Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vortex Review - Troy Denning (and a Rule)

Fate of the Jedi: Vortex - by Troy Denning


I am going to propose Star Wars Rule #4.

Star Wars Should Be Fun.

Simple as that. Star Wars Should be Fun. If you are watching in the theater, when something happens, everyone should be able to cheer together - that there should be mutual joy shared together. We all cheered along when Han yells, "Great shot kid, that was one in a million!" Even in the Prequels - we all cheered when Yoda whipped out a lightsaber and was ready to go to town.

In Vortex, when we got to the main points, I didn't know whether or not to cheer.

I don't know if I can chalk this up to this book in particular, or just the whole series, but it struck me really strong here - I didn't know if I should cheer. Were there ever times to cheer, to be happy?

There are two prominent deaths in this book - neither one is a rousing moment -- but shouldn't they be? They lead the Jedi to step forth and quit political dithering and fight evil... but do we cheer? Is it a good thing? When we suddenly see Vestara's lightsaber - do we cheer? When we hear the word... love... do we cheer?

And it's not that I don't like moral quandaries - I think they can be good - they can be compelling, they can be educational. Moral quandaries are the heart of the whole conflict between the light and the dark side of the force. But even with those - there comes a point to cheer, a point to say, "No, I'll never join you" and smile.

And the thing is, the reader might think this means I think it is foolish that Luke would go evil hunting with Sith -- I don't think it's horrible (maybe poorly written and too focused on trying ot betray each other)... but should I?

What's the point? What's the lesson I'm supposed to learn? Who is the hero, who is the villain? When this person dies, should I be happy? Sad? View it as a good thing, a bad thing, just something that needs to happen?

I just don't know - I don't get the point. Of course, maybe events are just a swirling vortex of events that we can't escape...

And while that can make a fine story for a spy thriller or an episode of Law and Order -- it's not Star Wars. There's so much politics, so much media, so much courtroom, so much doubt -- and it's not dramatic irony, it's not where the characters are in doubt but we know what is right. It's just... doubt.

I don't know what I can say that is really good - I'll try.

The EU - Well written action I suppose the action scenes were written well. I suppose.

The Bad - A Reporter's fate - okay, if you don't know why this is bad, look here at my previous post

The Ugly - How Many Ex-Girlfriends Can One Man Kill? So, I imagine the planning session for the Fate of the Jedi Series went something like this:

Sue Rostini: Well, I just don't know what we can do with this series to give it zip and vigor.


SR: Yes, but who? I mean, in the New Jedi Order we killed Chewwhathisface and that Bothan leader fellow, and of course Anakin Solo. And in Legacy we killed many folks, including Mara and Jacen. Who do we have left to kill?

TD: Well, which of those deaths upset people the most?

SR: Well, I think Jacen's saddened people, but Mara's death just got people really upset.

TD: I know - we have to some how resurrect Mara and kill her again! And again!

Aaron Allston: Um, how about we just write a good story instead of kil....


AA: I was just saying that mayb...

TD: SILENCE! Or we'll do to your precious Rogue Squadron what we did to Traviss' Mandalorians.

AA: (sits appropriately cowered)

SR: Troy, this bickering is pointless. We are running out of important people to kill - and Lucas won't let us take out any of the main ones from the movie. Who can we kill to bring emotional impact?

TD: Mara. We resurrect her....

SR: No, that won't work, too hokey.

TD: Ah, what if we have a villain whom Luke thinks is Mara - and then he kills her?

SR: That's a start, I suppose - but even then, is that going to hold us for 9 books? I mean, we got a bit out of Mara's death and even his slaying of Lumiya or whatever her name was...

TD: That's it! Why don't we have Luke one by one kill off every single former love interest from the entire expanded universe? That will be heart wrenching!

SR: Brilliant! I go look up his former girlfriends on Wookiepedia!

Christie Golden: I'm game - my other gig is killing off almost its entire universe.

AA: Um, can't we just have some fun adventures?

TD: Shut it, Allston, or I swear Iella will die by Wedge's hand in book three.

AA: Shutting up, sir.

TD: Yes, yes. . . find them for me Sue, find all of Luke's former loves, and they will be slain. Bwahahahahahaha!

At least, I'm thinking that's how it must have gone - but I could be wrong.

Oh well, thus is life.

The Grade - D+ Too many quandaries, too much confusion and ignoble death. Ugh.

A few more Random Complaints about Vortex

Spoilers below:

Ah yes, Troy Denning, that master of the noble and moving Star Wars death, gives us another one.

Vortex has the noble death that will change the Universe, will be the fulcrum upon which everything hinges, which will shift the world forever.

Wait. . . it's the death of a... a reporter? Who was stupid enough to defy someone she knows is a bloodthirsty killer just so she could get a good story?

I mean, I'm sure that all of us were were just thinking, "Boy, Star Wars needs more journalists, that's what this universe is missing, a healthy press" -


That was sarcasm.

Anyway - I know that we all know that Star Wars needed more press - but seriously - things are going to pivot on the death of a Journalist.

Is Troy Denning's wife a reporter or something? Sheesh!