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Outcast (Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi, Book 1) Hardcover – March 24, 2009
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
About the Author
Aaron Allston is the New York Times bestselling author of the Star Wars: Legacy of the Force novels Betrayal, Exile, and Fury; the Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines adventures Rebel Dream and Rebel Stand; novels in the popular Star Wars X-Wing series; and the Doc Sidhe novels, which combine 1930s-style hero-pulps with Celtic myth. He is also a longtime game designer and was recently inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design (AAGAD) Hall of Fame. He lives in Central Texas.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
“COME TO COURSE TWO-SIX-NINE.
” Han, following his wife’s directions, banked the Falcon around and headed toward the government district. Leia, in the copilot’s seat, had her personal comlink to her ear.
The Falcon’s comm board was alive with Coruscant Security and traffic monitors warning Han to return to designated ship traffic lanes or be subject to arrest. He growled and switched the thing to silent mode. “They found him?”
“They found him. He’s in an X-wing with a hole in the cockpit.”
“Fifty—fifty chance. It was in the Senate Building, so it’s either a fully functional security vehicle or some Senator’s unarmed memoriesof- youth vehicle. I’m hoping for the second option.”
“Come to two-five-nine.”
“Nah.” Han put the Falcon into a dive. His stomach fluttered, and the sensor screen filled up with tiny objects getting larger–small- vehicle traffic at and below building-top level. Flashing down at terrifying and illegal speed, he twitched the controls right and left, nimbly dodging the much smaller civilian vehicles.
“Han, what do you think–”
Then he was fully among them, streams of traffic above as well as below. He pulled out of his dive two hundred meters below the average height of the buildings.
“This way, we’re off the major sensor boards. Only vehicles with line of sight on us will complain.”
“I understand that. I mean, why not turn to two-five-nine?”
“His course changes are just to jerk us around, to confuse us. I know where he’s going.”
“The spaceport, right at the edge of the government district. He stole a starfighter; that means he wants to make space. It’s damaged, so he can’t. He needs another one. Right?”
“When it comes to piloting and pilots, I’m all-knowing.”
Leia put an artificial sweetness into her voice. “I’ll never argue with you again.”
Han snorted and increased velocity. A Coruscant Security speeder following in his wake dropped back, left behind as though it were suddenly standing still.
Luke and Ben, in Ben’s nimble red airspeeder, received the transmission with Han’s guess about the spaceport.
Luke, at the controls, shook his head, not pleased. The spaceport, comparatively flat and built at a much lower altitude than the surrounding residential, business, and government zones, was not, as most supposed, actually situated at bedrock level. Below it were many levels of machinery, repair hangars, Empire-era emergency bunkers, spaceport employee facilities, and repair accesses.
If Han was right and Valin was headed that way, even if he was unsuccessful at stealing another spaceworthy vehicle he might escape into those subterranean regions, making it hard or impossible to find him before he detected his tracking device and destroyed it.
Their speeder emerged from the skytowers and was abruptly out over the flatter region surrounding the spaceport. It was mostly given over to speeder parking, though it had decorative elements, including tree-spotted grassy regions and a small artificial lake.
And sensor stations. Almost immediately, the speeder’s comm board began blaring with instructions for them to turn back, to stay away from restricted airspace.
“Tell them who we are.” Luke had to raise his voice to a shout to be heard.
“I bet it doesn’t work. Who’s on the news as a criminal suspect? You are.”
“Do it anyway.” Luke put the speeder into a holding pattern, keeping close to the ring of skytowers, not approaching the port itself. The authorities might well decide to shoot down a suspicious speeder– piloted by a suspected criminal or not–heading straight toward an invaluable government and civilian transportation resource. Sabotage and terror attacks had taken place as recently as the war, two years earlier.
Ben looked up from the comm board, startled. “We’re not the only ones.”
“What?” Luke scanned the airspace above the spaceport.
There were a lot of small vehicles there now, most of them airspeeders of one size or another. Some were bigger business vehicles, many with lettering and symbols on the sides.
From the utility compartment, Ben pulled out a pair of macro - binoculars and held them to his eyes. “That one’s a press vehicle. Turret-mounted holocam on top. That one–hey, that’s Jaina. The big green one–oh, kriff.”
“Language. What is it?”
“It has an oversized driver’s cab and that Skakoan is in it.”
