A few notes before we begin:
This was the first book in the third series published by Del Rey. Learning their lesson from the New Jedi Order run of 19 books Del Rey made the choice to limit the series to nine books primarily written by three authors. I think it is interesting because I want to compare the fall of Ben Solo (Kylo Ren) in the Disney timeline to the fall that inspired it…that of Jacen Solo from the old Expanded Universe.
It seems to me that the motivations for the two falls are very different. While they are both the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia the motivation behind their embracing of the dark side appears to be quite unique.
Granted Jacen’s fall does not begin here. It’s seeds are laid in the last few books of the NJO series, his travels afterwards before the The Dark Nest Trilogy, and then finally this book.
A few thins we have to know about Jacen from the jump. He has a secret child with Tenel Ka Djo who is the ruler of the Hapes Consortium. He has a higher mastery of force abilities than any other living Jedi. He also has the influence of Vergere and the after effects of his imprisonment and torture from the Yuuzhan Vong war.
As a book the narrative feels a little rushed to me. There is no build up but the book thrusts us into the story. That is a little jarring has a good amount of time has passed since the last book. While we do get pieces of what the state of things are as we read it feels very rushed. However, it is hard to evaluate a book given it is one piece of nine.
For me the interesting thing in this book is the parallel between Jacen and his Grandfather Anakin Skywalker. That leads us to parallels between Jacen Solo and Ben Solo.
In this book Jacen has a choice to make. He can kill someone in cold blood, much as Anakin did in the opening sequence of Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith. Both make the same choice and yet the outcomes is different because Jacen’s target is a lot more clever than Count Dooku. This sets up Jacen’s fall. He made a choice, a dark choice we could say. A similar choice to that of his Grandfather and it sets up a debate in Jacen’s own mind as he falls if he can justify falling by doing dark things for the right reasons. To me that is throughly interesting.
In the Disney timeline this idea of Light and Dark is pretty much debunked. The battle between motivations and different force philosophies made the latter third of the EU much more interesting and I really wish that Disney has chosen to include more of the unaltered themes in its timeline.
In the Disney timeline I think we can argue that Ben feels very neglected by his parents. We see a lot of that represented in the EU by Jacen’s twin Jaina. We don’t know a whole lot more about Ben’s fall but it seems certain that we are going to see pieces of that in Episode Eight: The Last Jedi.
Back to the EU story line.
THis book sets up yet another war in the EU. WHile the book shows a lot of the characters growing rather tired of constant conflict the readers of the EU probably suffer from exhaustion. We just got through a 19 book series about a galactic war followed by a trilogy of another regional war. There is so much war in the EU that that concept really starts to lose its impact.
I like the idea of a Civil War dividing the Solo-Skywalker clan. That is very interesting and entertaining. However, I wish the debate over hos one uses the force was a larger concept throughout the EU. With Vergere we get some of that, and that is the most intresting parts of the Disney timeline thus far.
As a starting point this book does a fair job of setting the scene and lining up the dominoes for what is to come in the next eight books. While we are thrust right into a conflict we don’t really understand the narrative sets p a number of conflicts for our heroes to deal with. Another criticism here is this series does not work very well as a stand alone series. One cannot start with these books and get a grasp on all that is going on. The story relies heavily on things that have happened in previous books and comics. That is okay for us nerds because we all read that stuff, but it limits the audience for the work itself because to truly understand all the moving pieces one has to have a large handle on what has happened in the Eu up to this point.
Read more of Star Wars Book Club EU book reviews here
Follow Star Wars Book Club on Twitter here
Like and Follow Star Wars Book Club on Facebook