Thursday, February 22, 2007

Vector Prime, by R. A. Salvatore

Here begins the 19 volume New Jedi Order series, a turning point in Star Wars fiction. Vector Prime kicks off the New Jedi Order and it does so with gusto. Gusto, I say! Bob Salvatore is best known for his work in the Forgotten Realms shared world as well his own creation of Corona (DemonWars), but here he takes our familiar and favorite characters and sets them on a new path that will likely change everything. I say "likely" because even though I already know some things that happen, I do not know the details on what happens in the NJO and beyond. Just some events have been "spoiled".

Vector Prime is set some 25 years after the original Star Wars movie. Leia and Han have three kids, all teenagers. Luke is married. There are Jedi Knights in the galaxy. There have been many adventures which have been chronicled in the Star Wars Extended Universe. Vector Prime upsets the balance while still telling a damn good story. With gusto! Why else do we read, except to find that next damn good story?

Here is what you need to know: There is a new threat to the galaxy heading in from some unknown and uncharted regions. The Yuuzhan Vong. The goal: Conquest, Destruction, the usual. But the Vong are coming with technology the Galaxy has never seen before and they are a completely unknown quantity (unless you have read Greg Bear's Rogue Planet, in which case you have the vaguest of vague ideas). They are coming and working hard to stir up some unrest and otherwise invade completely under the hypothetical radar. Meanwhile, Leia, as an ambassador, is dealing with some of the repercussions of that unrest the Vong is stirring. Mara Jade, Luke Skywalker's wife, is very ill with some unknown virus but is still able to train the Solo daughter Jaina. The New Republic has some skepticism about the Jedi's role in the Republic. There is a lot going on here.

You ask yourself: Self, what do I need to know about Vector Prime? You need to know that Vector Prime is filled with action, some intrigue about the Vong, more action, ruminations on what it means to be Jedi, some exciting space battles, an emotional major character death, yet more action, a real and new threat to the New Republic, still more action, and a good deal of fun and enjoyment as Star Wars is about to take a dark turn. Oh, and action. Did I mention action? Written with gusto.

Bob Salvatore has written one heck of an opening to the New Jedi Order, one that surpassed my expectations and one which perfectly set up the New Jedi Order series. One could not ask for a better opening novel to the New Jedi Order. Interestingly enough, having read the previous eleventy billion Star Wars novels in the chronology I came to realize that one needs not have read everything that came before. Vector Prime is one possible entry point into Star Wars fiction because Salvatore does a great job in reintroducing characters and writing the characters that we learn enough as we go and the rest can give references to past actions but the novice reader can be content knowing the characters were busy for the past twenty five years. Either way, Vector Prime is a heck of a good read.

With action. And gusto.

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