Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars Galaxies: The Ruins Of Dantooine

Star Wars Galaxies: The Ruins Of Dantooine (Voronica Whitney-Robinson)

Ruins of Dantooine's premise is a simple one. Dusque, an Imperial bioengineer, and Finn, a Rebel spy, must travel to Dantooine to destroy or return a holocron containing a list of Rebel sympathizers. A simple plot is not always a bad one, but in this case it just doesn't work. Firstly, I didn't understand why the Rebels left the holocron on Dantooine, or even why it was created in the first place. Secondly, much of the novel consists of Finn and Dusque roaming around planets, pointing out and encountering dangerous wildlife. The problem is, the wildlife just isn't that dangerous, nor is it particularly interesting. Third, there is a plot twist towards the end of the novel that falls flat. It is an extremely obvious twist, and the main character's failure to wisen up to it makes her seem completely foolish. There are also numerous out of place cameos, pretty much the entire main cast of Star Wars, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, etc. show up for brief periods. Luke and Leia are the only two with any meaningful roles however, and  the forced cameos further detract from a weak plot.

The novel only really tries to develop Dusque's character, there are only three short scenes that do not use her point of view. Unfortunately, Dusque may be one of the absolute worst main characters I have yet to encounter in a Star Wars novel. Her origins, an Imperial bioengineer from a family that has suffered several times at the Empire's hand, is somewhat unique and definately the highlight of her character. Personality wise, she is a dud. The aforementioned plot twist makes her seem extremely stupid, and she has a very strange feminist viewpoint. She complains throughout the book (both internally, and to Finn and her mentor Tendau) that the only reason she gets bad assignments and disrespect from her co-workers is because she is a woman. This seems somewhat out of place in a Star Wars book, and it makes her character appear whiny and foolish. The ultimate display of this can be seen on page 197, when, after a stormtrooper searches her ship for contraband, she makes the following remark to him "This isn't the most glamorous assignment for me either. Probably because I'm a woman." Complaining to a random stormtrooper about discrimination seemed highly unrealistic and made her character almost insufferable. Finn isn't given much of a personality to judge, he doesn't do much besides interact with Dusque in the most cliche of ways, definitely a cardboard cut out of a character. There are really no other original characters to judge, the limited cast definitely hurts the book especially when the existing characters fail so miserably. The movie characters are written fairly accurately when they show up, Darth Vader in particularly is a highlight.

I have to question the writing style used in this book. Descriptive sentences tend to be awkward, for example "Although he was surrounded, he was making no attempt to flee" (page 99) and "his arms fell limply to their sides" (page 148). In addition, dialogue is very cliche and unnatural, with only the handful of non-Dusque sequences and choice interactions between Dusque and her mentor breaking this pattern. The author includes some subtle nods to Star Wars Galaxies such as forming a group (something the main character inexplicably never does), weapon mechanics, and beast mastery. These are appreciated, however the author does go overboard with referencing creatures from SWG and using the main character's background as a bioengineer as an excuse to explicitly explain their behavior, appearance, etc.

Riddled with cliches and poorly written, Ruins of Dantooine doesn't have much going for it. It starts off strong enough, with a nice scene between an Imperial inquisitor (never mentioned again after this first chapter) and Vader, but from there it fades into a forgettable mess.

Final Score

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