A short book review: Star Wars: The Old Republic: Annihilation Review

 

Drew Karpyshyn has done it again: an amazing, all-around brilliant book. I will admit: it took me some time to read due to school getting in the way. I read half of it before I had to return it to the library (around a month). However, when I finally found a copy in a store, I seized it and began reading. Had the other half of the book finished in one. day. It is so addictive and hard to put down.

Most of the characters are well-developed. It gives insight into Satele Shan, a major character in the MMORPG. As the Grand Master, Satele becomes pregnant with the Supreme Commander ‘s (also known as Jace), son, Theron Shan. She hides it from both of them for 20-something years. The added family drama that some people can relate to adds that element of surprise when both Satele and Jace begin recalling sweet and sour memories of their forbidden past. For Theron, however, he couldn’t care less.

I said “most characters” for a reason: there is one character I have a problem with. Teff’ith is essentially the Twi’lek “sister” to Theron. Although it is apparent at the end that their relationship is merely on a “sibling” level, not much is explained of the Twi’lek’s history, especially with Theron’s makeshift father, Jedi Master Ngani Zho. Zho apparently saved Teff’ith’s life, but not much is explained as far as Theron’s and Zho’s relationship with her. For most of the book, I believed that Theron and Teff’ith had a love history, but Theron denies it later in the book. I haven’t read the comics, and it apparently explains their history in more detail, though I don’t want to spoil it for myself or you guys.

Hence, Karpyshyn has written another masterpiece. Absolutely fabulous. If only he could write expansions of SWTOR MMORPG or any other game. Brilliant. Amazing. Phenomenal. -end fan girl-

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Star Wars: The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance Book Review

 

I’m merrily rolling along in TOR series of Star Wars books. I FINALLY finished Fatal Alliance (SWTOR:FA or just FA) by Sean Williams recently on my trip to Hot Springs. This book took forever for me to read for two reasons:

1.) Being a graduate student sucks all the time out of my day and energy out of my body

2.) This book is not nearly as “easy” to read as Karpyshyn, Schreiber,  or John Jackson Miller. Let me define “easy” in this context: you don’t merely lay down after a freaking long day of grading papers and beating TiO2 facts into your brain to wind down reading this book. This book took effort to read. You have to stay on top and not just “zombie read,” if you know what I mean. You have to keep track of all the characters and their emotions or else, in the end, you’ll end up being confused, much like I was.

I like to read my books for around an hour while I lay in bed before I fall asleep for the night. I’ll lull in and out of sleep or even just conk out while reading. Well, I do not suggest you do that with this book. Anyway, let me give you a quick synopsis so I can tell you why you can’t just do that.

*spoilers*

Fatal Alliance starts with many complex characters. On the Empire side, there is Eldon Ax, a Sith apprentice and the daughter of Lema Xandret. She plays a vital role in this book because 1.) Lema Xandret is looney and 2.) she wants to be released from her master, Darth Chratris. Next, there is Ula Vii, an imperial agent who is disguised as a Republic envoy. On the Republic side, there’s Satele Shan, the Jedi Grand Master (as you know from SWTOR), Shigar Konshi, her padawan, and Larin “Toxic” Moxla, a former Republic trooper. The neutral parties include Dao Stryver, a Mandalorian warrior, and Jet Nebula, a smuggler and pilot of the Auriga Fire.

All of these people are interconnected because they cross each others’ paths many times. In general, the Mandalorian, the smuggler, the Empire, and the Republic join forces to subdue the mysterious “hexes,” or robust droids with a biological component. Lema Xandret created the hexes on the planet of Sebaddon, located just outside the galaxy near a black hole, and intended to never leave the planet. However, she cloned her daughter, who turns out to be Ax, and confines the clone to an aqueous prison for the twentyish years of the clone’s life. The cell blocked the Force from reaching the clone. Lema Xandret programmed the hexes to destroy any Empire that crossed their path, as Ax, or as her mother originally named her Cinzia (and named her ship after her as well), was ripped from her mother’s arms at a young age since she showed Force sensitivity.

Omg. That’s just a little bit of the story, too.

Anyway, Shigar and Larin cross paths after investigating some disturbance in a warehouse. Dao Stryver is looking for a navicomp which will tell him where the Cinzia is or reveal further information regarding the whole ordeal. That’s how the Republic gets interested in this thing. The navicomp is located deep within Hutta, on Tassaa Bareesh’s cartel. All three parties sneak into Bareesh’s chambers to steal the navicomp. They ended up revealing and unloading hexes from the downed ship, the Cinzia, all battling to get to the ship.

FURTHERMORE, while all this is going on, Ula Vii, the Republic envoy/imperial spy has an inner battle to stay loyal to the Empire or look out for relatively innocent lives, especially Larin, who he fancies. He somewhat befriends Jet Nebula (the coolest name in the whole universe). It’s not really a friendship by choice, which is revealed later; Nebula knows that Vii is working for the Empire, and all this time, he’s afraid Nebula will reveal his true identity. Nebula ends up evacuating him from a ship later on, mostly to get rid of him.

The main point of this book was related to the Mandalorian, Dao Stryver, who is actually a female (which surprised me). The Dramatis Personae at the beginning of the book labeled Stryver as a male; but the epilogue revealed Stryver as a Gektl female to Jet Nebula. Stryver wanted to test the strength of the Republic and Empire as a way of, perhaps, getting ready for another Mandalorian War.

This book was appropriately named Fatal Alliance since Satele Shan and Darth Chratis formed an alliance, mostly to defeat the hexes and control Sebaddon, but also in an attempt to convert the apprentice/padawan. Ax ends up defeating Chratris in the end, and when you think Satele is dead, Shigar saves her.

This book is so complex and weird and amazing and time consuming and gives your brain a workout, in a sense. The story is pretty good; however, it kind of drags once the Republic and Empire form a short-term alliance to destroy the hexes. The best part of the book, however, is when Ax and Satele confront the clone.

Fatal Alliance is definitely a book worth reading. Make sure you have the time to read this, because you want to make sure you understand what is happening to fully appreciate the book. The complexity is a nice shift from the other SWTOR books; it keeps you on the edge of your seat. But mostly, it makes you wish you were in the Star Wars universe yourself.

Mass Effect: Foundation Issue #3

Mass Effect: Foundation Issue #3 via Dark Horse Comics

 

The third issue of Mass Effect: Foundation did not disappoint (no matter how much I hate Ashley Williams). Yes, I said it: she is in this issue. This story continues #2 in that it is slowly introduces Commander Shepard’s squad mates, one by one. Ashley Williams is the prime squad mate for this issue, as Wrex was the one for the last issue.

This issue gives insight into the moments right before Shepard comes upon Williams in ME1. It outlines the attack on the “Dog Squad” by the Geth. One by one, Williams’ squad gets annihilated, with Shepard coming just in time for Williams.

Of course, Rasa and Cerberus is up to no good the whole time.They are investigating the first Reaper that touched down on Eden Prime during the events of ME1. And naturally, they become interested in Commander Shepard.

Amazing, as always. The artwork is gorgeous and the story provides background information for Ashley Williams prior to the meeting with Commander Shepard (aside from the conversations you have with her during ME1). I highly suggest following this series.