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Star Wars: The Last of the Jedi #9 – Master of Deception
by Jude Watson

Published by Scholastic


Adrick's Rating:   2.9 out of 4


The planet of Alderaan is a peaceful one…and Senator Bail Organa wants to keep it that way. But the presence of the Empire is starting to cast a shadow over their tranquility—as spies and traitors infiltrate the corridors of power.

Alderaan holds a secret—a secret on which the future existence of the Jedi depends. Under strict instructions from the Emperor, double agent Ferus Olin must both uncover this secret and protect it. What he discovers raises dark questions from his own past—and puts him in direct conflict with another former Jedi…the sinister Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader.



Adrick:

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, TFN Books ran a review of Jude Watson’s Last of the Jedi #2. Nearly three years later…well, we’ve got some catching up to do. For those of you who may have missed the volumes of Watson Jedi books released over the last eight years, Watson had previously written the lengthy Jedi Apprentice series, featuring young Obi-Wan and young(er) Qui-Gon Jinn. Just before the release of Attack of the Clones, that series ended and was replaced by the shorter Jedi Quest series, featuring an older Obi-Wan and a young Anakin Skywalker. Naturally, the release of Revenge of the Sith prompted the introduction of yet another series featuring the supposed Last of the Jedi.

In order to connect these books back to the glory days of Jedi Apprentice, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn’s voice appeared in the first LOTJ books. As Obi-Wan is supposed to be keeping an eye on Luke for the next eighteen years or so, it was obvious that the torch needed to be passed to somebody else. That someone was Ferus Olin, an ex-Jedi who had resigned his commission as a padawan back in the Jedi Quest series. So from #3 on, Last of the Jedi has featured Ferus Olin and street orphan Trever Flume in an informal echo of the traditional master/apprentice pairing of Watson’s previous series. This is interesting, as Ferus isn’t technically even a Jedi Knight, and Trever isn’t Force-sensitive. Obi-Wan continues to appear via hologram, offering advice and guidance in a role similar to the one Yoda played in the early Jedi Apprentice books.

In addition to Ferus, Obi-Wan, and Trever, Watson created a slew of new characters for LOTJ. She’s also brought in many characters from Apprentice and Quest, as well as film characters: Vader, the Emperor, Tarkin, Boba Fett…it’s not surprising that this series is the first young adult saga since Glove of Darth Vader to have character guides included in the text.

So Ferus and his allies have been attempting to organize resistance against the Empire for the last eight books, all the while attempting to avoid the Imperial Inquisitors (imported from the Star Wars RPG games.) In order to uncover more information about hunted Jedi and secret Imperial projects, Ferus has accepted an offer from Palpatine to work for the Empire. This means that Ferus has to struggle with the temptations of the Dark Side while maintaining his cover. The Emperor’s sole reason for employing Ferus, however, is to taunt Vader, who was once Ferus’s rival in Jedi Quest.

Whew! I think we’re all caught up now. In this book, Ferus is on Alderaan in order to investigate a report of a Force sensitive child for the Empire. He has also been informed by Obi-Wan that he must protect the identity of the child at all costs. Meanwhile, Ferus’s allies on Coruscant uncover evidence that the woman attempting to join the galaxy together in resistance against the Empire isn’t all she appears to be.

There’s a lot to like here. Ferus and most of the other characters have no idea what went down in ROTS, so they’re left to figure it out on their own. Watson does a good job of letting them piece the puzzle together without having the film characters reveal too much. It would be tempting to have Obi-Wan explain everything, but Watson (thankfully) refrains from doing so.

Watson’s villains have always been memorable, and she does a great job writing Vader and the Emperor. Also reappearing is Jenna Zan Arbor, an evil scientist first introduced in Jedi Apprentice. Her presence is part of a storyline continued from Jedi Quest. In that series Anakin became interested in the mind-altering effects of drugs Zan Arbor was testing. Being who he was at the time, Anakin would never have willingly dabbled in them, though he was tempted. Of course, as a Lord of the Sith, Vader no longer has any compunctions about using Zan Arbor’s research for his own benefit. At the same time, he detests Zan Arbor for her Force-based experiments (from Jedi Apprentice). One of my favorite passages, after Vader threatens Zan Arbor with the Dark Side:

“If this is a display of your Force-ability, I hardly need it. I am an expert, you know”

“The fact that you consider yourself an expert,” Vader said “only proves how ignorant you are.”

That’s definitely the Vader from A New Hope. Palpatine and Bail Organa are similarly well-written, and Leia’s mother Breha gets some much needed page time. Fans of the Thrawn Trilogy will doubtlessly be pleased to see Leia’s friend Winter make a quick cameo as well. It’s nice to see Leia and Raymus Antilles mentioned here, since one of Watson’s very first EU books was Captive to Evil, Leia’s ANH diary. It’s nice seeing her work come full circle now. Finally, Watson attempts to reconcile the “That boy was our last hope” line of Obi-Wan’s from The Empire Strikes Back with his knowledge of Leia in ROTS. That was a nice touch.

This series gets more interesting with every book. #10 is expected to be the last, and it looks like we’re in store for quite a finale…although there have been a few things in this series to make me suspect that we’re in for yet another series soon, perhaps one set in the original trilogy timeframe.



Adrick:

    I have to say that it’s getting a little hard to follow this series when the books are released so far apart. Jedi Apprentice books used to come out every other month, and had several mini-story arcs and standalone books that covered a long period of time. Jedi Quest had a larger plotline continued over the entire series, but still had some stories that could stand alone. It also covered a long period of time. Last of the Jedi, by contrast, has one overarching plot and spans only a few months, but we only get two or three books every year!

I’m also starting to think that Watson, after contributing to the EU annually for nearly ten years, is perhaps running short on names. Consider the planets Mila and Maill, mentioned only a few pages apart, and the company Secure Securities. Can you say Redundant Redundancies?



Adrick:

    Ferus’s “scream of defense” pose on the otherwise excellent cover. I don’t think he encountered anything in the book to warrant such an expression. Careful, Ferus, or one day your face will freeze like that…


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