-sensitive planet Tython. We follow them on their adventure which leads them to meet Xesh, our villain – or in fact the representative of an entire realm of bad guys called the Infinite Empire. (Oh yeah, another SW trope! 🙂 ). Xesh is stronger in the Force and wields a forcesaber, which is a weapon the Tythons are unacquainted with. There are some fight scenes, both between the force wielders and with some of the planet’s monsters (“Hello, this is the Dune Saga calling, can we have our sand worms back?!”), and in the end we are left with Xesh leaving for Bogan, one of Tython’s two moons, the one representing the Dark Side of the Force. Which is where part 2 of the trilogy will pick up.

I loved the pacing of this story, the action scenes and the character moments. The villains are great. There’s Xesh of course, but we also meet his so-called ‘brood mate’ Trill, who like him is also a powerful Force Hound. And then there are their masters, the powerful and very evil Rakatan.

I did have some trouble sympathizing with our young heroes, I liked Xesh a lot better. Perhaps because he was better fleshed out, but I also think writers somehow find it easier to make bad guys interesting. The good guys often seem dull or two-dimensional or even hard to relate to.

Their masters on the other hand seemed to have more promise on the badassery scale, but they weren’t the main characters.

I did have some issue with the very on-the-nose references to buddhism, yin & yang, and the whole ‘good and evil are two sides of the same coin’ way of thinking. I know these elements are always somewhat present in SW, they are part of the concept, but in this TPB it was annoyingly so. Perhaps because in the Skywalker era, there was also some serious criticism of this philosophy weaved into the storylines, which created a good balance (see what I did there), whereas in this story it felt almost like an agenda.

All that being said, I still loved this first story arc very much, and would easily give it 4 out of 5 stars overall.

Next time, I’ll review part 2: Dawn of the Jedi: Prisoner of BoganStay tuned!

 

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Review: Ahsoka (a Star Wars new canon novel)

To hear me read this review, check out episode 513 of the Spiritblade Underground Podcast, go to timestamp 22:42.

By now I’m pretty much dedicated to the Star Wars Expanded Universe – or rather Star Wars Legends, as it’s called now. However, my dedication only grew firm after having tried several works of the new Star Wars canon as Lucas Story Group now publishes it. Among which were two novels, which I both tried in audiobook format. The first was Tarkina review of which I posted a couple of months ago. The second novel was Ahsoka, which I’m reviewing today. And as with Tarkin, I was underwhelmed – to my own disappointment.

The novel was written by E.K. Johnston. In audiobook format it takes 7 hours and 8 minutes to finish, and is narrated by Ashley Eckstein – who also voices Ahsoka in both animated series!

Publisher’s summary

Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars and before she reappeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally her story will begin to be told.

Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa – and the Rebel Alliance.

©2016 E. K. Johnston (P)2016 Listening Library

My thoughts

The SW new canon novel Ahsoka was high on my wish list, for I’m both a huge Star Wars Clone Wars animated series fan, as well as a Star Wars Rebels fan. Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s padawan, was one of the new characters that were invented specifically for the SW The Clone Wars series, and quickly became a fan favorite. Many viewers who watched the Clone Wars were thrilled to see her return as an adult force wielder in the more recent series Rebels. Many fans – me included – were wondering what happened to her in the years between both series. How did she grow up, was she still in contact with the Jedi order or did she maybe return to them, and, most importantly: how did she get two colorless white light sabers? Ahsoka the novel promised to answer these questions and more, so I purchased it with anticipation.

