Allies (Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi)
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2010
fotj:allies is a story with a great deal of potential that is unfortunately undone with very sloppy execution. other reviewers have had some impolite things to say about the author, but i'm not going to go that far, as i'm sure the editorial process is just as much as fault. i venture into spoiler territory a bit, so consider yourself warned.

even if you're not a hardcore fan, the book can be difficult to read at times. there are jumps from one character's perspective to another's that are rather jarring, and characters behave inconsistently, sometimes from one page to the next. too many chapters begin with recaps of what happened a few pages before, as if you hadn't just read it for yourself, or needed help understanding. and then some events seem to happen completely out of sequence- for example, at one point the skywalkers are waiting for a rendez-vous with lando. luke decides to speed up the timetable (because "things have changed," he explains, though at no point is the book clear on what's supposed to have changed), and arranges for lando to meet him on the way. 14 pages later, lando arrives at the site of the initially-planned meeting, and is absolutely shocked that luke is no longer there. what? later on, vestara is asking dyon questions about ship that dyon clearly comprehends, even though it isn't until a few paragraphs later that she explains to him what ship is.

if you are a hardcore fan, it gets even worse. there's far too much character deconstruction in this book. where ben is steady and mature beyond his years coming into this story, here he's a hapless hormonal sap. where vestara had been ambitious, cunning, and ruthless (ship's favorite among the entire tribe), here she's an ineffective, shallow, hormonal sap. where jaina had been tempered through the tragedy of having to kill her brother, here she announces herself almost proudly on multiple occasions as 'sword of the jedi', as if violence is something she suddenly thinks should be embraced. and the one big question that is never answered ties into the most significant deconstruction of all, that of the sith. why exactly is there any kind of alliance at all? that simple question is never answered. it's almost like the jedi and sith are reduced here to political parties simply as a plot device to get ben and vestara into the same room. why would the sith want to confront or destroy a powerful dark-side user in the first place? the book never explains. why would the sith think they need the skywalkers - or anyone else in the galaxy - to help them do it? the book never explains. why would a tribe of thousands, bred for thousands of years to be certain of their superiority, ever think that they would need the help of two good guys to take on a fellow bad guy, for whatever unexplained reason it is that they're choosing to take on a fellow bad guy? sorry, don't know.

i spoke of potential, and the book starts with a great deal. since they were introduced, it was clear that these sith were different than others that had been written. their origins predated both the bane-era self-destructive infighting and the post-bane highlander mentality with one always succeeding the one before. their introduction earlier in the series made explicit their inherent ruthless and merciless capacity. the eventual confrontation between the skywalkers and these sith could have been something really spectacular. instead, the lost tribe here is just another posturing and largely toothless foe. even more potential is lost with the constant return to politics, by far the most boring element of the star wars universe. think back to episode 4, when the extent of the politics is tarkin announcing to the room that the emperor has disbanded the senate. now think back to episode 1, with all that exciting footage of the senate in session. there's far too much episode 1 in this book, and the entire series for that matter.

there were a few years where star wars books had grown predictable. the bad guy or the superweapon du jour, followed by the happy ending. they've become predictable again on a larger scale, with entire sequences of books devoted to dark side macguffins and the republic being transformed from within.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2010
I am a Star Wars geek and lay claim to reading every book of the Star Wars series from Pre-Episode I through the Clone Wars to ROTJ and then read the disappointing Legacy series. I told myself that I would not continue to read these 9 book series because, quite frankly, the Legacy series would have made a fine trilogy. It introduced too many characters that had only minor roles in the story telling and much like reading Tolkien, you start forgetting who individuals were and whether or not you missed something. I actually started jotting down notes when new characters were added to the series. Those characters were either killed off or had shortened arcs.

But I caved. I started reading Omen and I hoped that the FotJ series would be better. Maybe they learned from their mistakes. After this book, it is clear they haven't.

First and foremost, I hate hate hate having three authors writing through the book. It almost made sense in the Legacy series where Travis and her love of all things Mando were evident. I am glad she took the reins in these books, as they made little real sense to the overall story, they were the most detailed and put you in the tribe.

