Thursday, August 11, 2011

Spoiling Ascension: Random bits of interestingness from Christie Golden's latest Fate of the Jedi novel

Just a heads up, if you haven't yet read FotJ: Ascension, turn back now.  This is not my review of the book, which can be found HERE.  This is a SPOILER filled discussion of some of the plot and character developments, and other things that I found interesting in Ascension.

If you have read the book, then by all means proceed, but if not, go read the book and come back later.  This post will still be here.

~SPOILERS BELOW~

Lost Tribe of the Sith

I loved the LTotS scenes that were set on Kesh, however once they begin the infiltration of Coruscant their story gets a little weird.  What is missing is the explanation of how individuals like Ivaar Workan could assume identities such as Senator Kameron Suldar.  Not only did these individuals need to infiltrate Coruscant with these fake identities but they needed to infiltrate the culture of the world they represent first, before coming to Coruscant.  At some point I think we needed an expanded explanation at just how far back these covert agents where put into position.  It seems unrealistic that the operation of the LTotS could occur as quickly as it feels like it happened in the book.

I did like the plots with in plots and how repeatedly Abeloth takes advantage of the Lost Tribe's lust for power, by co-opting different individuals to help her along the way to her goals.  Working for Abeloth seems a bit like working in the Imperial fleet for Lord Vader, i.e. I don't think you need to worry about saving for retirement.

It will be interesting to see if the location of Kesh remains a secret in Apocalypse and whether the Lost Tribe will be a thorn in the side of the Jedi in future EU books.  It will also be interesting to see if the Lost Tribe ever gets integrated into the One Sith or remains on it's own. 

Galactic Alliance

“Democracy... while it lasts is more bloody than either [aristocracy or monarchy]. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” ~John Adams 


The poor Galactic Alliance.  Things haven't been going well for galactic democracy lately.  Perhaps it is time to divide the galaxy up into smaller governing bodies, because it seems like one over arching government isn't working.  How the Old Republic lasted so long is beyond me. 


With the entire Senate first under the sway of the Sith and now under the influence of Abeloth in the form of Rokari Kem, I don't think we reach the end of Apocalypse without the Galactic Alliance government being dissolved and re-formed into some different way of organization.  This is on top of the fact of the Cosplay conspirators where already screwing up the GA government.  It paints a rather unflattering picture of the ability of the beings of the Star Wars universe to run a government and makes an Empire look like a much tidier way to run things.


Imperial Remnant

Things certainly appear to be coming to a head in the Imperial Remnant.  At the beginning of the Fate of the Jedi novel we have the possibility that the Remnant could join the GA, but as the series unfolds it becomes clear that this is not going to happen.  In Ascension we get a piggybacking power play (I love alliteration), much like how Abeloth hijacked the Lost Tribe's power grab on Coruscant we have Daala hijack Moff Drikl Lecersen's play to replace Jag Fel as Imperial Head of State. 

Ascension ends it's section of the Imperial storyline in mid-battle as Fel's Imperial forces reinforced by the Empire of the Hand have Daala/Lecersen's forces trapped behind the a shield of broken moon pieces held together by a Interdictor ship.

I am assuming Apocalypse will see the ultimate defeat of Daala and Lecersen, weakening Fel's opponents among the Moffs and causing instability giving him justification to seize more power by declaring himself Emperor Fel I of the Imperial Remnant. 

Jedi Order

Goodbye Coruscant!  The Jedi are moving away from the center of the galaxy for parts unknown.  Are they going to Ossus or Shedu Maad or some other location?  Ossus seems the obvious choice and with all the foreshadowing of Dark Horse Comic's Legacy series that we get in this book it seems like the way they will go.

It will be interesting to see what role the Barabels play in Apocalypse as the last Jedi in the Temple on Coruscant.

Abeloth

What the heck is Abeloth?  At least we know that her goal is to become the "Beloved Queen of the Stars," whatever the frak that is suppose to mean.

We get some really interesting insight into Abeloth during Sith Grand Lord Vol's Force attack into Abeloth's psyche.

"Loss that ripped and tore at the heart of all that was Abeloth. Betrayal. Need --need!--for companionship, for love, for someone, anyone, anything, to adore her and t never, ever leave.  To stay with her forever...
--Don't leave me don't leave me don't leave me--" ~Ascension page 36
What exactly is Abeloth? Is she a personification of the Bogan (Dark Side of the Force) ?  Where the Ashla and Bogan united at the beginning until discovered by Force-users on Tython, causing a separation of Abeloth from the Ashla?  Or is she simply a supremely powerful force using shape shifter who has been altered through millenia of Dark Side usage? Is she simply a Celestial of some sort?  Hopefully we got some solid answers into the fundamental nature of what Abeloth is in Apocalypse.

We did get two scenes I loved with Abeloth in this book.  The scene inside Ship when Abeloth is dissolved into a pool of goo with body parts all over the place was awesome.  The final scene with Abeloth on Coruscant was chilling in that it appears that poor Wynn Dorvan may be on the dinner menu. 

Ben and Vestara

This relationship is the emotional core of the book and a real punch to the gut.

Even though Vestara is Sith, she has been presented in a way in this series to make her sympathetic and I am sure more readers then just me where rooting for Ves to make the right choices in this book.  In effect the issue is can Ves overcome both her nature (thousands of years of Sith breeding) and nurture (raised by a Sith parent in a culture of Sith) to embrace the Light side of the Force.

From Ben we get some really interesting actions.  We are told repeatedly in this series that Ben won't turn to the Dark Side ever.  But his actions point to Jedi with some disturbingly dark tendencies.  His anger and rather abusive treatment of Vestara in the cabin scene, shows I believe some lingering influences of his cousin Jacen's training.

