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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Science fiction luminary Greg Bear takes a turn at the helm of one of the most celebrated science fiction series of all time, putting to use his superior narrative skills and craftsmanship to give the beloved characters an even greater sense of depth. Bear is a versatile writer with an amazing range of science fiction topics, from the offbeat world of human change in Slant to a novel of viral infection across the ages of evolution, Darwin's Radio. Now, in Star Wars: Rogue Planet, Bear has given us a richly textured science fiction novel that combines three-dimensional characterization with insights into the immensely popular saga, connecting the chasm between Episode I: The Phantom Menace and the further adventures. This is possibly the most highly readable, intriguing, and involving portion of the Star Wars tale thus far.
Even as a Jedi Knight in training, 12-year-old Anakin Skywalker still has a need to find thrills and danger wherever he goes. Despite the tutelage of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin desires to find life-and-death challenges and participates in the illegal garbage pit races. With little more than a pair of glider wings, racers must drop kilometers into the heart of a deadly pit through levels of high-tech security. When Anakin is attacked by a Blood Carver assassin posing as another racer, only Obi-Wan's expertise and courage allow him to save his student in a last minute rescue.
Meanwhile, Raith Sienar, a designer of uniquely powerful ships and weapons (and creator of what will eventually becometheDeath Star), is contacted by his old friend Commander Tarkin, who informs Sienar that there are certain people who are interested in his work, especially for the purpose of crushing the Jedi Order. The Republic is crumbling, and as it does, the Empire begins to take shape. After the mysterious disappearance of another Jedi Knight operative, Obi-Wan and Anakin are sent on a mission that will hopefully teach both of them more about their Jedi responsibilities and duty to one another. On the distant planet Zonama Sekot, where the fastest ships in the galaxy are built, Obi-Wan and Anakin are drawn into the hands of Commander Tarkin and the growing dark forces behind the emergence of the Empire.
Taking up where George Lucas and author Terry Brooks left off with The Phantom Menace, Bear delivers the most human volume in the Star Wars saga, further developing a huge cast of characters who emote, react, loathe, waver, and desire throughout. How Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin suffer through their own personal trials and disasters in an effort to save humanity is at least as interesting as the action of the larger driving plot. Anakin is scarred from his years as a slave, and even as Obi-Wan does his best to help his apprentice find the balance within himself, Obi-Wan also suffers from the loss of his master, Qui-Gon Jinn. They are more like brothers than teacher and student, with many of the same internal struggles and conflicts that bind them even more tightly together.
Greg Bear should be commended for realizing that the only way to draw together all the elements of such an overwhelmingly popular series is by focusing on the emotional underpinning of the main characters as the highly anticipated sequel to The Phantom Menace looms closer. Bear skillfully and cleverly weaves the dilemmas and intricacies of plot into a novel that brims with imaginative energy and impassioned resolve. Star Wars: Rogue Planet is an ambitious, intriguing chapter that will astound and satisfy fans of all the movies and previous books.