I don't know what to think of Golden. I have the feeling she has no more clue about the Star Wars Universe as I do about prehistoric classical music. I noticed several typos (at least 4) where once she referred to a ship and had no idea what she was saying. If you are going to have someone play in the universe, please make sure they have a comfort within it. She seems to use the universe as a clunky tool for her prose.

Now, I know we can't always focus on the main characters, but the introduction of certain characters falls into the same 1)they are going to die or 2) I guarantee you that there will be little if no further exposition of the characters later in the series. Of course I cannot be certain I am right as the other books aren't penned yet, but that's my fear after the Legacy series. There just is not the continuity where there would be if there was only one author. And continuity is the key to writing epic stories.

I don't want to spoil anything, but the plot twists come in big flashing lights that say "plot twist ahead." As soon as you realize what is going on, you feel a bit angry because in Golden's books they are just too damn obvious.

So, you probably are going to read this book if you like Star Wars and the Star Wars EU. You know you aren't getting War and Peace and you are comfortable with a fair amount of pulp. Well, this is pulp.

I am sure Golden is a good writer, but she isn't the best writer for the series. I feel the same way about Drew Karpashyn and his Darth Bane series seems to be pretty popular. So read this, you will finish it and go "meh." And once the series is over, you will say to yourself "man, they could have done this in like three books, not nine."
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I'm completely lukewarm about this book. I enjoyed the touching scenes featuring the Solos and Allana and even that nexu cub. The anti-slavery message was delivered through a neat new character, but the book lacked a distinctly Star Wars feel. The whole subplot with the journalist could have been put in any science fiction book in nearly any pre-made universe and done all right.

The writing style bothered me. Let me just recount one sentence for you. Please, try to read this allowed in one breath:
page 63 So it was that in the shaded marketplace, with artificially moist, cool air blowing about them and a few musicians standing about playing strangely complicated-looking instruments with cases looking sadly empty of credcoins, he, Vestara, and Dyon found themselves looking at a pretty impressive amount of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and meats.

Still alive? Did you breathe while reading aloud?

The book bleeds passive verbs all over the place. The majority of sentences are ungainly at best. I daresay some people may even like the style, but it struck me at a painful angle. Also,I like Jaina Solo and found this portrayal of her particularly painful to take at times.

The plot's okay, though I agree with those who say the great end battle is shoddy at best. I know this is a inner book of a series, but it just felt like a lot of subplots were left unresolved. Here's to the hope that loose ends will be tied in future books.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
FOTJ Allies is only Golden's second entry in the Star Wars universe, but you can tell very early on that she's gotten a handle on the essential characters of the EU. Golden's Luke is written impeccably well. For the first time, the reader gets a more intimate look at how Mara's death has personally affected Luke. Sure, we knew he was upset, etc, but the predicaments Luke is placed in here bring the brutality of Mara's death and the pain of that loss to the fore-front once more. You get to see Luke's pain without him being completely inept, and I appreciate that. SW authors often either write the All-Powerful-Luke or the Pathetic-Incapable-Luke and it's nice to see I well balanced mix of all the above here.

The jury is still out Luke and Ben's "alliance" with the Sith. In Allies you meet several Sith, including Vestara's father, and while they are not completely pointless or "cardboard," they lack the vibrancy of Vestara. Vestara is one of the more interesting new additions to the SW universe in a while. She's happily Sith and makes no bones about, but is by no means a "Mary Sue," a pointless addition to the fray. Since the writers of the FOTJ series have taken the time to develop her character, I hope they don't throw her to the wayside too soon.

There are major plot movements in this book; it creates new story lines and ties up a few old one. Or does it? Although the mad Jedi situation seems to be resolved, I don't think we've seen the end of Abeloth/the Maw/Sinkhole Station, etc. Finally we seem to have a return to old-school SW mythos. A story that can't simply end with a death (Jacen/Darth Caedus)or the conclusion of a war (the Yuuzhan Vong war). You can't solve all the questions that Abeloth, Vestara and the Sith, and Daala's seige against the Jedi in a neat package and slap a bow on it.

