By TROY DENNING
Published in the UK by CENTURY PUBLISHING and in paperback by ARROW
Reviewed by Scott Weller
Plot threads begin, coalesce and continue in the next phase of the FATE OF THE JEDI series, VORTEX, and it’s a read that’s of a much improved, faster pace than previous entries in the series have been, with some readers even boldly stating it to be the best of the nine book adventure saga so far, with a “faster, more intense” feel to the plots structure and pacing, and the further development of the younger Jedi inhabitants of the long post JEDI universe-not my greatest of favourites within the Expanded Universe- who, for the most part, are starting to inter-relate well in this adventure with our Original Trilogy heroes (though some of our classic band, like Han, Leia and Lando, still annoyingly don’t have enough to do or make enough of a mark in the storytelling these days!), with Luke’s Skywalker’s son, Ben, improving with each book, and his scenes with his father, many of them action packed in this part of the story, proving very accessible and readable-they’re a great and formidable Jedi pair as they continue their investigations into the Lost Tribe of the Sith (just how many of these hidden outposts are out there?!) following the previous defeat, but still presence felt, of the Abeloth creature. And poor old Luke, he’s still having a tough time in his relationships with the female sex-this time an old girlfriend with links to that Abeloth nasty. Bad enough that so many of old flames and Mara Jade have passed on-somebody give this guy a break!
Character build up and dramatic conflict linked to the Jedi Council, and their antagonistic crisis with the New Republic, plus the galaxy spanning anti-slavery movement, also continues, especially with regards to the evil Daala, (well, I say evil: gone off the rails would probably be a better word to describe her!). Finally, the plot lines in that area are starting to move somewhere!
Chuck in a few unexpected plot twists (some regarding reader popular Jaina Solo, who doesn’t quite get the story/plot momentum, that fiery spirit, she previously displayed in Allies), Force ghosts, the odd Classic Trilogy alien cameo (you can’t beat Sullustians!) and the continuing development of the feisty Sith Triber warrior woman Veshtara (her relationship continuing to blossom with Ben Skywalker), who is the key hope for the Jedi to have an uneasy truce with their sworn enemies, and bundle it together with lots of action throughout the storytelling (like Ben and Luke’s confrontation with the mysterious Fallanassi on the moon of Pydyr) and, despite a few character inconsistencies here and there, you have an enjoyable enough continuing foray into the STAR WARS universe. As a book, VORTEX is no classic, but it’s diverting enough for a few hours.
AFICIONADO RATING: Another sold read, but, as I’ve said before, could this particular saga have been done better in a shorter, more compact storytelling run? 7.5 out of 10