Like a large portion of the world's population, I am guilty of being swept up in the latest Star Wars craze. The movie brought back a lot of fond memories for me, so out of nostalgia I decided to do the January book review on a novel inspired by this popular franchise.
Though not a hardcore fan of the franchise, I’ve enjoyed Star Wars ever since being exposed to it at a young age. My parents had recorded Episode IV when the french version originally aired on television back in the early 80’s. I remember watching that recording repeatedly until I knew it by heart (to this day, I still remember what commercials had been recorded when it aired). I also remember the first time my family rented Star Wars Episode V on VHS, and when we returned it, rented Episode VI. Needless to say my parents saw I was hooked and got me a bunch of Star Wars toys the following Christmas, including the Millennium Falcon! There are a lot of childhood memories attached to this franchise.
The story focuses on a newly assembled squad of clone commandos. Each soldier are the sole surviving member of their previous unit, now placed together to form a new group. This situation helps emphasize the theme of individuality, as the story explores how each clone deals with the loss of their previous unit (the closest thing they have to family), and how they find their place in this new unit. Their first mission together is to go to a planet named Qiilura in order to rescue a missing Jedi knight and his padawan. The planet is also where a group of Mercenaries are hired to protect a scientist and his work on a nano-virus meant to target clones. The story sees the squad locate the Jedi before tackling their mission against the merciless Ghez Hokan and his forces.
Back of the book:
“As the Clone Wars rage, victory or defeat lies in the hands of elite squads that take on the toughest assignments in the galaxy—stone-cold soldiers who go where no one else would, to do what no one else could…
On a mission to sabotage a nanovirus research facility on a Separatist-held planet, four clone troopers operate under the very noses of their enemies. The commandos are outnumbered and outgunned, deep behind enemy lines with no backup—and working with strangers instead of trusted teammates. Matters don't improve when Darman, the squad's demolitions expert, gets cut off from the others during planetfall. Even Darman's apparent good luck in meeting a Jedi Padawan vanishes once she admits to her woeful inexperience.
For the isolated clone commandos and stranded Jedi, a long, dangerous journey lies ahead, through hostile territory brimming with Trandoshan slavers, Separatists , and suspicious natives. A single misstep could mean discovery … and death. It's a virtual suicide mission for anyone—anyone except Republic Commandos.”
What I learned
- Background knowledge: When writing a story based on someone else's franchise, especially something as well known as Star Wars, it is important to do your research in order to avoid any mistakes. Karen Traviss has proven to be very knowledgable about the Star Wars universe, and was faithful to the content. However, this story was written with the hardcore connoisseurs of the franchise in mind, not the everyday fan. I say this because the story gives minimal descriptions to places, people or species, assuming the reader is already familiar with them. Thankfully, elements or characters invented by the author are fleshed out, giving the inexperienced fan a better idea of what is going on. Being only a casual fan, this had me looking up the Star Wars wiki on more than one occasion to figure out what they were talking about.
- Individuality: A theme that stood out in this story is individuality. Ii displays an army of clones that originate from the same biological donor, look identical and are all trained the same way. However, despite all these similarities, the main characters have grown into individuals, each with different character traits and opinions. I found the author's approach to highlight this fact quite interesting.
- The sense of family: Having been in the army cadets when I was younger, I know the feeling of camaraderie one gets when working on a team with others. The story does a great job of showing how important a sense of family can be and how it can find itself even within manufactured lifeforms. This aspect added a nice sensitivity to an otherwise action filled story.
Karen Traviss is a science fiction author who has written content for novels, short stories, comics, and videogames. For those interested in learning more about the author, Karen Traviss, please check out her websites here:
In closing, I would like to thank my step-son Shawn for lending me this book. I would also like to thank my wife, family and followers for all the encouragement and support you keep giving me during my journey.
Until next time!