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[Clone Wars]
Events that occur between 22 years and 19 years before the Battle of Yavin.

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Paperback Novel
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Hard Contact
Karen Traviss
Del Rey [US]
Orbit Books
Story published as:
Paperback Novel (2004)
e-Book (2011)

If you have read this book, please rate it:
4 reviews [Average review score: 4.6 / 5]

Not all clones are created equal. Meet the clone commandos, elite troopers that operate in small squads, taking on the toughest of assignments, and ensuring victory for the Republic in the grueling Clone Wars. These stone-cold soldiers go where no one else would, to do what no one else could.
On a mission to sabotage a nanovirus research facility on a Separatist-held planet, four clone troopers operate under the very noses of their enemies. The commandos are outnumbered and outgunned, deep behind enemy lines with no backup and working with strangers instead of trusted teammates. Matters don't improve when Darman, the squad's demolitions expert, gets separated from the others during planetfall. Even Darman's apparent good luck in meeting the Jedi Padawan Etain Tur-Mukan vanishes once Etain admits to her woeful inexperience.
For the separated clone commandos and stranded Jedi, a long, dangerous journey lies ahead, through hostile territory brimming with Trandoshan slavers, Separatists, and suspicious natives. A single misstep could mean discovery and death. It's a virtual suicide mission for anyone... anyone except Republic Commandos.

This story occurs 3 months after the Battle of Geonosis, approximately 22 years before the Battle of Yavin.

Related Stories (in chronological order):

Review by Darth Kondorr, Poland, 2014:

"First off I was very surprised how similar these Clones are to the Clones in the TV-cartoon, considering how Mrs. Traviss left Star Wars writing behind her… with quite some bad blood over continuity issues… now it turned out she was one of the first victims of a galaxy wide reboot… (the first victim I know off was that awful Boba Fett origin… killed off by Episode II - I am not counting the Marvel stuff).
"The Traviss-Clones talk and mostly behave like the Filoni-Clones…. The biggest difference are the Mandalorian cultural roots of the Traviss-Clones… while the Filoni-Clones seem not to have anything in common with them (even Jango is not a Mandalorian, according to the most recent episodes). Considering it… the Filoni-Boba Fett doesn’t even seem to be disturbed any bit by the fact that he has millions of daddy-clones running around.
"But back on target: the review.
"The books in this series seem to enjoy quite the hype and I have to agree that the first book was indeed quite good, but not really up to the fan devotion I came across, maybe later entries will get me on board with the T-lovers.
"Considering the rather simple story structure, and rather few characters, the author manages to actually squeeze lots of quality reading out of this. The best thing is the described game of cat and mouse the clones play with the Mandalorian separatist leader. You actually see, that we have two almost equal opponents meet on a battlefield of stealth and deception and Traviss does make a good job not antagonizing the villain too much - although it is clear Hokan is the bad guy.
"The growing relationship of Darman (one of the Clones) with the young Jedi, is at the beginning rather tedious but grew quite fast on me and ended as one of the highlights of the book.
"What I absolutely did not like, was the descriptions of the Clone-training. It was way to ruthless for the Republic and for the “Star Wars Universe Good Guys” (I know, it was not the Republic, that did the training… but it still felt out of character).
"All in all a very good read, that does not yet really contradict the new existing canon (and the TV-cartoons). "

Rating: 4 / 5

Review by Bones, UK, 2011:

"Computer game tie-ins/spin-offs have always had a rather shaky reputation, which is why Hard Contact, the first tie-in to the Republic Commando computer game, is such a feat in its own right. Karen Traviss’ first contribution to the Expanded Universe is quite remarkable given the ostensibly limited scope of its plotline – a small group of commandos land on a planet and attempt to free it from the Separatists. What Traviss does is turn the story into an introspective look at the true nature of the clone soldiers and some rather insightful psychoanalytical commentary.
"From the opening of the book, it is clear that Traviss knows what she is writing; she has experienced this herself, not simply read about it. Right at the beginning, we get a look into the emotional priorities of the clones: their squad mates, the people they were born and raised with and were probably closer to than any siblings. As this is the tack she chooses, the apparently confined plotline suddenly becomes the perfect back-drop for her exploration of the clones’ humanity, with the isolated planet allowing the characters to become the focal piece of the storytelling, which Traviss does from four main points-of-view. She chooses: Niner, the consummate soldier in charge of a unit of misfits; Darman, a delicate juxtaposition of trained killer and child-like innocent; Etain, a quasi-failed Jedi Padawan who is desperate to live up to expectations while constantly languishing in self-criticism; Hokan, a Mandalorian through and through. Traviss clearly has a penchant for Mandalorian culture, something that is more than evident through her writing, and she explores around it tentatively for the most part, preferring to keep the existential issues of the clones at the forefront.
"The book is well constructed and detailed, with a sense of gritty realism and believable characters. There is definitely an anti-Jedi sentiment buried none-too-subtly in the prose, but it is not overt enough to distract from what is a thorough and invigorating book."

