Riptide Spoiler Review
Paul S. Kemp’s Riptide is an entertaining adventure that picks at the deeper channels of the reader’s mind. Like all Star Wars books, it has action and adventure. Jedi Jaden Korr travels with his spacer companions as they hunt down a batch of renegade clones. Lightsabers, blasters, and vibroblades draw blood on all sides as the game of cat-and-mouse leads to its climax. Kemp spices it up by throwing in a third party, much like the Anzati in Crosscurrent. Yet he doesn’t stop there. Throughout the book, Kemp provokes the reader with tantalizing intellectual threads that add a whole new layer of depth to the novel.
At the center of the story is Jaden Korr. In Crosscurrent, Jaden dealt with time traveling Jedi, Sith, and a moon inhabited by crazed Force-sensitive clones. Now he’s training the Cerean spacer Marr to be a Jedi, and cleaning up the mess that eluded him on the frozen moon. While the clones have a head start, Jaden finds the help he needs with his new companions.
Marr and Khedryn play significant roles in the story. As Jaden’s apprentice, Marr trains in the ways of the Force and learns new responsibilities that weigh heavily upon him. Meanwhile Khedryn is left feeling like a fifth wheel in the group. Not having any Force abilities, he has only his natural talents and strength of character to rely upon. He also finds himself in a dangerous playing field. Jaden is already a powerful Jedi. Now that Marr is learning to use his own Force abilities, Khedryn has to keep up or stay behind. A good chunk of the story is dedicated to the characters finding their place in the ever changing galaxy.
On the other side of the fence, Kemp creates some very creative villains to keep everyone busy. Among the insane clones is one that stands apart; the Prime. There is also the third angle in the plot played by the One Sith. In Crosscurrent they sent an Anzati. This time they send a pair of Umbarans who, like the Prime, stand apart from their peers. The instability of the clones creates a shifting unity between them. With the One Sith and Jaden’s bunch added in, it makes for a chaotic recipe. In the end the Umbarans and the Prime have to find their place, just like Khedyrn.
One of the central, underlying themes in the book is that people are not equations. Kemp attacks the argument from various angles with all of the characters. The matter of biology is represented by the clones. Bred by cold, impassionate Imperial scientists to be weapons, they seem destined to be agents of chaos and evil. The dark side has been engineered into them. On the side of choice, there is Jaden. He chose the light even when tempted by the allure of the dark. The Umbarans are also agents of choice, though they chose the dark. The clones, however, were not given choice, and it is only in their new found freedom that the real equation of life is put to the test. Is the sum of all beings merely the combination of their biology and the choices they’ve made?
From start to finish, Riptide is an engaging journey that will suck you in and leave you spinning. If you liked Crosscurrent, you’ll love Riptide. The pacing and focus of the tale surpasses it’s predecessor. The story weaves characters and action, emotions and curiosity, to create a thoroughly enjoying book. On top of that, Riptide presents a lot of topics begging for discussion. One of Kemp’s final plays in the novel is enough to haunt readers into the wee hours of the night. It is without hesitation that I give Riptide five out of five metal bikinis.