Top positive review
Sound ending to Fate of the Jedi
Reviewed in the United States on March 27, 2013
A little over a decade ago the folks responsible for overseeing the Star Wars Expanded Universe decided to embrace sprawling multi-author epics as the center of the adult fiction line. While there have been various standalones and short series since the late 1990s, much of Del Rey's focus has been on multi-year publishing events. This trend started with the New Jedi Order's nineteen books, continued with the nine volumes of Legacy of the Force, and now possibly concludes with the nine entries in Fate of the Jedi. While there are plenty of good stories and side plots contained within these thirty-seven novels, none of the three epics has offered a substantial enough storyline to warrant being spread across so many books. I've been reading the entire Expanded Universe using the in-universe chronology and getting to Apocalypse feels like a weight lifting.
The great news for Fate of the Jedi is despite its being stretched thin over too many books, the three authors have presented a highly consistent and generally very interesting tale. With Apocalypse, Troy Denning does indulge himself with some of his pet Star Wars creations: the insectile Killiks are wedged into the story and the not-very-relevant saga of the Barabels and their eggs comes to an end. But overall he follows right along with what the eight preceding volumes have established. Unlike his conclusion to Legacy of the Force, this book does not feel rushed and the length is warranted as he brings various plots to a close.
Summarizing Apocalypse seems a tad pointless: I would hope no one will pick it up without having read the rest of Fate of the Jedi and anyone who is already following along with the series will certainly finish with this final volume. But I'll mention a few things that were of particular interest to me. The book's pacing is solid: Mr. Denning does an admirable job of building multiple cascading action sequences as Abeloth's various avatars are dealt with. There's a real tension to the events on Coruscant as the Jedi infiltrate the Sith-run government and position themselves for the final conflict. Boba Fett swings into action with highly unlikely ally Tahiri in a gripping assault on Imperial labs.
One surprise in Apocalypse ties directly into one of the more cryptic story arcs of the Clone Wars television series. As a fan of that show, I was absolutely delighted at how the open-ended nature of the episodes in question dovetailed so neatly into the mystery of Abeloth. This cross-pollination of Star Wars stories is something I welcome for the heightened consistency and air of reality it gives to the galaxy far, far away. Mr. Denning uses the foundation those episodes offered and also utilizes the mysteries of the Maw and Centerpoint Station to give Abeloth quite a bit of interest. Her entire arc has a fantastical air about it considering her ancient lineage, her generically named locales (the Pool of Knowledge, for instance), and her seemingly almost limitless abilities. However, the authors have tied her sufficiently to key elements of the Star Wars universe for her to feel a true and reasonably grounded part of it.
I found Vestara Khai's arc somewhat disappointing when evaluating the series as a whole. The obvious paths were for her to either stay a Sith or be "redeemed:" in Apocalypse, one of these two options comes true and there's not much surprise about it. Her relationship with Ben Skywalker does seem to be fertile ground for future novels to play off of: whether that's the case remains to be seen, since at this point no one outside of the people making the movies knows whether the movie Episode VII will be set after these books and whether it will take anything in the Expanded Universe into consideration. Vestara did have some good sparring with Ben and their relationship matured him further as a Jedi: I simply would have liked to see a little more surprise in her ending. Perhaps that is yet to come.
The book also features a very nice nod to the Legacy comics in the form of an unexpected ally for Luke in his final battle. Like the Clone Wars tie-in, it's welcome to see the novels embracing other forms of Star Wars storytelling and making the sprawling universe more unified. There is still substantial mystery around Allana Solo's future and the various competing visions for who will sit on a throne overseeing the galaxy, but Fate of the Jedi does set some of the stage for the Legacy comics and also leaves plenty of room for yet more stories set in the intervening years. While not at the height of his Star Wars masterpiece Star by Star, Mr. Denning delivers a very solid conclusion to Fate of the Jedi with Apocalypse.