Of course the audio effects are, as always, awesome, they really add to the story and the “feel” of the SW universe.
I found that this novel was clearly aimed at a young adult audience, for it wasn’t as exciting nor as deep as I had hoped. Possibly this may also be due to purely commercial deliberations by the publisher, simply wanting to keep on ‘milking the SW cow’ and making some easy money by throwing the fans a bone with an aluring title. Perhaps this sounds harsh and overly dramatic, but the novel left me with a sense of betrayal – well, kind of anyway; I mean it’s only a novel. But It’s like with the new Star Wars movies (parts 7 and 8, and even Rogue One): I’m beginning to feel the soul that was in the original Star Wars storylines, including the (Lucas-approved) Expanded Universe, has been ripped out by the now Disney-owned Lucas Story Group, leaving me as a fan nothing but some empty shells and no substance. (Hence, my recent exploration of the Legends content, formerly known as the Expanded Universe – but more on that in future posts).

About the only plus about the novel is that it does indeed explain where and how Ahsoka got the two uniquely white light sabres we know her to have in Star Wars Rebels.

So, hardcore Star Wars fans, be warned and only add this piece of new SW canon to your collection if you’re an absolute completist.

Also follow my reviews on Audible.com! (where I am Katarina – if you’re an Audible listener, simply bookmark my Listerner page once you’ve found me)

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SW Clone Wars Animated Series pt. 4: Anakin Skywalker – Descent into Rage

Finally! It’s here: part 4 of my spoiler-filled blog mini series on Star Wars Clone Wars – The Animated Series. I repeat: spoiler-filled! If you don’t wish to be spoiled about anything, please make sure you have watched all Star Wars movies, plus Seasons 1-4 of this animated series, before continuing to read this blog post.

One of the many things I love about Star Wars Clone Wars – The Animated Series (TAS) is that the series’ creators take their time to make us part of Anakin’s slow descent into a moral low.

In Season 1 we see Anakin’s temper and his rebellious streak, the second season shows the first signs of him being a killer: initially when he first practices his Force Grip and almost kills a prisoner, later when he wants to execute Ventress (but she escapes). Season 3 confirms this cold-bloodedness when Anakin without hesitation kills one of the three Force Wielders, during the Mortis story line.

The fourth season has Anakin further prodded in the direction of the Dark Side by his deep-seeded rage. For instance, when he has to deal with a Separatist-backed slaver planet and their queen, his rage and fear almost get the better of him. The queen also raises some interesting philosophical questions as to Anakin’s nature, calling him a slave at heart, wanting nothing more than to serve others with blind loyalty and a commitment at the expense of himself. It’s very clear she strikes a chord with Anakin, leaving him confused and at a loss for words.

In a later story arc, Obi Wan is murdered by a sniper – or so Anakin believes. This time his rage is fuelled by deep grief which he doesn’t seem to want to let go.

The Jedi want him to stay out of the murder investigation precisely for this reason, but (of course) Chancellor Palpatine encourages him to do it anyway. This sends him on a murderous hunt, using his Force Grip openly to squeeze information out of people – in stark contrast to Season 2 where he only does it when no one can see him.

In season 4, episode 19 we see Palpatine manipulating Anakin even more, slyly feeding his dormant anger about having been lied to about Obi Wan’s undercover mission, the one that made him believe his best friend had been murdered. The Chancellor’s whispered half-truths seem to have yet another effect on Anakin: they acutely address his deep need to be in control, to protect the ones he loves. Like a silent echo of the slaver queen’s notions about Anakin, Palpatine subtly coaxes Anakin into isolating himself from the Jedi and shift his fealty to the Chancellor, to focus his ardent loyalty no longer on his fellow Jedi, who seem not to trust him and even lie to him, but on the ever faithful Chancellor, who always expresses his confidence in and admiration for Anakin. When Anakin defends Palpatine against what seems to be an assassination attempt by Dooku, he’s hardly able to contain his rage and fights to kill. Both Dooku and Palpatine realize this, as is shown both in Dooku’s surprised eyes and Palpatine’s smug smile.

In this episode Anakin is not yet strong enough to defeat Dooku, not strong enough to become a Sith, which is only fitting. The duel was the perfect prelude to their future fight however – which as we all know will end quite differently, securing Anakin’s place at Darth Sidious’s side…

After Dooku has escaped, Anakin ardently expresses his loyalty to the Chancellor: ‘As long as I live, no harm will ever come to you’ – as if almost wanting to prove the slaver queen’s theory.

