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Star Wars: Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, by Sean Stewart Book Review | SFReader.com
Star Wars: Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, by Sean Stewart Genre: Star Wars Publisher: Random House Published: 2004 Review Posted: 4/22/2005 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10
Star Wars: Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, by Sean Stewart
Book Review by Sean T.M. Stiennon
Have you read this book?
In the past couple years, Lucasbooks has been expanding its line of Star Wars novels to include several books set after the events of The Attack of the Clones, covering the events of the Clone Wars. These novels each feature a different character: Mace Windu in Shatterpoint, Obi-wan Kenobi in The Cestus Deception, Anakin Skywalker in Jedi Trial, etc.
Now, at long last, a novel starring Yoda, the greatest and wisest of the Jedi, has been released. Dark Rendezvous opens with Yoda receiving a message from Count Dooku, his former apprentice who has now fallen deep into the dark side and leads the Separatist Army. Dooku wants to discuss terms for peace-but he demands that Yoda come to him on Vjun, a planet with a dark history of insanity and murder. The danger is immense, but Yoda, who loves every one of his pupils more than they could ever imagine, cannot ignore the possibility of redeeming Dooku.
Meanwhile, a 14-year old Jedi apprentice named Scout has recently lost her master, and as she is weak in the force, the Jedi Council members are considering banishing her to the Agricultural Corps. However, Yoda sees hope in her, and after she wins first place in the Apprentice Combat Tournament, despite her handicap, he assigns her to solemn Master Jai Maruk and takes both of them along to Vjun. Also accompanying them is Whie, a young apprentice haunted by dreams of the future, and his placid but demanding Master Maks Leem.
The journey proves both difficult and dangerous-Yoda must disguise himself, to avoid alarming the public with his departure, two mysterious droids trail the party, and Asajj Ventress, a dark side warrior who has killed sixteen Jedi, has plans of her own.
From the two I've read-Shatterpoint and now Dark Rendezvous-these Clone Wars books are the finest Star Wars novels produced since Timothy Zahn's original Thrawn trilogy. They're probably even better, actually. Since these books are more or less standalones, and don't need to fit within a larger plot arc, the authors are given far more leeway to develop characters. Sean Stewart does a fantastic job with Yoda-here is the wise mystic from The Empire Strikes Back combined with the warrior of Attack of the Clones. Here is a being who knows all the joys and sorrows of nine hundred years. Here is the endless sense of humor, the love of disgusting food, and the intense dislike of droids.
The supporting characters are also excellent. One of the flaws of many recent Star Wars books is that the authors are rarely given much freedom to create their own characters-established characters and the leads from the movies take up all the space. However, in addition to making Yoda his own, Stewart creates an interesting and sympathetic cast to support Yoda. Scout, terrified of being banished from the Jedi and constantly struggling with a lack of force talent, is particularly good.
The writing is also excellent, and the emotions reach heartbreaking levels. Yoda's final confrontation with Dooku actually brought tears to my eyes. Stewart struck me as a more "literary" writer than most Star Wars authors, and if I have one complaint, it's that he dwells overlong on walk-on characters who have no purpose in the larger plot. These slices-of-life struck me as particularly inconsistent with the Star Wars mileu, which has always relied on a few larger than life heroes.
Whether you've read all or none of the prior Star Wars novels, I highly recommend Dark Rendezvous.
Sean T. M. Stiennon is a staff book reviewer for "Deep Magic," where he helps read submissions. He also writes fantasy and science fiction. His short story collection, entitled Six with Flinteye, is forthcoming from Silver Lake Publishing, and he won second place in the 2004 SFReader.com Short Story Contest . For more infromation, news, and a bibilography, visit his author page at www.sfreader.com/authors/seanstiennon.
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