Saturday, August 20, 2011

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: Red Harvest

Red Harvest (Joe Schreiber)

Red Harvest's plot concerns a Sith Lord attempting to concoct an army of the undead, so he can achieve immortality. He kidnaps a Jedi because a Jedi's midi-chlorians (ugh) are needed to fulfill the recipe. The experiment goes awry, and the entire Sith academy becomes infected. The plot for this novel was simply horrible, not only does the Sith Lord's actions go mostly unexplained, but the results of his mistake are less than entertaining to say the least. These zombies were just garden variety shufflers, disappointing considering they could've been made into force sensitive zombies (which would've been a better, if still silly, idea).

The book also suffers from a mess of sub plots that never add up to anything worthwhile. The kidnapped Jedi's brother searches for her, and through an investigation spanning roughly three pages, traces her to the Sith's training planet. Once there, he only shows up in a handful of scenes, then dies without helping his sister's situation in any tangible way. There are several scenes featuring the Sith apprentices, and in fact the first two or three chapters are ripped straight from Drew Karpyshyn's Darth Bane: Path Of Destruction. The problem with these scenes is that the Sith don't feel very powerful in this novel. They are mostly acolytes, and do not have lightsabers of their own. The Sith are ultimately in the novel only to up the death toll, achieving little other than being slaughtered by zombies. The main plotline involving the kidnapped Jedi is decent, even if the Sith Lord's reasoning is questionable at best. The two characters involved are probably the best in the novel, and there is atleast a point to this plot. The final encounter between Hestizo and the Sith Lord leaves much to be desired, as she doesn't do anything to defeat him, instead relying on a plant used in the recipe to destroy him.

The book fails to produce any tense moments, though some action sequences are mildly entertaining. One positive aspect about the book is that it features a complete cast of new characters, unlike its predecessor Death Troopers. This makes little difference, as the characters in this novel are hardly worth caring about (more on that in the next section).

The characters of Red Harvest severely lack emotional depth and realism. Hestizo never develops much of a personality, just kind of reacting to the events of the plot and surviving through the skill of the other characters. Tulkh, a bounty hunter, is probably the most interesting character. He uses archaic weapons like a spear and bow to capture his prey, he is also the only alien in the entire novel. Unfortunately his character is never developed, we never see the events through his eyes, nor do we get into his head. Hestizo's brother, Trace, also fails to develop a personality. Other than the fact that he is intent on saving his sister, and can apparently track her instantaneously, we know nothing about him. The villain is a laughable blend of cliche Sith Lord and mad scientist, coming across as a bit of a screw up, and lacking any menace or substance. The other Sith are written just as poorly, appearing only briefly after the story takes off, and only then to provide a bit of cheap action to liven things up.

Easily one of worst Star Wars books in terms of prose, Red Harvest is full of strange ideas, bad sentences, and illogical happenings. The book's premise, and conclusion, is based on the idea of a force sensitive flower, capable of speaking directly to Jedi, being used to power the undead beings. The Jedi's solution to the zombie problem is to simply have the flower grow inside them, causing their heads to explode in a mass of leaves and vines. Speaking of exploding, here is an example of the extremely poor choice of words evident throughout the novel "A white-hot explosion of force lightning exploded through him." (page 169) At one point, the author talks about blood melting in the snow, something that makes absolutely no sense, it should be just the opposite, if anything.

 There are also some tedious real world references. Chapter 11 is called "Mind Eraser, No Chaser"...presumably a Them Crooked Vultures reference. Trace, upon learning of his sister's disappearance makes a threat nearly identical to that of Liam Neeson in the movie Taken "Listen to me, Trace told him. I don't know who you are, but I am in possession of a very special set of skills. If you bring my sister back right now, unharmed, then I'll let you go. But if you don't, I promise you, I will track you down. I will find you. And I will make you pay." (page 53) There is a reference to "all-capital sans serif letters" (page 238) that seemed extremely out of place in the Star Wars universe. Dialogue isn't too horrible, but a Sith apprentice uttering "Fail" (page 115) after a questionable explanation by a fellow acolyte was frustrating beyond belief. The description of the exterior of the academy was also explained very poorly, the author simply describes it as a "sprawl" then lets you form your own conclusions. I don't mind filling in some blanks myself, but that is just lazy.  The book is gory, gratuitously so, and the descriptions of mutilated heads, bodies, etc. don't add anything to this particular novel.

Poor writing, a complete lack of characterization, and a shaky plot make this one of the absolute worst Star Wars books on the market.

Final Score

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