A kind of pre-catharsis for the viewer is of course the knowledge that in the end he will find the strength to break this misguided vow, sacrificing himself and saving the universe as he does it…

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Audiobook short: Tarkin (a Star Wars new canon novel)

To hear me read this review, check out episode 499 of the Spiritblade Underground Podcast, go to timestamp 13:50.

A little while ago I took some very tentative steps into the Star Wars Expanded Universe, starting with the Darth Plagueis audiobook. Tentatively, because I didn’t want to commit, since the Lucasfilm Story Group banished the entire EU, once official canon lore, to the realm of what they now call Legends.

Of course I lost that not-very-hard-fought battle and am now swimming neck-deep in the entire original EU (now: Legends), so audiobooks, novels, comics and even game plot summaries.

However, I did want to try the new canonical continuity and tried two of the new novels in audiobook format. The first one is Tarkin, written by James Luceno and read by Euan Morton. Length: 9 hrs, 27 min.

Publisher’s summary

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Best-selling Star Wars veteran James Luceno gives Grand Moff Tarkin the Star Wars: Darth Plagueis treatment, bringing a legendary character from A New Hopeto full, fascinating life.

He’s the scion of an honorable and revered family. A dedicated soldier and distinguished legislator. Loyal proponent of the Republic and trusted ally of the Jedi Order. Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks, enforcing his authority ever more mercilessly….and zealously pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion.

Rule through the fear of force rather than force itself, he advises his Emperor. Under Tarkin’s guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. When the so-called Death Star is completed, Tarkin is confident that the galaxy’s lingering pockets of Separatist rebellion will be brought to heel – by intimidation…or annihilation.

Until then, however, insurgency remains a genuine threat. Escalating guerrilla attacks by resistance forces and newfound evidence of a growing Separatist conspiracy are an immediate danger the Empire must meet with swift and brutal action. And to bring down a band of elusive freedom fighters, the Emperor turns to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome new Sith enforcer as remorseless as he is mysterious; and Tarkin – whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empire’s supremacy…and its enemies’ extinction.

©2014 James Luceno (P)2014 Random House Audio

My thoughts: “Not enough action, too little suspense”

Although well-read by Morton, this is definitely not my favorite Star Wars novel. I was curious what nuggets of new SW lore this novel would offer, but for me it fell flat. The story built too slowly, there was hardly any suspense and in my opinion it could have been at least 30% shorter.
And most importantly, it did not succeed in making me care for any of its characters, nor the main plot line, the problem that needs solving by Tarkin. Except, of course for Darth Vader and the Emperor – who are not nearly enough in it. Narrator Morton does a great Vader by the way, very well done considering nobody can really come close to James Earl Jones.

I’m a big fan of Luceno’s Darth Plagueis, which I highly, highly recommend to any SW fan, so I had hoped for a bit of that same quality of storytelling that kept me glued to my couch even though it was an audiobook, but alas. Perhaps Luceno had to make the most of a pre-outlined plot, or perhaps he just doesn’t ‘feel’ the new SW universe anymore, like he did so well with Darth Plagueis.

There are of course the usual SW audio effects, which I like. For instance, when Vader’s in a scene, we hear him breathing through his apparatus.

All in all a disappointment. I finished this audiobook anyway, out of a sense of completism for the new Star Wars universe. Which is about the only reason you should buy it.

Also follow my reviews on Audible.com! (where I am Katarina – if you’re an Audible listener, simply bookmark my Listerner page once you’ve found me)

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Audiobook short: Darth Bane Trilogy, pt. 3

In my fourth Audiobook Short I’m sharing my impressions of Dynasty of Evil, the final installment of the Darth Bane trilogy, a Star Wars novel series from the so-called Expanded Universe, written by Drew Karpyshyn and narrated by Jonathan Davis. Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins.

