“Fury” (2007), the seventh entry in the nine-book “Legacy of the Force” saga, is an example of a great book within a wider storyline that’s not so great. By this point, it’s clear that the Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus arc doesn’t ring true: He behaves like the Emperor, yet he doesn’t have a sociopathic background; he was quite the opposite as a kid. The idea that Jacen’s teachings from Vergere or his missing five years of secret Force studies (between “The New Jedi Order” and the “Dark Nest” trilogy) caused him to go dark is more of a placeholder for an explanation than an actual explanation.
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Aaron Allston delivers the best book so far in the “Legacy of the Force” series with “Exile” (2007), the fourth of the nine-novel saga. Whereas earlier books put most of our heroes in the awkward position of not knowing which side (if any) of the Corellia-Galactic Alliance war they were on, “Exile” smooths things out as the Corellians – now known as the Confederation as they absorb other allies – make plans to elect a supreme commander and move against Alliance shipyards. Granted, the series’ biggest evil character, Jacen Solo, leads the Galactic Alliance Guard, so “LOTF” has hardly become a black-and-white saga, but for now, we get a bit of the old, straightforward adventuring.
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I wasn’t a huge fan of the nine-book “Legacy of the Force” series on my first read, not because of the quality of the writing – Aaron Alliston and Karen Traviss are my two favorite “Star Wars” authors, and Troy Denning is solid – but because of what happens. When Jacen Solo kills fellow Jedi Nelani at the end of “Betrayal” (2006), I probably said “You idiot” out loud. I have a low sympathy threshold for good guys who commit evil acts, no matter their rationale.
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Aaron Allston is best known for his Wraith Squadron novels, but his two “New Jedi Order” novels – the “Enemy Lines” duology – are sneaky good, too. They don’t make as strong of an impression as other his “Star Wars” novels because they lack a main character or even group of characters. Indeed, “Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand” (2002) is a bit all over the place even when compared to “Rebel Dream” – which centered on a battle at Borleias – but it still offers some great little subplots.
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Aaron Allston enters the “New Jedi Order” fold with the saga’s 11th book, “Rebel Dream” (2002). As with Michael Stackpole’s “Dark Tide” duology earlier in the series, Allston’s “Enemy Lines” duology (to be followed by “Rebel Stand”) is not an “X-Wing” story on the sly. However, “Rebel Dream” does have a significant “X-Wing” flavor, mainly because Wedge Antilles is the general in charge of capturing and defending Coruscant’s stellar neighbor Borleias, a repeat of Rogue Squadron’s mission in “Wedge’s Gamble,” only now the enemy is the Yuuzhan Vong instead of the Empire.
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After six novels that had good points worth picking out but weren’t consistently great, Aaron Allston delivers the first rock-solid page-turner of the franchise with “Terminator Dreams” (2003), which functions as a prequel and sequel to “Terminator 3.”
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Because Lucasfilm is shifting its focus away from the Clone Wars era, we’re not likely to see a paperback anthology called “Tales from the Clone Wars” anytime soon. However, if you still have your back issues of Star Wars Insider, you can pretend you are reading a couple volumes’ worth of Clone Wars tales. The magazine published 20 short stories from issue 62-88 (2003-06); 12 were set during the Clone Wars, with two more shortly after that period. (Insider wouldn’t return to short fiction until issue 124, when it would once again become a staple of the magazine.)
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“X-Wing: Starfighters of Adumar” (1999) is a standalone story with none of the continuity concerns of the previous eight books, and it was the last novel of the Bantam Books contract (although one collection, “Tales from the New Republic,” would follow). Perhaps for these reasons, Aaron Allston writes what I think is the best of the 10 “X-Wing” novels, and one that could serve as a template for the type of story a theoretical “X-Wing” animated series could do.
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