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Star Wars: Jedi Twilight
Michael Reaves
Del Rey, 350 pages

Star Wars: Jedi Twilight
Michael Reaves
Michael Reaves is an Emmy-award-winning television writer, screenwriter and novelist. He has written for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Twilight Zone and was a story editor and writer on Batman: The Animated Series and on Gargoyles. He's had more than 13 novels published, including The Shattered World, Darkworld Detective, Street Magic and Night Hunter. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.

Michael Reaves Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Star Wars: Death Star
SF Site Review: Star Wars: Darth Maul - Shadow Hunter
SF Site Review: Voodoo Child

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Michael M Jones

On the city-planet of Coruscant, capital of the new Galactic Empire, no one is resting easy. The Clone Wars are still fresh in everyone's minds, with the fall of the Jedi and the ascension of Palpatine to the Emperor's throne still having far-flung repercussions. For not every Jedi is dead, and not all hope has been crushed. Plotting is afoot, and at the center of it all, unwittingly, is Jax Pavan, Jedi Knight turned bounty hunter, having fled into the worst parts of the city in an attempt to escape the fates of his brethren. The past, unfortunately, is about to catch up to him.

Street savvy reporter Den Dhur, and the self-aware protocol droid I-5YQ are looking for Jax to tell him about the final fate of the father he never knew. Ex-soldier Nick Rostu contacts Jax with a task of great importance: finish his mentor's last mission, and track down the missing droid known as Bug-Eyes, which supposedly has information useful to a growing rebellion against the Empire. Black Sun operative Kaird wants Bug-Eyes in order to gain leverage within the deadly criminal organization which owns him, body and soul. And Darth Vader has his own agenda.

The race is on, for Jax Pavan and for Bug-Eyes, and to the victor go the spoils. Alliances will be made, trusts will be broken, plans will be upset, and the intrigue will take our heroes and villains all over Coruscant, from the glittering towers to the murky streets far below, and even to a spot where droids run feral and no one gets out alive. This is Star Wars as seen from the street, hard-hitting and pavement-pounding, full of paranoia, double-dealing, and grey areas. In short, it's the first book of Coruscant Nights, which infuses the space opera science fiction of Star Wars, with the moral ambiguity and hard calls of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett.

But is it any good? I mean, can you really do hard-boiled detective fiction with a Jedi, an alien, and a droid? Oh yeah, you can. This book has everything: the MacGuffin that everyone's fighting over, the treacherous crime lords, the stalwart iron-jawed hero trying to escape his past, a dead mentor with one last task to be fulfilled, an old war buddy, some classic detective work, and a pack of feral droids hell-bent on tearing everyone from limb to limb. The only thing we're missing is the dangerous dame who'd as soon stab you in the back as seduce you, though fellow Jedi Laranth Tarak comes close in some ways.

The plot itself is a little convoluted by sheer virtue of the number of players involved in this giant game of hunt-the-Jedi. With no less than five factions working both with and against one another, and a fair number of secondary characters likewise involved with, or manipulating things, it can be hard to keep them straight. Nick Rostu, Den Dhur, and Jax Pavan all have fairly similar alpha male characteristics, which doesn't help in distinguishing them. Once you get past that, and have all the various factions and plots straight, Jedi Twilight's really a good story. Michael Reaves does a great job, especially, at laying out the atmosphere and setting, making Coruscant a vivid, memorable, complex place in which anything goes. I found his descriptions of the slums and streets, palaces and towers, and especially the dreaded Factory District, to be quite compelling. This is definitely hard-boiled intrigue with the space opera trappings.

Those who only know of Star Wars from the movies might be a little put off by this book, since the only big name to appear is Darth Vader, for the most part. The rest are either newly-introduced, or had roles in other Star Wars media. I recognized a few from a previous duology, MedStar, which was for all intents and purposes M*A*S*H set during the Clone Wars, and other characters came from books I haven't read. Luckily, you don't have to be intimately familiar with the material to get a good feel for who's who and what's what, though someone newly come to the setting might have more trouble.

All in all, I'd have to say that as Star Wars books go, this one is quite well done, and rather enjoyable. Reaves skillfully injects the familiar setting with all of the most recognizable elements of hard-boiled detective fiction, stirs in some action and intrigue and a little horror, and delivers a fun story. I'll check out the rest of the Coruscant Nights books as they come out, if just to see what comes next. It may not be Luke and Han and Leia, but it's worthy all the same.

Copyright © 2008 Michael M Jones

Michael M Jones enjoys an addiction to books, for which he's glad there is no cure. He lives with his very patient wife (who doesn't complain about books taking over the house... much), eight cats, and a large plaster penguin that once tasted blood and enjoyed it. A prophecy states that when Michael finishes reading everything on his list, he'll finally die. He aims to be immortal.

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