Tuesday, 5 January 2010

‘Star Wars – Legacy of the Force: Invincible’ – Troy Denning (Arrow Books)


Late last year I made a resolution that, if the opportunity arose, I’d jump into series several books in and see what happened. The main thing here was to see how these books held up on their own as well as being part of a series. I also don’t want the fact the ‘Book X’ is the tenth book in a series to stop me from reading what potentially could be a great story!
My resolution was put to the test when ‘Invincible’ turned up in my Christmas stocking. If you’re going to jump straight into a series at a random book then doing it right at the end has to be the way to go! I’m going to do my level best to avoid spoilers but I can’t promise that I’ll succeed...
As it turns out, I’m left in one of those positions where I know how it all ends but I’m tempted to go back and read the rest of the books as well. If ‘Invincible’ was anything to go by (very good but not without its problems) then the rest of the series might be worth a look...

Assassination and murder have left opposition to Darth Cadeus’ Galactic Alliance reeling (and I managed to get through that all important first sentence without giving away some pretty major spoilers, go me!) There is nothing left but to go all out for a lethal strike on Cadeus himself, the Sith Lord must die if the galaxy is to know any peace at all. Luke Skywalker is torn between his desire for vengeance and visions of a future tyranny more monstrous than that of Palpatine himself. Cadeus must die though and there is only one Jedi who stands any chance of bringing him down...

Being the last book in a nine (?) book series I approached ‘Invincible’ with some degree of apprehension over just how tangled up I’d get trying to piece together mention of events in previous books. I was pleasantly surprised then to find that this wasn’t an issue at all. As it should be, the main emphasis was on getting everyone into position for the final curtain and playing out the final scenes and the story itself was relatively self contained as a result. While there was some mention of prior events these only appeared when certain plot elements were being tied up and resolved. The end result was a book that doesn’t stand on its own (how could it?) but can, at a pinch, be read on its own.

With that issue out of the way I was free to get on with the business of the story itself and it wasn’t a bad one at all. In the best traditions of ‘Star Wars’, ‘Invincible’ is full of derring do and epic fire fights (in space and on the ground) which all help to keep things rattling along nicely. Denning opts to keep things as personal as possible and this adds a really tangible sense of danger to lightsaber fights and ship to ship combat in particular. Once you’re inside a character’s head then there’s no getting away from the cost of certain actions and you may even find yourself nodding your head in sympathy at the process behind a particular character’s journey to ‘Sith hood’. Denning’s journey into the Star Wars universe is definitely an interactive experience and a headlong ride into action and adventure!

It’s a bit of a shame then that Denning’s approach to the story can sometimes let things down and detract from the positive credit that the book builds up for itself. Denning has a habit of deciding that a character needs to go somewhere and then just having them appear at their destination without any mention of what happened in between. I don’t know if Star Wars books have a page limit on them that needs to be kept to (which might excuse things a little) but when a character is on an asteroid being occupied by Imperial forces only for the next chapter to see her arrive at the Jedi’s secret base... Well, you kind of wonder how she managed to get away. I’m not sure if this is the definition of a plot hole but this is what it felt like.
The ending also felt a little skewed due to Denning’s decision to relegate the aftermath to a newscast and concentrate on setting up a new family dynamic for future books. While I can appreciate the importance of this and why he chose to do it, this move completely swept the rug from under the climax and any lasting impact that it might have had. A little more attention to the whole point of the series could have paid real dividends...

‘Invincible’ is a fun read that could have been a whole lot more if things were a little tighter and directed where they should have been. There was enough there though to make me consider giving the rest of the series a go, is it worth a shot?

Seven and a Half out of Ten

4 comments:

logankstewart said...

I really enjoyed this 9 books series. Watching the transformation into Darth Caedus was bittersweet. And since you liked Karen Travis' Clone Commandos novels, you'd like her 3 installments as well, which all offer Boba Fett as a POV character. I easily recommend this full series. It had its problems, but was still a fun and exciting read.

Dave said...

I agree. This was a fun series, especially the Boba Fett stuff.

Dave-Brendon de Burgh said...

I recommend the entire series, too, for sure. Not only does it take the characters into territory to test and break them (but, I have to admit, something that the NJO series did much better), but it sets the scene for so much more - the One Sith (part of Paul Kemp's Crosscurrent, too), the way the Jedi are forced to look at themselves and what they do, but it really bring's Jaina into the spotlight - something I've been waiting for for too long. :-)

logankstewart said...

On a related note, I've recently started reading the Star Wars Legacy comics, which are canon and take place ~130 years ABY. It's keeping my mind wondering what events will lead up to what's going on in the Legacy comics.