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on August 9, 2004
This book, as one can learn from interviews online, went from initial draft to published form with few changes. Steven Barnes' writing style is alternately moving and somewhat confusing. There are a lot of good ideas in this book, and Barnes includes many well-vetted references to the E.U. ( such as the Battle of Galidraan from Open Seasons #3 ); on the other hand, there is sometimes a sense of things being omitted.
The Jedi do not seem to utilize major Force effects; Barnes only gives lip service to Force kinesis on one page. In a way that's good; remember, in the experience of, say, the Diamala, Jedi that use as much power as, say, Luke always end up slipping to the dark side. Barnes' use of the Force is markedly different from the brute-force approach, focusing more on sensitivity to one's surroundings. I appreciated it more by my second reading of the novel. However, there are times where the characters do not seem as though they are being creative enough with their mastery of the Force. On the other hand, at this point in the chronology "our ability to use the Force has diminished".
Also, the only weapons used by the clone troopers are blaster rifles and the occasional adhesive mine...but they're going up against droids.
This brings me to my other major complaint about the novel. The early scene with the JK on Coruscant works for me. The problem is that it almost seems to have been written at a different time than the rest of the book, because it's inconsistent. When the JKs appear on Cestus, their energy-absorbing force fields seem to have been forgotten ( perhaps this could be explained by the issue of the Gabonna crystals, or perhaps the shielding made the JKs seem too much like droidekas from the editorial POV ).
Instead, we are shown that their outer casings are impervious to blaster fire ( which is referred to as being BLUE at one point ); even so, a JK goes out of its way to avoid blaster fire for some reason, to help show off that the biodroids are Force-sensitive and therefore precognitive in combat like Jedi. Maybe it was trying to protect its extruded tentacles? It stands to reason that Cestus Cybernetics, having been a Baktoid foundry world, would be able to produce a heavily armored shell, but the JK droids are rather small.
Since the droids are supposed to be the reason for the whole book, the inconsistency of their usage is disconcerting. However, in my opinion Barnes deserves credit for realizing that any droid would have to be Force-sensitive in order to even hold its own against Jedi. (Then we have the problem of Grievous...but that's another discussion.)
Even in light of the above, this book is saved by its good points. The development of Jangotat's character and of his personal identity are paramount here. Barnes tacks some of the samurai philosophy onto Obi-Wan, which is fine considering the origins of the plot for Episode IV. At first, I was unimpressed by Asajj Ventress' role in this book, but without spoiling it, I appreciate what it led up to. I feel like there was actually a point to her being in the book. I like the fact that the lightwhip ( originally from the comic "Duel With a Dark Lady" ) was used here, although Barnes does refer to it as a "toy".
Some effective moments in this book are almost staggering in their simplicity ( see "Warships rose. Towers fell." in italics ). Finally, I respect the author's decision to deliberately leave Anakin out of the story due to not yet knowing the full story of his fall to the dark side in Ep.III. That's fine with me.
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on August 2, 2015
This is one of those rare novels that I've chosen, not out of any form of necessity, to pick up and read multiple times. As far as the Legends EU series of books go, this is the rare gem that has a little something for everyone, and when put all together, becomes a lot of awesomeness for even the most critical reader. I particularly like the societal and governmental aspects of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and this novel delivers like no other! The X'Ting species are rendered beautifully through Barnes' descriptive verse, and the social order they have, which is very insectoid in nature, makes them a very believable lot of beings, not just silly ant people from outer space.

Barnes nails every character's inner struggles as they encounter different situations and face them in their own individual ways. The reader is transported directly into these character's heads, and becomes all at once immersed in their thoughts, actions, and feelings. Kit Fisto is as believable a Jedi Master as one can possibly believe, and shines throughout the entire story. Obi-Wan is up to his usual shenanigans, stumbling into webs of political intrigue whilst bathing the reader in the mysteries of the Force that constantly swells and contracts within and around him. In short, it's Kenobi written the way he should be, and it truly brings the character to vivid life.

