I know what you are thinking, ‘wait, whaaaat, Darksaber already?! No Crystal Star, Black Fleet trilogy, Children of the Jedi or any of the X-Wing books, what gives?’ I should explain. I haven’t reviewed Crystal Star/Children of the Jedi because I understand from internetverse that they are pretty bad. Sorry Waru! I don’t tend to read books if I know I won’t like them because I forked out a small fortune collecting all of these Expanded Universe books and I didn’t have the resources to waste on books which were, to be frank, Bantha poodoo.
Now, the X-Wing books are another story! I messed up there. So, initially I was fairly convinced that they wouldn’t be my cup of tea for some reason. I am now reading SO MANY stellar reviews on the series as a whole, with some fans hailing them as some of their favourite EU books. So I will get the X-Wing series, what I might do is treat myself to them at the end of my EU tour – finish on a high note so to speak!
Anyways, disclaimer over. Onwards with Darksaber!
Well that was one crazy bag of cats! Luke heads home to Tattooine with Han, where they discover that the Hutts, those sly criminal gangsters, are building a secret superweapon – reconstructing the super laser from the Death Star. It’s called the Darksaber. Imagine a giant lightsaber hilt floating in space and you’ve got the right idea!
Sooo Durga the Hutt stole the plans for the Death Star super laser from Coruscant for Bevel Lemelisk, the Death Star’s designer (yep, not a Galen Erso in sight in this canon folks!) who quickly gets to work building the monstrosity for Durga.
In the meantime, Admiral Daala is back and very much alive following the events of the Jedi Academy trilogy. She is trying to unite the remnants of the Empire and succeeds in doing so by terminating the warlords at a conference (more on this below). Daala then heads to Yavin 4 with the help of Pellaeon (remember him from the Thrawn trilogy?) where she is once again hell bent on causing as much death and wanton destruction as possible – this time aiming for the Jedi Academy itself. The Jedi trainees are tipped off by a freshly redeemed Kyp Durron and fellow student Dorsk 81 and, using the force are able to repel the Imperial attack.
In the meantime, Luke and Callista (she features in books I’ve not read – not a Kevin J. Anderson character, I think he inherited her from other EU authors) are horsing around on Hoth, trying to save refugees and getting attacked by Wampas before they are ultimately rescued by Han and Leia who are fresh from Nal Hutta having been trying to discover the location of the Darksaber.
Whew! That’s a lot going on for one little book right? Let’s dive right in!
Kudos must be given to KJA for his dedication to the EU continuity. He seamlessly weaves in characters from previous EU books, like Mara Jade, Karrde and now Durga the Hutt. (Yes he didn’t write Mara as well as Zahn, but that’s a given. He also didn’t write her badly either so I’m happy with that. Although Lando’s constant attempts to flirt with her were
pretty amusing! Lando, the girl is having none of it!) It was cool to have an old character like Durga make an appearance, as you may know from my reviews of the Han Solo trilogy, he was always a favourite Hutt of mine! I wasn’t as convinced by Callista (more on her below) but fair play to KJA for writing her in – he really deserves a lot of credit for keeping the New Republic timeline together and coherent.
Meanwhile, Admiral Daala is back! Hooray! She succeeds in uniting the remains of the Empire in the core systems by gasing the bickering Warlords during a conference. This was a ruthless and utterly chilling move by Daala and was the absolute highlight of the book for me! It’s probably the most spectacular move she’s done to date and says a lot about her ruthless ambition, she really will stop at nothing to get at what she wants. I also liked how KJA brought her together with Pellaeon. It was interesting to see her through his eyes, bearing in mind he has served under the tactical genius of Thrawn for so long. I think he found working for Admiral Daala to be something of an emotional rollercoster to be honest!
I also enjoyed Durga returning to the EU. His treatment and manipulation of Bevel Lemelisk was pretty horrifying to say the least. Also it would seem electric chairs are a very good motivating tool for the workforce. Yikes!
*Big spoilers* General Crix Madine had a really cool storyline (remember him from Return of the Jedi?). I’m quite gutted he had to die, but his death was honourable and noble and was ultimately essential for the success of the mission. I thought KJA showed guts for killing off a character (albeit not one of the big ones) as this was the first death of a ‘good guy’ character that I’ve read so far. *End of big spoilers*
Kyp and Dorsk 81 were an interesting pairing. KJA obviously likes Kyp as a character and it shows in his writing. Kyp always has engaging and exciting scenes. Whilst he had a lot of action, it was also good to see him process some of his past actions. He’s carrying a lot of guilt (and so he should!) but it’s good to see him start find his place in Luke’s academy.
Well it was all just a bit bonkers to be honest! I’m a little over superweapons and I was never really convinced that Durga would have gone to the trouble, expense and risk of constructing one. It’s a bit of a double edged sword really because although I did like seeing Durga return to the EU, he did kind of feel like a bit of a plot device. Durga was
always the smartest of all the Hutts and I don’t think he would have overplayed his hand like this – Jabba (RIP) maybe but not Durga!
Like I said, we’ve had two Death Stars, a Death Star prototype, a Suncrusher and now a Darksaber! 1. How many superweapons does the galaxy really need and 2. Why bother since the Rebels/New Republic are going to blow it up anyway?! They’ve gottten really good at it!
Finally, once again I didn’t really enjoy Luke’s story in this book. I didn’t warm to Callista at all and reading her I just found I was yawning inside thinking ‘move over already love, he’s destined for Mara Jade not you! Kthnxbye.’ The scene with the Wampas was fun but other than that they didn’t really float my boat!
Overall: characteristic KJA fun, pacey and interesting but a little too silly and contrived to be a completely stellar read.
Rating: 3 1/2 Death Stars!