Republic Commando: True Colors
As the savage Clone Wars rage unchecked, the Republic’s deadliest warriors face the grim truth that the Separatists aren’t their only enemy—or even their worst.
In the Grand Army’s desperate fight to crush the Separatists, the secret special ops missions of its elite clone warriors have never been more critical…or more dangerous. A growing menace threatens Republic victory, and the members of Omega Squad make a shocking discovery that shakes their loyalty.
As the lines continue to blur between friend and enemy, citizens—from civilians and sergeants to Jedi and generals—find themselves up against a new foe: the doubt in their own hearts and minds. The truth is a fragile, shifting illustion—and only the approaching inferno will reveal both sides in their true colors.
Adrick: True Colors is a massive Star Wars novel. This isn’t something you can read a few pages at a time, as I did—you’ll want to set aside a long weekend for this book. Unlike Triple Zero and Hard Contact, Karen Traviss’s two previous Republic Commando novels, this installment takes place on several planets, bringing the action from the Rim to the Core as Kal Skirata and his commandos race across the galaxy to find a rogue Kaminoan scientist, protect the pregnant Jedi Etain, save one of their own from termination, and, oh yeah, complete the missions they’ve been assigned to by the Republic.
Traviss’s cast of characters seems to grow exponentially with each book. Although Hard Contact mainly involved the Omega Squad of clone commandos, Triple Zero added the entire Delta Squad from the Republic Commando video game that inspired the first novel, as well as a couple of Mandalorians who had originally trained the commandos, doubling the number of names on the roster. And that’s not even counting the minor characters like Republic Treasury agent Besanny Wennen and Coruscant Security agent Jaller Obrim, who appear here in expanded roles, or Skirata’s deadly Null ARC troopers. (Whew!) True Colors also brings in the Kaminoan scientist Ko Sai, mentioned in earlier works but appearing here for the first time. Add to that all the minor non-clone characters, and you have a staggeringly huge cast. The usually helpful Dramatis Personae list is absolutely essential here, and you may want to take your own notes—there are that many characters to keep track of.
Ko Sai holds the secret to halting the clone growth acceleration, which is why Skirata, who has taken his soldiers long-term interest to heart, is chasing her on his own time. There’s a nice plot twist when the Chancellor then orders Delta Squad to capture Sai…of course, you’ll have to read the book to find out why.
The growth acceleration mentioned in Attack of the Clones becomes an essential plot point here, as does the fact that someone, somewhere, paid for the clones. A Republic that once condemned slavery is now using it to defend against its enemies. One wonders, then, why anyone would want soldiers who continue to age at twice the normal rate—Traviss addresses this handily, but I think an interesting plot point might have been to have the Republic actually halting the growth acceleration for its troops, forcing them to choose between a normal life span of perpetual service, or a free half-life. Maybe we’ll get that book someday.
In the meantime, defecting and deserting clones are addressed and we also see clones not steeped in the Mandalorian traditions of the Clone commandos. While it would be interesting if some of the many main characters were involved personally in these side stories, as opposed to seeing them through the eyes of other clones, it’s a great reminder that although the Grand Army might be genetically uniform, their experiences and attitudes are not.
As one might guess by all the heavy issues raised in True Colors, Traviss takes her part of the Star Wars universe very seriously, which is something a serious fan like me can appreciate. But it’s also nice to see her acknowledge that not every part of the universe takes itself so seriously. A large part of the action takes place in the Cularin system, which, as players of the Living Force RPG campaign will remember, was recently propelled ten years into the future. Also mentioned are the water-world Aquaris (get it?), home to Han Solo’s half-dressed pirate queen from the classic newspaper strip, and everyone’s favorite cetaceans, Whaladons. Giggle.
All in all, True Colors makes for a great thriller, with the various clone squads uncovering the vast conspiracy that is the war little by little. I wouldn’t recommend reading it as a standalone, though. Make sure you’re familiar with the first two books in the series before diving in. The book thoughtfully reprints Traviss’s Star Wars Insidershort story Odds in the back, and you’ll want to read that as well for the full story.