Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Ascension (Book Eight) by Christie Golden
Fate of the Jedi is a nine-book series written by three authors over the course of four years. It’s long, dragged out, and could have been condensed into a trilogy. But then I wouldn’t have nine pretty hardbacks on my bookshelf. (Yes. Nine freaking expensive hardbacks, three each year, during an economic downfall. Good job, Del Ray!)
I went into Fate of the Jedi very hopeful. Political intrigue, power-mongers, Luke no longer running the Jedi Order. But after seven books, each more meh than the previous, I went into Ascension feeling very apathetic.
It’s 43 years after the first Death Star went boom. Luke Skywalker was arrested by the Galactic Alliance and exiled from Alliance space for letting his nephew, Jacen Solo, fall to the dark side. Luke and his 17-year-old son Ben Skywalker are now on the strangest father/son bonding trip ever, assigned to figure out why Jacen fell. Along the way, Luke meets an old girlfriend. He still wuvs her, even though she’s possessed by a uber-powerful dark side creature named Abeloth. He also meets a group known as the Lost Tribe of the Sith. They thought they were the only ones in the galaxy. They want to kill Luke dead.
Then Ben gets the hots for a teenage Sith chick, Vestara, but she’s torn between her duty to the Sith and her crush on Ben.
Meanwhile, the Sith had a vision that a beautiful red-headed girl grows up to run the Jedi Order, so they want to find her and kill her. That beautiful red-head is Jacen Solo’s eight-year-old love child, Allana. Luke knows it. Ben knows it. The Sith don’t. Yet.
Oh, and the Jedi Order without Luke functions about as well as a demagnetized compass.
Did I mention the (former) Chief of Staff of the Galactic Alliance was an Imperial Admiral and has the compassion of a rabid Wookiee? Yeah. Because she laid siege to the Jedi Temple, the Jedi Masters de-throned her after they killed Luke’s replacement. (Dark Side points all around!) Now that she’s gone from power, Luke’s no longer exiled and can come back and calm everyone the eff down. But that’s going to be difficult because the Lost Tribe of the Sith want to team up with (i.e. enslave) Abeloth and conquer Coruscant.
And that’s what you missed on Glee.
(Keep in mind, I summarized the main plot. CanaryTheFirst didn’t allocate me enough space to recap the subplots, too.)
It took me several days to get through Ascension, and that’s after skipping the first six chapters devoted to the Lost Tribe. I felt bad because Golden (and the other authors, Aaron Allston and Troy Denning) clearly has spent a lot of time shaping and developing the Lost Tribe. But I don’t care about the antagonists anymore. I was never attached to them like I was with Darth Malgus in Deceived, so I’m not worried about their fates.
The Jedi Order, however, is the only plotline I was concerned about, and found myself skimming over anything that didn’t directly deal with them. (That’s bad.) Once the story focused on the Jedi, Ascension was great…the little bit there was.
The focus of Ascension seemed to be Ben Skywalker’s romance with Vestara, something that’s been growing since, oh, book three. I’ve never been a fan of Romeo and Juliet and skipped a lot of their cuddle/make-out sessions. They’re teens, they’re infatuated with each other, and Vestara decides (after her father tries to kill her) that she wants to be a Jedi now and wuv Ben for ever and ever. And my first thought was, “This isn’t gonna last ’til the next book.” (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.)
As for the stuff I missed? Recapped in the plot I care about. Win, win!
It also wouldn’t be Star Wars without a rogue group trying to take down the government and a cameo by Boba Fett. (Yawn.)
The biggest problem I have with the series as a whole is lack of suspense. That the one thing the previous nine-book series Legacy of the Force did right. The characters were constantly thrown into life-threatening situations, and not everyone made it out alive. Angry and upset with seeing my favorites killed off, I had kept reading. I had to know what happened next.
However, the editors have already publicly stated that no main characters will die in Fate of the Jedi. With the final book titled Apocalypse and knowing Skywalker lives really adds to the Not Caring vibe. Would you have read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows if you knew before it was published that none of the good guys were going to perish?
I’m not suggesting that characters should be killed off, but the possibility certainly adds to the suspense and seriousness of the situation. The last OMG moment for me was in book five (Allies, also by Golden) when the government laid siege to the Jedi Temple and shot a 15-year-old Jedi Knight for attempting peace negotiations. Book six (Vortex by Denning) had an epic lightsaber battle where Luke had to push himself to his limits to win, and even then you weren’t quite sure how Skywalker was going to pull it off.
More dire situations that makes us wonder how in the ‘verse the characters are going to get out of them, please. Build up the antagonists so we fear them more.
The final book of this series doesn’t come out until April 2012. I had the opportunity to sit-in at the Fate of the Jedi author’s panel at Star Wars Celebration V, and it was promised this is the end (for now) of the epic, multi-book Star Wars series. They’ll be focusing on trilogies and stand-alone novels from now on.
Thank the Force.