STAR WARS: CROSSCURRENT
A novel by Paul S. Kemp
Published in the
by ARROW BOOKS UK
Reviewed by Scott Weller
Note: this review contains mild spoilers
Accidental time travel-that classic old staple of science fiction-has, to my knowledge, never been used in the STAR WARS universe before and now Paul S. Kemp makes the most of the concept in his new Expanded Universe adventure novel for ARROW BOOKS. And when such an idea is linked to everyone’s favourite universe then you know that the results will be pretty darn important, and quite cataclysmic, to the saga’s timeline and characters. Certainly, CROSSCURRENT can’t get much bigger than the return, once more, of the Sith. Only there’s not just two Sith in this novel, there’s lots of Sith, including the books distinctive front cover star, the Kaleesh alien captain, Saes Rrogon, in a plot twist that’s been cleverly crafted by the popular fantasy author and LUCAS BOOKS to involve popular young Jedi Knight Jaden Korr – pretty much the only one around with the true power and abilities needed to stand in the way of their ever ambitious goal to re-take the war ravaged universe once again.
In a twist that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the latest STAR TREK movie, or even the confusing fifth season of LOST for that matter, Kemp’s writing is assured within a densely written and plotted story that weaves into the current hardcover FATE OF THE JEDI saga (in particular Christie Golden’s OMEN novel from last year). CROSSCURRENT, to its favour, manages to hold its own as a book with its own unique identity-no easy task with a lot of the Post ROTJ Expanded Universe books these days- and you’re not bogged down too much in continuity either, which is a help.
Relatively new character Jaden Korr is the kind of Jedi hybrid of old and new trilogies that you’re either going to like or hate. Kemp tries hard to inject more depth and personality into the character, whose bravery and Jedi skills had previously been witnessed fighting against Dark Jedi, but, as with all the Knights of this noble tribe, the character can’t evolve too much and has to work within certain parameters. Character wise, Korr is accessible to the reader but, being a non Lucas created character, he still doesn’t feel as important a contributor to the universe- and not STAR WARS’sy enough- for me. it seems like Luke Skywalker, like Anakin before him, is still the most interesting Jedi to write for because of the emotional journey he has been involved in to get him to the point in the saga where he is now-whereas the other supporting Jedi, bar Yoda and Obi-Wan, can’t quite muster the same kind of enthusiasm from me in book form.
The same problem occurs for me with the other main characters, who could have, for the most part, come out of any other type of science fiction/fantasy novel, like Khedryn Faal and Marr Idi-Shael of the starship Junker, two salvage merchant associates helping Jaden in this dark crisis who wouldn’t have looked out of place in Ridley Scott’s ALIEN or Harry Harrison’s STAINLESS STEEL RAT stories, albeit a little more user friendly and quirky. The Sith, meanwhile, are starting to become over-used as villains, though there are some good moments of tension in the second half of the book with the obligatory enjoyable action/descriptive sequences they need to be involved in, whilst the Anzat creature, Kell Douro, introduced in this book is described with the appropriate grossness required for his scenes linked to the Sith vessel Harbinger-with certain selected moments of described horror that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the recent Death Troopers novel.
Regular fans/readers who enjoy their delve into the Expanded Universe on a regular basis will greatly enjoy CROSSCURRENT, of which there will be a sequel that could build a lot further on what’s been importantly established here. In that respect, the novel succeeds in bridging the past and future of the EU together, whilst adding further tension and action to the FATE OF THE JEDI series as a whole.
AFICIONADO RATING: A good space fantasy adventure yarn from the pen of established author Kemp, but it still doesn’t capture enough of the STAR WARS magic for my own personal tastes. I’m sure that the dedicated Expanded Universe readers worldwide will, however, appreciate and examine its importance as a part of the FATE OF THE JEDI series a lot more thoroughly- I think Paul S. Kemp will be able to sleep contentedly without any worries. 7.5 out of 10