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Crosscurrent (Star Wars) (Star Wars - Legends) Mass Market Paperback – January 26, 2010

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About the Author

Paul S. Kemp is the author of nine Forgotten Realms fantasy novels and many short stories. When he’s not writing, he practices corporate law in Michigan, which has inspired him to write some really believable villains. He digs cigars, single malt scotch, and ales, and tries to hum the theme song to Shaft at least once per day. Paul Kemp lives and works in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, with his wife, twin sons, and a couple of cats.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

The Past: 5,000 years before the Battle of Yavin

The crust of Phaegon III’s largest moon burned, buckled, and crumbled under the onslaught. Sixty-four specially equipped cruisers—little more than planetary-bombardment weapons systems with a bit of starship wrapped around them—flew in a suborbital, longitudinal formation. The sleek silver cruisers, their underbellies aglow in reflected destruction, struck Saes as unexpectedly beautiful. How strange that they could unleash annihilation in such warm, glorious colors.

Plasma beams shrieked from the bow of each cruiser and slammed into the arboreal surface of the moon, shimmering green umbilicals that wrote words of ruin across the surface and saturated the world in fire and pain. Dust and a swirl of thick black smoke churned in the atmosphere as the cruisers methodically vaporized large swaths of the moon’s surface.

The bright light and black smoke of destruction filled Harbinger’s viewscreen, drowning out the orange light of the system’s star. Except for the occasional beep of a droid or a murmured word, the bridge crew sat in silence, their eyes fixed alternately on their instruments and the viewscreen. Background chatter on the many comm channels droned over the various speakers, a serene counterpoint to the chaos of the moon’s death. Saes’s keen olfactory sense caught a whiff of his human crew’s sweat, spiced with the tang of adrenaline.

Watching the cruisers work, watching the moon die, Saes was reminded of the daelfruits he’d enjoyed in his youth. He had spent many afternoons under the sun of his homeworld, peeling away the daelfruit’s coarse, brown rind to get at the core of sweet, pale flesh.

Now he was peeling not a fruit but an entire moon.

The flesh under the rind of the moon’s crust—the Lignan they were mining—would ensure a Sith victory in the battle for Kirrek and improve Saes’s place in the Sith hierarchy. He would not challenge Shar Dakhon immediately, of course. He was still too new to the Sith Order for that. But he would not wait overlong.

Evil roots in unbridled ambition, Relin had told him once.

Saes smiled. What a fool his onetime Master had been. Naga Sadow rewarded ambition.

“Status?” he queried his science droid, 8K6.

The fires in the viewscreen danced on the anthropomorphic droid’s reflective silver surface as it turned from its instrument console to address him.

“Thirty-seven percent of the moon’s crust is destroyed.”

Wirelessly connected to the console’s readout, the droid did not need to glance back for an update on the information as the cruisers continued their work.

“Thirty-eight percent. Thirty-nine.”

Saes nodded, turned his attention back to the viewscreen. The droid fell silent.

Despite Harbinger’s distance from the surface, the Force carried back to Saes the terror of the pre-sentient primates that populated the moon’s surface. Saes imagined the small creatures fleeing through the trees, screeching, relentlessly pursued by, and inevitably consumed in, fire. They numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Their fear caressed his mind, as faint, fleeting, and pleasing as morning fog.

His fellow Sith on Harbinger and Omen would be feeling the same thing as the genocide progressed to its inexorable conclusion. Perhaps even the Massassi aboard each ship would, in their dim way, perceive the ripples in the Force.

Long ago, when Saes had been a Jedi, before he had come to understand the dark side, such wholesale destruction of life might have struck him as wrong. He knew better now. There was no absolute right and wrong. There was only power. And those who wielded it defined right and wrong for themselves. That realization was the freedom offered by the dark side and the reason the Jedi would fall, first at Kirrek, then at Coruscant, then all over the galaxy.

“Temperature in the wake?” he asked.

The science droid consulted the sensor data on its compscreen. “Within the tolerance of the harvester droids.”

Saes watched the cruisers slide through the atmosphere and light the moon on fire. He turned in his command chair to face his second in command, Los Dor. Dor’s mottled, deep red skin looked nearly black in the dim light of the bridge. His yellow eyes mirrored the moon’s fires. He never seemed to look up into Saes’s eyes, instead focusing his gaze on the twin horns that jutted from the sides of Saes’s jaw.

Saes knew Dor was as much a spy for Naga Sadow as he was an ostensible aide to himself. Among other things, Dor was there to ensure that Saes returned the Lignan—all of the Lignan—to Sadow’s forces at Primus Goluud.

The tentacles on Dor’s face quivered, and the cartilaginous ridges over his eyes rose in a question.

“Give the order to launch the harvester droids, Colonel,” Saes said to him. “Harbinger’s and Omen’s.”

