I am not one to outline the plot in my reviews, so don't expect that here. Anyway, as a big fan of Allston's previous work in the Star Wars universe, and a big fan of the New Jedi Order series, I loved this book. We catch up with most of the characters featured in the NJO, but this is really Jacen's story. A seemingly difficult character to characterize well, Allston pulls Jacen off with flying colours. He is believable, interesting, and one genuinely cares about him. The book also strongly features Ben Skywalker, who you can't help but love. As we watched the Solo kids grow up throughout the NJO, I look forward to seeing Ben grow into a strong Jedi man. The book reminds me a lot of the American civil war. The political situation in the galaxy pits long-time friends against each other, which can only be described as heartbreaking. I won't say anything about the end, but know that I was very emotionally involved when everything wrapped. This is a wonderful book for any Star Wars fan and I highly recommend it.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
A good read but not a great oneJune 6 2006
L. A. Kane
- Published on Amazon.com
I'm a bit ambivalent about this book. It's a very promising start to what will undoubtedly prove to be an interesting new series. It has a really good plot too. The challenge is that the writing simply isn't at Allston's usually high level. What should be a thrilling ambush at the beginning of the book, for example, reads more like a ho-hum sequence of events. It never feels like the Jedi are truly in any danger. Similarly, the way in which Ben deals with the Anakin robot reads like a Scholastic series adventure rather than something written for adults. Thankfully it gets better as the book progresses. The various conflicts and loyalties that Wedge needs to deal with is very well written.
Okay, so here's the plot: Luke Skywalker and the Jedi just can't get a break. The Joiner war is over and just when it looks like the galaxy is going to be at peace, various planetary interests threaten to unleash a new wave of violence. And, Luke is plagued with visions of an approaching darkness, an enemy that does not exist... yet.
At the same time, the Galactic Alliance is becoming more and more bureaucratic and dictatorial, pushing member worlds away from its strict, Empire-like regulations. When Jedi's Jacen Solo and Ben Skywalker discover an illegal missile plant on Adumar their evidence sparks more political unrest. Fearing the worst, the Alliance readies a preemptive military exercise to bring the potentially rogue worlds in line before things get worse. Not a bad strategy at face value yet the challenge is that they've picked Corellia for their show of force, launching a secret mission to disable Centerpoint Station. Jacen feels honor-bound to stick with his uncle, the leader of the Jedi Order, who takes direction from the Alliance, yet when the Corellians launch a counterstrike, escalating conflict places the Skywalkers and Solos on opposing sides...
Sooo, the bottom line is that I really liked the plot and the promise this new series brings. I wasn't so thrilled about the quality of the writing, however, which was spotty throughout, more miss than hit. All in all I'm glad I read it and will almost certainly pick up the next book in the series though I may wait for it to come out in paperback.
Good book but unfortunately nothing exceptional.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Too much for one novel, a weak beginning to a new 9-book seriesAug. 6 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
Member worlds chafe under heavy taxation, bridle at providing materiel and conscripts, and make noise of open rebellion. The central government blusters, threatening isolation, economic stagnation and military retaliation, but secretly fears secession and the eventual withering away of its power and influence.
So opens Betrayal, the first in a planned nine-book series following the characters of the Star Wars universe 36 years after events in Revenge of the Jedi and 10 years after the events of the Yuzhong Vong invasion, chronicled in the last extended novel cycle, New Jedi Order (19 volumes published 1999-2003).
To prevent the dissolution of the Galactic Alliance, Chief of State Cal Omas and his government devise a plan in which the Jedi will abduct the leadership of the GA's most openly antagonistic member, Corellia, so that the GA might then brow beat Corellia's leaders into quietly paying their taxes and end all talk of independence. It's one of the most ridiculous plans you're likely to encounter in a Star Wars novel. At least the most ridiculous I've read to date. How much more belligerent - short of dropping bombs or shooting people - can you get than kidnapping a government's leaders? It's as if the Germans decided to kidnap the leaders of the French government for threatening to leave the EU. Even more ridiculous, this plan is approved by Luke Skywalker, a guy normally depicted as levelheaded, who prefers talking to fighting (and who later in the book turns down a second snatch plan on the grounds that the GA doesn't want to set a precedent of kidnapping leaders of hostile governments!).
Word of the plan leaks out and the Jedi come up empty handed in their kidnapping caper. To salvage what little he can from the operation, the GA's leading Admiral over Corellia seizes and occupies a small leisure planet within the Corellian system. Now the Corellians are spitting mad and things quickly move from bad to worse.
Along the way, the characters are put into situations where they must make difficult choices. While the story itself is often confusing when it isn't implausible, author Aaron Allston should be given some credit for trying to beef up this hodgepodge of a novel with some thematic muscle. Betrayal is a story about choice and conscience, about weighing consequences and realizing that sometimes the best action is also the most painful.
Han must choose where his allegiance lays, with the GA or his homeworld of Corellia, while Leia, a newly minted Jedi, must choose between her husband, the GA and the order. Ben must choose whether to terminate a computer simulation of his lost cousin Anakin Solo in order to shut down the Corellian's superweapon, Centerpoint Station. In Betrayal's other main plot, Han and Leia's son Jacen must choose to take a life in order to save the lives of many more, and further whether to extend his knowledge of the Force by studying the dark arts of the Sith.
