Trifecta Spoiler Review of Riptide

Synlah: Let me preface this review of Riptide with this statement: wow, what a ride.  Kemp has already shown he can write a good book, but Riptide is, in my opinion, his best Star Wars book to date.  It starts out with a bang and does not let up all the way to the end.  The only downside I could see to Riptide (and it’s not really a downside at all) is that it’s so closely connected to Crosscurrent you really need to read both books.  If you pick up Riptide without having read Crosscurrent, you’ll probably be a little bit lost.  They’re definitely a duology (which I hope turns into a trilogy).

Although there’s a teaser to a later major event at the beginning of the novel, Riptide basically starts off right where Crosscurrent ended.  Jaden, Khedryn and Marr are on the trail of the Clones.  For Jaden, there’s no doubt that the Clones must be tracked down and eliminated because they’re just too dangerous.  For Marr, who is now Jaden’s Jedi apprentice, the decision isn’t that simple, and Marr’s attitude foreshadows later developments.  The book rapidly moves from the protagonists to the Clones and there’s some very interesting developments with the One Sith.  Darth Wyyrlok sends two agents, Umbaran brother and sister team, to track down the Clones, kill Jaden and complete one further task.  Enter the Iteration.

Corax: I completely agree in the wow factor of Riptide.  From the moment I cracked the spine on this novel, I was hooked.  Again, Paul Kemp was able to keep my attention glued to the page.  I find Jaden Korr to be a compelling Jedi Knight with enough intrigue and attitude to make me care about what he does.

But let me say this: what Kemp did with the One Sith was absolutely amazing, and this is coming from a huge fan of Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Legacy.  The fact that they have cloning and Rakatan technology is simply astounding to me!  The Umbaran siblings were well crafted and solid antagonists for this novel.  It also adds a unique layer to the inner complexities of the One Sith, and quite honestly, the Iteration was just the icing on the cake for me.  It seems that the One Sith have the finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the galaxy, and the clones that escaped from Crosscurrent have definitely caused some ripples through the Force.

Skuldren: That was one of the cool factors of this book: the way Kemp tied in to various aspects of the EU, cementing his own standalone duology into the greater picture as if it was the missing piece in a giant jigsaw puzzle.  As Star Wars readers, we weren’t necessarily aware of the missing piece, but after reading Riptide, it becomes all too clear.  The huge gap between LOTF and the Legacy comics present a lot of playtime for the One Sith, and Riptide makes sure to remind readers that the One Sith are out there.  On top of that, Kemp started laying ground work for the cloning technology we see in Legacy: War, and further entrenched that plot line with ties to Thrawn’s cloning program.  Toss in Khedryn, who’s an Outbound Flight survivor, and the Rakatan technology from the KOTOR period, and you have a massive, overlying spider web that ties a vast spectrum of the EU.  Part of me was really hoping that Kemp would drop some sort of conclusive acknowledgment that the Umbarans were utilizing the Dark seen in Matthew Stover’s Luke and the Shadows of Mindor.  Regardless, I loved all the connections. It made the story feel like a natural fit into all of the existing books. More than that, it made the EU feel more complete like that missing puzzle piece had finally been plugged in.

Synlah: You’re absolutely right, Skuldren.  Kemp started in Crosscurrent with interweaving eras but he really mastered it with a fine, nuanced hand in Riptide.  Once again, I felt I was reading a Star Wars novel that actually encompassed the Star Wars galaxy.  While the novel’s action seems rather narrowly focused on three groups: the protagonists, the Clones and the Umbarans, the feel is much broader in scope.  And Kemp just keeps dropping all kinds of tantalizing elements in our path, but the ultimate question Kemp leaves us with is this: who really is Jaden Korr?

Jaden Korr is not whom he seems to be (even to himself ) and Kemp leads us to that knowledge in a masterful manner.  He also leaves us with more questions than answers.  Where did Jaden really come from and who is responsible for him?  What was his original purpose?  How do the One Sith know about this and how did they get Thrawn’s cloning technology?  You’re not going to get the answers in Riptide, but you’re going to really enjoy discovering what the questions are.

