Following the events of ‘Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth’, Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are in a groundcar fleeing enemy forces on the hostile enemy planet Lanteeb which has been taken by Separatist forces. The bad guys are using the mineral damotite, common on Lanteeb, to develop a nasty bioweapon. Our heroes attempt to rescue the imprisoned scientist working on this horror failed because evil Lok Durd set a trap for them and they barely escaped with their lives. They still have to save the galaxy from the deadly virus the Separatists have developed but first they must save themselves.
Their groundcar runs out of power near Torbel, a mining village. The locals are suspicious of strangers but short on their quota of damotite and willing to take on the two newcomers as miners. Of course, Lok Durd is searching desperately for the Jedi and has plenty of droid power for the job, as well as a psychic seeker. How long can they stay hidden? Will they be rescued? Is there an antidote for the deadly virus? Has it been used yet? Stuck in the middle of nowhere with no communications equipment, Skywalker and Kenobi are pretty helpless. Then things get worse.
It isn’t all Anakin and Obi-Wan. Their Jedi chums are busy as well, trying to mount a fleet large enough to besiege Lanteeb but frustrated by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine who insists that the ships are needed elsewhere. Whose side is he on? Meanwhile, Ahsoka, Rex and Torrent company have mended their wounds from the last battle and are keen for some action.
Anakin and Obi-Wan were barely able to stand at the start of the book, starved and exhausted. As the book goes on, they are still mostly starved and have to work hard, face various dangers and use the Force a lot. The extent of their exhaustion becomes unrealistic, even for a fantasy, especially as Obi-Wan started this adventure totally exhausted from the previous one. Obviously, the heroes have to face trials and struggle in the name of drama but there’s such a thing as over-egging the pudding.
There is also, as in ‘Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth’, a bit of a slow spell in the middle of this adventure. Both books could have been shorter and tauter and I wonder if the publishers insist on a minimum word count to make their novels thicker. I have noticed that although the SFWA definition of a novel is anything over 40,000 words many publishers won’t take less than 70,000. When I was a young thing, I read early books in that other starry franchise that were about 120 pages long and could be scanned in an evening. It was better. Lightweight fiction should be brief and to the point, not padded to add pages.
However, these are minor quibbles and, all in all, Karen Miller has delivered another solid adventure story. I got through the middle bit painlessly and the conclusion was sufficiently gripping. In the overall story arc, this one seems to have a bit more about Anakin, secretly married, of course, harbouring bitter thoughts about Jedi attitudes to love, emotion and so forth, even resenting Obi-Wan. I don’t think that’s going to end well.
This review first appeared at https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/