“Yes, Captain,” Dor responded. He turned to his console and transmitted the order to both ships.

The honorific Captain still struck Saes’s hearing oddly. He was accustomed to leading hunting parties as a First, not ships as a Captain.

In moments hundreds of cylindrical pods streaked out of Harbinger’s launching bay, and hundreds more flew from her sister ship, Omen, all of them streaking across the viewscreen. They hit the atmosphere and spat lines of fire as they descended. The sight reminded Saes of a pyrotechnic display.

“Harvester droids away,” 8K6 intoned.

“Stay with the droids and magnify,” Saes said.

“Copy,” answered Dor, and nodded at the young human helmsman who controlled the viewscreen.

The harvester droids’ trajectories placed them tens of kilometers behind the destruction wrought by the mining cruisers. Most of them were lost to sight in the smoke, but the helmsman kept the viewscreen’s perspective on a dozen or so that descended through a clear spot in the sky.

“Attrition among the droids upon entry is negligible,” said 8K6. “Point zero three percent.”

The helmsman further magnified the viewscreen again, then again.

Five kilos above the surface, the droids arrested their descent with thrusters, unfolded into their insectoid forms, and gently dropped to the charred, superheated surface. Anti-grav servos and platform pads on their six legs allowed them to walk on the smoking ruin without harm.

“Give me a view from one of the droids.”

“Copy, sir,” said Dor.

The helm worked his console, and half the viewscreen changed to a perspective of a droid’s-eye view of the moon. A murmur ran through the bridge crew, an exhalation of awe. Even 8K6 looked up from the instrumentation.

The voice of Captain Korsin, commander of Harbinger’s sister ship, Omen, broke through the comm chatter and boomed over the bridge speakers.

“That is a sight.”

“It is,” Saes answered.

Smoke rose in wisps from the exposed subcrust. The heat of the plasma beams had turned the charred surface as hard and brittle as glass. Thick cracks and chasms lined the subcrust, veins through which only smoke and ash flowed. Waves of heat rose from the surface, distorting visibility and giving the moon an otherworldly, dream-like feel.

Hundreds of harvester droids dotted the surface, metal flies clinging to the moon’s seared corpse. Walking in their awkward, insectoid manner, they arranged themselves into orderly rows, their high-pitched droidspeak mere chatter in the background.

“Sensors activating,” intoned 8K6.

As one, long metal proboscises extended from each of the droids’ faces. They ambled along in the wake of the destruction, waving their proboscises over the surface like dowsing rods, fishing the subsurface for the telltale molecular signature of Lignan.

Thinking of the Lignan, Saes licked his lips, tasted a faint flavor of phosphorous. He had handled a small Lignan crystal years before and still remembered the charge he had felt while holding it. His connection with that crystal had been the first sign of his affinity for the dark side.

The unusual molecular structure of Lignan attuned it to the dark side and enhanced a Sith’s power when using the Force. The Sith had not been able to locate any significant deposits of the crystals in recent decades—until now, until just before the battle for Kirrek. And it was Saes who had done it.

A few standard months ago, Naga Sadow had charged Saes with locating some deposits of the rare crystal for use in the war. It was a test, Saes knew. And Los Dor, his ostensible aide, was grading him. The Force had given Saes his answer, had brought him eventually, and at the last possible moment before the conflict began, to Phaegon III. The Force had used him as a tool to ensure Sith victory.

The realization warmed him. His scaled skin creaked as he adjusted his weight in his chair.

He would harvest enough Lignan from Phaegon III’s moon to equip almost every Sith Lord and Massassi warrior preparing for the assault on Kirrek. If he’d had more time, he could have mined the moon in a more methodical, less destructive fashion. But he did not have time, and Sadow would not tolerate delay.

So Saes had created his own right and wrong, and the primates and other life-forms on Phaegon III’s moon had died for it.

He tapped his forefinger on his lightsaber hilt—its curved form reminiscent of a claw—impatient to see the results of the droids’ sensor scans. He leaned forward in his chair when an excited beep announced the first discovery of a Lignan signature. Another joined it. Another. He shared a look with ...

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Product Details

  • Series: Star Wars - Legends
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: LucasBooks (January 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345509056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345509055
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Kemp enjoys good beer, good wine, good company, and a fine scotch every now and again. He writes sword and sorcery and space opera and works very hard to make them a fun ride.

While his mind is often in the fantastical fictional worlds, his body lives in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, with his wife Jennifer, his twin sons, his daughter, and their various and sundry pets.

He is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the University of Michigan law school. When he's not writing , he practices corporate law in Detroit. Yes, that does make him a tool of "the Man," for which he shall bear everlasting shame.

He hopes you enjoy his novels.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Sean M. Sweeney on January 27, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for this.

