Star Wars Gamer #2
by Daniel Wallace
Published by Wizards of the Coast
Scott's Rating: 4 out of 4
This short story was published in the Star Wars Gamer magazine. It takes place several years before Episode I.
In the depths of the Naboo seas, a Sando Aqua Monster is about to die. As it is pursued by hungry Opees sensing an easy kill, it rises to the surface and accidentally beaches itself. As it lays on the beach in its death throes, it uncovers a buried, hidden secret lair.
Meanwhile, Panaka (before he's a captain) captures a Gungan who is a suspected criminal. However, Panaka starts to wonder if there's more to this Gungan when Senator Palpatine, Sate Pestage, and King Veruna (Amidala's predecessor) become involved. When Panaka starts asking the wrong questions, he's sent to oversee security at the location where the monster has beached itself.
As Panaka guards the location, an associate of the Gungan rushes the blockade and heads for the beach. Panaka pursues him and finds himself within the uncovered underground lair. What he does not know is that this is a hidden lair for Senator Palpatine and his accomplices and that the Gungan and his friends lead a secret resistance against their efforts. Will Panaka continue to play the role of unsuspecting pawn in this game?
Daniel Wallace does a great job of tying together a lot of the previously established elements from the Episode I books. He combines the early career of Panaka with the early relationships between humans and Gungans, the corruption of King Veruna, and the rise of Palpatine. It makes this story not only an interesting read, but a key piece of fiction in Star Wars lore. It's nice to see these short stories actually expand on the movies from time to time.
I generally love the action driven stories, and this is one of them. The opening scenes of the battle between the sea creatures was memorable. The setting of the hidden lair under the beached leviathan is also quite a unique setting for a chase.
Finally, it was interesting to see Sate Pestage, one of Palpatine's advisors seen in Return of the Jedi. I was always curious about who Palpatine would choose to surround himself with as dignitaries and advisors. Now we see for the first time that they are some of his earliest accomplices in his political scheming as far back as his time on Naboo.
I recommend checking this story out.
Some of the action scenes toward the end are disorienting as Panaka runs through the tunnels. It's a little hard to follow what's happening, but this is a minor problem for me.
I'm afraid many literature fans are going to miss out on this since it is in a gaming magazine. I truly hope WOTC and Del Rey reprint these stories in a paperback collection.
I hope they don't try to get rid of the Sando Aqua Monster carcass off the beach by using dynamite. Anybody who has seen the exploding whale footage on the net can tell you this is a bad idea. (See here!)