Upon hearing the title of the last book in the Fate of the Jedi series, I cringed. Apocalypse is a word we’ve heard far too much in the past two years. The infamous Mayan 2012 prediction creeps into all media at random intervals to annoy us. Apocalypse seems as if it’s an overly dramatic title for a Star Wars book. The galaxy facing certain destruction is old news. Troy Denning closed out the FotJ with a plethora of action, just as he did Legacy of the Force.
On the surface, Abeloth sounds like a terrifying being. She can’t die. She can be in multiple places at the same time. She has no limitations. After finding out exactly what Abeloth is supposed to be, I felt highly skeptical. The history the Killiks gave bothers me to no end.
I don’t like the idea that everyone’s path is predestined. That takes away the responsibility of choice. The Killiks made it sound as if Abeloth would come no matter what anyone did. There was nothing Luke or anyone else could do about it and that’s an idea that I’m not comfortable with in literature or life. Anakin Skywalker chose to kill Mace Windu and pledge himself to Palpatine. Jacen chose to listen to Lumiya. The drunk driver chooses to climb behind the wheel of his car. The woman acts to cheat on her husband. Personal choice is necessary to avoid chaos. Regardless of how logical the Killiks argument may sound, taking it for face value even coupled with some story Yoda told Luke, is far too trusting for a group of strong Jedi. That the Force has a being that causes massive amounts of destruction for the sake of it doesn’t sound like the Force we all know.
Right from the start, Denning pulls readers into a rich, action-packed infiltration of Coruscant. It sets the idea that the Jedi are there to take the situation into their own hands. Those who prefer a more philosophical or mystical battle for the Jedi may find the book a little frustration at times. It’s gorier than most Star Wars books, what with the way the Sith die, Saba’s fight in the Jedi Temple and Abeloth’s use of her tentacles (think Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean). The pace slows down in the middle a bit, but picks up towards the end. There’s some repetition towards the end that can bog down readers and at times, it’s hard to picture a location.
The strongest part of the Apocalypse isn’t the plot; it’s the characters. As this is a Denning book, Han Solo dances from the pages with sarcastic humor. Master Saba Sebatyne comes across somewhat tamer than she has before (in behavior, not physical combat). Unlike previous Denning-penned books, I found myself pleasantly surprised at the portrayals of Jagged Fel and Jaina Solo. Even Tahiri became much more appealing, a first in this series. She’s wallowed in grief and self-loathing far too long.
Probably the biggest change in characterization was Luke Skywalker. It’s clear by the end Apocalypse that Luke’s growing away from his role as Grand Master. Near the end, Ben mentions that eventually the burden will fall to Jaina’s generation. Throughout the series, Luke still acts as a competent fighter, but he’s physically weaker. While Luke’s power isn’t fading, it actually feels as if a shift is occurring with the Jedi Order. It feels like a natural change.
These revelations came clearest through the conversations between Luke and Jaina. Gone were the rash decisions, the constant back and forth her character constantly suffers. She’s the one who acts as the voice of reason. This is a Jaina that needs to stay. Denning created a balance between the fighter, the Jedi and the woman. Her decisions were logical and sound. There were no questions about her and Jag’s relationship. Even though they didn’t appear in the same place until the very end, the little actions of her calling during a lull in battle and his concern for her during his own crisis spoke volumes more than a conversation about the relationship.
The end of Apocalypse left me with mixed feelings, excluding the last chapter that better fits the term epilogue. Had Abeloth been a more impressive or conceivable villain, the defeat would seem impressive. The elements were there, but the problems lie in the Abeloth character, not the actual confrontations. The end leaves a plethora of questions. What happened to the Dark Man? Is Vestara the next threat or will she disappear? Where do the Jedi go from here? How will the whole future of the Empire play out regarding to Jag?
Some of these will surely come up in whatever Del Rey produces next. As Denning mentioned, the possibilities are endless. The book truly felt like a turning point in the Expanded Universe, something it desperately needs.
And the wedding? It’s about damn time.