Shield Of Lies
by Michael P. Kube-McDowell
Published by Bantam Publishing
Scott's Rating: 4 out of 4
Darin's Rating: 3 out of 4
Lando, Lobot, C-3PO, and R2-D2 are all stranded on the ghost ship. While trying to survive, they try to answer their questions. Who runs the ship? Is it sentient? What secrets does it hold? Why is it out there? Would Lobot look good with a toupee? (Just kidding on that last one!)
Luke continues to try to track down his mother and her people with Akanah, a mysterious woman who brought him new clues. But can he trust her?
Leia tries to deal with the Yevetha (sp?) threat while maintaining control of the New Republic. Can they deal with a threat they know nothing about in this politically tricky situation? Also, Plat Mallar, a refugee pilot from one of the attacked worlds, prepares to return to deal with the Yevetha with the help of Admiral Ackbar.
This is the second novel in the Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy.
Again, Michael Kube McDowell has created a large and colorful cast of minor characters. In many situations, they are even more interesting than the main characters! I really like Plat Mallar and the Imperial POW. They were very nice touches. Seeing Lobot in action, and actually speaking lines, is a real treat. He has definitely become a character of his own in these stories. One part that I liked was a discussion between him and C-3PO about what makes something truly sentient or self aware.
One of the other nice touches of this book is that McDowell uses a different type of storytelling than we've seen in the previous novels. Rather than mix up the separate characters adventures, he's told them as three entirely separate parts of the same book. It is really like having three separate novels in one story. This was a very nice change of pace and makes one think about the old Han Solo novels in which it was just one book about one character. Maybe Bantam will do some more single character novels in the future?
One of the other nice things about this book is that it gives you a look into the parts of the Star Wars Universe that are rarely seen. We see in depth all the different parts of the Fleet working together from ground crew to Admiral. We learn about what space travel is like for the common man as Luke is stuck in traffic at the airport. We learns all the ins and outs of politics in the New Republic democracy. These are all welcome sights for me. Finally, the Yevetha (sp?) are one of the most realistic foes to come along in a long time. They don't think what they are doing is bad, they WILL win (no matter what it takes, as you see), and they are racist in every sense of the word. Reminds you of a lot of real world villans, eh? They are very well created by McDowell.
It is sooo good to see some real enemies, rather than the same ones re-hashed. This is the first time we get contact with a group of beings that has something truly unusual about them--like bodily sacrifice and canabalism. Wow. In addition, a very cool mystery is brewing with the weird ship. McDowell also is careful to keep the subplots seperate right now. This is good, because now you don't really get too much forshadowing on the future plot based on one of the other subplots. We have a pseudo-Hitler character, and a potential WWII of the Star Wars Universe brewing. Very nice.
No Chewbacca at all. I miss the furry galoot! Also, Han plays a very minor role in this story. That doesn't seem like the Han we met in the films. Is he whipped? :) Also, there is little, if any action in this story. I am a big action fan, so I missed it. I realize, though, that the author did not intend this to be an action novel. I still loved the story. I hope he's saving the action up for the final book! He's really good at building up tense situations!
The story has such a huge cast of characters that I quickly lose track of who is who, especially between reading the different books. I wish it would have a synopsis of what happened in the last story to bring me back up to speed. It would help a lot.
I also have a hard time accepting 'The Current' and the Circle. Basically, it is like the Force, but different. :) It always seemed to me that the Force encompassed all things and that this Current would be included. Maybe we'll find out more about it in the final book?
Finally, while a heck of a lot happened in this story, the plot didn't seem to advance very far. The characters did not really progress very far from where they were in the first novel. You do learn a lot more about the situations they are currently in, so that makes this book worthwhile.
I've got to disagree with Scott on a few things. First, I didn't like the "3-novella" layout of the novel. I like to bounce back and forth, that way it keeps it interesting. The reason I say that is that this is the second book in a trilogy and so suffers from the "bridge syndrome," i.e., it bridges two action books where most of the plot resides. This book is more filler material than anything, but is still good. I expect more action out of book 3. I actually don't mind the Current thing. I think we'll find that the Current and the Force are just two sides to the same coin.
The name J'p't'tan. Try saying it. Go ahead! Kind of ugly to see yourself babbling like a fish in a intro French class, eh? I suggest calling it the planet Bob. Now I can handle that.
Knowing what I do about you, Scott (J. Scott C.), I'm surprised you didn't want the planet called Jim-Bob. Now that's an idea for a novel setting. A bunch of hillbilly's meet the Star Warriors. Yep. Sounds good to me, sure 'nuf. You want ugly? Try getting your veins ripped out by your dictator's dewclaw and him feeding the blood to his young. Ikky Ikky Ukky Ukky.