Invincible…Posted: June 2, 2008
This is the final review in a set of reviews of the latest Star Wars novel series, Legacy of the Force. For a final time, if these sort of things are not for you then preseed no further! There are other things here for you.
As always, spoilers.
Invincible is a strange book. If Troy Denning was to sit down and explain to me over a beer the plot to this book or if I was to read a summary of it on Wookiepedia, I’d think this would be a pretty interesting book. Actually reading the book left me with a different impression.
Invincible is a bit of a rush job, its short and its plotting is sloppy. I would not be surprise if in paperback this book ends of being shorter than Inferno. Denning rushes from plot point to plot point often with little care for how the novel flows or if there is a clear progression from action sequence to action sequence.
So much of the resolution of Legacy of the Force here comes completely out of left field. Seriously, where the fucking hell did making Daala end of the new government come from? This character played virtually no role in the early or mid parts of LotF and suddenly she’s going to be running the show? There’s no thematic or logical continuity to it. She doesn’t even register in Invincible until the last couple of chapters! This is just slipshod writing and planning and almost inexcusable considering they had over two years to plan this shit out. Oh and besides Daala we suddenly get Jag running the Empire! Another, almost out of left field “twist” (though it does set stuff up for continuity down the line).
The strangest part of this book and the series resolution is that the emotional heart of the final book is not with Jacen (whose plot has taken up 60% of the material in LotF) and instead is centered around Jaina. It’s a strange choice, considering the writers sidelined the character for the first 2/3s of the series and only gave her a real starring role in the last three books. While I, as a Star Wars EU fan, appreciate Denning giving her the key role in the finale of LotF (considering she is my favorite EU character), its an odd thematic choice. LotF was all about Jacen and Ben, and for Jacen to be shunted aside for the big finale makes the whole thing feel much more unsatisfying than it should have been.
Considering how much page time (in both Invincible and in the previous book Revelation) was spent making Jania a Boba Fett like “badass” the final fight between Jacen and Jania was short and boring.
The book was not all disappointments however. I was very satisfied by the conclusion of Ben’s emotional arc. As an EU fanboy, I was also glad not to see Tahiri not thrown completely under the bus. And Denning’s take on the Solos (Han and Leia) was overwrought but enjoyable, as always. Denning also did a great job of showing just how bat shit crazy Jacen had become.
Oh and for once there was a good cover! Jania looks like Jania and she’s drawn in a non-exploitive way. Three cheers! That’s one out of nine for the LotF cover artist.
As a series, I found Legacy of the Force to be an enjoyable failure. As much as I liked (or disliked) individual books, the series as a general story didn’t completely come together like I hoped.
It was clear from the outset that Del Rey/Lucasbooks was trying to avoid some of the problems that plagued the New Jedi Order series. There were fewer writers, the cast was smaller, the villains more traditionally “Star Warsian”. But even playing it safe, I don’t think Legacy of the Force worked well, taken together.
The assignment of different books to different authors in a non-chronological way (i.e. Allston wrote a book then Traviss then Denning, repeat) didn’t really work. The books often didn’t flow into each other very well and each author clearly had their own priorities and thematic interests, which does not make for much cohesion over a nine book series. It makes sense to do what Lucasbooks did from a publishing standpoint, the books come out faster, but from a storytelling standpoint it lead to some uneven reading. Even if a book book was followed up by another good book (by a different author), some reader interest was lost as different authors followed different sub-plots and characters.
In a way, LotF lacked the ambition of the NJO. And at this point, after reading show many EU novels. I’d rather have an ambitious failure than a conservative one. I am much more willing to forgive the failures of the NJO and than LotF because, at least, with the NJO Lucasbooks was going somewhere new, pushing fresh thematic ground, changing up the Star Wars EU. With LotF they were playing it safe; you don’t get much more traditional than involving the Sith in a Star Wars plot. Going the safe route makes the flaws of LotF much more glaring and unforgivable than a more ambitious project like the NJO.
In the future, I’d look forward to any EU projects by any of the three authors that worked on this series. Individually they all produced at least one great Star Wars novel. But taken as a whole series didn’t work completely. I, honestly, don’t blame the authors. Most of the problems with LotF were clearly a failures of editorial control and choices Lucasbooks made when conceptualizing the series.
Despite my disappointment with LotF as a whole, I’m looking forward to the next post-Return of the Jedi projects that Lucasbooks does. Hopefully, the can make something of what LotF left behind.
I’ll end this with a ranking of the nine books in LotF, from best to worst.