Sunday, June 21, 2009

Star Wars: Order 66 - A Republic Commando Novel Review

Once again, Karen Traviss proves she is the mistress of military sci-fi with this excellent addition to her Star Wars: Republic Commando series. Not only do we get to read about the continuing exploits of Omega and Delta Squads, but we also get to see the Clone's perspective on the galaxy changing Order 66.

Sgt. Kal Skirita continues to plan for the future while working for the Grand Army of the Republic with the help of his Null Arc Troopers. Not only is he actively seeking a way to reverse the accelerated aging found in the Clone genome, but his preparations are almost complete for when the galaxy goes to hell, his safe haven for any Clone that wants to leave the Grand Army without having to do so in a body bag. Omega Squad is sent on what appears to be another pointless assassination mission that, naturally, goes to osik, while Darman is completely unaware that Kal's new grandson is actually his own Force-sensitive boy. Etain is filling the void in special operations left by Jusik's departure, and Jusik himself is loving his free Mando merc life, while doing everything he can to help Fi get back into shape.

We all know how this story's going to end: The Jedi die, the Republic falls, and Sev doesn't leave Kashyyyk, but reading how it all gets to this point, following these wonderfully written characters and their odd family mentality is just gripping. Karen Traviss knows how to write, to infuse her pages with so much style, heart, and drama that you simply don't want to put the book down.

Not only is it fascinating to read about the main characters and their further development, but taking a step back and watching the brilliance of Darth Sidious' plan unfold, and how it's all viewed as it happens by the simple rank-and-file is mesmerizing. Want to know why Jango Fett was chosen as the template for the Clones? Want to know why the Clone Troopers were elite units, yet Stormtroopers can't hit the broad side of a barn? Want to know how the Clones really feel about the Jedi Generals they've fought shoulder-to-shoulder with for over 3 years, only to find out they're declared traitors to the Republic? Read Star Wars: Order 66 - A Republic Commando novel. You won't be sorry. If you have even a passing interest in military sci-fi, Star Wars, or shooters, you'll enjoy this novel (though you'll want to read the previous three books first to really know what's going on).

This series has to be the single best military science fiction novel series I've read, very strong, and very humane. Credit to LucasArts for making the original game and allowing us to really view the galaxy from the grunt's perspective, and kudos to Traviss for really fleshing out that dark and gritty perspective to its fullest, infusing it with a fascinating look at Mando culture, and for giving the Clones so much more meaning and purpose than simply being expendable wet droids.

I'm also glad the series is _not_ coming to an end. The Jedi Order has fallen, the Clone War has ended, and the Empire has risen overnight, quick to consolidate its new power. Coming this October, the series continues with its 5th book, Star Wars: 501st - An Imperial Commando Novel. The series has been lite in showing the major characters from the saga, though they're certainly mentioned, so I wonder if we'll see Vader at all. Only time will tell.

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