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There is no place else to channel the flood of refugees fleeing the murderous Yuuzhan Vong but the overcrowded planet Duro, poisoned by centuries of technological excess. Fortunately a deal is struck: In exchange for a new home, the refugees will work to restore the planet to health, under the watchful eye of Leia ...
There is no place else to channel the flood of refugees fleeing the murderous Yuuzhan Vong but the overcrowded planet Duro, poisoned by centuries of technological excess. Fortunately a deal is struck: In exchange for a new home, the refugees will work to restore the planet to health, under the watchful eye of Leia Organa Solo.
While tempers flare between the Duros and the New Republic, Han Solo, his son, Jacen, and the Ryn called Droma arrive to keep the peace. They are unaware that Leia is on Duro . . . and that Luke, Mara, and Anakin are on their way, searching for a missing Jedi apprentice. And none realize that the Yuuzhan Vong have chosen this embattled planet as the next target in their brutal coreward thrust.
Now, as the fragile stability on Duro threatens to collapse into violence, Jacen Solo must face his greatest dilemma: At what point does the use of power become aggression? Whatever he decides, his next step could tip the galaxy’s destiny toward the light or toward darkness–with the life of someone he loves hanging in the balance . . .
Something was about to happen. He could feel it coming when he listened through the Force. Something vital, but . . .
A Ryn female—velvet-furred with a spiked mane, her tail and forearm bristles graying with age—stood talking to Jacen’s dad, Han Solo.
“Those are our caravan ships,” she bellowed, waving her hands. “Ours.” She snorted, and the breath whonked through four holes in her chitinous beak.
Han swung around, narrowly missing Jacen with his left arm. “And right at this moment, we can’t afford to take them offworld to run systems checks. You’ve been in a restricted area, Mezza.”
Splashes of red-orange fur highlighted Mezza’s soft taupe coat. Her blue tail tip trembled, a gesture Jacen had learned to interpret as impatience.
“Of course we’ve been in the ship lot,” she snapped. “There’s never been a security fence Ryn couldn’t get inside, and those are our caravan ships. Ours.” She tapped her threadbare vest, which covered an ample chest. “And don’t tell me to trust you, Captain. We do. It’s SELCORE we don’t trust. SELCORE, and the people up there.” She waved her arm skyward.
Han’s mouth twitched, and seventeen-year-old Jacen could almost feel him trying not to laugh. Jacen’s dad could sympathize with refugees making unofficial reconnaissances, especially on board their own ships. But Han was in charge, now. Instead of showing his amusement, he was supposed to enforce SELCORE regulations—publicly, at least, for the sake of a few juvenile offenders. He and Mezza would undoubtedly settle the real issues later, in private.
So Han plunged back into the argument.
Jacen watched the show, trying to pick up one more piece of the puzzle he felt in every cell of his being. Trained as a Jedi and unusually perceptive, he could tell that the Force was about to move. To shift.
This time, he didn’t dare miss the clues.
His right cheekbone twinged. He touched it self-consciously, then swept his hair back from his face. It needed cutting, but no one here cared what he looked like. His legs were still growing, his shoulders broadening. He felt like an awkward hybrid of trained Jedi and barely grown boy.
He leaned against his hut’s outer wall and stared out over his new home. The dome had been engineered by SELCORE, the New Republic Senate Select Committee for Refugees, to hold a thousand settlers. Naturally, twelve hundred had been squeezed in. Besides these outcast Ryn, there were several hundred desperate humans, delicate Vors, Vuvrians with their enormous round heads—and one young Hutt.
And the relentless Yuuzhan Vong kept sweeping across the galaxy, destroying whole worlds, enslaving or sacrificing planetary populations. Lush Ithor, lawless Ord Mantell, and Obroa-skai with its fabulous libraries—all had fallen to the merciless invaders. Hutt space and the Mid Rim worlds along the Corellian Run were under attack. If the Yuuzhan Vong could be stopped, the New Republic hadn’t figured out how.
Han Solo stood with his left hand on his hip, arguing with Mezza, who led the larger of two Ryn clan remnants, but keeping one eye on the transgressors, a group of youths about Jacen’s age, with fading juvenile stripes on their cheeks. The Ryn clans occupied one of Settlement Thirty-two’s three wedge-shaped arrays of blue-roofed huts. The synthplas dome arched overhead, as gray as the polluted mists that swirled outside.
Jacen had been blessed—or cursed—with a sensitivity that he once hid behind labored jokes, and he did find it easy to see both sides of almost any argument. Part of his job here was to help his dad negotiate. Han tended to cut to solutions, instead of listening to both parties’ points of view. Han had chased the Ryn over half the New Republic, trying to gather his new friend Droma’s invasion-scattered clanmates. As world after world closed its doors to refugees, the Ryn had been beggared, duped, and betrayed. They’d taken terrible losses. They needed a sponsor.
So a reluctant Han Solo registered with the burgeoning Select Committee for Refugees. “Just long enough to settle them someplace.” That was how he explained it to Jacen, anyway.
