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Balance Point (Star Wars, The New Jedi Order #6) Mass Market Paperback – July 3, 2001
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From the Inside Flap
"In the aftermath of one tragedy,
will a young Jedi's search for redemption
lead to yet another?
There is no place else to channel the flood of refugees fleeing the murderous Yuuzhan Vong but the overcrowded planet Duro, poisoned by centuries of technological excess. Fortunately a deal is struck: In exchange for a new home, the refugees will work to restore the planet to health, under the watchful eye of Leia Organa Solo.
While tempers flare between the Duros and the New Republic, Han Solo, his son, Jacen, and the Ryn called Droma arrive to keep the peace. They are unaware that Leia is on Duro . . . and that Luke, Mara, and Anakin are on their way, searching for a missing Jedi apprentice. And none realize that the Yuuzhan Vong have chosen this embattled planet as the next target in their brutal coreward thrust.
Now, as the fragile stability on Duro threatens to collapse into violence, Jacen Solo must face his greatest dilemma: At what point does the use of power become aggression? Whatever he decides, his next step could tip the galaxy's destiny toward the light or toward darkness-with the life of someone he loves hanging in the balance . . .
About the Author
Kathy Tyers is the author of the Firebird series (Firebird, Fusion Fire, Crown of Fire, and Daystar) and stand-alone science fiction (Shivering World, Crystal Witness, and One Mind’s Eye). She has also written several original Star Wars stories, including the New York Times bestselling novel The Truce at Bakura. She lives in southwestern Montana.
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Balance Point is primarily set on the devastated factory world of Duros. There are multiple refugee camps on the surface in sheltered domes. The Duros themselves live in space facilities surrounding the planet. The setting is evocative enough but I was as happy as the characters were to put it behind me at the end of the book. Like various species before them, the Duros attempt to make a deal with the Vong, a deal we know the whole time will go horribly awry. The payoff at the end to this storyline is sufficient but unsurprising.
Spoiling one detail, Mara Jade is surprised to realize she is pregnant. Ms. Tyers nicely depicts Mara and Luke's feelings over this development: their joy at the prospect of a child but their fears of bringing a new life into such a troubled galaxy. Mara being who she is, her mother-to-be status does not stop her from actively continuing in her role as a Jedi and in fact deepens her commitment, as she has even more worth fighting for. I found Luke and Mara's story to be the most rewarding part of the book.
The Solo family has a needed reunion as all three children along with Han and Leia are placed together on Duros. Han and Leia finally reconcile after all the bitterness of the prior four novels and it is good to see. Anakin is growing rapidly into his persona and beliefs, while Jaina struggles to recover from an injury and a blow to her self-confidence. Jacen debates his relationship to the Force at length. His meditations are interesting yet wearisome all at once.
Balance Point is an adequate continuation of the New Jedi Order but at this point the storyline needs to advance in more unexpected ways. There's a feeling of dots being connected as the various authors offer their entries and then step aside.
Luke and Mara have something new to think about. Han and Leia work on their relationship, as much as they can during a crisis. Anakin helps his aunt and uncle.
Jaina works on her brother, Jacen, who picks the worst time to become an idealistic youth. This is really his story, his struggles with the Jedis' place in the galaxy. His refusal to use the Force means danger to himself and his family. At times, I admit to wanting to reach through the pages to Force-slap some sense into him, but even Luke sadly let him make his choice. If you want to read a good Jacen story, "Balance Point" is it.
The content provides a needed build-up for later books in the series. In the midst of galactic war, it's nice to take some time to explore the humanitarian side of things and flesh out personal relationships and struggles. This book does that without failing to move the overall story forward. A refreshing balance!
When I consider that there are some 14 or so more books in this series after this, I'm pretty disillusioned with the whole thing if this and the 4 books preceding it are any indication of what it will be like.
The Vong war is probably the kind of thing that should have taken place in two books. I think Vector Prime was amazing and it really set a great foundation for something grand, yet it was followed by 5 books that are unequivocal disappointments. I may try and read a few others but as with what seems to be most Star Wars books, this is of the familiar "so inconsequential you could skip it completely" variety.