Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: Into the Void: Star Wars

Into the Void: Star Wars
Into the Void: Star Wars by Tim Lebbon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Science-Fiction, Space Opera
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of Star Wars, space opera
Trigger Warnings: murder, violence, fighting, treachery, deceit

My Thoughts: This book is set about 25 thousand years prior to the dawn of the Empire, and is the first book in a proposed new series called Dawn of the Jedi. There is not as of yet any word on how many books will be in this series, or when the next one will be out, or indeed anything at all about the series other than it exists. There is a section at the beginning of the book (and at the beginning of Kenobi, which I just reviewed) that outlines all the books in the related various Star Wars series that are canon-approved and their connection in time to one another. I would recommend hard-core fans use that as a guideline. I know I would enjoy tracking down and reading the whole lot of them in chronological order just for fun!

Tim Lebbon is a name that is known to me; he's written a number of books. Some (most) of the book is fairly well written, with lovely prose, but parts of it almost seem to be written by someone else, overwrought, wordy, and occasionally downright ugly, like this: “Close to the temple, near the sea, she can feel the Force ebbing and flowing through everything—the air she breathes, the sights she sees, and all that makes up the beautiful scenery.” The last part of the phrase is redundant and unnecessary, but still better than this one: “Her father will look silently into the forest, as if he silently years to explore that way.Department of Redundancy Department, anyone? The worst of it is early on. As the story progresses, the prose smooths out significantly. It almost feels like there is more than one person writing the story. To say I was shocked to see this sort of stuff from a veteran writer is an understatement. Who really wrote this book?

One thing that has always bothered me about the Star Wars universe is the very black and white notion of the Force, as someone has to be entirely of the Light and never touch the Dark. This has led to long discussions in our household. It seems the earlier incarnation of the Je'daii as seen in this book had a much healthier attitude and strove to maintain a balance, as shown in this excerpt of one of their books. “A Je'daii needs darkness and light, shadow and illumination, because without the two there can be no balance. Veer to Bogan [Typhon's dark moon, illustrating the Dark side], and Ashla [the light moon] feels too constraining, too pure; edge toward Ashla and Bogan becomes a monstrous myth. A Je'daii without balance between both is no Je'daii at all. He, or she, is simply lost.

150 pages of this book is taken up with excerpts and sample chapters from other books. The first is a short story called Eruption, also featuring Lanoree and is a fun and fast story. I did not go through all the additional excerpts and chapters, but there are a number of them, so that might entice people who are interested in the novels.

Despite some of the problems early on, I really enjoyed this book. Much of the Star Wars fiction is really quite good, and this falls into that realm. While not among the very best of it, it's still an enjoyable book, and one I think many Star Wars fans will embrace. I'm especially interested in learning more about the early history of this civilization, so I'm looking forward to upcoming books in this series. Definitely take the time to check it out.

Disclosure: I went out and picked up a copy of this book on my own, since I really wanted to read it. While originally approved for this through NetGalley, a glitch caused the book to not be delivered to me as scheduled, therefore I am under no obligation to anyone but myself for this book. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: On the planet Tython, the ancient Je’daii order was founded. And at the feet of its wise Masters, Lanoree Brock learned the mysteries and methods of the Force—and found her calling as one of its most powerful disciples. But as strongly as the Force flowed within Lanoree and her parents, it remained absent in her brother, who grew to despise and shun the Je’daii, and whose training in its ancient ways ended in tragedy.

Now, from her solitary life as a Ranger keeping order across the galaxy, Lanoree has been summoned by the Je’daii Council on a matter of utmost urgency. The leader of a fanatical cult, obsessed with traveling beyond the reaches of known space, is bent on opening a cosmic gateway using dreaded dark matter as the key—risking a cataclysmic reaction that will consume the entire star system. But more shocking to Lanoree than even the prospect of total galactic annihilation, is the decision of her Je’daii Masters to task her with the mission of preventing it. Until a staggering revelation makes clear why she was chosen: The brilliant, dangerous madman she must track down and stop at any cost is the brother whose death she has long grieved—and whose life she must now fear.

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