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Star Wars: The Cestus Deception - A Clone Wars Novel
Steven Barnes
Lucas Books / Del Rey, 401 pages

Star Wars: The Cestus Deception - A Clone Wars Novel
Steven Barnes
Born in Los Angeles in 1952, Steven Barnes majored in Communication Arts at Pepperdine University. He's done numerous screenplays and was a creative consultant on the Sakura Ninja series of action-adventure films and on the animated feature The Secret of Nimh.

With Larry Niven, he's written The Descent of Anansi, Achilles' Choice, Dream Park, The Barsoom Project, The California Voodoo Game, and (with Jerry Pournelle) The Legacy of Heorot. On his own, Barnes novels include The Kundalini Equation, Streetlethal, Gorgon Child and FireDance.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Lion's Blood
SF Site Review: Zulu Heart
SF Site Review: Charisma
SF Site Review: Iron Shadows

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Maddox

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Thousands of soldiers, alike in looks, training and drive. Clones of a great warrior, trained in his style of hunting and fighting. But are they truly the same? Is there no difference in how they think, behave... feel?

The Cestus Deception, the latest novel in the ongoing Clone Wars saga, approaches a subject left untouched until now. How are the clones of Jango Fett, the Grand Army of the Republic, dealing with the world they have been cloned into? Do they just fight as automatons? Or is there more to them?

The overall story of the novel features Obi-Wan Kenobi and Kit Fisto journeying to Cestus, a planet known for making 'droids (including the feared JK Jedi Killers) to peacefully convince them to stay members of the Republic and not be seduced by Count Dooku's Separatist movement. If this fails, Chancellor Palpatine intends to make an example of the planet with the force of the army at his disposal.

Not the most exciting of premises, but the element that makes The Cestus Deception worth reading is a Clone Trooper designated A-98. Called "Nate" for short, the character is an ARC trooper, trained by Jango himself and designed with squad leadership qualities. This is the first time we get to see how a trooper spends his day, his camaraderie and brotherhood with other troopers and the distance they feel with normal denizens of the galaxy.

Writer Steven Barnes delves deep into the clone world, introducing detailed elements to their "culture" such as own lingo and catch phrases. For example, when things are at optimum efficiency, they're "One hundred percent." And the Jedi, though strange, are to be respected because, "They killed Jango."

Though most of the book is spent with the political exploits of Obi-Wan amidst the corrupt insectile world of the Cestians mixed in with Kit Fisto's attempts to create a guerrilla army, should the need arise from it, Nate is by far the most interesting character of the piece. The clone meets Sheeka Tull, a pilot and former lover of Jango Fett. Through her, he learns of the man he was based upon, which allow him to grow as well, going as far as to adopt a real name.

Barnes asks many questions in his novel about heroism, diplomacy and, at the heart of it what makes us people? Is it how we are born, how we came into this world? Or is it who we decide to be and the choices we make to get there? All these are rather deep subjects for a Star Wars novel, but rest assured, there's plenty of light sabers swinging and laser blasts to fill in the time between soul-searching.

Menacing Asajj Ventriss, an Expanded Universe character envisioned only for the Clone Wars, makes an appearance, quietly manipulating events behind the scenes. The fact that Obi-Wan cannot even sense her presence is just another example of how the Jedi are losing touch with the force, something fans should definitely see played out in next year in Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.

Overall, the Clone Wars would have been fun to see on the big screen. But even the glimpses we get through novels, comic books and cartoons only add to the mystique of the Star Wars universe. The Cestus Deception stands alone as wonderful insight into the Clone Trooper phenomenon, something that mild to hardcore fans will not want to miss.

Copyright © 2004 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been many things, including Star Trek characters and the Riddler in a Batman stunt show. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University, and has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider and the Star Trek Communicator. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories, acting on stage and screen and giving tours at Universal Studios Hollywood.


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