Luke frowned. Suddenly everyone knew that Valin was coming here, including press and bounty hunters. That meant open comm channels were being monitored, and people with no business being here were up to date. Daala’s people had to be doing this.
Then he saw it, almost at ground level, an X-wing painted in classic First Galactic Civil War grays. Its running lights were off; it was illuminated only by the glows from parking area pole lights–it flew beneath the altitude of the lights themselves.
“Hold on.” Luke pushed his control yoke forward, sending the speeder into a precipitous dive.
Ben’s lips were drawn back in a grimace–perhaps because no teenager wants anyone else to endanger his vehicle recklessly, that being the teenager’s own prerogative–but said, “Falcon’s incoming.”
“Good.” Luke put the speeder on an intercept course, or a collision course if anything went wrong, and switched the autopilot on. He unlatched his seat restraints and slid toward Ben. “Take the controls.”
He was gratified to see his son’s eyes open wide, but Ben did as he was told; the boy unbuckled, slid under his father, grabbed the controls, disengaged the autopilot.
Luke stood up in the seat, drawing on the Force to keep him pinned in place despite the rush of wind threatening to tear him free.
He counted on Ben to know what to do, and his son did not let him down. Ben leveled off at the same altitude as the X-wing, completing his maneuver just meters behind the starfighter, and drew alongside that vehicle’s port side.
Luke sprang across the gap separating his seat from the cockpit. The wind threatened to whip him away, but a boost of Force energy carried him to the fuselage just as Valin Horn was realizing he had a pace vehicle. Luke landed astride the nose, facing astern, staring straight down into Valin’s startled features.
Valin yanked up on the X-wing’s armrests. The canopy was suddenly open, snapping backward, and gone, and Valin hurtled into the sky, his pilot’s chair propelled by a crude one-use rocket.
“Stang! He punched out.” Han pounded his steering yoke. Leia looked as aggravated as Han felt. “Can the cargo tractor beam–”
“Not strong enough. Can’t compensate for a fast-moving target.”
“We have to go after Valin, then.”
Han shook his head. “The ejection won’t have left enough controls for Luke to land the X-wing. He may be able to lift it or push it down with the Force . . . but land it with no controls? No. We have to help him.” He heeled over, diving toward the X-wing.
“He punched out.” Jaina reluctantly turned her attention from Luke, disappearing toward the spaceport on the uncontrolled X-wing, and returned it to Valin, still ascending in his ejection seat. She banked and headed toward the rogue Jedi.
In the passenger seat, Master Kyle Katarn, about Luke’s age, darkhaired and dark-bearded, stretched as if coming out of a nap. “You plan to maneuver underneath and catch him?”
Katarn pointed toward another speeder, a large, flatbed cargo hauler with figures standing in the cargo bed. This vehicle rose toward Valin’s position from a much nearer position. “So do they.”
Valin’s seat reached its maximum altitude and began dropping. Immediately the short-term repulsor within the seat activated, slowing his descent. He felt as though he’d taken a tremendous blow to the top of his head, doing no damage to it but compressing the spine beneath. Ejections were always like that–bad, but better than the alternative.
And he’d always relish the look...
Top customer reviews
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The Galactic Alliance takes a stand against the Jedi and the story splits into three subplots. Each is very much separate from the other. One of them could have been excised, but it was otherwise great.
HAN AND LEIA ON KESSEL
I will start with the weakest of all the storylines. Han and Leia run off the Kessel to help Lando save it from seismic destruction. None of this makes much sense. Why would Lando call on Han and Leia? They are not seismologists or any sort of specialists who one would think up first for the job. Lando could just as easily explore the tunnels of Kessel himself. Why does he sit back and have his friends do it?
Leia has risked her life for many things, but never to save a planet that is pretty desolate and could easily be completely evacuated. She's dragging a reluctant Han along - so very out of character. They bring Allana with them, a child they are supposed to keep safe.
And somehow, Leia and Han discover something Lando, in all the mining he's done on Kessel with all his machinery and manpower, had never found.
How Lando convinced all the old rebel pilots to risk their life and limb for this is beyond me. It is a risky mission with so little regard for their lives. ". . . your warhead will not be set to explode on contact. It will go off on timer. Sometimes, though, it will be on impact. We'll try to remember to tell which is which." Try??
