The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory 2 – Rebirth by Greg Keyes

Months after the Yuuzhan Vong attacked Yavin IV, Anakin is with Tahiri and the other Jedi students onboard the Errant Venture. Anakin is going stir-crazy onboard the ship and is asked by Corran Horn to join him on a quick supply run.

Feeling left out, Tahiri manages to convince Anakin to let her tag along. On the run, Corran goes to get supplies but the two younger Jedi are drawn to a Jedi in danger. They find a Rodian Jedi under attack by Peace Brigade officers and they manage to fight off the attackers but the Rodian is too injured, uttering their final words to Anakin and Tahiri, “Yag’Dhul.”

The two are arrested and questioned but they manage to escape and steal a speeder, taking it straight to their docking bay where Corran manages to get them into the air and into Hyperspace. Anakin plots a series of jumps, the last one of which would lead them close to Yag’Dhul. They exit hyperspace into what seems to be an asteroid field but is in face a battalion of Vong ships. They distract them by sending their ship on autopilot whilst they land on one of the ships and cut their way in. Finding it to be a Scot Ship and using Tahiri’s memories of being a Vong prisoner, they learn that this armada is set to go to Yag’Dhul. They take the scout ship ahead and manage to get onto a Space Station in orbit of the target planet but are locked up under suspicion that they are in league of the Vong. Their warning checks out when the armada arrives. They come face to face with Nom Anor and Anakin defeats a great warrior before they escape the station and return home.

Meanwhile, Jaina is approached by Kyp Durron who gives her information of a Yuuzhan Vong super weapon. She takes the information, and Kyp to Gavin Darklighter and Wedge Antilles, whom, despite their dislike of Durron, agree to help however they can. After enlisting Admiral Kre’fey and his ship, The Ralroost to join the battle they head to Serndipal and take out the super weapon. In the aftermath Jaina realises what the super weapon actually was, a new World Ship that would be a safe haven for the Vong on the dying World Ships.

Han, Leia, Jacen, C-3PO and R2-D2 are on a mission of their own, to set up a network of safe havens and routes for the Jedi to move through occupied space. After a series of run-in’s with Yuuzhan Vong ships and a brief meeting on a new facility deep in the Maw, the group pose a pirates, stopping shipments meant for the Peace Brigade from reaching their destination. When a job goes bad and the Falcon, as well as Talon Karrde’s group face a major threat but manage to escape with some quick thinking from Han.

As this is all happening, Luke and a heavily pregnant Mara are forced to leave Coruscant. They manage to get to the Errant Venture as Mara starts to succumb to the illness given to her by Nom Anor. Desperate to save her unborn child, Mara refuses treatment and starts to deteriorate fast. It’s o Kyp when Obi-Wan reaches out to Luke through the Force, giving him added strength do they manage to irradiate the disease onice and for all, but they welcome their son, Ben into the Galaxy.

All the while, Nen Yim, searching for a way to save the World Ship she is on from dying, she is granted access to Protocols previously forbidden to be seen by any of her station by a crazed Master Shaper. After being allowed to see these protocols and her attempted assassination of the Master Shaper, she is brought before the Supreme Overlord, Shimrra who makers her a Master Shaper.

The second part of the ‘Edge of Victory’ Duology is a well paced adventure that gives us a whole boat-load of story in such a short book. The way Greg Keyes weaves the story between all of the characters really keeps the pace flowing.

The Anakin/Tahiri/Corran storyline really gives Anakin some much needed character growth that most teenagers could do with. Corran calls Anakin out on his brash attitude and reckless behaviour which has, inadvertently led to a number of younger Jedi want to emulate the youngest Solo sibling. This leads him to really pull back and focus rather than rush in. Even when he seemingly jumps into a one-on-one battle to the death with a giant Yuuzhan Vong warrior, he actually uses the situation to his advantage and manages to create an escape for him and his Jedi companions by seeming to fight sloppy.

The further development of his relationship with Tahiri also plays a huge part of their story, eventually building up to a kiss when stuck in a locker together with imminent death a certain possibility. Luckily for the two of them they don’t want it to be an isolated incident despite not knowing what to do about their feelings.

Jaina’s story is a tough one, after being ostracised from Rogue Squadron because of her Jedi status, she’s a bit of a mess. Rogue Squadron was the one place she felt truly like herself but given the anti-Jedi sentiments it was best she stay on leave despite her vision being fully recovered. Her sense of purpose returns after her meeting with Kyp and helping with a plan to destroy a Yuuzhan Vong super weapon, but in the aftermath of the battle she realises the truth, that Kyp had lied to her and because of that she had lied to her superiors in an effort to help Kyp on one of his missions.

You really feel for Jaina in this book and the mix of emotions she goes through is the beginning of a possibly dangerous path, especially after being played so badly by someone she considers a friend.

Jacen’s part of the story is a really fun adventure which is a nice change of pace for the stories focused on him so far in the series which have often been very philosophical and wrought with teenage force user angst. For the most part it’s a bonding story with his father, Han. The two of them have their ups and downs, but eventually see eye to eye leading to the pair becoming thick-as-thieves in their plan to disrupt supplies to Yuuzhan Vong sympathetic groups, leading to a pretty desperate battle when one of their plans goes awry.

The really emotionally taxing story is that of Luke and Mara. With an attempted arrest of Luke and a close call escape from Coruscant, the realisation that Mara’s illness has returned and this time it’s hitting her hard. Luke is borderline Dark Side at times in his desperation to save his wife which is really rough to read, but it’s completely understandable. I really like this break for Luke, away from the politics and dealing with a more personal battle.

The Nen Yim storyline is a decent continuation of her story in the previous book, struggling with her new position on a dying World Ship and unable to stop its deterioration without access to higher knowledge and the lengths she is willing to go to get as much knowledge as possible. Luckily she is not only given access but her unconventional methods are recognised by the highest level of power within the Yuuzhan Vong hierarchy which is vindication or what she has been through so far in the series.

Like the first instalment of this Duology, I read this one around the time of its release and was another that I devoured quickly. These, for me were real stand-outs of the series as well as the next book in the series, they were the ones I gravitated towards most on my few attempts to read more of this series back then and unfortunately time and mostly money (I was still in school you see, and at that age when the love of Star Wars sometimes took a back seat to underage drinking and pointless attempts at getting a girlfriend) were against me. However, even now I was excited for this stretch of books, parts of them always stuck with me, and even knowing what’s coming in ‘Star by Star’ (I still don’t feel ready) I’m really looking forward to revisiting what could possibly be one of my favourite books of the whole ‘Expanded Universe’.

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