Book Review – Star by Star

  • Title: Star by Star
  • Line: Star Wars: The New Jedi Order
  • Author: Troy Denning
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 02/27/2016

**Spoiler Alert** Star by Star is a very sad book – and Star Wars isn’t meant to be sad. Yes, there are setbacks, but in the end the heroes should always prevail. In fact, that the heroes prevail over overwhelming odds is part of what makes the universe so much fun. But Star by Star is just unrelentingly sad.

The story opens with the New Republic at war with the Vuuzhan Vong, alien invaders from another Galaxy, who have invaded the Star Wars Galaxy with two goals in mind: the complete conquest of the galaxy and a religious fervor to destroy the Jedi. One of the problems with the story is even with chapters written from the Vuuzhan Vong point of view – it’s never explained why they want every single Jedi dead. There’s just no reason for it and no explanation. That makes the story very weak. We do learn that the Vuuzhan Vong exhausted the resources of their own galaxy – so they built worldships to travel to a new galaxy, while increasing their sacrifices to their war gods, and mutilating themselves in offerings to the gods – but it’s never explained, at all, why they want to destroy the Jedi. And since, in the Star Wars Universe the Force is pretty much a force of nature – it’s an impossible conflict.

Also, revealed in the beginning of the story, Chewbacca is dead, having been killed in an (successful) attempt to rescue Anakin Solo (Han and Leia’s youngest son) from a Vuuzhan Vong POW camp. This is backstory so not a lot of details are given. Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker have married and have a newborn son, Ben. And Han and Leia’s older children, the twins Jacen and Jaina, are now full Jedi Knights. Jaina is a seasoned X-fighter pilot. Jacen has the talent, through the Force, to understand and even sometimes influence animals.

Most of the plot involves the war, and various battles and attempts by the New Republic to do something.

About halfway through the book, Anakin Solo comes up with a desperate idea, he will take a squad of young Jedi Knights, let themselves be “captured” and destroy the Voxyn Queen. The Voxyn are an animal bred by the Vuuzhan Vong to hunt down and kill Jedi. Once they discover that all the Voxyn are clones of the queen, the Jedi figure that destroying the queen will help the New Republic war effort. Another group of scientist-Jedi work to discover how more of the Vuuzhan Vong organic technology weapons, especially the yammosk – a creature that co-ordinates the battle orders of the Vuuzhan Vong -equivalent of X-wings and other small space fighters actually work.

Much of the rest of the book splits between what the rest of the characters are doing: Han and Leia for the most part on Coruscant – capital planet of the Star Wars Galaxy where Leia finally gives up her diplomatic position in the Senate in protest of the New Republic’s plans to appease the Vuuzhan Vong by selling out the Jedi. Luke and Mara are on Eclipse – the Jedi secret base, caring for their infant son, and managing the Jedi role in the war. The scientist-Jedi attempt to crack the code of the yammosk. And Jacen, Jaina, Anakin, and their squad of young Jedi Knights attempting to kill the Voxyn Queen.

However, Anakin’s squad – one by one are getting killed. And that makes the book so sad. As there was an entire series of early Young Adult “Young Jedi Knights” and “Jedi Academy” books – to see the main characters from those books dying one-by-one? It’s a hard read. Eventually even Anakin falls. His death sets his older sister, Jaina, on the path to the Dark Side. And Leia, who feels her son’s death, even though she’s on Coruscant on the opposite side of the Galaxy, is thrown for a loop and ready to just give up.

But the bad news isn’t over – the Vuuzhan Vong launch a successful attack on Coruscant, capturing the capitol planet – and killing thousands of civilians in the process. Han, Leia, Luke and Mara barely escape. Luke and Mara had been fighting in the battle – but are also there to pick up their infant son, Ben, whom they’d left with Han and Leia to be safe. During Han and Leia’s rush to get to the Falcon to escape – Ben and C3PO get separated and end up on a fleeing refugee ship. Though Lando does manage to rescue the two from the Vuuzhan Vong that board that ship.

Anakin’s mission – already failing miserably, results in the successful destruction of the Voxyn – but at the cost of the deaths of at least half his squad, as well as Anakin himself. Jacen is also, again, captured by the Vuuzhan Vong, who have a religious superstition about twins – and intend to force Jacen and Jaina to fight to the death, and considering Jaina has turned to the Dark Side – it may just happen.

Also, the book has no closure – Han, Leia, Luka, and Mara escape Coruscant in the Falcon, and Ben is meant to be safe on the Errant Venture thanks to Lando, but everything is much in the air and undecided – especially with Coruscant destroyed. So, after reading over 600 pages, nothing is really decided and I hate that.

This book was too sad, too depressing, and too filled with death for Star Wars and doesn’t fit the “light adventure” mold of most of the tie-in novels. I didn’t really enjoy it.

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