This book not only had extremely large shoes to fill (it’s immediate predecessor being the mind-blowing Traitor by Matthew Stover) but it also had a lot to do, given that it’s the first book to really start to piece the galaxy back together since the end of Star by Star.
By the end of Star by Star, our heroes have been scattered across the galaxy, each dealing with the fallout in very different ways. We’ve had a Jaina-centric book in Dark Journey, followed by the Wedge, Luke and Mara Enemy Lines duology. Traitor then exclusively focused on Jacen’s journey. We’ve not had the band together since the beginning of Star by Star and I honestly don’t remember the last time the twins were with their parents. Needless to say, there was a lot to do in Destiny’s Way, characters needed to face each other, truths needed to be told and both Jacen and Jaina needed to deal with the consequences of their actions.
Thankfully, I think Destiny’s Way did an excellent job of reuniting everyone and slowly starting to pick up the pieces of the war. It got off to a slightly slow start, but I think it was always going to be a struggle bringing Jacen back into the fold following Traitor¸ but Walter Jon Williams did a good effort and I think maybe sending Jacen for some RnR was the only option at this point. If I didn’t feel Williams grasped Jacen’s nuanced personality at the start of this book, he certainly found his voice by the end of the novel so all’s well there.
As with Jacen, dealing with Vergere was always going to be difficult. Not only is she a tricky character to write but we still don’t really fully understand her motivations or agenda. That being said, her interactions with Luke were an absolute treat and something I never knew I wanted so badly until it happened! Williams handled Vergere brilliantly in this book and her story remains one of the most fascinating aspects of this series.
Destiny’s Way also brought some interesting new elements to the Yuuzhan Vong society. As you probably know by now, I am HERE for any development of the Vong and their culture and it’s always an absolute treat getting a better look at what makes them tick. We get our first hint that all might not be as it seems with the Yuuzhan Vong, we are introduced to their mysterious and terrifying Overlord Shimrra and his ‘pet’ Onimi. There is something seriously shifty going on there I am really looking forward to getting more of these two characters. I’m kind of vaguely starting to sense the ‘beginning of the end’ for the Vong in this book. They have always been pretty much infallible and extremely united until now (save for the odd factions of the Shapers and the downtrodden Shamed Ones) but I’ve just got a hunch that at the end of this series, when looking for a point where it started to unravel for the Vong, I think it will be this book!
For me though, the absolute highlight of this book was the last 150 pages or so. The tension ramps up to almost unbearable heights by the end and I can’t remember the last time I read a book with such an exciting climax. We had Admiral Ackbar’s brilliant plan to lure the Vong into a trap – using the Jedi as bait! The attack is lead by Tsavong Lah himself, and reading parts of the battle from his point of view was brilliant and his swansong is utterly breathtaking! We had Jedi trapped on a moon, Tsavong Lah’s forces bearing down and Jacen Solo running round trying to save his sister. This is coupled with Han and Leia, now a fully united team flying the Falcon around – creating a spectacular climax with lots of jinking, juking and blood all over the place!
Overall this was a really solid read. I had my worries going in but really didn’t need to be concerned. Williams seamlessly weaves all the loose threads back together and sets us on the path to the conclusion of this epic series. The ball is very much in Shimrra’s court now and I’ve got a feeling the Vong definitely have more up their Vonduun crab armour – I think our heroes need to watch their backs from here on!