Thursday, October 6, 2011

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Wild Space

The Clone Wars: Wild Space (Karen Miller)



Plot

Wild Space begins immediately after the Battle of Geonosis. It explains what happened to Obi-Wan and Anakin after their duel with Dooku, including Obi-Wan's attempt to convince Padme to leave Anakin. This portion of the book is actually very good. It shows some of Obi-Wan's inner conflict, and characterizes Padme very realistically.

Unfortunately, this is a very small section of the book, and the second part, set after The Clone Wars movie, fares significantly worse. Obi-Wan hears rumors of a plot to attack the Bothan homeworld, and nearly dies in his attempt to bring the information to the council. This information will eventually lead to an unimportant sub plot with Anakin that covers some of the same territory as the main plot of Jedi Trial (Anakin in a leadership position for the first time, bonding with his men, and formulating battle plans.) The main plot comes in the form of an anonymous notice to Bail Organa that the Sith are preparing to move against the Jedi. This informant has always come through for Organa in the past, and so he decides to check it out. Because Sith are involved, Obi-Wan convinces Organa to take him along, and the ensuing journey will be one of the most hard to read affairs in Star Wars literature.

The first problem with the main plot is that there isn't an actual villain to contend with. Anakin's sub-plot atleast mentions General Grievous, whereas the main plot is simply Obi-Wan and Bail vs. a collection of Sith artifacts. Having an inanimate object (albeit one with tremendous power) as your antagonist does not do any favors for the rest of the story. Secondly, Bail and Obi-Wan argue, alot. Nearly every conversation between these two devolves into a shouting match or battle of wills after just a few sentences. Those that don't end with one secretly cursing the other. This is bad characterization, a desperate attempt at conflict, and all but impossible to read. Finally, the amount of action in this book is negligible. There is a brief, unexciting fight scene onboard a space station, in which Obi-Wan handily disposes of a few thugs. Other than that, there is really no action outside of the endless instances where Obi-Wan becomes possessed by the Dark Side and either becomes unconscious, or embarks on a tree-murdering rampage. A character driven novel can be wonderfully entertaining, but in this case, there is too much arguing with not nearly enough purpose for me to reccommend this book to anyone.

Characterization

As I mentioned above, characterization is horrible here. Obi-Wan, traditionally portrayed as a rational and laid back Jedi Master, goes ballistic at even the sight of Bail Organa in this novel. His arguments with Bail are completely out of line for a Jedi Master, and something I would never expect from Obi-Wan based on his characterization in every other source imaginable. The trials caused by the Sith holocron could've been better. As it is, he is only forced to revisit the same four or five memories time and again as he makes his way towards the Sith temple. He also doesn't really change as a result of any of this, something that is a massive failing for such a character driven novel. I suppose he gains a new found respect for Bail, but considering that there was no reason at all to think that the two were at odds before the novel, this doesn't have much of an impact on the big picture.

Bail is somehow made to look even worse. We don't see much of Bail in the movies, or in most other sources for that matter, so this book was a great opportunity to flesh him out. Unfortunately, he is subject to a somewhat bizarre characterization that manages to conflict with the little that we do know of the character. Where he comes off as an even tempered, kind hearted and well meaning senator from the pacifist world of Alderaan in the movies, here he is a swashbuckling, profanity spewing, combative adventurer. He has no respect for the Jedi, and less for Obi-Wan. In addition to the arguing, he also constantly does reckless things, but ultimately is just in Obi-Wan's way. He does nothing on Zigoola that was essential to Obi-Wan destroying the holocron. He is made into a completely obnoxious character in this book, and it's a shame because he could've been so much more.

The other characters don't fare very well, either. Padme comes across as selfish and obsessed with Anakin. She has Anakin on the brain for her entire part in the story, and she seems to be a far cry from the devoted and concerned senator shown in the movies. Ahsoka constantly tries to appease Anakin, an annoying character trait that does little to endear her to the reader. Anakin himself isn't given a very detailed characterization, but it doesn't openly defy existing works, so it is acceptable.

The single effective characterization, Mace Windu's, builds heavily off of what was revealed in Shatterpoint, and keeps the book from being completely worthless in terms of characterization.

Prose

Prose also leaves much to be desired. Dialogue is laughably bad. The scene where Anakin prepares to end his stay with Padme is so horribly written that it is impossible to feel anything about their upcoming parting. The arguments between Bail and Obi-Wan are similarly juvenile. Atleast three of these conversations basically consist of Obi-Wan asking Bail if he is ok, Bail getting offended by this, and then the two coming to some kind of uneasy truce. The "philosophical" debates are so heavy handed and boring, not to mention repetitive, that it is difficult to read. It is embarrassing and pointless, and greatly detracts from these characters.

Descriptions of Coruscant are ok, but the world of Zigoola is portrayed as being completely empty, except for some trees and a Sith temple. The world of Zigoola challenges the heroes in no way, and there is no sense of wonder or mystique to it. Speaking of descriptions, there is way too much repetition involving the description of Obi-Wan. The author constantly refers to Obi-Wans broken and battered body. There are ceaseless allusions to his pale face, frail body, and injuries constantly after the crash landing. It is needlessly gory, and far too repetitive to be effective.

Conclusion

A good chance to look at Bail Organa and Obi-Wan circa the Clone Wars, two under-developed characters, falls flat when the author presents them in a completely random fashion. A lackluster, conflict deficient plot and repetitive, uninspired writing do little to elevate this putrid novel from a position as one of the worst Star Wars books I have read.

Final Score
9/100

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