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Review by Ewan, Star Wars Books, 2008:

"This book is unlike any other Star Wars book set around this era of the Star Wars timeline, in that it contains no film characters what so ever, meaning that as a reader we have no familiar characters to latch on to. Ideally, this could mean that we don't know who are the good guys and who are the baddies, but unfortunately because we are familiar with the background events (i.e. The Clone Wars) we do know who are the goodies and who should be the baddies!
"Although Karen is a SFF writer, this book does not appear to be overtly SFF in nature - perhaps because I, as a Star Wars fan, am more familiar with the Star Wars universe and so unconsciously do not notice as much the fantasy elements of the story. Instead, I feel that Karen's personal knowledge of the military is what stands out. Her descriptions of the clone commandos, from their armour and weaponry to their personal foibles are maliciously detailed. Their tactics, training and actions are clearly based upon personal experience or just plain good old research!
"Karen's characterisations are totally believable and I can emphasise with both the young Jedi Padawan Etain and the clone Republic Commando Darman's predicaments. One, being young and scared, is thrust into a position of command that could mean life or death for others without either the training or experience; the other, young but highly trained and experienced, is scared for himself and his comrades at the thought of being killed as a result of the other's inexperience.
"My only concern was with the characterisation of Hokan, he's just too nasty and evil: he's very much the stereotypical Star Wars bad guy! Perhaps if Karen had introduced some kind of weakness, a foible, anything that could allow the reader to relate somehow more to his character, then I may have enjoyed the final battle more between Hokan and the Commandos. As it was, there was no doubt as to Hokan's outcome before the final battle had even begun.
"One of Karen's strengths is her examination of a soldier's motives, drive and emotions at the tasks they are being asked to perform. In this book Karen tries to unearth the motives for a clone raised from birth to become a soldier, to live, to fight, and to die as nothing other than as cannon fodder. A soldier that has no rights, not even citizenship in the society he is fighting to defend. Seen through the eyes of just one clone soldier, Karen portrays the clone soldiers as victims of, not only the Republic they were born to serve, but also in many ways of the Jedi who command them.
"Karen also examines the juxtaposition that is the childhoods of both Jedi Padawans and the clone commandos. Karen's Jedi character, Etain, sees the childhoods of the clone commandos as being very much like that of Jedi Padawans - having no choice in the way they were raised, no choice in the lifestyle they wanted, no choice in their own future, and all because of the way they were born.
However this juxtaposition of Padawan and clone commando childhoods has a serious contradiction: the clone commandos as professional soldiers are themselves neither angry nor violent men like the Padawans, but they are still expected to kill total strangers and destroy material without emotion and yet still maintain their balance as professional soldiers who behaved like "well educated Padawans."
"My only complaint is that Karen, like so many other recent Star Wars authors, has fallen into the trap of placing terms and materials that would only have meaning in Earth English, e.g. In Allegiance, Zahn uses "cash" (originally an English slang word) and "plastic" (why? when so many authors (incl. Zahn) have successfully introduced SW universe equivalents - permacrete for concrete for instance - so that Earth English terms are rarely needed). Karen appears to have fallen trap to this as well as she states that a handheld hydraulic ram "could exert eight metric tons". As a reader, I can certainly visualize a hydraulic ram producing such a force, but in the Star Wars universe, what is a "metric ton"? On Earth we use the phrase to distinguish between two differing amounts: the metric ton and the imperial ton - did Napolean Boneparte at some time invade the Star Wars universe and inflict the metric system on the citizens of this fictional universe? Personally, I would have preferred a simile to compare/measure the amount of force such a ram could exert. However, Karen redeems herself when she cheekily assigns the target laboratory the codename "Boffin" - Karen's British-ness shines through.
"Finally, one great thing about this book is that, unlike similar era books featuring Obi-Wan, Anakin, Mace or Yoda, we don't know who will live or die. As you read the book, you are painfully aware that any one of the book's heroes could be killed off at any time. This, after reading so many Star Wars books knowing that Luke or Han or Obi-Wan or Anakin cannot die in that particular story, is a truly welcome page-turner."

Rating: 5 / 5

Review by RobB, USA, 2008:

"Hard Contact is the first book of Karen Traviss's Republic Commando series. This work is a tie-in with the 2004 video game, Republic Commando. However, you don't need to have played it to follow the story. A newly formed squad (four soldiers) of Republic Commandos is formed and thrust into their first mission since the inaugural Battle of Geonosis. They must land on an agricultural planet dominated by the Trade Federation and capture a Separatist scientist who is developing a nanovirus capable of wiping out the entire clone army. Meanwhile a young female padawan is separated from her Jedi Master, alone on a hostile planet.
"What I really enjoyed about this book is seeing the Expanded Universe through a clone trooper's eyes. These guys are not drones. They have human emotions and intelligence, despite the conditioning and genetic manipulation of the cloners. The Kaminoans seem more malevolent than they were portrayed in Attack of the Clones. You can see the commandos wrestling with their first real (not simulated) experiences: coping with being the only survivor of a squad, the complexities of dealing with civilians in a war zone, being cut off from the rest of your squad, learning how to rely on unfamiliar others for your survival. It is not difficult to imagine that the challenges confronted in the book are timeless for any soldier or warrior in our real world.
"Consider also that this book does not contain any of the main characters of the Star Wars saga. There is no Obi-Wan, Anakin, Dooku, Grevious or Palpatine. Even Nute Gunray is omitted from the story in favor of a more local Neimodian. This is a good thing as it shows the Expanded Universe is much larger than the story threads of these epic characters. There is also a level of tension because you don't know who, if anyone, will survive to the end of the book! This book may not be for everyone. While there is plenty of action, the story is one big chess match of the commandos against the Mandalorian warrior Ghez Hokan who is in charge of the Separatist forces. I thoroughly enjoyed it!"

Rating: 5 / 5

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