For our review of Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse, we will be delving into some serious spoilers.
Skuldren: Apocalypse is the final book in the nine part Fate of the Jedi series. Denning had a lot to cover in order to wrap up the series, and thankfully he delivered. This is a book that is loaded with action, yet it also takes the time to touch on Abeloth’s background, and to wrap up a few lingering character issues that some fans have been clamoring for for a long time.
To kick things off, Apocalypse starts with Jaina and the Jedi’s infiltration of a now Sith controlled Coruscant. At least a few weeks have passed since the events of Ascension. Denning does a great job of continuing to flesh out the new crop of Jedi. Throughout the book, readers will get to read more about Bazel, Seff, Vaala, Yaqueel, Yantahar, the Horn siblings, Seha, Doran, Lowie, Tekli, Raynar, Tesar, Wilyem, Dordi, Zal, Arelis, and Saar. There are also four new Jedi introduced: Jayk (a female Ryn), Rivai, Ramud (male Duros), and Huli (Arcona). Through this nine book series, the authors have done a good job of establishing a new generation of Jedi.
Synlah: I think Apocalypse may just hold the record for little fan squeal moments. There are so many of them throughout the book that I can only mention a few: Ganner name drop in the Lake of Apparitions, Jag and baby Barabels, an imperial officer paling when he finds out that Tahiri is an Imperial Hand, Boba Fett finally afraid of something — a plant (okay, it was a flesh eating plant), Dordi announcing she’s tired of Sith because they leave a bitter after-taste. I could go on and on, but that wouldn’t leave room for the big moments, and boy are there big moments. I almost don’t know where to begin there either, so I’ll just pick my favorite big moment: Jaina Solo, Jedi Master. We’ve been waiting for this for so long. It’s finally happened and kudos to Denning. He got it exactly right.
Skuldren: And that’s not the only fan moment for Jaina fans. But that aside, I loved the Jaina moments in Jedi Temple. With the temple now occupied by Sith, the Jedi are trying to open it up so Bwua’tu and his Void Jumpers can attack the Sith. Jaina gets some nice fight scenes against the Sith. Denning also takes the opportunity to push the characters to their limits. Luke, Jaina, Corran, even Vestara, all find themselves hitting the wall of what their Force capabilities can do.
Corax: Jaina making the rank of Master was absolutely perfect and fitting for the final book of the series. But everything else she found herself involved just resonated how powerful and grown up she has finally become. Can I also admit how much I loved Boba Fett’s portrayal? Fett needed to be brought back to his bad ass roots, instead of the whiny 70+ year old with daddy issues.
Synlah: Oh, Fett. I’m just going to go on record here and say that Denning has succeeded where no one else has — turning me into a Boba Fett fan.
Corax: That’s saying quite a lot actually, Syn! But it wasn’t just Fett’s characterization that was good; Denning nailed everyone perfectly for this novel.
Synlah: There’s a lot of pitch perfect-ness about Apocalypse even if I didn’t always recognize it as it was happening. The book opens with the Jedi sneaking onto Coruscant to take on the Sith. Right at the very beginning Denning gives us a clue to a person who will become of great importance much later in the book — a person with tattoos radiating outward from his eyes (and if you can’t figure out who it is from that clue, I’m yanking your Star Wars nerd badge). The Jedi swing right into action with a coordinated attack on various Sith around Coruscant which is initially pretty successful. Then Luke, Corran, Jaina, Ben, Vestara and the Horn siblings invade the Jedi Temple so they can take down the shields and get Bwua’tu’s void jumpers in. And that’s when things go south. Vestara immediately gets taken prisoner by the Lost Tribe, and Ben almost falls for that ploy by going after her. Jaina, however, doesn’t fall for it and she manages to knock some sense into Ben, who reluctantly agrees to not go after Vestara for now. Not to worry about Vestara, though. That girl always lands on her feet, and she manages to escape. Lots of running, chasing and fighting proceeds on the part of Vestara, the Sith and Luke & company. This seems like it goes on forever, and this is where I began to feel the book was bogging down a bit. I should have had more faith because it really had to happen this way, and all becomes clear eventually.
Meanwhile Abeloth is not idle. She’s got poor Wyn Dorvan terrorized out of about two-thirds of his mind while her Rokari Kem body rapidly burns out from Force usage. Being Abeloth, she takes a new avatar, and in a stroke of poetic justice she takes the body of Lydea Pagorski, the imperial officer who lied at Tahiri’s trial. That’s a fairly horrific scene as we get to witness, through Wyn’s eyes, how Abeloth possesses a victim. Wyn does actually manage to kill the Roki Kem avatar but it’s to no avail as it’s what Abeloth wants him to do anyway. Abeloth’s consciousness simply invades the temple computer — a trick she learned when she possessed Callista. Abeloth then proceeds to take yet another avatar, the Sith, Lady Korelei, and now we have three incarnations of Abeloth running around causing chaos. And run around she does, all the way to the Empire and Daala, where Abeloth/Pagorski convinces Daala to run for election for COS of the Empire. Abeloth/Pagorski assures Daala she will ensure that the admiral wins the election.