This is much more interesting. Valin Horn has gone delusional. There is nothing more dangerous than a crazy Jedi, so the government gets involved. Jaina, Jag, and Tahiri go on a mission to rescue him, all the while dodging government spies.
LUKE AND BEN ON DORIN
Luke is banished from the Galactic Alliance and leaves to follow Jacen's footsteps, learning where he might have been lead astray. Ben accompanies him and their first stop is Dorin, where they meet the Kel Dors. This is really the most intriguing subplot.
Luke and Ben don't really know what they are going to find. They learn things we thought they all already knew - how to disappear from the Force. We have to assume that it's not the technique Jacen taught Ben. Why that would be, I am not sure. It is the only weakness of this storyline.
I am otherwise in love with this part, because Luke and Ben spend a lot of time together where we see them interacting as father and son.
The book ends with Luke learning from the Kel Dors the potential fate of the Jedi, which opens the way for the rest of the series.
I am very excited about what is to come. Excellent job, Aaron Allston.
After two long and expansive yarns that were both the Vong war and the Legacy series of novels, I was hoping to perhaps return to the roots of the original series and make it fun and accessible again.
Instead we're kicking off with yet another political take on the Jedi that I can't help but think...'Again?' At least when Invincible ended the Legacy series we learned that Daala was back, yet in here in the opening salvo of this new series, she makes only a brief appearance at the very beginning (disappointing) and soon our childhood favorites and expanded universe characters are split into three separate stories that seem to do very little to address what Outcast is supposed to set up for a new series. The only thing `Outcast' at all was that Luke escapes with his son Ben from Daala's watchful eye in exile and ends up on the planet Dorin to look into the events that lead up to Jacen's turn to the dark side. Unfortunately for me, this read more like a Star Trek novel than a Star Wars one, and had the combination of being predictable and seemingly rehashed from so many other stories in sci-fi lore (Logan's Run? Time Machine anyone?).
Speaking of predictability, once again Han and Leia are seemingly the only two people in the galaxy that seem to be conveniently on call from their friends (Lando) in over the top danger (this time Kessel...not original) that only they can solve when time is ticking. Sorry, it just seems too formulaic for me and once again, nothing really new and has nothing to do with the overall arc.
The only interesting think in my opinion was how the remaining Jedi must deal with the apparent madness of one Jedi, Valin Horn. There are a few new introductions of characters in the form of bounty hunters, some government watchdogs, and the interplay of supporting characters (Jaina, Jag, Tahiri, Winter, etc.) that touch on and interweave in the overall backbone of the new story arc.
In the end, it was only this part that warrants my interest in reading further installments and hopefully see what Daala involvement will be. The Luke/Ben & Han/Leia portions read like independent short stories by themselves and while entertaining, just seemed to have nothing to do with main plot and I keep asking myself "so what?"
I will agree with another reviewer that the novels as of late have taken a dour and dry turn towards the political nature of the Star Wars universe and seems to be lacking of comic book adventures of danger, perils, and villains. I really want to see something fresh, go in a new direction, or focus on a new set of characters.
I enjoyed jumping back into the Star Wars universe after the Yuuzhan Vong invasion has ended and new difficulties have arisen. Like all the great SW books, this one follows Luke, Han, Leia, and their progeny.
As the Galactic Alliance begins to challenge the Jedi for operating outside the law, Luke and his son, Ben, leave Coruscant in an attempt to determine what sent Jacen toward the dark side. Han and Leia travel back to Kessel to face Han's demons and help Lando save the planet.
Back on Coruscant, Jaina and the rest of the Jedi Temple struggle with a government that has demanded a political observer be assigned to every Jedi. The legal struggle that surrounds that decision brings several modern elements into the story. Judges arraign new inmates, attorneys plead for injunctions, and defendants submit guilty pleas -- much like what we've seen in the news lately with Casey Anthony, Michael Jackson's doctor, and now Jerry Sandusky.
This was a fun introduction to a new series, and it pits the Jedi against a novel opponent -- the Galactic Alliance government. This book serves only as the intro to the series, so it will not wrap up loose ends and will leave you searching for the next book.
Most recent customer reviews
4.5 stars, but better as 5 over 4
Valin Horn is the first young Jedi to go crazy and see imposters among his family and...Read more