Anyway, though, it was really good. The villain of the piece keeps getting darker, in interesting and often disturbing ways. He’s become very skilled at hiding his worst acts, which is nice. Because, a few times I’ve had trouble believing that all the people around him are able to let him proceed unchallenged, but everything he shows to the external world looks principled and only occasionally flawed, instead of the actively ruthless and all but evil decisions they truly are. So, one thing I’m enjoying about Tempest is that dance in which suspicions are raised and deflected, former friends are manipulated and attacked and then those actions are barely able to be justified. He doesn’t have much time left under cover, our aspiring Sith Lord, but I’m pleased by that too, because the thematically appropriate moment to turn the shadow play into an actual war is nearly upon us.
Even better than all that, though, the final third of the book played like the climax of a Star Wars movie. Daring escapes through deadly space battles, lightsaber duels that would easily transfer to the screen, and the John Williams themes thundering through my head on continuous loop. These things were missing from the previous novels, and as strongly characterized as they were, I knew I was hurting for something. I hope the step up can be maintained; if so, this is going to be better than the previous Yuuzhan Vong storyline, and with room to spare.
Spoiler character thoughts behind the cut.
I watched Jacen in this book with horrified amusement. That should probably be all horror, really, but my mind finds ways to make horrible things funny. In this case, of course, it’s the blazing irony. Back when his path was first starting to turn, one of his concerns was that every choice but one led him to a duel in which he would kill Luke (or to galactic civil war, which was necessarily even worse). He was secure enough in the rightness of his decision that he killed another Jedi rather than see those outcomes. Now, only months later, he cavalierly sent Luke off to a trap that he hoped would result in the Jedi Master’s death. He nearly killed his uncle (on the other side of the family) because he saw the deaths of billions in a future where Thrackan was left alive, and now, those same months later, he views his father as a Corellian terrorist because Han helped to assassinate Thrackan. Impressive how perspective can drift so far in such a short time. More impressive that it doesn’t seem out of character, though; his progression has been very natural, as I’ve praised all along.
While I’m here in spoiler-land anyway, I’ll take a brief moment to say that I’m ready for all of the terrorism and torture and unlimited suspect incarceration parallels to go away now. Real world mirrors are not why I read Star Wars novels, y’know? Although I might be being unfair. It works from a story perspective, and if the exact same sequences of words had been written without that they hit close to home, I would have nothing bad to say about it. So there’s that. I guess I’m torn? But mostly not.