Star Wars Old Republic Novels #3 & #4: A Review

Welcome back to another review at The Real World According To Sam! Its Star Wars SATURDAY and this weekend, as promised, we're discussing the third and fourth novels in the Old Republic series of what is now the Star Wars Legends timeline. The third novel chronologically was the first one of the series to be released, followed by Deceived (#2), then Revan (#1), and finally Annihilation (#4). Let's jump in!  

💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗

Fatal Alliance 
Author: Sean Williams
Genre: Science Fiction --> Space Opera
Year of Publication: 2010


SYNOPSIS:

7493770Tassaa Bareesh, a matriarch in the Hutt crime cartel, is holding an auction that's drawing attention from across the galaxy. Representatives of both the Republic and Sith Empire are present, along with a Jedi Padawan sent to investigate, a disenfranchised trooper drummed out of the Republic's elite Blackstar Squad, and a mysterious Mandalorian with a private agenda. But the Republic's envoy is not what he seems, the Empire's delegate is a ruthless Sith apprentice, the Jedi Padawan is determined to do the right thing and terrified that he can't, the trooper hopes to redeem her reputation, and the Mandalorian is somehow managing to keep one step ahead of everyone.

None of these guests --- invited or uninvited --- have any intention of participating in the auction. Instead they plan to steal the prize, which is locked inside an impregnable vault: two burned chunks of an exploded star cruiser, one of which may hold the key to the wealth of an entire world.

But the truth about the treasure is dangerous and deadly. And in the end, Sith and Jedi, Republic and Empire, must do something they've never done before, something that all the agents of good and evil could never make them do: join together to stop a powerful threat that could destroy the galaxy. 

-------------------------------------------------------------------

This book is the next stop in the timeline. I tend to read pretty quickly, but this one took me literal months to get through. I started it in June of last year, read it simultaneously with some other books, but just couldn't get into it. I read a little over half, then had to send it back to the library since I was gonna be going out of town a few times. Then I was slammed with grad school for a few months...eventually I picked it up again so I could finish it and finally get it out of my Currently Reading shelf. 

The last several Star Wars books I've read haven't taken me long to get through and have been pretty good. Fatal Alliance has been one of the slowest books in the EU that I have read. I read Red Harvest and although i wasn't a big fan (just another Star Wars zombie novel), it moved rather quickly to events and passed through or between them at a solid pace, while Fatal Alliance just seemed to drag on forever. The action kicks up pretty quick, but then slows almost immediately. It then kicks up  in spurts, before slowing more and more. The pacing was all over the place. The synopsis makes it seem really intriguing, but to me, it was a pile of mess. The auction happens within the first several chapters and really, is anyone surprised that a Mandalorian would be steps ahead of other factions? I'm not, but the Mandalorian was only here to have someone to chase down after the "treasure" is uncovered at the auction. There was a twist with the Mandalorian at the end, but its not worth anything to the story. Non-major spoiler alert: the Mandalorian everyone in the book thought was a guy, was really a girl. WOW! MIND-BLOWN!  ......not really. We already know that there are girl Mandalorians thanks to things like the Clone Wars animated series, and now we have a new Mandalorian girl in Star Wars Rebels, so really, who cares? They came a little bit later than this book, but the characters in the animated shows are much more intriguing and don't bother to put up appearances, unlike this one did for almost the entire book. It was the most boring twist I've ever read that never should have been a thing, because NO ONE CARES! Mandalorians are fierce warriors, regardless of gender, and THAT is what makes them great. They just kick everyone's butt and don't look back, and everyone gets their butt trampled equally by any Mandalorian who feels the need to do so. 

The characters weren't anything special, which really disappointed me. I've only seen bits of Satele Shan here and there so I was excited to hear that she was in this novel. However, there is so little of here and there is barely any of her in any media apart from the video games. I'm highly disappointed with how little involvement she had in one of maybe only two books she makes an appearance in. She is supposed to be an amazing Jedi who has a double-bladed lightsaber, but she ends up doing very little and is no more than a cookie cutter, semi-present Padawan's master. Obi-Wan does more as a Jedi master aiding in Padawan training in a handful of episodes for the animated show The Clone Wars. I'm highly disappointed in what Williams did with the character here, particularly since she has so much potential in the universe itself. The Jedi and Sith apprentices, Shigar and Ax, were boring and angsty. Angsty is not intended to be a compliment here by any means. They were like angsty teens, impatient and uninteresting. There was nothing I really liked about either of them. They felt like they should be in a generic teen novel instead of being potential Sith and Jedi masters of the future. I hope Shigar fails his training and Ax just leaves the Sith life, because neither of them really felt worth a grain of salt to read about. 