Overall, I recommend this book, but I also recommend checking out all of the FOTJ beforehand, and even some of the earlier SW lit. Nitpickers out there will dislike a gross typo by the author (it's Kyp DURRON people), and frequent mentions of "the Sword of the Jedi," but they did not affect my overall enjoyment of the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2011
WARNING: SPOILERS

Trying to think of worse novels than this, only one other Star Wars novel comes to mind.. Millenium Falcon. Which I'm not sure I can really count as a novel as it didn't go.. well, anywhere.

It's not so much that the story was bad, it definitely had potential. The Ben/Vestara interactions were interesting, but needed a LOT more focus as it was the only thing that really kept me turning the pages.

The author seems to have little to no understanding of the Star Wars EU. At times she even seems to break several norms for Star Wars novels such as the author never talking directly to the reader, instead talking through the characters. This felt quite awkward. Several times in EACH chapter I found myself completely confused by misspellings and incorrectly used words. A speeder and a speederbike are NOT the same thing. Did the Chevin or the Chev enslave the Chev or the Chevin? The author seems to use these terms interchangeably, at points within a page of one another (possibly on the same page for hard copy books).

Other inconsistencies abound as well. Vestara's lightsaber is taken from her when she is captured. However, when they jump on the speeder (er, bike.. as is explained a page later) she is somehow capable of deflecting blaster bolts (from.. something, it's not really explained if it's from other speederbikes, ships, or handheld weapons..). She then participates in hand to blaster combat, showing she indeed has no lightsaber. Near the end of the book, her lightsaber is returned to her.. once again proving she didn't have it.

The overall ending is disappointing to say the least. The fight with Abeloth was barely described. I have no idea what happened. How was she deflecting or countering all those lightsabers? Nobody knows. Where they even attacking her? Well, they managed to hit each other. That was described. What attacks was she using? Did she even attack aside from the single force knockback? We just don't know. Which is very, very, bad in a book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2010
Some brief spoilers below...

After just finishing this book, I'm looking forward to reading the next -- which is a good thing.

Other reviewers mentioned the typos and other errors in the book, but those are things I barely noticed while reading, as I wasn't looking for them.

As for character development, I liked the relationship between Vestara and Ben, which seemed similar to Luke's and Mara's.

One of my favourite parts of the book were when the Mandalorians had the Jedi temple surrounded, and along with that came a surprise death.

With Jaina, it seemed a bit out of character for her to ask what she asked of Jagged Fell, and I was hoping to see more insight of her regarding the Mando's, seeing how much she trained with them.

I really liked the courtroom scenes and the introduction of slavery into storylines. I liked the story with the reporter, although I inwardly groaned each time the story about the reporter continued. Will this reporter even have that much of a storyline in the next book?

All in all, I'm sure many hardcore Star Wars fans have already written fan fiction regarding Luke and the Sith that they would feel is better than this book, but I had a good time reading the book even though it was a fast read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2011
This is a great book and it continues on Luke's path to get vindicated from the Galactic Alliance since he was going to be exiled for 10 years or so. I am onto the 2nd to last book in the series Ascension. If you haven't picked up the Fate of the Jedi series yet, read them all from the very start of this particular Star Wars book series. The last one, Apocalypse, will come out in April 2012 and will end the current saga as we know it. Will there be another book series for Star Wars after this one? Who knows...only time will tell.

This book grips you from beginning to end and takes you to where the Sith will have another enemy on the horizon...Abeloth and how she manipulates peoples' minds, such as Luke's to believing who she is when she is not that other being from their past. The emotions start to run high in this book and the last page leaves you with wanting more.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2010
[WARNING -- spoilers!]

Golden takes the plot line building from the past four books and dismantles it almost entirely. The book builds up the mystery of the "mad" jedi, pulls you into Tahiri's trial, teases you with a possible romance between Ben and Vestara, and reminds you of the Old Empire with the siege of the Jedi Temple. Then what happens? It's all washed-away.

Suddenly this "ancient, powerful being" Abeloth is able to be killed so easily by Luke? Suddenly Tahiri is about to be set free if not for last-minute evidence? Suddenly Bwua'tu is killed by "fake" jedi? Suddenly Ben can't stand Vestara anymore. Suddenly Jaina leaves Jag (AGAIN), and has a two paragraph fight with Ship that seems pointless. etc, etc.

