Han continues to help Droma search for surviving Ryn. The search takes them to a refugee camp, but are too late after the Ryn forge documents that allows a group of Yuuzhan Vong allies to ship potential slaves off world.
Leia visits the Hapes Consortium looking for new allies in the War, but Prince Isolder must first quash a fight within his own leadership before joining the New Republic.
Meanwhile, Talon Karrde is busy following leads to find out where the Yuuzhan Vong will conquer next after striking up a deal with the Hutts to use planets within Hutt Space to grow their fleet.
Anakin and Jacen are sent to Centrepoint Station as The New Republic starts to believe that Corellia will be the system the Vong attack where they are reunited with their Cousin, Thracken Sal-Solo, released from prison to help bring Centrepoint back online after Anakin shut it down eight years before.
Everything comes to a head, with Han and Droma following the refugee Ryn to the shipyards of Fondor ahead of a battalion of Yuuzhan Vong ships arrive, the New Republic and Hapan fleets muster what ships they can to aid Fondor.
The battle is fierce, with Kyp and his crew invading one of the Vong ships to rescue the Jedi, Wurth Skidder who unfortunately succumbs to the Vong’s torture tactics but, with the help of Han, manage to save the prisoners before the ship is destroyed.
However, the battle is won on a devastating way when Sal-Solo uses the Centrepoint Station to fire on the enemy but also manages to wipe out most of the Hapen fleet as well as New Republic force and half of the Yuuzhan Vong attack force.
In the aftermath, the remaining Hapen fleet prepare to return to their home to fortify their defences and wait to see if the Vong attack them as well, whilst Jacen and Anakin debate whether-or-not Anakin should have been the one to fire Centrepoint as his connection to the machine would have allowed the blast to only affect the enemy ships and Han and Leia have a brief call, with Han still staying out in the Galaxy as Leia prepares to leave for Duros.
I can’t believe it took me almost a year to read this book. I finished the previous book in James Luceno’s ‘Agents of Chaos’ Duology last January and started this one immediately, but stopped after about sixty or seventy pages because, as always, I tend to struggle with Luceno’s books, despite how good they are.
And yes, this one is good. The character development for Han that has transpired through this part is starting to bring the old smuggler back into a place we knew him. Still devastated by the loss of Chewbacca, his partnership with Droma really helped break his spiral into darkness. It’s a shame that Droma doesn’t stick around with Han but with the Ryan’s storyline seeming finished now he has found his family I worry that he would become a bit of a one-note character who would (not intentionally) pull Han’s story away from his relationship with Leia which, at this point seems strained as they’ve been apart for quite some time now.
Leia’s continuing mission to seek aid and allies, this time taking her the the Hapes Consortium to meet with her former betrothed Prince Isolder and his mother Ta’Chume provides an interesting juxtaposition to Han’s rough and ready and sometimes muddy (after rescuing Droma from the Salliche Ag work camp and using the river as an escape) mission to one of extreme grandeur, pomp and ceremony. As the Consortium are split over whether or not to help the New Republic, inter-planetary politics leads Isolder to defend Leia’s honour against her wishes and takes part in a duel to secure votes for Leia. It’s an interesting look at what Leia’s life could have been had she chosen duty over love and married Isolder instead of Han and it’s a life I don’t think she would have liked too much.
The Jedi get representation in the book too, with Wurth Skidder allows himself to be taken by the enemy to infiltrate them and use his abilities to manipulate a Yammosk but his plan backfires and he is tortured. Kyp and his crew are working with Talon Karrde to try and locate the Vong’s next target, all the while, Luke stays on Yavin IV as the healing tears given to them by Vergere are seemingly helping Mara keep her illness in check.
The moral debate between Anakin and Jacen continues, the two brothers never quite reaching a mutual agreement about the Jedi’s place in the Galaxy or the ongoing war. With Jacen fundamentally opposed to Anakin using Centrepoint in battle but his younger brother believing that in the war, perhaps if you have the means to prevent a disaster then perhaps causing one against you enemies isn’t morally wrong.
I’m still in the early stages of this series, and despite my personal issues whilst reading Luceno’s books (I don’t understand why I struggle with them) I’m enjoying it. Do I wish we had gotten this over the Sequel Trilogy? Not at all, despite their flaws, the Sequel Trilogy brought a fresh continuation of the Saga. I’m pleased that I listened to most of the Post-Return of the Jedi audiobooks that led to this series, because there are numerous references to them, especially in this book with Thracken Sal-Solo, Kyp Durron, The Hapes Consortium and Centrepoint Station all being integral to the story, that prior knowledge ended up being very useful.
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