New Jedi Order
Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
by Aaron Allston
Published by Del Ray
Scott's Rating: 3.5 out of 4
The New Jedi Order series continues. Coruscant has been occupied by the Yuuzhan Vong and the remains of the New Republic military forces, led by Wedge Antilles, regroup on Borleias. There they dig in and begin to plan their resistance. As Jaina and Kyp return from Hapes, new plans begin to form. The first is that Wedge and the gang will bait the Yuuzhan Vong into focusing on Borleias, thus allowing the rest of the New Republic to have time to regroup. Second, they will start waging psychological warfare by promoting the idea that Jaina is the Yuuzhan Vong trickster goddess. Third, Han and Leia will start forming cells of a new Rebel Alliance on worlds occupied by the Yuuzhan Vong. And fourth, Luke will lead a team which includes members of Wraith Squadron that will sneak back into Coruscant for intelligence work. Luke also plans to investigate a new dark force forming on the world. Things are complicated by a spy in their midst, a blossoming romance between Jag Fel and Jaina, and the introduction of a new Yuuzhan Vong menace and tactical genius - Tsavong Lah's father.
Rebel Dream is a good Star Wars adventure. It has Aaron Allston's trademark humor which I've always enjoyed. It has plenty of action. And with the addition of Wraith Squadron into the mix, it's about as close as you're going to get to a sequel to the X-Wing series.
I think this book marks a turning point where the storyline is going to go back to something closer to the films. The return of the Rebel Alliance looks promising. I also like Leia's reversion from politician to warrior princess (no, not Xena). And though they were much bemoaned by fans early on, it looks like a superweapon is set to make an appearance. It's a promising addition to the story.
Another tip 'o the hat back to the classic trilogy is the start of a new romance between Jaina and Jag. All of the films have had a little romance thrown in among the explosions. Allston adds that which makes it a bit more fun. The love triangle between Jag, Jaina, and Kyp is reminiscent of the one between Han, Luke, and Leia before the whole brother / sister thing hit. At least we won't have to worry about that happening this time around....will we?
Allston introduces an interesting new character - Czulkang Lah. He's the father of warmaster Tsavong Lah. Czulkang is a grizzled old warrior who has been reduced from warmaster to a teacher. It's interesting to see him promoted from training warriors back to his old role commanding a fleet. The tension between father and son adds a bit more character to the invading aliens.
Many Star Wars books make the mistake of laying out the entire plan of our heroes early on, then simply having the rest of the book carrying out those plans. Allston takes a slightly different twist. He doesn't always say what Wedge and the gang are up to, so the reader is left trying to figure out what's unfolding just like the Yuuzhan Vong do. It makes it more entertaining.
Finally, I've long wanted to see the Sith return to the Expanded Universe. Luke sensing something dark on Coruscant might be foreshadowing that. We'll see.
As much as I enjoyed this book, not a lot significant to the overall storyline seems to happen here. Rebel Dream primarily serves to re position all of the characters for the rest of the storyline. It is pretty much a bridge novel in the middle of the series. Much like the New Republic in the story, this novel serves to regroup everything before moving on to the rest of the series. I have a feeling that more things of interest will be happening in Enemy Lines II.
I also wasn't sure what to think about Mara leaving Ben behind to go on the mission with Luke to Coruscant. Troy Denning did a good job portraying Luke and Mara's anguish at Ben being kidnapped by the Yuuzhan Vong. After that, it certainly seemed like the Skywalkers would never let Ben out of their sight again. (Justifiably so.) After all, if Ben wasn't safe with Han and Leia, who would he be safe with? Then they turn around in Rebel Dream and hand him off to someone else to take care of again. While I think Allston did a good job of expressing Mara's anguish at leaving him behind, I'm not sure I bought the necessity of her going with Luke.
I'm also not happy with the treatment of Lando's wife in the storyline. It was briefly mentioned in passing that Lando was married in one of the earlier books. Then we have only occasionally seen her here in there in the New Jedi Order. In Rebel Dream, she makes an ever-so-brief cameo. You'd have thought that Lando's wife would have deserved a bit more attention. There was a chance to create yet another strong female character in the Star Wars Universe, but so far she has received the royal brush-off.
Finally, I was very glad to see Aaron Allston's sense of humor peek through in this book. However, it made me realize just how much the other author's individuality is eaten up in the New Jedi Order. If you didn't know who wrote these novels, you'd have a hard time distinguishing one author from another. By having a pre-determined storyline, it seems to me that a lot of the author's individuality is left out.
Oh, and where's Boba Fett?!?! :)
Yuuzhan Vong mind control certainly takes more than a couple of Tylenol to control.