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1 For half a millennium Coruscant had glittered, a golden-towered centerpiece to the Republic’s galactic crown. Its bridges and arched solaria harked back to ages past, when no leader’s words seemed too grand, no skyscraper too spectacular, and titanic civic sprawls boldly proclaimed the rational mind’s conquest of the cosmos.
With the coming of the Clone Wars, some believed such glorious days were past. Whether the news holos spoke of victory or defeat, it was all too easy to imagine flaming ships spiraling to their doom beneath distant skies, the clash of vast armies, the death of uncounted and uncountable dreams. It was almost impossible not to wonder if one day war’s ravening maw might not envelop this, the Republic’s jeweled locus. This was a time when the word city symbolized not achievement, but vulnerability. Not haven, but havoc.
But despite those fears, Coruscant’s billions of citizens kept faith and continued about their myriad lives. A flock of hook-beaked thrantcills flew in perfect diamond formation through Coruscant’s placid, pale blue sky. For a hundred thousand standard years they had winged south for the winter, and might for yet another. Their flat black eyes had watched civilization force Coruscant’s animal life into inexorable retreat. The planet’s former masters now scavenged in her duracrete canyons, their natural habitats replaced with artificial marshes and permacrete forests. This, others argued, was a time of marvels and marvelous beings from a hundred thousand different worlds. This was a time for optimism, for dreams, and for unbridled ambition.
A time of opportunity, for those with vision to see.
The red-and-white disk of a two-passenger Limulus-class transport sliced through Coruscant’s cloud-mantle. In the morning sun it glittered like a sliver of silvered ice. Spiral-dancing to inaudible music, it had detached its hyperdrive ring in orbit, slipping through wispy clouds to land with a shush as gentle as a kiss. Its smooth, glassy side rippled. A rectangular outline appeared and then slid up. A tall, bearded man wrapped in a brown robe stepped into the doorway and hopped down, followed by a second, clean-shaven passenger.
The bearded man’s name was Obi-Wan Kenobi. For more years than he cared to count, Obi-Wan had been one of the most renowned Jedi Knights in the entire Republic. The second, a startlingly intense younger man with fine brown hair, was named Anakin Skywalker. Although not yet a full Jedi Knight, he was already famed as one of the galaxy’s most powerful warriors.
For thirty-six hours the two had juggled flying and navigational duties, using their Jedi skills to hold their needs for sleep and sustenance to a minimum. Obi-Wan was tired, irritable, famished, and felt as if someone had poured sand into his joints. Anakin, he noticed, seemed fresh and ready for action.
The recuperative powers of youth, Obi-Wan thought ruefully.
Only an emergency directive from Supreme Chancellor Palpatine himself could have summoned the two from their assignment on Forscan VI.
“Well, Master,” Anakin said. “I suppose this is where we part company.”
“I’m not certain what this is about,” the older man replied, “but your time will be well spent studying at the Temple.”
Obi-Wan and Anakin continued down the skywalk. Far beneath them the city streets buzzed with traffic, the walkways and ground-level construction occasionally interrupted by wisps of cloud or stray thrantcills. The web of streets and bridges behind and below them was dazzling, but Obi-Wan noticed the beauty little more than he had the height, the fatigue, or the hunger. At the moment, his mind was occupied by other, more urgent concerns.
As if his Padawan could read his thoughts, Anakin spoke. “I hope you’re not still annoyed with me, Master.”
There it was, another reference to Anakin’s rash actions on Forscan VI. Forscan VI was a colony planet at the edge of the Cron drift, currently unaffiliated with either Republic or Confederacy. Elite Separatist infiltration agents had set up a training camp on Forscan, their “exercises” playing havoc with the settlers. The most delicate aspect of the counteroperation was repelling those agents without ever letting the colonists know that outsiders had assisted them. Tricky. Dangerous.
