Novels or Series Mentioned
Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth
Clone Wars: Wild Space
X-Wing: Rogue Squadron
Have you ever said something that just totally missed your audience? I will never forget…picture this…Nashville…1998…that’s right, I can do Golden Girl references. Sophia was a comedic genius, but I digress. I was in college at baseball practice one beautiful fall day, and over head of Shelby Park flew a group of three F-117 Nighthawks, which are Stealth fighter jets. Everyone at practice looked up to watch this rare plane fly over. I see this a great time to tell a wonderful joke, so I say, “I thought you could not see those planes?” To which with an absolute straight face, I had a teammate explain to me that stealth technology has to do with radar and not plain sight. To which I responded, “I know…that’s what made my joke funny,” but it was too late. They missed my joke completely, and I felt like an idiot. I hope you do not miss the subtle dialogue between Obi-Wan, Anakin, Padme, and Bail that make this a wonderful book.
We Star Wars fans are truly fans of action. It is action that brought most of us into Star Wars and action that keeps us here. If you have listened to or read any interview on this site, you will see that I always ask how did you become a Star Wars fan. I ask that of fellow fans as well. The most common answer I receive. Stay tuned for the upcoming Steven Barnes interview for episode 2 of :The Podcast for the text book delivery of the most common response to this questions which is, “The Star Destroyer zoomed over my head, and I was blown away and that did it.” Star Wars opens with never before seen action of such an amazing space jacking of Princess Leah’s transport, and the stormtroopers rush in blasters firing, and Vader eases in intimidating us all. It was unbelievable action that hooked us all, but do not let your love of actions cause you to miss the powerful dialogue that is found in Karen Miller’s Star Wars novels.
Before we jump into what I liked about this book, let me share with you what bothered me. First, it is another story surrounding another obscure planet. Miller did this in her first Star Wars novel, Clone Wars: Wild Space. I know this is a very common Star Wars theme where these obscure planets become massively important on a grand scale. Just look at the obscure planets from the six movies. You have Tatooine, Degobah, Naboo, Endor, Kamino, Mustafar to name a few, and the books carry on this tradition of obscure planets becoming very important. Does anyone besides me wonder what happens on prominent planets if this much happens on obscure ones? If obscure planets like Zigoola and Lanteeb can become such an important puzzle piece, how important are the core worlds? I cannot fault Miller too much for this because she is absolutely following tradition. It just seems that in every novel you read about the obscurity of the key planet in the story.
If you are an action fan and did not like all the talking and the little fighting in Karen Miller’s Clone Wars: Wild Space, you are in luck. Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth has way more fighting and action in it that her previous novel. It opens with an impressively described space battle. I mentioned in my review of X-Wing: Rogue Squadron that I believe that space battles are the hardest thing in Star Wars to write well, and I still believe that, yet, Miller does a good job writing the opening battle, so if you are an action fan, this book begins with a bang.
Miller is a self-proclaimed character driven writer. In an interview with theforce.net found here Miller states, “I will always, always, always be a character-driven writer.” She emphasized her desire to write characters and their relationships in her interview with me in Episode 1 of our podcast. This is her biggest strength in my opinion. I love reading her dialogue. The space battle was great at the beginning of the book. The fight at the end of the book was good too, but my favorite part of this book was reading the conversations between Anakin and Obi-Wan as they hid in the electronics shop. They were very similar to the dialogue between Obi-Wan and Bail aboard ship in Clone Wars: Wild Space. Each character shared their thoughts about each other and the truth about themselves. In Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth, Anakin shared what it was like to grow up a slave, to know his mother, to love, and to lose, and how this shapes his view of what a Jedi should be. Obi-Wan shared the dangers of not following strictly to the Jedi code. What makes these conversations so fascinating to me is that you can easily side with Anakin or Obi-Wan. There were times I read Anakin and thought, “Yes, he is right. The Jedi council is a bunch of hard liners that are missing the point.” Then, I would read Obi-Wan and think, “Why doesn’t Anakin get it…Obi-Wan and the Jedi code is what is best.” This back and forth discussion that caused me to change my opinions multiple times were a great read to me. I know dialogue for dozens of pages without one bit of fighting going on is not for everyone, but I found the conversations between Obi-Wan and Anakin to be extremely interesting and entertaining.
The other great scene of dialogue that I loved was at the dinner with Obi-Wan, Anakin, Bail, and Padme. It was good stuff watching these four trying to enjoy their friendships and plan for a war at the same meal. It was fun reading Anakin and Padme being frustrated by hiding their love after being so long a part. I still love Bail and Obi-Wan being around each other from reading Clone Wars: Wild Space. It was good reading.
If you have listened to our Karen Miller interview you noticed I spent a great deal of time discussing with her the ethical dilemmas of her book Clone Wars: Wild Space. Well, this book also is filled with ethical dilemmas. Obi-Wan scours thousands of years of Jedi history in the Temple Archives looking for information on Lanteeb, and in all that study, he finds that the Jedi have had, “no interest whatsoever in Lanteeb” (p. 119) I find that slightly disturbing that the Jedi have ignored this planet for centuries. The discussion about who to tell about the main threat of the story was also an ethical struggle. Who can we trust? And how do we handle Bant’ena Fhernan? As to not give any more away about this book, there are other similar difficult questions that the Jedi must answer and in doing so, their hands will not be totally clean. It again shows what a dirty messy net Palpatine has thrown over the Jedi to destroy their integrity. Any way the Jedi go, they will be hurting someone. I like these ethical dilemmas.
I also liked the introduction and the development of Bant’ena Fhernan character.
Finally, being the first book in a duology, which I mistakenly call a trilogy in the podcast I apologize, it does the most important thing an opening book of a series can do, and that is it made me want to read the sequel. I was left wanting more of the story, which is solid praise for this book.
Being a character driven reader, I care more about getting closer to the character than I do the plot, I really like Karen Miller’s writing. I could see how she may not be the favorite of action driven readers, although Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth has way more action than Clone Wars: Wild Space, so I encourage you to check this out and give Miller another chance, if you were not a fan of all the dialogue between Bail and Obi-Wan in her first novel. I liked Clone Wars: Wild Space just a tick better than this book because the Bail and Obi-Wan relationship was completely new, but I still really liked this book. I give it a 4, and that is your Star Wars Book Report.
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Thanks for reading.
Exploring the galaxy one page at a time, Jesse