Review: Refugee by Sean Williams & Shane Dix

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Author: Sean Williams & Shane Dix
Series: Star Wars: The New Jedi Order #16 / Force Heretic #2
Pages: 416

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Swift and deadly, the Yuuzhan Vong have blasted their way across the galaxy—and now stand on the threshold of total victory. Yet a courageous few still dare to oppose them…

Rife with hostile cultures and outright enemies, the Unknown Regions holds many perils for Luke Skywalker and the Jedi, searching for Zonama Sekot, the living planet that may hold the key to dealing once and for all with the Yuuzhan Vong.

Meanwhile, on the edge of the galaxy and in the heart of a trusted ally, old enemies are stirring. The Yuuzhan Vong have inflamed long-forgotten vendettas that are even now building up to crisis point. And as Han and Leia journey on their quest to knit the unraveling galaxy back together, betrayal and deception await them…

Little by little I’m reading this saga… Almost 15 years enjoying that far galaxy during its conflic against the Yuuzhan Vong. My intention was to read it faster, but publishers in Spain had another opinion, so I had to wait until my English was good enough to tackle that Universe in its original language. The New Jedi Order is the perfect example of why the Expanded Universe was so great and why it shouldn’t have been dismissed so promptly by the new owners of Star Wars.

As in the previous book, this one is also divided in three fronts. One of the main ones is the mission to Bakura, where Leia, Han, Jaina and company go to investigate the political situation of a planet always afraid of alien invasions. We also have the quest to find Zonama Sekot lead by Luke, Mara, Jacen and company. They want to cut down the time of searching by using the Chiss records about the Unknown Regions. Too bad our blue pals are not famous for their trusting nature. And lastly we also follow Nom Anor and his revolution of the Shamed Ones. No rest for the wicked I guess…

Is the story nice and enjoyable? Yes. Is the story full of Star Wars lore and magic? Yes. Is the story worthy of being one of the last books of The New Jedi Order saga? Sadly, I’m afraid that is not the case. I’m here to read about the war against the Yuuzhan Vong. For the first time in many years the good guys have the advantage, but it seems they have enough time to distract themselves with secondary missions that are barely related with the biggest conflict. That is not really what I wanted to read. We should be reaching some kind of climax to the story, but these last two books feel like a stop just to catch your breath. If it were just a book, I would be OK with it; but it looks like the whole trilogy is going to be like that…

Now that all the whinning is out of me, I will be able to judge the story by what it is and not by what I want it to be. Among our hands we have an action-packed book with great characters, nice stories and some twists and punches to keep things interesting. By far, the most remarkable one is the story of Bakura. I wasn’t at all pleased with another journey through memory lane, but I must admit the result is quite good. I would even consider that part the main one of the book and the one that gets all the focus in the last chapter. And it is the story with all the twists (some pretty badass), although I must say I don’t really like the way all the secrets are revealed almost at the same time. It was crazy. No time to digest a punch when we are already receiving another one and two more are waiting… I consider myself a masochist as a reader, but that was a bit too much.

The other two stories are less interesting. Luke’s part of the book has a very strong start, but it loses momentum pretty quickly. The search for information in Chiss space is necessary, but it lacks emotion and, sometimes, it is even boring. There is a weak attempt to bring some drama, but it dies as soon as it starts. And the part with Nom Anor is just more of the same. I hope we get something mindblowing in the third book after reading over and over again how Nom Anor spreads the new truth about the Jeedai. He must have some kind of epic endgame. It is Nom Anor, after all.

I usually don’t mind the constant leaping from one story to the other, but this time those jumps happen every few paragraphs and as a reader I found myself having issues relocating my focus. I usually read at night and my brain is not as young as before, so I had more difficulties than expected to follow all the threads. That’s why I’m grateful the last chapter (the important one) is only focused on Bakura.

I don’t have anything special to say about the characters. These all friends are all great and a pleasure to read, but I would have loved some kind of development. Being honest, there is something about that with Tahiri (be careful what you wish for…); but I was hoping for a more romantic development. Thanks to this trilogy, Jacen, Jaina, Jag and Danni are not in a constant fight for their lives; so I was expecting a more direct approach to their feelings. What can I say! I’m a sucker for love!!

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