Monday, November 15, 2004

Book Review: Jedi Healer (Star Wars) - Michael Reaves and Steve Perry

"Jedi Healer" is the second and concluding volume in the "Medstar" duology. It continues the story of the surgeons we met in "Battle Surgeons". They remain on the planet Drongar working in the Star Wars version of a M.A.S.H. unit. One particular storyline continues from the first book, and that is the fact that there is a spy working on Drongar against the Republic. This spy is a double-agent in that he (or she) is working both for the Separatists (the group led by Count Dooku) and also for the Black Sun criminal organization. Since the goal is the same for both groups, at the moment, there is no conflict. There is, however, double the risk for the spy. It is never said who the spy is, or what gender, so there has been some guessing games going on since "Battle Surgeons". With the only true export from Drongar being the fragile miracle drug, "Bota", the spy is finding ways to divert bota from the Republic.

Along with the spy portion of the story is the main story of the surgeons. They live their lives, do their jobs, try to cope with life on the incredibly hot and muggy Drongar, and question why they are doing what they are doing. To go along with the cast of characters from the first book (Jos Vandar, Tolk, Jedi Apprentice Barriss Offee, I-Five) we are introduced to the young surgeon Uli Divini, who is taking the place of the killed surgeon Zan Yant. Uli is very confident, very skilled, and very untested. Jos questions whether Uli will be able to handle the work, though it is quickly evident that he can. There are two conflicts in this book. The first is in the new relationship of Jos and Tolk. It is a relationship which is forbidden by their culture. The second is figuring out who the spy is before the spy can cause any more damage.

As far as Star Wars stories go, I enjoyed the Medstar books more than most. Reaves and Perry have created a very interesting story here and a satisfying conclusion. Granted, I would have been slightly more satisfied if the spy was the other person, but we can't have it all. "Battle Surgeons" is a slightly better book because there was more of a M.A.S.H. feel to it, but there is much to like here. Anytime Barriss Offee is on the page is a good scene. She is one of the most interesting characters and the fact that she is a Jedi in training dealing with the potential for a drug addiction was a great idea, if underused. There was less M.A.S.H. stuff here, but the interactions with I-Five (the droid) more than make up for it. This book features, of all things, a quest to get I-Five drunk. Classic.

While this is a prequel novel featuring mostly on characters which were not in the movies, this Clone Wars novel helps to provide a feel (along with "Battle Surgeons") of just how the Clone Wars affected nearly everyone in the galaxy in some way. While there are no grand space battles, this, is like a battle to secure one meaningless hill in WWII. The battle must be fought because the other side wants the hill (though Bota is far more valuable than a hill), but in the larger picture, the hill doesn't really mean that much. The opportunity to see the surgeons again is more than worth the price of having a book set around that meaningless hill.

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