Jacen had fled here from Coruscant. Two months ago, the New Republic had called him and his brother Anakin to Centerpoint Station, the massive hyperspace repulsor and gravity lens in the Corellian system. There’d been hope that Anakin, who had activated Centerpoint once before, could enable it again. Military advisers had hoped to lure the Yuuzhan Vong into attacking Corellia, and they meant to use Centerpoint as an interdiction field, to trap the enemy inside Corellian space—and then wipe them out. Even Uncle Luke hoped the station might be used only in its shielding capacity, not as a weapon.
The New Republic might never recover from the catastrophe that followed.
Jacen could see stress in his dad’s lined face and his labored stride, and in the gray growing into his hair. Even after all these years of hobnobbing with bureaucrats and tolerating his wife’s protocol droid, patience clearly wasn’t his strong suit.
Standing on the beaten-dust lane outside the Solos’ hut, Mezza’s opposing clan leader twisted his own tail between strong hands. The fur on Romany’s forearms, and the tip of his tail, stood out like bleached bristles.
“So your clan,” Han said, pointing at Romany, “thinks your clan”—pointing now at Mezza—“is likely to hijack our transport ships and strand everybody else here on Duro? Is that it?”
Someone at the back of Romany’s group shouted, “I wouldn’t put it past them, Solo.”
Another Ryn stepped forward. “We were better off in the Corporate Sector, dancing for credits and telling fortunes. At least there we had our own ships. We could hide our children from poisoned air. And even more poisonous . . . words.”
Han stuck his hands into his dusty coverall pockets and caught Jacen’s glance. Jacen could almost look him in the eye, nowadays.
“Any suggestions?” Han muttered.
“They’re just venting their frustrations now,” Jacen observed.
He glanced up. The gray synthplas dome over their heads had been imported in accordion folds and unfurled over three arched metal struts. The refugees were reinforcing it with webs of native rock fiber, roughly half the colony working double shifts to strengthen the dome and their prefab huts. The other half labored outside, at a pit-mine “reservoir” and water purification site assigned by SELCORE.
Abruptly Han flung up an arm and shouted, “Hey!”
Jacen spun around in time to see one young male Ryn somersault out of Romany’s group and crouch for fisticuffs. Two from Mezza’s group body-blocked him with surprising grace. Within seconds, Han was wading into an out-and-out melee that looked too graceful to actually endanger anyone. Ryn were natural gymnasts. They swung their opponents by their bristled tails, hooting through their beaks like a flock of astromech droids. They almost seemed to be dancing, playing, releasing their tensions. Jacen opened his mouth to say, Don’t stop them. They need to cut loose.
At that moment, he collapsed, his chest flashing with fire as if he’d been torn open. His legs burned so fiercely he could almost feel hot shrapnel. The pain blasted down his legs, then into his ears.
Joined through the Force even before they were born, he and Jaina had always been able to tell when the other was hurt or afraid. But for him to sense her over the distances that lay between them now, she must’ve been terribly—
The pain winked off.
“Jaina!” he whispered, appalled. “No!”
He stretched out toward her, trying to find her again. Barely aware of fuzzy shapes clustering around him and a Ryn voice hooting for a medical droid, he felt as if he were shrinking—falling backwards into vacuum. He tried focusing deep inside and outside himself, to grab on to the Force and punch out—or slip into a healing trance. Could he take Jaina with him, if he did? Uncle Luke had taught him a dozen focusing techniques, back at the academy, and since then.
A voice seemed to echo in his mind, but it wasn’t Jaina’s. It was deep, male—vaguely like his uncle’s.
Making an effort, Jacen imagined his uncle’s face, trying to focus on that echo. An enormous white vortex seemed to spin around him. It pulled at him, drawing him toward its dazzling center.
What was going on?
Then he saw his uncle, robed in pure white, half turned away. Luke Skywalker held his shimmering lightsaber in a diagonal stance, hands at hip level, point high.
Jaina! Jacen shouted the words in his mind. Uncle Luke, Jaina’s been hurt!
Then he saw what held his uncle’s attention. In the dim distance, but clearly in focus, a second form straightened and darkened. Tall, humanoid, powerfully built, it had a face and chest covered with sinuous scars and tattoos. Its hips and legs were encased in rust-brown armor. Claws protruded from its heels and knuckles, and an ebony cloak flowed from its shoulders. The alien held a coal-black, snake-headed amphistaff across its body, mirroring the angle of Luke’s lightsaber, pitting poisonous darkness against verdant light.
Posted August 25, 2003
About the only thing good about the book was the concetration around the family core. Usually there are far too many characters to keep track of in the NJO. However, I found the writing and plot to be confusing; everything seemed to jump around or not make any sense. It also seemed to me that Han and Luke were emasculated during this story. Much of the book was written from Mara's or Leia's point of view. I can remember several instances when we got to hear about how tender Luke is with Mara, or how she makes sure she assurts her control when he tries to be protective. It seemed as if the author has a feminist bias. This is one of those few books I would normally have stopped reading, but I had to make sure I knew what happened when I start the next one.
