My goal for this summer was to catch up on the most recent (and in some cases, final) installments in many of the series I have been reading. I failed miserably.
I am a third of the way through Inheritance, a chapter into A Dance with Dragons, and haven’t even picked up The Omen Machine. But I did get caught up on The Dresden Files, which is probably because I read it for fun and not out of a sense of obligation. And after a year of periodically checking it out of the library only to return it unread two weeks later, I finished Apocalypse.
I like Troy Denning’s writing (I thought his Star by Star was one of the best books of the New Jedi Order), but this finale to the Fate of the Jedi sequence let me down in spots. While I enjoyed reading it, it was not an effective conclusion to the series.
*mild spoilers ahead*
There were some really great parts to this book, including multiple epic showdowns with Abeloth. There was a lot of great action, and some of the characters had interesting developments in their storylines (Jag, Tahiri, Allana). On the other hand, there was also a lot of philosophizing–only natural when your enemy is a basically a Force being, but it seemed to come out of nowhere. And worst of all, Ben and Vestara, who have been the heart of this series, have no resolution in their relationship.
I love when authors bring in other parts of Star Wars continuity, because that interaction across stories is what really makes the universe seem real. But in FotJ we get…Daala? Killiks? Callista? Ugh, no thanks.
Apocalypse attempts to use these tie-ins, but they become a weakness rather than a strength. Boba Fett (we think) shows up randomly for a chapter, Jacen’s Dark Man (remember him? me neither) resurfaces for a chapter, and Luke casually drops a hint of a story about Anakin and Obi-Wan (from The Clone Wars) that could have major implications in terms of worldbuilding, and Anakin’s destiny. Way to bury the lede!
I think the series’ lack of focus is partly a symptom of a current EU trend; FotJ, like Legacy of the Force, used a set of 3 revolving authors. I think this contributes to a lack of cohesion, with each author focusing on certain topics that are then dropped by the next: the history of the Lost Tribe, the role of media in governing, the galaxy’s anti-slavery movement, the Abeloth-induced delusions (which, btw, are a real-life thing: Capgras syndrome).
Another complication is added by the Legacy comics, which take place only 100 years after FotJ. The EU has now shoe-horned itself into this future, which may be why the ending of Apocalypse seems open-ended and vague. Denning might be trying to give future authors (himself included) some breathing room to avoid contradiction (although retconning is a time-honored Star Wars tradition…)
On another note, I read the Kindle version of this book this time, and part of my disappointment may be due to the fact that the actual book ends around the 80% mark. The rest is excerpts from other Star Wars novels. I felt a little shortchanged when I reached the end, like “Wait, it’s over? I still have 20% left!” All Kindle versions of Star Wars EU novels currently have this, so be warned.
Tl;dr– Good action, some storylines get the shaft, ineffective conclusion to FotJ; 3.5/5 stars
Good review! Though I no longer read EU, I liked your analysis. And, gosh, George RR Martin takes forever to get through so don’t feel bad.
Yeah, I can’t keep up with the EU anymore; I’m starting to check reviews before I read anything so I don’t waste my time on the bad ones. I’ll still read anything by Zahn though.