Chapter 40 is where Vestara gets to make her choice.  Giving in to selfishness she sacrifices the life of Jedi Knight Natua Wan to the Sith monster Dream Singer.  I enjoyed this scene inspite of the fact I hated the outcome.  I am a sucker for a happy/romantic ending.  What bothered me most was that it felt to similar to a scene we saw in the previous serious.  For those who read Legacy of the Force: Betrayal by Aaron Allston, the climactic scene occurs when Jacen, Ben, and Jedi Knight Nelani Dinn are in Lumiya's asteroid home.  While Ben is battling Force phantoms, Jacen kills Nelani turning irrevocably down the dark path.  In both situations for the story to work you needed Ben to be unaware of the choice made by the other character, but the setting for both turns just seemed too similar to me and I think they should have looked for a different way to play out Vestara's turn.

The big issue now, is does Ben learn of Vestara's re-embracing of the Dark Side in Apocalypse or do they leave that little piece of drama hanging for future exploration in a duology or trilogy. 

Tahiri

Some people may not be as big of fans of Tahiri Veila's characters as I am.  Yes, she did become a flow-walking junkie, kill fan favorite Gillad Pellaeon, and go all creepy sexual predator on Ben, but I still like her.  Anakin's death and her lose in NJO was huge and her reconnection with the Solo's made me a little misty.

In Ascension Tahiri is an escaped convict who the Solo's shepard into the custody and parole of Jagged Fel.  This parole gives Tahiri a chance to make amends for the harm she caused and also sets up a very interesting possibility also tieing into the Dark Horse Comic's Legacy series.  In Legacy we have a group of Force users who are not Jedi and nor are they Sith, but they are called the Imperial Knights and they serve the Empire. 

I believe we will find out that Tahiri is the founder of the Imperial Knights. 


Wynn Dorvan

Wynn gets a rapid promotion from assistant to the governing triumvirate in Conviction to acting Co-Chief of State of the GA.   At times Wynn seems a little too squeaky clean and selfless.  Maybe I am far to jaded with regard to politicians and politics (Obi-wan was right in this regard), but Wynn seems a little to pure based on just about every other politician or bureaucrat we have seen in the SWEU.  But even though this characterization seems a little extreme, I enjoyed the character, particularly the scene earlier in the series on the  Jedi Temple steps with Raynar Thul.

One major thing that stuck out to me with Wynn was how much page time his pet chitlik "Pocket" received in the series.  Now this could simply be a way to distinguish Wynn's character, or it could be something the authors did on purpose, but more on that in a second.

Ascension leaves us with the strong possibility that Wynn may be consumed by Abeloth or simply enslaved by her.  Wynn is caught in the rescue attempt of Leia, and is delivered by the Sith agents to Abeloth.

I am wondering if Abeloth will consume Wynn and take his form.  I wonder if she wont have Pocket with her, and that will be a tip off to someone that she is actually Abeloth and not Wynn at a crucial moment in Apocalypse.  I could be crazy but I think but I think Pocket will play some role in the next book.

Natasi Daala

I love evil plotting but ultimately thwarted Admiral Daala.  It is much more fun to read then trying to do the right thing but too authoritarian politician Daala.  It also lead to some very fun Moff hijinks that made me feel like I was back in the Bantam era.  I love the Moffs, they are fun mustache twirling villains.

Daala seems like she has nine lives, but I have a feeling she will be meeting her end in Apocalypse.


Club Bwua'tu

The Star Wars version of the Scooby squad is Club Bwua'tu.  Named after the formerly comatose Admiral Nek Bwua'tu the GA Chief of Naval Operations, this little cabal is a force for good inside the GA.  Will Bwua'tu be the leader of the GA when the dust settles in Apocalypse?  It will be interesting to see what happens with this group of people. 

Boba Fett

Well Boba Fett got the back cover, apparently because we don't have enough concept art for all the EU characters for artists to make a good photo-realistic drawing.  I am a Fett Fanboy, but even I thought putting him on the cover was a bit much given his very minor role in this book.  That being said, I really liked Fett's brief scenes int he novel.  It connects the series to Legacy of the Force.  In this book we see Fett striking a deal with Daala and asking for her help to combat the Fett Genome attacking nanovirus that was unleashed on the Mandalorian home planet Mandalore.  I understand Fett and Daala are friendly, but perhaps he should have approached the pragmatic Jag Fel seeking the same help at some point.

It seems like Daala is likely to fail in Apocalypse given the Legacy comics Fel Dynasty, so that leaves me wondering what will happen to Fett and whether the nanovirus will ever be destroyed.  It seems likely that given all the other plot threads, that this particular sub-plot will be left open for future stories. 


Denning Pet Characters

Golden did something interesting in this book, in that she brought back her fellow author Troy Denning's Squib characters Emala, Grees, and Sligh.  Denning has used the Squibs in Tatooine Ghost, Dark Nest III: The Swarm War, and in a short story for Insider "The Trouble with Squibs."  Were the Squibs reintroduced simply for the role they played in Ascension or did Golden use them to reintroduce them so that Denning including them in Apocalypse makes more sense?

Golden also emphasizes the Barabel presence on Coruscant as they are staying at the Temple, presumably breeding little baby Godzillas.  Will the Barabels save the day?  Will we get more lisping lizard talk?

Apocalypse Speculation

Check back on Lightsaber Rattling soon for my speculation on what direction the Fate of the Jedi story will take in Apocalypse

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