While I can't say I absolutely hated this book, I can't say that I loved it either. It wasn't the worst book I have ever read, but the pacing and lack of any single amazing character to gravitate towards and latch onto really took its toll on my ability to even get through the book. I often felt like I was so close to finishing, only to have things drag on and on. I think this easily could have been shorter if a little more editing time was spent on it, just to keep the pace at a steady, decent rate. Also, the romance was totally unnecessary. There was a presence of a little love triangle in some parts of the novel and it was pointless. I didn't care and I would have cut it out entirely to non-existence. It did nothing for the overall plot, wasted pages, and I can't understand why the author felt it was necessary to include it. I LOVE me some romance, especially subplots that gradually develop while not interfering with main story lines, but this one wasn't done well at all. 

The plot twists coming at the end of the novel didn't do much for me. They seemed like they weren't entirely Star Wars style twists. They were the product of other Sci-Fi novel themes creeping in that were given a Star Wars coating over them to try and make them relevant. Darth Chratis was not a great Sith and wasn't even that interesting. Ax, his Sith apprentice, was one of the only semi-interesting characters and even then, she wasn't all that enthralling a character. Her story was interesting and that was it. This is sad since the story basically revolves around her and elements of her past. Jet Nebula had a lot of interesting things going for him, so I would have liked to see a story for just him instead quite frankly. I can't say that any of the characters, particularly the main ones, had a lasting impression on me. This whole book felt like a generic add-on to the universe that could have happened at almost any point in the timeline. There aren't many indicators that this is Old Republic, beyond the final ending tensions mentioning previous conflicts, and the tiny presence of characters or factions that make it Old Republic times (Satele Shan, Sith empire, former Blackstar squad trooper). While Deceived felt like it was happening in a time before each of the film trilogies, you could take a couple pieces out of Fatal Alliance and not even know where it belongs time wise (the ones mentioned above). That is fine if it is a stand alone piece, but not for an era specific work. Each era of Star Wars is distinct and none of the world or character building in this novel created an environment that said "THIS IS THE OLD REPUBLIC". 

I'm super glad to be done with this book and I can honestly say that I will be happy to never read it again. This one was enjoyable in parts, but overall it isn't a Star Wars story to remember for long, apart from "that weird one full of non-standard droids and teen-angst apprentices". The lack of focus on any particular character and a twisty, boring plot that dragged and wasn't ultimately satisfying just made for a drawn out, tedious story that doesn't feel very much like the Star Wars we know and love. This book would be better if it was a Sci-Fi novel that existed OUTSIDE of the Star Wars Universe. Then it would've been a better time for the quality. Fatal Alliance gets a out of 5 stars. 

💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙

Annihilation

Author: Drew Karpyshyn
Genre: Sci-Fi --> Space Opera
Year of Publication: 2012

SYNOPSIS:


13533656
The Sith Empire is in flux. The Emperor is missing, presumed dead, and an ambitious Sith lord's attempt to seize the throne has ended fatally. Still, Darth Karrid, commander of the fearsome Imperial battle cruiser Ascendant Spear, continues her relentless efforts to achieve total Sith domination of the galaxy.

But Karrid's ruthless determination is more than matched in the steely resolve of Theron Shan, whose unfinished business with the Empire could change the course of the war for good. Though the son of a Jedi master, Theron does not wield the Force -- but like his renowned mother, the spirit of rebellion is in his blood. As a top covert agent for the Republic, he struck a crucial blow against the Empire by exposing and destroying a Sith superweapon arsenal -- which makes him the ideal operative for a daring and dangerous mision to end Ascendant Spear's reign of terror. 

