July 28, 2008

Review: The Clone Wars

[This review contains spoilers for The Clone Wars]

Earlier this year, the Star Wars Lit community was abuzz with the news of a couple of things - that there was an untitled Karen Traviss novel coming, and that there was a Clone Wars movie coming out. A couple of months ago, fans learned that they were both connected, as Karen turned out to have been writing the novelization.
The release of The Clone Wars brings about the first book released in the time frame since Traviss's last Republic Commando novel, True Colors, which was released last year, and once again shows that Traviss is one of the better writers for the Clone Wars.

This novelization isn't the best work that Karen has released. The book is a very short one, and plotwise, has a bit to be desired. In a nutshell, the Seperatists have kidnapped the son of Jabba the Hutt, hoping to anger the Hutts enough to ensure that the Republic can't utilize their space lanes.

The book is rife with action, which is Karen's strong point, especially when it comes to Clones. the main characters are introduced with a battle, where Karen puts her expertise gained from the Republic Commando books. What I really enjoyed was seeing an author put a level of military realism to this - the Clones talk and act like soldiers.

Karen leaves a lot of nods to the 501st, helping to further explain the role of Vader's fist, the battalion seen in Revenge of the Sith, named for the 501st Legion. One of the more interesting characters in the book is Captain Rex, whom a number of Legion members are building in anticipation of the film's release. Karen pushed these guys to a particular prominence in the book, which is a great nod to the group, of which, she's an honorary member. There weren't any mentions of Republic Commandos, which surprised me a little.

The plot of the book leaves more to be desired beyond the military sections. There are some interesting political ideas here, but the idea that the Republic would send two of their most highly regarded Jedi after a Huttling is somewhat ridiculous. While this is addressed somewhat at points, I found it hard to believe.

More so, I found the notion that the Hutts, or more particularly, Jabba, would completely base foreign policy on a kidnapped child a ridiculous notion. Granted, this is a novelization based off of an animated movie, so expecting something on the level of Karen's other books or other Clone Wars novels such as Shatterpoint is somewhat expected.

Unfortunately, the book is short, clocking in at around 250 pages, taking me a total of five or so hours to read. Fortunately, Del Rey seems to have realized this, and as a result, I only paid $12 for the book (yay for a 40% discount at Borders).

Overall, this is a decent enough read, despite the fact that it is short and not as good as her other books. However, with four more books to go in the series, there's plenty of room for more improvement and Clone action.


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