The book had done such a good job for so long. I couldn't wait to turn the page. and then with 30-or-so pages to go it's like someone snapped their fingers and the story went into hyperdrive trying to wrap things up.

I'm especially disappointed in the Abeloth story. There's no way it should have been that easy if she's as powerful as we were led to believe for four books. And the "everyone is suddenly cured" story is particularly frustrating. Don't get me wrong. I like the Sith part, and I like the political intrigue. But the rushed ending ruins everything prior to it....
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
"Allies" is a busy book. It hops over several story lines at the same time but never gets confusing. There are a lot of characters floating around but story is written so that I never had to take more than a moment to think about who anyone was before I remembered.

I'll avoid spoilers and simply say that overall it's a pretty good read. Having to cooperate with Sith puts Luke in a tricky position, even for him. Watching how he handles it is very affirming of just how much he's grown over the history of Star Wars.

But the real star of the story is Ben. His interplay with Vestara is very entertaining and very real. The way they swing between seeing each other as potential enemies and potential romantic interests is the best part of the book and at times the saddest.

The other subplots such as the trial, the political moves, the family drama and the Jedi going crazy are all well handled and have many great lines and moments.

On the downside the climax is a tad muddled. I'm also a bit unhappy with the conflicting ways the afterlife for Force-users is depicted. It seems to clash with a lot of events in canon. But I'll wait until the series is finished before I judge that fully.

All in all, "Allies" is a very solid SW novel and if you're a fan of the EU well worth adding to your collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
First, I should say that, unlike many people reading this book, I'd heard about the ending of the series before I even started reading. However, I think that spoiler is allowing me to enjoy the series more than I would have otherwise. Allies builds the story very slowly. It's not even clear what the larger story arch is about. In retrospect, the Fate of the Jedi series probably takes too long to actually set up the larger threat. As such, much of Allies might seem pointless. However, knowing what's coming ahead, I can tell you there is a point.

Allies starts with yet another detour, this time sending Luke and Ben to Klatooine in order to, well, restock their ship. It seems like a poor excuse and for a while it's unclear why the story takes us there. However, 2/3 of the way into the book, it becomes apparent that slavery is an important theme and that the journey to Klatooine ties into this. However, I think there were probably more direct and effective ways to engage with the issue of slavery in Star Wars.

I enjoyed seeing Ben and Vestara's relationship develop. Some of the scenes in the Klatooine marketplace perfectly capture teenage flirtation. I'm glad Ben is written as a regular teenager and not a superhuman teen like the Solo kids. Christie Golden adds more of a romantic touch than the previous writers seemed comfortable with.

I also like how the political crisis unfolded. Christie Golden is careful not to "just" make Daala the villain. Every time she makes a bad decision, we see her justifying it to herself. Despite her baggage from the Jedi Academy novels, Daala has the potential to become a very interesting character. Same for Wynn Dorvan, her chief of staff. Unfortunately, the Jedi come off as unidimensional, insisting on protecting insane Jedi without any just cause.

One problem I had with the book is that Luke's characterization seems off. He seems too hostile towards the Sith, his nominal allies. Suspicion is one thing, but he seems to lack any compassion. This was certainly not the same Luke who in Return of the Jedi insisted that Darth Vader still had good in him. Maybe the experience of Mara's murder has left him jaded (no pun intended), but I felt something key was missing in Luke.

The writing is typical of Star Wars fare, with a lot of cliches. I found Jaina Solo's dialogue to be particularly boring. Jaina seems impulsive and arrogant as she repeatedly calls herself the "sword of the Jedi". Golden just made it hard for me to really care about her, which makes me worried that she's penning the upcoming Jaina trilogy.

Overall, I do feel like the Fate of the Jedi series is getting lost. As much as I like seeing the characterization of Luke and Ben, there really isn't much in this book that's worth the price of admission. There's little character development, few action scenes, and the plot stalls. By the end of the book, there is promise that the plot will thicken as Luke and Ben return to the Maw and the political crisis on Coruscant heats up.

Overall, 3.5 stars.
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