“No,” Obi-Wan said. “We contained the situation. My approach is more . . . measured. But you displayed your usual initiative. You weren’t disobeying a direct order, so . . . we’ll mark it down to creative problem solving, and leave it at that.”
Anakin breathed a sigh of relief. Powerful bonds of love and mutual respect connected the two men, but in times past Anakin’s impulsiveness had tested those bonds sorely. Still, there was little doubt that the Padawan would receive Obi-Wan’s highest recommendations. Years of observation had forced Obi-Wan to grant that Anakin’s seeming impetuosity was in fact a deep and profound understanding of superior skills.
“You were right,” Anakin said, as if Obi-Wan’s mild answer gave him permission to admit his own errors. “Those mountains were impassable. Confederacy reinforcements would have bogged down in the ice storm, but I couldn’t take the chance. There were too many lives at stake.”
“It takes maturity to admit an error,” Obi-Wan said. “I think we can keep these thoughts between us. My report will reflect admiration for your initiative.”
The two comrades faced, and gripped each other’s forearms. Obi-Wan had no children, and likely never would. But the unity of Padawan and Master was as deep as any parent–child bond, and in some ways deeper still. “Good luck,” Anakin said. “Give my regards to Chancellor Palpatine.”
A hovercar slid in next to the walkway, and Anakin hopped aboard, disappearing into the sky traffic without a backward glance.
Obi-Wan shook his head. The boy would be fine. Had to be fine. If a Jedi as gifted as Anakin could not rise above youthful hubris, what hope was there for the rest of them?
But meanwhile there was a more immediate matter to consider. Why exactly had he been called back to Coruscant? Certainly it must be an emergency, but what kind of emergency . . .?
The appointed meeting place was the T’Chuk sporting arena, a tiered shell with seating for half a million thronging spectators. Here chin-bret, Coruscant’s most popular spectator sport, was played before hundreds of thousands of cheering fans. Today, however, no expert chin-bretier leapt in graceful arcs across the sand; no pikers vaulted about returning serves. No cerulean-vested goalkeepers veered like mad demicots, hoisting their team’s torch aloft. Today the vast stadium was empty, cleared and sequestered, hosting a very different sort of gathering.
As he emerged from the echoing length of pedestrian tunnel, Obi-Wan scanned the tiered stands. Most of the rows were as empty as a Tatooine desertscape, but a few dozen witnesses were gathered in the box-seat section. He recognized a scattering of high-level elected officials, some important but ordinarily reclusive bureaucrats, a few people from the technical branches, and even some clone troopers. Instinct and experience suggested that this was a war council.
Over time the Clone Wars’ initial chaos had settled into a tidal rhythm; loyalties declared, alliances formed. The galaxy was too vast for war to touch all its myriad shores, but at any given time battles raged on a hundred different worlds. While that number represented an insignificant fraction of the billions of star systems swirling about the galaxy, due to long-standing alliances and partnerships, what happened to millions of living beings had the potential to affect trillions.
Already kingdoms, nations, and families had been ravaged by the wars. As the numbers grew and weapons inevitably became more and more powerful, devastation might well spiral out of control, offsetting the countless eons of struggle that had finally birthed a galaxywide union. The labor of a thousand generations, vanished?
Lines had been drawn: Separatists on the one side, and the Republic on the other. For Obi-Wan as well as many others, that line was drawn with his own life’s blood. The Republic would stand, or Obi-Wan and every Jedi who had ever strode the Temple’s halls would fall. It was a simple equation.
And in simplicity there was both clarity and strength.