What neither Abeloth nor Daala know is that Jag has Tahiri, and Tahiri quickly figures out that Daala and Abeloth have hooked up. Jag sends Tahiri off hunting Abeloth as the newly reactivated Emperor’s Hand (another fan squeal moment). Tahiri’s hunt takes her to Hagamoor III (Moff Getelles secret laboratory facility) where she hooks up with Boba Fett to take down Abeloth. This entire episode is deliciously satisfying as the interaction between Tahiri and Fett is pretty fantastic — and, as Corax hinted at, Fett is once again the badass bounty hunter he should be. This is also a pivotal point which leads to the means to defeat Abeloth. It also, no doubt, provides both Tahiri and Fett with some satisfaction as Pagorski and the scientists who created the nanovirus that targets the Fett line are killed.
This is by no means close to the end of the action, and I haven’t even touched on what Han, Leia and Allana are doing. You should by no means think that Allana isn’t also pivotal to the story, because while her action is more in the way of a subplot, it’s essential. As well, it provides us with probably one of the best deaths in the Star Wars EU; a death that actually serves a real purpose, and is beautifully and touchingly written. It also seals Vestara’s fate as far as the Jedi are concerned, because the one thing Vestara is at heart is a Sith. Whenever the choice needs to be made, Vestara will revert to her true nature, and she does in Apocalypse as well.
From tragedy to humor, from the abstract transcendent to creepy horror, Denning has masterfully combined all elements in this book.
Skuldren: Indeed, this book does cover a lot of ground. Even when the characters finally engage Abeloth for the final showdown, the battle takes place on several planets and in several realms. As you might expect, part of that epic conflict takes place on the Plain of Shadows. Not only does Luke get to see some more dead people, but Denning also provides a nice fan moment when good old Ganner Rhysode gets a name drop. The real crown to the scene was Luke’s ally against Abeloth: Darth Krayt.
There’s more than just an extremely well done tie-in to the Legacy comics at work in Apocalypse. The real coup de grâce is the tie-in to The Clone Wars with the Mortis Trilogy. Throughout the nine book series, fans have been waiting to see how the Celestials fit in with Abeloth. Is she a Celestial? Was she their prisoner? What happened to make her what she is? To answer those questions, FOTJ dives into the ancient story of the Father, the Daughter, and the Son. It touches on the nature of the Celestials, the origins of the Father, Daughter, and Son, Abeloth’s origin, and how Anakin Skywalker may have changed the very working’s of the galaxy in TCW.
Apocalypse gives the reader some serious intellectual threads to ponder on. It also creates a nice set of adventures for future novels that don’t appear like they’ll be hindered by the Legacy comics storyline.
Corax: I loved everything about this novel: the inclusion of the Mortis trilogy, Darth Krayt making multiple appearances, Abeloth and the dramatic effect that she has had on the Expanded Universe. Right now the ‘current’ EU is wide open, but it does leave several different directions that it could go. One of the major questions I have left after reading the novel is; is Legacy still canon? As it stands right now that question could be answered either way. We still could end up there after all is said and done. On the other side of that credit is no, Legacy is no longer canon. Jag isn’t the Emperor like so many thought he would be by now. Tahiri is clearly not the first Imperial Knight. The Empire has opened the door to democracy. Luke knows about Darth Krayt; granted he doesn’t know much, but to assume that Luke wouldn’t pursue any leads about him is foolish. The Jedi are no longer on Ossus or Coruscant, instead they are on Shedu Maad. But no matter what happens next, it is a very exciting time to be a fan of the Expanded Universe again. FotJ, and Apocalypse in particular, opened the door to new characters. The ranks that were thinned out during the New Jedi Order series have started to fill up again. Not to mention the fact that Ben now has his own personal Lumiya in Vestara Khai. Apocalypse delivered on all fronts, but it did something more integral to the EU; it made it fresh again. This story felt and read like it was of the highest level of canon as I went through it, and I can’t wait to see what the editors and authors have up their sleeves for the future.
Synlah: There’s nothing not to like about this book, and Denning has won on two fronts with Apocalypse. He simultaneously provided a great and fully satisfying cap to FOTJ, while reopening the future of the EU — a future that had become locked in by Dark Horse: Legacy. All bets are off now and we don’t know if, when or how the Legacy future will play out. I can’t wait to see where things are heading next.
Skuldren: It’s hard not to read a book like this without high expectation. Apocalypse was the end of yet another nine book series, and there was a lot of anticipation on how Abeloth and the final battle would be handled. Luckily even with my high expectations, this book met and surpassed them. Denning wrote a book that not only felt satisfactory as a conclusion to the series, but also reinvigorated my interest in Star Wars. For the first time in a long while, I’m really looking forward to the future of Star Wars publishing. Apocalypse gave them a lot of options to play with.