But the soul of this book for me is Steven Barnes' mastery of socio-political structure as it applies to the Star Wars universe. It's a sign of pure genius when a writer is able to develop a multi-layered, intricate, and fully functional government from scratch. In conclusion, if you are a fan of anything Star Wars, political espionage, riveting adventures, character studies, or just plain fun-filled science fiction, this is a guaranteed must-read. $7.99 is a small price to pay for a vacation to an exotic world brimming with alien architecture, love, loss, suspense, clone-commanded guerrilla warfare battalions, and lightsaber battles. Do it!
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on September 18, 2006
Taking place twelve months after the Battle of Geonosis, The Cestus Deception carries on the saga of the Clone Wars and follows Obi-Wan Kenobi on a diplomatic mission gone awry. Steven Barnes is a first-time Star Wars author, and he does a good job of weaving in disparate elements from across the Expanded Universe, including the comics, the Clone Wars cartoons, and other novels. His writing style is very descriptive but somewhat stilted and formal. The action scenes feel tonally akin to the quieter dialogue passages and the book never really seems to kick into high gear.

Like Karen Traviss has done in the Republic Commando books, Barnes introduces an intriguing exploration of the clone psyche. His main clone character, A-98 or "Nate," is very well developed and fleshed-out. Nate seeks a deeper understanding of who he is and what his life could and should be about, rather than what has been forcibly instilled into him. Nate's relationship to Sheeka Tull, a slightly shady ex-associate of Jango Fett's, is sensitively and thoughtfully portrayed, although at times those chapters are a bit of a drag on the main thrust of the story.

Kit Fisto made a vivid impression in the seconds he spent onscreen in Attack of the Clones and I was excited to see him paired with Obi-Wan for a mission. This book invests Kit with a surprising amount of emotion and anger for a Jedi: it's unusual to read about one who hasn't entirely suppressed his feelings. I didn't care for the significant deception that Kit and Obi-Wan foist upon the X'Ting and the ruling Five Families midway through the book; my vision of the Jedi and especially Obi-Wan does not encompass this high level of deceit. Granted, Obi-Wan and Kit both briefly express misgivings about the road they've embarked on, but I don't believe they would have ever picked that path to begin with.

The cover of this book is deceptive, featuring Count Dooku prominently. Don't be fooled: he does not appear in the book at all. Rather it should have featured Asajj Ventress, Obi-Wan's nemesis and the central Separatist antagonist. She's my favorite villain to be introduced in the Clone Wars and it's great to see her appear in a novel. There's not a whole lot of depth added to her character, but Barnes' portrayal is strongly in line with how she was presented in the cartoons. Having her broadcast her dreams so strongly that Trillot is drawn into them while standing outside the door wide awake is a terrific and chilling touch; it also seems a very likely side effect of a powerful Force user's subconscious mind's sleep time activity.

Doolb Snoil, the snail-like barrister that accompanies Obi-Wan on his mission, adds a fun and light-hearted touch to the serious feel of the story. His name is Lion's Blood backwards, one of Barnes' non-Star Wars books (and the one plugged on the front cover of The Cestus Deception). Not sure what I think of that....