Posted June 13, 2011
Posted July 31, 2009
Posted December 30, 2005
This book was awesome. It had so much action and many different points of perspective from the fights. I, being a full-time star wars reader officialy declare this book awesome
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 21, 2005
Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jedi Master Kit Fisto, a Nautolan, are summoned to Coruscant to the T'Chuk sporting arena. Technician Lido Shan gives a demonstration of a bio-droid unit labeled 'JK-13' (JK for Jedi Killer). It is unique with its implanted 'Force-sensitive unit', a living circuit named 'dashtaeel', which allows greater empathy for its owner and aggression toward intruders. The unit is manufactured by Cestus Cybernetics. Lido Shan demonstrates JK's uniqueness, in sparring it against another droid, and then a Clone Commando, with devastating results to the Clone. Even though the Confederation's Count Dooku's photo graces the front cover with Obi-Wan and Kit, the Count never appears in the story, only mentioned now and then, but he has a powerful ally in Jedi Asajj Ventress, Commander of the Separatist Army. Her object: carry-out revenge on Obi-Wan Kenobi for an action in the past. Cestus is a barren world, necessitating the import of survival staples, and its population is 95% lower-class, and the community is economically-deprived. The ruling principals are the 'Five Families of Cestus Cybernetics' (each with a piece of the pie, such as manufacturing, mining, etc. -- 'a puppet Regency'. There is a bargaining in the wind to sell thousands of the JK units. Kit and Obi-Wan are to halt the deal, to recover a semblance of trust with the Cestians through contact Regent G'Mai Duris, and to advise of the danger in dealing with Count Dooku. Accompanying the Jedi Knights are Clone Commandos: A-98--Nate, an ARC Trooper, recruiter and command posting, whose soul dictum is: 'It's not what a man fights with, its what he fights for that counts.' Other CT's -- Xutoo, pilot Sirty, logistics Forry, physical trainer and Seefor, communications are part of the Cestus team. All is to be accomplished peacefully, unless...! From the point of arrival on Cestus, Obi-Wan senses a presence around him, a drifter in and out, silently. Kit and the CT's go one way to carry out a plan, while Barrister Boolb Snoil (a Vippit of Nal Hutta reunites as partner with Obi-Wan, to fulfill a debt, before he ventures homeward to mate. Clone 'Nate' experiences feelings of love and romance with Sheeka Tull, Cestian pilot, who once had a relationship with Jango Fett. Sheeka renames Nate, 'Jangotat'. Another refresher is the teaching of Jedi ways by Kit Fisto to the Clone Commandos delight. In a verbal exchange with Obi-Wan, Jangotat offers:: 'General Fisto said that thoughts and fears are like boulders, and the force is the river rushing between them. Most people grow so clogged with pains and regrets that the water can no longer flow from the mountain to the sea. ... but have been warned that I could never learn to be as good as a Jedi.' In return, Obi-Wan offers: 'The joy in life comes not from surpassing another's gifts, but in fully manifesting our own.' And, 'one meter, one moment at a time, Jangotat was finding his way to the sea.' Profound! beautifully and eloquently rendered by Barnes, as are many of the author's words throughout the novel. Steven Barnes's first STAR WARS® novel is more than a fulfilling read -- it is a breath of fresh air and newness, which still captures the essence of the Star Wars® galaxy and beyond. Besides strong character build-up, rich location descriptions, humor, sensitivity, there is plenty of defined actions, along with insightful philosophy and dialog, all done so well for ease of reader imagery. I summon the reader's attention as to who is deceiving whom within this story. Welcome to Mr. Barnes, and hope to see you again in Star Wars® print.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 6, 2005
I loved the book, it caught my attention the first chapter, and it's normally hard to get glued to the book so early. Well, I'm shocked how adventurous it was, always adding action especially in the caves with the spiders. Outstanding... Could not have read a better book, yet. Loved the way Sheeka and Nate made their connection. I loved it.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 17, 2014
Thought it did get off to a slow start, in the end it was pretty good. Ventress was disappointing ( shes supposed to be scary), which was annoying. At least kit fisto was semi important, which was nice because he is my favorite character.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 25, 2014
A really good book that centers on ki fisto and obi- wan-kenobi. Many plot twists and awesome duels that make the book iconic. I lovr that it shows the more emotional side of ARC troopers. It also references the forms of lightsaber combat, which any star wars fan should. Awesome read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 29, 2013