1 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 December 21, 2013
My first "New Jedi Order" [NJO] book . . . I loved that the Solo kids were fairly prominent in it, but it was a switch from the "Young Jedi Knights" [YJK] and the other "Bantam Publishing era" Star Wars books. =) First impressions of the Yuuzhan Vong were that they kind of reminded me of the Wraith from "Stargate: Atlantis" [SGA] tv show which I was watching at the time. However, it'd be more accurate to say that the Wraith remind me of Yuuzhan Vong since the NJO series began in 2000, several years before SGA. Though while they were both into organic "living technology" and were both quite violent, I was still a bit stunned by the pure brutality of the Yuuzhan Vong. As it has been mentioned before, the NJO series marked a new point in the Star Wars EU. The Yuuzhan Vong were the enemy no one (readers or characters) had faced or seen before in that galaxy far, far away and on that account they succeed mightily.
In the "Bantam era," the Solo children were delegated to minor roles (minus the children's books which featured them) so seeing them here with more developed personalities and storylines was exciting. I understand why Jacen's personality switch from the YJK series is off putting to some readers ... for now, I kind of buy the in-world explanation. Jaina seems to have the most consistent personality from YJK and I can see how she could have a strained relationship with her mother (though the YJK series never indicated that). I especially liked Anakin and Mara's sidestory. Considering that the prequel movies were being made during this time, it's interesting to see how Anakin Solo dealed with a similar pressure and expectations of a prodigy that his namesake did. Definitely ready to read more from this series!
Posted April 9, 2013
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Posted October 18, 2011
Posted October 14, 2011
The book was boring almost the entire way through. I have read about 60 Star Wars books and this was probably the worst. No real action at all and pretty much just talking the whole time.
After the emotionally charged first few novels of this series, this was a nice change of pace. Kathy Tyers did exceptionally well at bringing all of the characters real depth. This novel was better than her first Star Wars work, "Truce At Bakura".Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 25, 2009
I Also Recommend:
He's smart, devious, and a true servant to the God of deception... the trickster. He is a master of disguise, and a political nightmare to the New Republic. He can cause any mob to riot at his command, and he's a cool character to root against in this series. Mara has some greatness in this book, along with all of the Solos. Great book. At the mid-way point, I couldn't put it down until it was finished.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 14, 2005
Star Wars Balance Point was a very disappointing novel to me. It felt very long, and dragged on and on. I'm a big Star wars fan and I loved the first five NJO novels but this one just didn't hit the spot. I recommend this novel because it is an essential read for the NJO series but DO NOT expect to get excited and enjoyed. Kathy Tyers just continues to make Star Wars boring! She has to stop writing Star Wars novels! If another author wrote this novel like Kevin Anderson, or Timothy Zahn it would have been a lot better.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 16, 2005
Posted January 2, 2003
I'd rate this book in the middle of the pack of the New Jedi Order series I've read up to this point. Better than Michael Stackpole's boring two books, but not as good as Salvatore's or Luceno's contributions. I'd say this book kind of sleepwalks up to about page 200 when the action finally starts. So much of the character development mentioned by other reviews is repetitive in other books ... specifically, Luke and Mara's puppy-dog love is a little too much like the banal dialogue between Anakin and Padme in AOTC. The Mara Jade from the books written by Timothy Zahn is sadly missing here. When did she become such a softy?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 17, 2002
I loved the way the characters developed in this novel. I was totally delighted that Mara was pregnant and the Solos got back together. The way Kathy focused on the female perspective was terrific. I love Mara anyway--she's courageous and feisty. Ever since the first Thrawn trilogy, I've wanted her with Luke, and I'm stoked that they are such a pair. Jacen's decision to hold off from the Force seems inevitable, given all that's happened so far, but I wonder how long he can keep it up? The book has just the right amount of action. The confrontation with Nom Anor--and finding out he was Cree'ar was really riveting.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 9, 2002
Okay, this is pretty much one of my fave Star Wars writers, and she delivers better than Truce At Bakura. I don't care how many people hate Jacen Solo, this book was still awesome.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 21, 2002
If you've been reading the NJO series and have enjoyed it so far then skip this book. Where the other books in the series have brought greater depth and a sense of emergency this book just prods along at a slow and throughly predictable pace. Nothing of real importance happens in the book until the last chapter of the book. You can easily miss this book and still follow the NJO series without losing a beat.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 27, 2002
In all of the NJO books, it's all die die die. This book gives us a nice little break of the Kyp dilemna, Chewie's death, Yuuzhan Vong crusade, and the many, many, many problems the New Rep has, and will face. Tyers also describes the characters, plot, problem and all the details extremely well. All in all, the best NJO book yet.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 10, 2001
The New Jedi Order series has injected much needed life into a series that had begun to grow stale and resemble the assembly line tripe that the Star Trek series has fallen into. The interesting thing about this book is the focus on Jacen Solo and his inner struggle over the proper use of the Force. The rest of the book must rank near the top of the NJO series, behind only Vector Prime.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 8, 2001
Posted June 14, 2001
It was the best book I've read in a long time. I loved it. The other ones in this line were no where near as well written as this one. This is a book all Star Wars fans have to read. The part that was the biggist improvment from all the other NJO books is how well Kathy Tyers wrote every one of the characters. READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 14, 2001