Yes, I'm a faithful Star Wars reader. I am a Star Wars freak. I own every Expanded Universe novel, have read them cover to cover. And for some reason, my passion for Star Wars - regardless that I have spent my money on them - has waned. Perhaps it is because the Star Wars line has ALWAYS been about Luke, Han, Leia and the kids, and the same enemies (I have to say I'm not really that impressed with the Fate of the Jedi series, but I will continue to read it because, well, I'm a Star Wars fan).

But I admit this today: Paul S. Kemp has re-affirmed my love for Star Wars in his debut EU release, Crosscurrent.

Kemp takes a fresh look at the Star Wars EU, mixing in names we've heard about and have loved and adds strong pacing that leaves the reader wondering how he got to page 153 when it seemed he was just on page 32. He takes a little-known Jedi by the name of Jaden Korr and mixes him in with a pair of scavengers -- one who was born during the time of Outbound Flight, the other a Cerean with light Force-sensitivity -- as well as a Jedi transported through time 5,000 years from the time of Naga Sadow (a living Holocron, if you will), and turns the tale into an instant Star Wars classic.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Master Jedi on March 3, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my first novel by Paul S. Kemp and I thoroughly enjoyed it. He writes beautifully, articulately, and visually descriptive. All the characters, locations, and action were well described. I really enjoyed his writing style.

As far as the story is, this book is supposed to be a "stand alone" storyline; that is, it is not part of a series. Though, I just read that in 2011 or 2012 there will be a follow up to this book. Nevertheless, the story stands on its own with "some" finality to it.

I like that Paul S. Kemp sheds light on an EU character from the video game "Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy" - Jaden Korr. Along with some other interesting characters and fantastic situations that make for an interesting read.

Overall, I liked the book and its story, characters, and events. On a scale from 1-10, I give it a respectable 7. Worthy of a read.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dylan Perry on February 7, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Let me start by saying I'm a hardcore Star Wars fan, especially of the Jedi Academy game. Last year, when this was announced, I was exited about a new Jaden book. But after finishing this, I am left unsatisfied.

Paul Kemp's choppy writing style was different the other novels. It seems he doesn't like to describe, or at least the important moments. He will not tell us anything about the captain character when we first meet him as he's repairing his ship, but Paul will spend a page and a half telling of his adventure from one end of town to another. There's too much real-life items, phrases and sayings in this novel, a current "trend" for new EU books.

I don't think he pulled Jaden off right. I'm glad he didn't give him a defined face, but did tell us about his hair, a beard, eyes, ect. Maybe it's just me, but I would have preferred the Stephen King approach, telling us a few things about him and letting our minds come up with the rest.

The main villan, Saes, is, I'm sad to say, boring. Generic. Forgettable. I did not care about him. Nor was I afraid or pitied him. Though his former master, Relin, was interesting and complex. And the two junk scavengers were interesting at times too.

This book is NOT for new fans. Especially ones who are squimesh. The book is loaded with spoilers and references from other works, including events and deaths. Also, he just assumes you know what every species in the galaxy looks and sounds like, not bothering to explain them.

What really gets me is that Paul didn't play Jedi Academy. He has posted this numerous times on his blog. The fun adventure where we first met Jaden is barely even mentioned in the book. And Rosh, unfortunately, doesn't even get a mention.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jah Warrior on November 10, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It used to be that I actually looked forward to a Star Wars novel, now I find that the only place to go for a proper Star Wars experience bookwise is in the graphic novels and comics. That sense of adventure just doesn't exist anymore in most everything in the NJO.

Every time the post Luke generation has looked interesting, something has undermined them. Either no one touches them again, or someone ruins all the fun with inexplicable story decision. The Jedi Knight franchise has not been revisited since 2003, people like Jacen Solo who looked interesting during the Vong War are killed off or turned into bad guys.

With Crosscurrent one of the starring characters in the stellar Jedi Knight franchise gets to play protagonist for the first time in a novel.

1) Jaden is like one of the ancient Jedi Watchmen, it's like reading about Obi Wan for the first time.
2) Tension.
3) You'll care about the new characters.
4) Descriptive dialog lends the universe a very visceral vibe.
5) Jaden's battle with Alpha.
6) The captain of Junker and his co pilot Marr - both have some depth to them.
7) Relin, the ancient Jedi.
8) The clones, proper maccabre psychopaths, rare in Star Wars.

1) "There be dragons!" - I hate this phrase, somehow feels out of place and even if it was used in the appropriate place, it's still a terrible phrase to use. It wasn't used much but every time I saw it, I got a little annoyed.

2) Jaden's search in the abandoned facility - could have been better, some descriptions could have been skipped. I felt that some of the descriptions were just filler - probably the least fun little section in the book.

3) Saes - the Sith Lord was somewhat of a shallow character. He's the same species as Grievous but that's as interesting as he gets.
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