Review: Legacy of the Force

Legacy of the Force is a nine book series set decades after the original Star Wars films.  The aim of the series is to recapture some of the magic, drama and characterization that made the original film series so memorable.  Ultimately, Legacy of the Force delivers a tale that is poorly paced but also compelling and entertaining, with a whole lot of Boba Fett thrown in for good measure.

Much like the previously published New Jedi Order, the Legacy of the Force series is a collaborative effort between multiple different authors.  Whereas The New Jedi Order had several different authors with a wide variety of literary backgrounds, Legacy of the Force is written only by three.  This is, in my opinion, to the detriment of the saga, as the series lacks the breadth of originality that is a major characteristic of the New Jedi Order, but I’m not here to compare the two.

As I stated, the Legacy of the Force series takes place many, many years after the films.  Peace and Order have finally returned to that Galaxy Far, Far Away, and many of our rebellious heroes have settled down, had children and retired from military and government service.  This is the real strength of the Legacy of the Force.  Rather than focus wholly on the famous heroes of the Star Wars films, this series hands the spotlight over to their children; namely Jacen Solo and Ben Skywalker, though all of the classic heroes are still given plenty to do.

The basic plot of the series echoes that of the prequel trilogy:  a dark side force user seeks to upset the balance of the universe by stirring the embers of dissent among the peaceful planets of the Galactic Alliance, the ruling government in the Galaxy.  At the forefront of the conflict is Han Solo’s home planet, Corellia.  Unfortunately, the motivation behind the political conflict is a little bit shaky and doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense (much like in the prequel trilogy).  It begins with Corellia demanding the right to arm themselves against the regulations of the Galactic Alliance, and threatening to secede from the Alliance Government if their demands are not met.

Jacen Solo, former hero of the Galaxy and a powerful Jedi Knight, has grown frustrated with the constant chaos and threats of war in the Galaxy.  This has made him susceptible to the influence of the Dark Side, and ultimately sees him follow in his grandfathers footsteps to become a Lord of the Sith, Darth Caedus.  Caedus, much like Vader, has gotten it into his head that the only way to maintain peace in the Galaxy is to do so with violence, tyranny and oppression of civil liberties.  Needless to say, the backdrop of the series is interesting enough to keep the reader’s attention.  Unfortunately, throughout these books, this is indeed simply the backdrop.

Karen Traviss, one of the authors of the Legacy of the Force, has become the go-to person for all things Boba Fett.  One of the weakest elements of the series is a subplot that actually takes up almost one third of the entire story.  It follows a mortally ill Boba Fett, who is now 71 years old and still bounty hunting like a champ.  I am as big a Boba Fett fan as anybody out there, but really, I didn’t pick up a series that claims to be about political upheaval, Lords of the Sith and corruption of justice to spend three whole books reading about Boba Fett looking for a cure for clone cancer.

What this series does exceptionally well is provide memorable, intense action sequences.  About midway through the series, one of the major characters of the Star Wars saga is killed.  It serves as a jarring realization that the authors are not constrained to keeping major characters alive and as a result, every time the characters are engaged in combat, you can’t stop reading because you don’t know if they are going to survive.  I was worried that the authors would pull a “nope, they aren’t REALLY dead, it just looks like it, but they’re back now.”  Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you want to look at it), that didn’t happen; the character is dead, and continues to be dead in the books following this series.

The death of that character was the major turning point in the series and was really the point of no return for Darth Caedus.  You don’t come back from something like that.  No amount of compassion can redeem Jacen Solo at this point.  This, honestly, gave the series the tension it needed.  It made the reader feel that nobody was safe and that anything goes.

Overall, the series struggles to tell the story it set out to tell, with a number of missteps and irrelevant, boring subplots (looking at you, Mr. Fett), but finds itself at the midpoint and comes out with a very strong finish that is worthy of Star Wars.

★★★

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