For the spoken version of the below review go to Episode 466 of the Spirit Blade podcast, time stamp 48:52.

Publisher’s summary:

Twenty years have passed since Darth Bane, reigning Dark Lord of the Sith, demolished the ancient order devoted to the dark side and reinvented it as a circle of two: one Master to wield the power and pass on the wisdom, and one apprentice to learn, challenge, and ultimately usurp the Dark Lord in a duel to the death. But Bane’s acolyte, Zannah, has yet to engage her Master in mortal combat and prove herself a worthy successor. Determined that the Sith dream of galactic domination will not die with him, Bane vows to learn the secret of a forgotten Dark Lord that will assure the Sith’s immortality – and his own.

A perfect opportunity arises when a Jedi emissary is assassinated on the troubled mining planet Doan, giving Bane an excuse to dispatch his apprentice on a fact-finding mission – while he himself sets out in secret to capture the ancient holocron of Darth Andeddu and its precious knowledge. But Zannah is no fool. She knows that her ruthless Master has begun to doubt her, and she senses that he is hiding something crucial to her future. If she is going to claim the power she craves, she must take action now.

While Bane storms the remote stronghold of a fanatical Sith cult, Zannah prepares for her Master’s downfall by choosing an apprentice of her own: a rogue Jedi cunning and cold-blooded enough to embrace the Sith way and to stand beside her when she at last wrests from Bane the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith.

But Zannah is not the only one with the desire and power to destroy Darth Bane. Princess Serra of the Doan royal family is haunted by memories of the monstrous Sith soldier who murdered her father and tortured her when she was a child. Bent on retribution, she hires a merciless assassin to find her tormentor – and bring him back alive to taste her wrath.

Only a Sith who has taken down her own Master can become Dark Lord of the Sith. So when Bane suddenly vanishes, Zannah must find him – possibly even rescue him – before she can kill him. And so she pursues her quarry from the grim depths of a ravaged world on the brink of catastrophe to the barren reaches of a desert outpost, where the future of the dark side’s most powerful disciples will be decided, once and for all, by the final, fatal stroke of a lightsaber.

©2012 Drew Karpyshyn (P)2012 Random House Audio

My thoughts: “Alas, the trilogy has ended!”

I actually started and finished this audiobook in only one day, that’s how gripping it was. We follow Darth Bane and his apprentice Zannah, but also some new characters, just like in the previous two parts. This time I found these new characters actually interesting in their own right, so this is an improvement compared to parts 1 & 2.

The action scenes are fantastic, read perfectly thrillingly by Davis and enhanced even more by tracks from John Williams’s original soundtrack. The plot kept me interested in between action scenes as well, although it did ask me to suspend a lot of my disbelief in terms of consistency of character & skill set (can’t say more, otherwise I’d spoil it).

The sound effects were awesome as always, with one minor criticism: at one point the alarms are going off for a LONG time, it got on my nerve a bit since you can’t tone it down without losing the narration.

The final confrontation had me at the edge of my seat, the action climbed and climbed and climbed to a climax, which when it finally arrived however left me wondering “Wait. What happened?!” So not entirely as satisfying as I’d hoped, especially after such a thrilling ride to the top.

The epilogue is a definite cliff hanger, leaving me again dangling in the void of Wanting More, but this time there’s no more sequels to quench that thirst! Not so cool.

But those are only minor peeves, and not worth subtracting any stars. All in all this trilogy was absolutely thrilling, exciting and totally awesome. Jonathan Davis is a fantastic narrator, with a huge range of voices without overacting.

This third part of the series tempted me to listen to Darth Plagueis again even though I finished that not too long ago, because it is the next novel in the long, long list of the SW Expanded Universe novels and this trilogy left me really wanting some sort of continuity fix :-).

Again, highly recommend!

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