Overall, there's far too much happening in Betrayal for it to be anything but rushed. The first third covers the initial attack on Corellia (including a laughable scene in which 13-year old Ben Skywalker sneaks into and eliminates the threat from Centerpoint Station by tricking the computer, a la James Kirk, into believing that it isn't a real person after all), the middle part the political maneuvering to get the combatants unstuck, including a subplot of political assassination leading into the last third of the book, Jacen's discovery of the Sith (this particular branch having descended from a sentient species of Mynok, a flying rodent and pest of pilots in the SW universe). Anyone of these parts could have been a novel itself, but mashed together here the stories suffer as a result of having to constantly advance the plot so that we can get to the end of the book - and start the next one.
And there's the rub. These extended series involve a number of editors and writers working together to make a coherent and consistent story. It also involves working on a tight deadline to make sure the books are delivered at regular intervals. With so many cooks stirring the pot, with the added pressure of having to write to deadline, its not surprising that we end up with half-baked books.
Still, I'm looking forward to the next one, especially as Karen Travis will be writing a 71 year old Boba Fett who has to work together with his old bounty, Han Solo. Stay tuned.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A Disappointing Character AssassinationMay 27 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's well written, somewhat well structured, with a few problems.
After Traitor, Jacen Solo became something of an enigma. A brutal fighter willing to use questionable means to accomplish his goals. Towards the end of the New Jedi Order, he'd ascended to a new understanding of the force, something only his brother and uncle had ever done. When the Dark Nest trilogy came about, Jacen had spent the last 5 years traveling the galaxy and studying the force from different perspectives. When he returned to the Jedi, he was capable of things even Luke Skywalker couldn't do. He was tough, smart, and misunderstood by his fellow Jedi.
Which leads to my first problem with Betrayal. Jacen's still misunderstood, still powerful, and still smart, and he believes he's the galaxy's only hope to avert war. To do so, he makes a series of choices that make complete sense to the reader, but because the company decided he has to be the villain of the series all common sense is thrown out and the Jedi detest everything he does.
Which leads to the second problem. Jacen meets Lumiya, a Sith, who claims to be reformed and wants to help him save the galaxy. To do so, she takes him as an apprentice. Now, this had me drooling in anticipation. A 9 book series of Sith Jacen versus Luke and the old order, all to save the galaxy! And for the first 2/3 of the book it seemed I would get this.
And then the whole he-has-to-be-the-bad-guy syndrome kicked in. Suddenly Jacen was weak, stupid, and, out of nowhere, a murderer. Everything he ever was for the last several books was thrown out the window, all so we could have a Clone Wars redux with Jacen taking on the Anakin Skywalker role.
But it wouldn't be complete without a cliched monologue that ends the story, and it's a corker: Lumiya cackling over how she turned a Solo to the Dark Side and will soon have her revenge! Just pathetic.
Any hope one might have that this story would improve--this obvious "we can sell more books with a Sith Solo!" marketing campaign--have (with the publication of four more novels) been dashed.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
BetrayalMay 31 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
Great book. Betrayal completely lived up to my expectations. The book couldn't have a better title. Five years after Dark Nest it starts out with Luke having a vision of an enemy who doesn't exist. Jacen and Ben off on a mission to discover what's going on in a factory. G.A. is having negotations with Corella. Corella wants be independent of the G.A. because it feels the G.A. is too unstable and unreliable and that the Galaxy often has to turn to Corella for help. The Galactic Allience is still working on putting the galaxy back together. The last thing they need is planetary systems declaring independence. Neither side is wrong on their points and that'll makes for an interesting war. The Skywalker-Solo family are immediately on opposite sides of the issue. Han supports Corella Leia supports Han and Luke supports G.A. All head off to Corella to support their side and do what they each think is right without letting each other know it. That makes things a lot more interesting. It was fun to return to Corella. If there was any doubt in which direction Jacen was heading in this book takes care of it.I can't wait for the next one.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Lumiya Returns!June 14 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
Brilliant entry to the final Star Wars series featuring the Classic Trilogy line-up! Allston creates one of the best Star Wars adventures, one that never loses the "feel" of the films (particularly due to his successful use of humor throughout the narrative) but at the same time sets up a dark and intriguing premise for the following books to come.
Civil war threatens to disrupt the galaxy. Han and Leia find themselves on opposing sides of the battlefield from their children, Luke and the Jedi. Each side has a strong view of how to avoid the conflict, but despite their efforts (or because of them) the galaxy plunges deeper into war... Is someone manipulating events from behind the scenes and if so, to what end? Who is the ominous man in the visions Luke keeps having? While events play out, Han and Leia's son Jacen (now a full-fledged Jedi Knight) and his apprentice Ben (Luke and Mara's 13 year old son) investigate a mystery surrounding an unusual artifact, a lure set to lead them to a disturbing revelation about the Dark Side...
Allston weaves an exciting, mysterious and enjoyable Star Wars tale that merges aspects of both SW trilogies, the psychological depth of the Prequel trilogy with the characters and Flash Gordonesque tone of the Classic trilogy. More importantly, he keeps things fresh. Something different is occuring here...
One of the major upheavals (which occurs at the climax of the book) is the cause of great consternation among fans. Yet it's appropriate and the signs have been there for a long time now... Regardless, the ending still comes a shocker!
My favorite aspect of the books is the fact that Allston brings back one of the great villains from the old Marvel Star Wars series (recently reprinted in Dark Horse's seven-volume series "A Long Time Ago") who hasn't been seen for quite some time. Lumiya, apprentice of Darth Vader, is an old nemesis of Luke's, as well as a former love-interest! And despite the intervening years, she is as deadly than ever! Kudos to Allston and LFL for utilizing this character, as Lumiya is the masterstroke of this title!
That said, you don't need to know thirty years of continuity to enjoy this book. While it rewards long-time readers, Allston has made sure to write the story in a way that never alienates new fans who might want to jump on board at this point.
Definitely looking forward to the next chapter in the series!