**I need to put a spoiler warning in here – these two books contain a couple of big events of the war which I’m going to talk about and if you are trying to read this series completely blind I suggest skipping this review until you’ve caught up!**
Following immediately after the events of Star by Star, this duology deals with the New Republic reeling from the loss of Coruscant and a desperate attempt to buy time on the nearby planet of Borleias. Rebel Dream, the first book in the Enemy Lines duology, was the first Aaron Allston book I’ve read. I heard that he passed away and that he is remembered by many as one of the greatest Star Wars authors of all time, so I made sure to take my time with this duology and savour every word. Hence the slight delay releasing this review!
The first book had such a strong opening – it really set the tone of this duology and made me sit up and take notice of Allston’s writing straightaway. “A God cannot die…therefore it can have no fear of death. So who is braver, a god or a mortal?”. This almost heretic musing by Charat Kraal on the very first page demonstrates just how far the Yuuzhan Vong have come in their thinking since the start of the war. I love that some of the Vong are starting to ask questions of their religion and doctrine – their exposure to the “infidels” has made them take a good look at themselves and ponder some of their long held beliefs.
As one of the fabled X-Wing authors, you can tell Allston really enjoys writing Wedge, Tyco and the Wraiths as they absolutely steal any scenes they are in. Allston has really captured Wedge in these books, he’s slightly older and wiser with enough cynicism that you know he’s been through things, but it’s a healthy cynicism which keeps him sharp rather than makes him jaded. I loved his interactions with Jaina, and, of course, Luke for old times sake! 🙂
I also love that headstrong Mara has had a pretty major confidence knock since Star by Star. Of course, being Mara, she went straight back to her old ways of trusting only herself – and it takes her some time to let go and finally trust others again. She’s normally so self-assured and it was good to see her have to take a step back and evaluate. As it dawned on her that she needed to let go, she delivered one of my favourite lines of this duology – “…if I wait until Ben’s enemies are right in front of me before I kill them, I’ve already failed him…”
One of my favourite things about reading Legends is the amount of Lando action we get. He’s gruff and a little bit “too old for this **stuff**” but he’s always there, right back in the mess because he will always end up doing the right thing. A proper scoundrel with a heart of gold. No matter how much he tries to distance himself from the “fool idealistic crusades” of his friends, he can’t help himself because he will always end up rolling up his sleeves and getting stuck back in! He’s intelligent and highly resourceful, which makes him a great asset in the fight against the Vong. He gets some great action in this duology and I was very happy to read it!
Viqi Shesh is still the absolute worst but you really do have to admire her tenacity! That her parting words were that Jedi can’t kill her, the Vong can’t kill her…only one person can kill Viqi Shesh… and then she promptly kills herself! Every now and then a villain gets an end which is so fitting for them it has you cackling in delight (think Krennic on Scarif) and this is exactly how I felt about Viqi’s passing. It was so perfect, and whilst I would have loved Mara to get her hands on her, Viqi was so deliciously evil that I couldn’t help but love to hate her and loved that she went down shaking her first at everyone.
In the meantime, Jaina is back and setting up her trickster squadron. Both her and Kyp have changed and grown a lot and their relationship has been fascinating to watch develop. There is still no sign of Jacen and whilst I am starting to miss him a lot, he did get a lot of action in the earlier NJO books so I guess it’s okay that he’s taking a slight back seat. Jaina also has an interesting new love interest appear and I am very down for it! (Although, do I sense a potential love triangle here??) Jag sees like the perfect cool and collected counterpart to her fire and brashness. I’m looking forward to seeing where this new relationship goes as I’m sure, as with any Star Wars romance, it won’t be plain sailing!
Another thing I was really grateful for was the inclusion of some intrigue behind the scenes of the Yuuzhan Vong as Tsavong Lah investigates a suspected sabotage. It was great to see the Warmaster in a more subtle role, proving once more that the Vong are not simply mindless aliens invading the galaxy, they are a complex hierarchical society and this politicking and backstabbing gave them some much needed depth.
Of course, I can’t talk about tHis duology without mentioning the mission to Coruscant. I was so happy to see Luke take the lead and get stuck into things. He’s taken something of a back seat in the last few books and it’s always cool to see him in action” Plus, Tahiri really came into her own on the devastated planet and I’m glad she’s starting to find her feet after the loss of Anakin.
These were a solid pair of books and I thoroughly enjoyed Allston’s contribution to the New Jedi Order. He wrote beautifully and had a wonderful grasp of the characters and the feel of the Star Wars universe. I agree his voice is sorely missed in Star Wars literature.