It's good to follow Obi-Wan Kenobi and Kit Fisto on a wartime diplomatic mission and learning more about the clone troopers has proven to be one of the best themes of the Clone Wars. However, The Cestus Deception is a fairly dry read for a Star Wars novel and doesn't add much terribly essential to the EU.
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on September 14, 2005
This was a well-constructed story, but like many of the Star Wars Novels, the writer fails to adequately describe the fight scenes by using too many abstracts...('Obi-Wan's light saber danced through the fight....'). This doesn't paint a very vivid or exciting picture of Jedi in action. The ONLY author that really gives you a blow-by-blow, slash-by-slash description of a good light saber fight is Michael Reaves in Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter! It was very nice to learn more about Kit Fisto and get a feel for his character - so Fisto fans should be well satisfied. Unfortunately, this novel is consistent with Episodes I-III in that it really makes the Jedi look weak. Their inability to detect the dark side really diminishes a fan's view of the Jedi as being a powerful cast and really gives the impression that the dark side is really stronger! Not to be negative, this is a good story, especially if you're a Fisto fan!
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on August 17, 2015
This e-book felt like a lost TV episode of the Clone Wars TV show. If you are a fan like me and like Star Wars books (like Star Trek books) that read like lost episodes of TV shows that inspired them, this book did perfectly. The aliens felt more realized than they did in some Star Wars novels that I read, and Obi-Wan used his brain and his lightsaber equally well. I thought Obi-Wan felt like his TV show counterpart, and the story, as short as it was, really had TWO twist endings! In the end, "The Hive" short story had lots of action, plenty of twists and surprises, and fully realized characters, all of which read like they came from TV episode that never got filmed. I read Star Wars (like Star Trek) for "lost TV episode" or "lost movie" quality of the better books, and "The Hive" gave me what I liked.
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on May 21, 2014
I chose this rating because the story rocked and covered points in the beginning of the "Clone Wars" that peaked my intrest.Also the full richness of the story and how fleshed out the characters were made it a most enjoyable read.The only downside was the extreme amount of misspelled words and poor spacing of the words. I would highly recommend the book but get out your dictionary to make sure you know what you are reading. If you need a good proof reader let me know as spelling seems to be an issue in all of my "Star Wars" novels.
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on November 18, 2004
After reading Shatterpoint this was a disappointment. While I did like the treatment of the clone soldier, I thought the treatment of Obiwan was just plain dumb. If the Jedi were that easy to fool, what made them so great? Also, the reactions of the Regent were unrealistic.

Still, if you're a Star Wars fan it's worth the read.
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on January 9, 2013
My son collects this series and has just about every one that comes out. I love going to his Amazon WishList to find which ones he hasn't received yet. It makes buying for his birthday and Christmas and other holidays so easy. These books are always EXCELLENT CONDITION and with my Amazon Prime membership, I get them amazingly quickly. You just can't beat FREE TWO DAY SHIPPING on the ones coming from Amazon, and even on the ones coming from individuals, I have never had a problem receiving them in a timely manner so far. Thanks Amazon!
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on October 17, 2012
This the first Star Wars novella that I have bought as a standalone item and based on this, it will not be my last. I found it to be intense and at the end I definitely wanted more. I would now really like to know the fate of that planet and civilization after the events of the story. (trying my best not to give out spoilers)For some reason there are also elements within the story which reminded me of Dune (not a bad thing). So now to the Star Wars franchise owners .............. expand on this story please.
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on June 14, 2004
I'm writing this just a little less than a year before the last of the pre-quel Star Wars films is set to debut so I've been needing some adventures with Obi-Wan Kenobi to get me through that year. The Audio version of the Cestus Deception by Steven Barnes fills the bill quite nicely. Narrator Jonathan Davis seems to get off to a bit of a slow start to mastering Master Kenobi's voice but is in full form by the end providing a nice contrast to the sibilant tones of Kit Fisto. The plot turns spin your head around as you attempt to figure just who is deceiving who. A nice subplot is the development of one of Jango Fett's clones named Nate who proves genetic copies can be just as unpredictable as naturally birthed storm troopers. One of the delights of this story is that Anakin Skywalker gets ditched in the first chapter and Obi-Wan and Kit Fisto can interact as equals during their quest on Cestus. Obi-Wan also gets a breather from having to teach someone else constantly, in a situation where he has to use all his considerable skills to survive physically....the battle with Ventress is memorable in and out of the water.....and socially.....there's even a most unexpected dance scene in the story. Sound effects and a nice music mix along with narrator Davis' skills at performing all the voices make this a satisfying lead up to the film to come.
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