Like most Clone Wars novels, this one was pretty much a letdown. I don't remember much of the storyline, and it wasn't that long ago that I read it. It just didn't make that much of an impression on me. Another one of those novels that would have been great to tide you over between Episodes II and III, but now years later, it's not pretty forgettable. The best part though is that Ventress is on the hunt for Obi-Wan, and any book with Ventress can't be all bad.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 14, 2013
Posted May 6, 2013
Posted October 11, 2012
I really liked this book. Even though i had trouble getting through the beginning, the rest of the book was really exciting and full of suspense (although one part is pretty sad) . There is alot of jedi battle action too, which i like. Once you get into the real exciting part you cant put it down. Great book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 24, 2011
Posted April 13, 2011
Posted February 8, 2011
I Also Recommend:
This is a stand alone book in the clone war era of books. This story was rich and complete I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm always interested in something new and while this concept of clone trooper emotional development isn't completely new I really enjoyed how the author pulled it off. Combining a love story with plenty of action and dark side subterfuge. I also enjoyed learning more about a completely under rated Jedi and one of my personal favorites, Master Kit Fisto ( he's wicked cool). I would recommend this book so pick it up and give it a read I don't think you'll be disappointed.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 29, 2011
Posted January 28, 2011
Posted September 1, 2009
I was skeptical reading this novel, as I am of all Star Wars books not part of the films. Again, my skepticism was proven to be premature as I was entertained by the book. The most intriguing story from this book involves Clone Trooper Nate who becomes a central part of the story. I love when authors use non-maintstream characters in major roles as in expands the Star Wars universe and give them more wiggle room to fully developm the character. Overall, this book was well done and any Star Wars fan would enjoy the story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 14, 2007
Posted August 29, 2005
After reading probably 95% of the Star Wars adult novels in existence, I would have to say that this one is the absolute worst Star Wars novel to date that I have read. I thought that the Black Fleet Crisis was bad--this surpasses it! To give you an idea of how bad this is, I will number each point (in no particular order). 1. I feel that, in general, the author threw information about the characters at you--such as how scary or courageous or dangerous these people are supposed to be (their actions never justify such a narration, however)--and expects you to believe it. 2. The 'love' story between Nate and Sheeka is so stupid and corny I just wanted to laugh and laugh and laugh (it is obvious when reading how Sheeka talks that a man wrote this novel). I still wonder when Nate and Sheeka had the time to have a child--the auther never even hints at any intimacy (other than a kiss) between the two. 3. Kit Fisto, whom I had hoped to learn more about, drifts into the background and is so unimportant (fades behind Nate), I wonder why Steve even bothered to include him in here. 4. Asajj Ventress was NOT scary in the least. All she did was boast about how she would kill Obi-Wan and how much smarter she was than anybody else. Oh...I forgot! She also stalked Obi-Wan! Oooh...I'm so afraid! I had so hoped, after seeing her in the Clone Wars animated shorts, that the author would use her to her fullest. I was SO wrong. 5. The battle sequences were way too short (and typically I get tired of long battle sequences). The author glosses over the lightsaber battles as if they are just fillers for whatever drivel he plans on inserting (what, I have no idea). 6. I can't believe that Obi-Wan (who seems to be a big whiny know-it-all in this book--where's the 'I want to go to Toshee Station to pick up some power converters' line?) would stoop to deception to trick the Cestians to turning to the Republic. 7. The story's ending was way too pat. It's like all of a sudden--boom! 8. Snoil, the Snail. I mean, come on! Are you that desperate for a new species? There were a few bright points in the book: the aliens were cool, and I also liked how the author showed the point of view of a clone bred for war (except for the love part). But, overall, this was the absolute worse purchase I have ever made and I would suggest that if you are bored enough to read this book that you check it out at the library. Better yet, just avoid it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 20, 2005