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Sacrifice Speculations

Posted By Paul on April 10, 2007

You may have seen TF.N?s report about the latest teaser for the upcoming Legacy of the Force novel Sacrifice, by Karen Traviss—an excerpt from the audiobook version, which went online at RandomHouse.com last week.

As I promised last time, here?s a more in-depth analysis of the teaser, with some thoughts on what it might mean for the events of the book, and the future storyline of the Legacy of the Force series. What follows consists of rampant speculation about future plot developments, and contains some material that might be considered SPOILERS (so highlight to read).

The scene consists, basically, of a short commlink call between Luke Skywalker?s wife Mara and her sister-in-law Princess Leia.

Mara is in her X-wing in deep-space, hunting the bad guys. Leia, on the other hand, has gone to ground, hunted by enemies on all sides of the growing civil war—an understandable move considering the number of people who?re out to get her by now. Mara?s guess is that she?s back on Corellia, but that is just a guess, albeit the guess of a Jedi Knight.

There are some very nice touches to the storytelling in this scene. There?s a subtle, implicit contrast developed over the course of the scene between the two heroines and the two villainesses they?re up against: Lumiya, the Dark Lady of the Sith, and Alema Rar, a former Jedi Knight gone mad in the service of the Force.

Mara?s portrayal is also a real pleasure here. The simple fact that she?s taking action is a promising sign that she?ll play a more aggressive role in Sacrifice than she did in Traviss?s previous Legacy of the Force novel, Bloodlines, and beyond this, the specific tactics she?s adopted fit in very well with her established characterization. She?s trying to track down Lumiya?s ship as she moves between her mysterious appearances—focusing on an unexpected vulnerability that certainly hadn?t occurred to me before, but which made perfect sense once I was presented with it. That sort of lateral approach is perfect for this character.

Something else that I really liked here was Traviss?s description of the way the Star Wars Galaxy?s global positioning system displays information on the viewscreen in an X-wing cockpit: the schematic of Coruscant city blocks sounds a lot like the computer images of the Death Star trench in A New Hope.

However, while all this decisively whetted my appetite for Sacrifice, there are few obvious hints here about the plot of the new novel. The scene is told from Mara?s point-of-view, and after listening through closely several times, it seems that most of the opinions she voices here are actually phrased in cleverly ambiguous ways: she could be keeping her real views and intentions even more guarded than you might think.

There are a couple of hints that might be significant for future events, though: at the end of the excerpt, Mara suddenly discovers that her son Ben has found an unexpected ability to disappear in the Force. And the written summary of Sacrifice on the page for the audiobook at the Random House website also promises that ?the shocking conclusion will shatter two families . . . and cast a grim shadow over the future.?

Most people have assumed that this refers to the Solos and Skywalkers, though it?s worth pointing out that it could also involve Boba Fett and his family—his granddaughter Mirta Gev, who Traviss introduced in Bloodlines, and any surviving ?brothers? from the Clone Army of the prequel movies, or their descendants.

There?s been a suspicion that this book will involve the death of a major Star Wars character—the general mood among fans seems to be that it will probably be Mara Jade Skywalker herself, which is about as hard-hitting as you can get without starting to kill the movie heroes; but it seems that, like Mara herself, this excerpt is giving nothing away: all of the backstory references apparently relate to events in the previous book, Exile.

On the other hand... while teaser excerpts are normally from somewhere near the start of a novel, both the previous major character deaths in DelRey Star Wars novels were subtly trailed in the teasers for the books they took place in. When Chewbacca died in Vector Prime, Han?s grieving reflections in the epilogue were what was released on-line in advance; and when Han and Leia?s younger son Anakin Solo ?went? in Star by Star, we actually got the scene where it happened as the audiobook teaser. Standing alone, both scenes somehow managed to avoid giving away the actual meaning of the events they contained.

And, while what follows is pure speculation, based on nothing more than overanalysis of this excerpt, I did noticed a notable absence listening to it: Luke Skywalker.

At one point, Mara says she wants to take out Lumiya in order to ?finish what Luke started?, as if he?s no longer capable of dealing with her himself; and she only refers to Luke one other time, in what seems to be a reference back to the end of Exile. Her protective concern for her son as a potential target for Lumiya would acquire more meaning in a context where her husband has already been killed by the Dark Lady of the Sith, and her discussion with Leia could be read as a series of manoeuvres around unspoken grief.

Further, this scene clearly isn?t from the very start of the novel, like most teasers are. We know from the preview chapter which appeared in the back of Exile that Ben?s initial scenes in Sacrifice involve a rendezvous with Jacen Solo aboard his Star Destroyer, and the audiobook chapter shows that he then has to return to Coruscant and receive a vibroblade as a present from Mara—perhaps a belated birthday present?—before she leaves for deep space.

There?s also a reference here to tracking devices which suggests Mara?s already used a number of them earlier in the book; and this minimum sequence of scenes will probably be interspersed with others, focused on different characters. It?s possible, in short, that this scene is some way into the novel, perhaps even at the end of it.

It?s true that the discussion with Leia does suggest a time relatively soon after the end of Exile, and the lack of any clear mention of what would surely be a major event for both women is probably the best evidence there is that I?ve got this analysis totally wrong.

On the other hand, Mara and Leia may simply not have had a chance to talk for a while, and there?s a hint that the excerpt may have been edited somewhat. After listening through a few times, I?m pretty sure that Mara has brought her X-wing back to the site of the concluding battle in Exile, looking for leads to Lumiya?s location—but any direct descriptions of the location have been pruned from the scene. This could just be for reasons of length, or for clarity in the teaser format, but it does suggest that information has been cut from the scene as it?s presented to us here.

And for what it?s worth, Luke appears in an overlayered image on the back cover of Sacrifice—the position Chewie and Anakin appeared in on the covers of Vector Prime and Star by Star, popularly regarded among some fans as indicating that the character in question is going to become one with the Force.

It?s wild speculation, but it?s possible—just possible—that this scene takes place relatively late in the plot of Sacrifice, and Luke Skywalker?s widow is out for revenge.

And, tying in with this idea, I?ll end this analysis with something of a Space Oddity: some fans over on the TF.N message boards think that Mark Hamill is providing the voice for Leia!

This isn?t as crazy as it sounds—Hamill is a leading voice-actor these days, and if he?s really doing work on the audio version of this book, his main role will surely be as Luke Skywalker, which would simply be brilliant.

That said, I suspect that this is just the work of over-active ears. Audiobooks don?t normally have separate voice talent for the characters, and a more cautious suggestion would be that Leia is simply being voiced by Marc Thompson, the voice-actor actually reading the novel, who?s also putting on a slight accent to do Mara?s dialogue during this scene.

But if you know anything about it one way or another, or if you have any insights of your own about the excerpt, then feel free to e-mail me at paul@theforce.net—and whatever the truth about the voice talent may be, kudos to Jedi Trace and rhonderoo on the message-boards for having the interesting thought in the first place, and thanks to Dunc from clubjade.net for alerting me about the rumour.

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