Review - Rogue Planet - Greg Bear - May 2, 2000
Setting: Between Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones
This is an interesting book for me - it is the forgotten book. Literally. I purchased just before I went to spend a summer living in Austin with my best friend from college - we were both in Grad School, and I figured hanging out in Austin with him would be sweet (and it was). This book came out just as that summer started -- and I left the book in Austin. I had loaned it to my bud for him to read... and then... summer happened. And whenever I'd swing by his place for the past decade, I'd see the book on his shelf (he had read some other Greg Bear stuff)... and it just sort of never ended up coming back home with me.
In fact - for this rereading - I picked it up on kindle. Ah, things we wouldn't have thought of a decade ago!
The EU - A Carefree Yet Growing Anakin and Obi-Wan - On of the things I found just totally refreshing in reading this book is how Anakin and Obi-wan were protrayed. Apparently they had spent three years on Coruscant training, but now, they have their first adventure. And it's clear that they both have grown some... but just some. They seem... young. Eager. Full of doubts. It was a very nice characterization - especially Anakin dealing with anger and loss... maybe one of the best internalized views of struggles with the darkside.
The Bad - Ah, Star Ship Design, the Greatest Adventure of them all! Okay, I understand that not every adventure that you have your characters go on needs to be some massive, huge, epic thing. But... well, Anakin and Obi-wan go to a planet and make a ship. And stuff happens around them - but they don't really do anything to change what happens... I mean, if Anakin and Obi-wan hadn't been there, would this book have turned out any different? Not really - they were incidental to the plot... and that's sort of... odd for your main characters. Especially when the ship you spend most of the book making... doesn't get to stick around.
The Ugly - Continuity botches and hits The main point of this book, really, was to flesh out the world of Zonoma Sekot. So much time is spent on examining this neat and awesome world. And why? Well, you've got to somehow tie up some loose ends in the New Jedi Order series and the big evil Yuuzhan Vong (the Far Outsiders). And while it makes for an interesting thing in the book itself... knowing how this fits into the rest of the later series seems sort of contrived -- neat, but contrived. Almost like you are retroconing yourself. And of course, it was sort of nice to see Tarkin -- but, yeah, I guess in Attack of the Clones we find out he didn't quite do some of the stuff here.
Now, is this really ugly? Eh - probably not. But as you introduce here the idea that Zonoma Sekot thinks of the force in a heretical way... not really a good idea to say, "hey, let's use that wandering heretic planet to redefine the Jedi." Given that ugliness, this gets swept up in that. Besides, especially reading it a few years after everything plays out... Zonoma Sekot got pushed way too much here.
The Grade - B- This book has quite a few redeeming qualities to it -- I enjoy the thoughts that you get to see in it. They are interesting and compelling. But interesting characterization is just one aspect of a good Star Wars book -- you need a fun adventure. This... not so heavy on the adventure.