a kid, I really liked Star Wars. I liked it so much I picked up the
books to the films, and then the original books building on them,
like Zahn's Heir to the
Empire and a couple others. Pretty soo, though, those books put
me off and I found other things to read. I think it was The
Truce at Bakura that made me drop the line.
"Then the new movies came out, and I was thoroughly
disappointed by them. In fact, they spoiled the original movies for
me too (Yoda and Obi-Wan being the exception and gaining much needed
depth). So I'm certainly not a fan, though the universe does mean
fond memories for me.
"Traitor is the first Star Wars book I picked up in
almost two decades. I picked it up with another, Shatterpoint,
which I will also review later (when I've read it).
"There's much about this book not to like. The main
protagonist, Jacen, is just the kind of character that tends to
annoy the heck out of me, an angsty, spoiled rich teenager without a
purpose in life. Someone who, at least to me, feels like a reborn
Anakin (who spoiled Darth Vader for me, formerly one of my favourite
villains, right up there with Iago and Magneto) without any of the
reasons and excuses Annie had. I never warmed up to him, I must
admit; I never really cared about or felt with him.
"Ganner, likewise, while having a true crowning moment of cool
in his Mortal Kombat like last stand, felt like a cardboard
cut, and was equally insecure and annoying. Nothing against
characters finding their true selves, but PLEASE, why does it always
have to be an angsty teenage boy?
"Also, the way this book takes one of the coolest settings of
Star Wars - the planet-wide sprawl of Coruscant, one of the things I
looked at and instantly wanted to know more about - and turns it
into Generic Nasty Jungle Planet number 4008 is distasteful. But,
Star Wars always was fond of wasting it's most interesting settings
while nourishing the boring ones. Like, you know, Alderaan, while
developing Tatooine, a pretty blatant Dune rip-off. So nothing new
here. Also, yet another one climate zone planet. Yay.
The Yuuzan Vong, finally, are a nice enough alien menace, but what
parts they were built of is too recognisable, too unoriginal. They
seem like they're trying to be every popular alien menace in SciFi
since the 80s at once:
slime overgrowing machinery, dripping acid and eating people
alive in horrible ways? Alien, just lacking those highly
(and slightly insane) Warrior Culture? Say hello to the Klingons
(I wonder how many Trekkies feel terribly insulted by this and
utter that in Klingon on Youtube - maybe I should try and find
out), and also the Predator, given their fondness of self
sacrifice and jungle settings.
seemingly invincible alien creatures with organic technology
covering the galaxy with war and ruin? Oh no, it's the Shadows.
Quick, call the Vorlon embassy!
left out the Cylons, but at least the Vong live in a vast convoy
because their homeworld blew up, and are chasing a mythical new
homeworld ... and that all is patched together in a package that at
least gives it's evil gods more imaginative (and less laughable)
names than Nurgle.
"Not to say that doesn't come together in an interesting way
(it does) or has it's own accents - like the masochist cult and
mutilation and fondness of scarring, and plenty of tentacle action
... do these books have a huge following in Japan? Just, it's
nothing that would make me read a book.
"Finally, this book continuously refers to events in other
books I do not possess. If it were not for sites like wookieepedia,
I would have been lost at a couple of points. It certainly is not
friendly for very old time fans who have not bought a cubic meter of
Lucas Books novels and read them all.
"However, there is one thing thoroughly gripping about this
book, which made it a page turner even for someone who dislikes so
much about it. It is also what made me pick up that book in the
first place, when a friend told me about it, and I wanted to know
whether it's as good as she claimed (it is).
"And that is Vergere.
"This is one of the very few aliens in a Space Opera setting
that truly feels alien and remains so. Vergere's motives are never
uncovered, whatever she does is up to the reader's, as well as the
characters', guess, and this enigmaticness really carried the book
for me. Without Vergere, this would be another uninteresting space
opera book with more or less unrounded characters and repeating and
rearranging space opera clichés - but Vergere, I feel is special,
she carries the book and makes it into something much more than it
otherwise would have been. It's very rare and a terrific feat for
such a character, a being whose mind can truly be described as
eldritch, to work without falling into any of a myriad cliché
traps. Stover pulls that off, and that alone makes this book a
worthwhile read, despite other shortcomings (which may not be
entirely Stover's fault, considering Lucas Books has a write by
"Vergere's enigmatic nature is never imposed, it is never
outright stated she is enigamtic and has to be perceived as such.
She is because she, well, is. The other characters have their
moments too - Jacen with this digest-a-thing in Coruscant and his
suicidal rage attack against the seed ship, Ganner with his last
stand, and Nom Anor as he gloats about the Warmaster - but Vergere
is just one consistent moment of cool."