Joined by hot-headed smuggler Teff'ith, with whom he has an inexplicable bong, and wise Jedi warrior Gnost-Dural, Darth Karrid's former master, Theron must match wits ad weapons with a battle-tested crew of the most cold-blooded dark side disciples. But time is brutally short. And if they don't seize their one chance to succeed, they will surely have countless opportunities to die. 
------------------------------------------------------------

After reading Fatal Alliance, I wasn't hopeful about my overall enjoyment of the Old Republic series. I thought things might continue to go downhill. However, I did enjoy Revan, and since this book had the same author as Revan, I had a much better time. The pacing is fast, the characters are intriguing with their own personal flaws and needs, and the story feels very much like it would occur in the Star Wars universe (unlike Fatal Alliance). The story moves so quick that once I really got going with it, I practically breezed through it.

Theron Shan is the son of Satele Shan, who is now the Grand Master in this book. She gave her son away to someone to raise him and this book very much tells the story of a guy who doesn't have a deep connection with either of his parents, but ends up having to face them on occasion in awkward exchanges. They aren't awkward to read, you just know that it would be awkward to be in that situation, and I like the way this novel handles all of that. It doesn't turn into a big character flaw or large amounts of angst, its just something that shaped how the guy grew up and how he tackles what he is faced with, but not in a toxic manner. Also, while there is also not a lot of Satele present, her role is well fulfilled. You know her place in this novel, so it is not as much of a disappointment to have her out of the action. I'm still waiting for one really good book to come out that highlights her better, but I'm actually really satisfied with the way this book handled all of its plot pieces and characters.

One of the things I enjoy most about Star Wars in general is the grandness of the adventures, but the detailed orientation that small actions have while adding up to something bigger. This novel took that aspect and really ran with it. Although Theron and Gnost-Dural run into several snags during their quest to bring down the Ascendant Spear, the ability to move past initial failure to find new pathways towards ultimate success kept me on the Star Wars high. Failure and conflict are wonderful, but only when they remain on a particular track with a solid pace. This was excellently executed. While there are also other minor subplots and conflicts going on for the different characters present within the novel, none of them overwhelm the story at its base or detract from the overall story, instead adding to an understanding of character choices and desires. This shapes the story and characters for the better, rounding it out and adding depth. Also, the interactions between characters is really neat to see, particularly the ones between Theron and Gnost-Dural during their mission, because its very clear that their environments shaped their beliefs in different ways. Gnost-Dural is a Jedi so he holds to a certain code of being and perceiving things, while Theron was raised by a Jedi, but not entirely in the Jedi ways since he was not a force wielder. He is doing this mission for his own reasons and under a different group that is more independent agent style, slightly more military without the rigorous attention to ranks. He is more like a rogue operator in how he carries out mission, while walking a bureaucratic line for the agency he works for. The juxtaposition of the two was really intriguing and was one of my favorite parts about the book. This showed a better dynamic between people having to work together who may not see fully eye-to-eye, but have the same goal to achieve. There's also tons of action and it happens quickly, so its really like experiencing an action movie in book form. There's shooting and explosions, all combined making for a really fun time, without losing any of the likability of the characters. Everything in this novel was right where it needed to be for me.

This is one of the best books in the Old Republic "quartet" and I am very excited to be moving to the next part of the timeline, particularly since there will be more of Karpyshyn in Star Wars novels I will be coming up to soon. He is one of the better Star Wars writers I've read so far and I'm glad to see his name repeat (a high compliment since if I see Sean Williams' name on more I will cringe at least a little; other authors in the EU I'm rather indifferent to at the moment, but we will see if that changes in time).

This book renewed my interest in what is yet to come and if my to-read list were shorter I could see myself rereading this one, or even picking up a copy of it somewhere down the road to own. Annihilation gets 4 out of 5 stars.

💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜

This is the conclusion of the Old Republic novel series, based on the Knights of the Old Republic multiplayer game. I hope you enjoyed it!!

Here is an updated, very condensed version of where I am at in the Star Wars Legends timeline, NOVELS ONLY, I've not read any of the Legends comics yet (check marks are read, dashes mean I'll be reading those next, in that order as possible, when I finally get to):


✅ Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void
➖ Crosscurrent (library does not currently have this novel, waiting to see if they'll order it)
✅ Lost Tribe of the Sith: The Collected Stories
✅ The Old Republic #1: Revan
✅ The Old Republic #2: Deceived
✅ Red Harvest
✅The Old Republic #3: Fatal Alliance
✅ The Old Republic #4: Annihilation
➖ Knight Errant
➖ Darth Bane #1: Path of Destruction
➖ Darth Bane #2: Rule of Two
➖ Darth Bane #3: Dynasty of Evil


Comments