Another thing that should be pointed out here — especially since the release of Riptide is so close to Halloween — is that the book makes a fine horror novel.  There are some amazing creepy elements in it that work well in the story.  The Empire and the Rakatans can be thanked for that because most of the clones are truly scary while the Rakatan invention “Mother” is reminiscent of Abeloth yet she’s not an Abeloth copy.  She’s scary all on her own, and I love the glimpse of Rakatan darkness that Riptide provides.

Corax: Synlah nailed it on the head with the horror elements within this novel.  The fact  “Mother” could take control of  the dead bodies within the machine was absolutely fascinating.  Even the story swirling around Jaden Korr and his past is quite unique and it really provides a broader look at his personal quest within the previous novel as well.

As both of you mentioned, Kemp does a very good job of making Riptide feel like it’s reaching clear across the Star Wars Galaxy.  Whether it’s pulling in aspects from the beginning of the Expanded Universe to semi-current affairs that are abound in the EU.  For a standalone duology, it reads like there is a lot more going on than what we get to see presented here.

We know that Kemp has an untitled duology in the works and I’m really hoping that we get to see Jaden’s adventures continue.  Another quick thing I would like to put in is that I was re-reading Troy Denning’s Abyss and the scenes with Jaden read completely different after reading Riptide.  I agree with Skuldren because Riptide really does feel like a missing puzzle piece in the grand puzzle that is the Star Wars EU.

Skuldren: Another element that really added some depth to this novel was how Kemp handled the villains in the story.  Where Crosscurrent left off, I was expecting Riptide to a be a long, drawn out affair with Jaden battling the mad clones, slowly taking them out one-by-one until there was just the most powerful one left.  A simple good guy versus bad guy tale with an epic standoff in the end.  But Kemp threw a real curve ball to that expectation. Instead of doing anything predictable, he developed the perceived foes into sympathetic victims.  The mad Force-sensitive clones become gray characters.  By adding more antagonists (in the way of the Umbaran twins), he gives the reader the expected villains.  The Umbarans are cast in a far darker light and appear much more evil than the other characters.  The further I got into the story, the more I realized that these two were the real bad guys in the story, and not just side characters spicing up the mix.  There was always Mother lurking in the background like a mastermind villain, a threat awaiting the heroes at the end of their quest.  I loved the way it was layered with perceived threats in fluctuation and small elements of foreshadowing that kept you guessing where things would go.

Corax: Overall, Riptide is definitely my favorite novel out of the three that Kemp has written.  Even though Riptide had a solid ending, it left me with enough questions to really want to see Jaden’s story continue in his next duology.  Riptide   really delivered on all accounts: solid story, solid characterization, and solid antagonists.  Honestly, my favorite element was that it left enough unanswered questions that it kept me thinking, and talking about the endless possibilities Riptide has brought to the EU.  A solid entry into the Expanded Universe of Star Wars.

Synlah:  I couldn’t agree with you more, Corax.  I have to put Riptide (along with its companion Crosscurrent) up there on my list of favorite Star Wars novels.  It’s a solid, imaginative, well-written entry into the EU.  And it definitely left me wanting more of Jaden Korr and company.

Skuldren: Without a doubt, Riptide is a great Star Wars book. However, I would dare say it’s one of the best Paul S. Kemp books I’ve read to date, and Paul has written some really great stories, both Star Wars and non-Star Wars. I certainly look forward to what he can come up with next.

We give Paul S. Kemp’s Riptide a unanimous five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Synlah, Corax, and Skuldren
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  1. […] while I’m at it, I want to point to a review (with spoilers) from the team at Roqoo Depot, which gives the book a five out of five.   Among […]

  2. […] while I’m at it, I want to point to a review (with spoilers) from the team at Roqoo Depot, which gives the book a five out of five.   Among […]


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