Luke and Ben are forced to confront a group of Sith ships floating above Dathomir when all they really want to do is get back to business. Luke not only wants to exonerate himself, but thinks following Jacen’s path to darkness may give him the insight he needs to prevent another Jedi from falling to the Dark Side. But these Sith have some information that Luke might be interested in—information regarding Sith who may be succumbing to the same dementia plaguing young Jedi across worlds.
Could the very fate of the galaxy now depend on an alliance that goes against Ben’s training? Can Sith and Jedi really get along? Or has Luke doomed himself and the life of his son on an idealistic treaty that could turn traitorous at any moment? The good news is, Luke’s betting on treachery. And when betrayal is expected, it seems easier to spot, but only if you know where to look.
Allies is the fifth in the Fate of the Jedi series. At this point, I’ve been reading Star Wars books for about twelve years and have come to the conclusion that LucasBooks and its writers have a sense of humor. How else could we come across enemies such as Waru, Killiks, and now the succubus-like Abeloth? Surely the ludicrous nature of these “bad guys” lends some absurdity to the Expanded Universe that lightens the load between Galactic invasions and legitimate government takeovers (scarier than you might think).
It is, after all, a franchise that allows the estimable Princess Leia to grace the screen with a hairdo reminiscent of pastry and keep her dignity in tact; I don’t think one has to be reminded about the plausibility of space slugs living inside of asteroids (please, no pedantic fans—I really don’t want an explanation). Fans either go with these bizarre machinations or they don’t. Choosing not to deprives you of some real entertainment, which is why I hope to never see the day when I stop enjoying Star Wars books.
Above all other strange things happening in Allies, there is the basic premise to consider: Sith and Jedi form an alliance, however brief. I tend to agree with Luke when he laughs at Khai’s proposition and says, “I’m sorry, but that doesn’t sound like a very Sith thing to say” (p. 5). Luke isn’t nearly as wet behind the ears as he used to be, but don’t let that fool you. He has a steady stream of cynicism and an unflagging belief that he will inevitably be betrayed by the Lost Tribe of the Sith—all things he’s constantly reminding Ben of should the boy get any funny ideas. His pragmatism runs a little short though, as he continues to entrust them with vital information that they, of course, keep using against him. Luke set himself up quite nicely (did anyone else hear Vader’s voice in their mind, “All too easy.”), but given that without it we wouldn’t have much of a plot, I didn’t mind.
I also didn’t mind Tahiri’s trial. She’s a character I’ve had difficulty trying to understand and one that I feel over-inflates her importance to the Solo family. I find myself unable to connect to her emotional trauma or believe what she felt as a young teen was anything more than a crush. To have her now, years later, fantasize that she would have been married to Anakin if only he hadn’t died after that kiss, is one stretch of the imagination I can’t fathom. Fans of hers will probably find her testimonial scenes more emotional than I did. That I didn’t is a deficit entirely of my own. The process of the trial was interesting, though. Eramuth was quirky enough to keep me more involved than I would have been otherwise, despite my irrational desire to see him fail and Tahiri imprisoned for life or exiled. Even execution is too much for me.
Speaking of dead things, and to touch on one of the finer points of humor Allies had to offer: just when you may have forgotten about her, there’s a surprise waiting within the last chapters offering fans a glimpse into the fate of a once beloved character. Somewhere my 15-year old self is laughing hysterically. Finding out Abeloth’s true identity proves you can’t take Star Wars seriously, especially when Luke’s shock at this revelation is compared to him finding out Darth Vader is his father. If that doesn’t make you laugh, then I don’t think you should be reading this book (or this series).
Fate of the Jedi has been most fascinating for Luke and Ben’s storyline. I’ll admit: as outrageous as Abeloth was, she kept me entertained. Jaina and Jag, however, are a different story. Because I’ve been told the Legacy comics have made a few outcomes impossible, I’ve been consistently disappointed with the lack of tension this knowledge creates for their relationship. Continuity has subverted Jaina’s dramatic declaration; the news felt weaker than it could have been. I should make allowances for canon since knowing is inexcusable for expecting a different result, but I’m still disappointed.
Allies finished with a couple of cliffhangers that genuinely surprised me. Of course, with Abeloth gone (or so I think) and the crazy Jedi healed, one has to wonder what else Fate of the Jedi has in store for us as it draws near the end. Despite bringing order to the seat of government, Daala’s become unhinged and the threat she poses to the sanctity of the Alliance must inevitably be resolved. Luke still needs to uncover as much of Jacen’s past as he can—helping the Jedi become sane again was incidental; ultimately he knows he can’t go back until he does. This is a pivotal installment in the series. There are some resolutions, but Golden is doing a fine job of building toward the finale.
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