Outcast, by Aaron Allston, is first book in the Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi series. Allston does a great job setting up the conflict of the series and I am really excited to follow it through to its conclusion. Outcast was published by Del Rey in 2009. I am a major Star Wars fan and have read almost all of the books in the extended universe. If you aren’t familiar with the extended Star Wars universe jumping into Fate of the Jedi or any of the other large series such as Legacy of the Force or New Jedi Order can be a bit overwhelming. The books operate under the assumption that the reader is familiar with the force, the technology, major planets, political powers, and major recurring characters such as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, and many other Jedi, military, and political figures. That isn’t to say that an unfamiliar reader can’t enjoy Star Wars books, but many side characters and historical references will be largely meaningless where a born and bred Star Wars junkie can enjoy interactions with each character and recall everything from books that have occurred previously in the Star Wars timeline.
Outcast is driven by political intrigue. The Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala is applying pressure on the Jedi Order in an effort to control what is seen as reckless unaccountability. The government launches a lawsuit against Luke Skywalker blaming him for the fall to the dark side and subsequent galactic terror caused by Darth Caedus (the former Jacen Solo). Luke organizes a plea deal in which he is removed as head of the Jedi Order and banished from Coruscant for ten years with the possibility of return if he can prove that he wasn’t responsible for the war with Darth Caedus. Luke and his son Ben start a journey to mirror Jacen’s sabbatical of force study with various force users throughout the galaxy.
The plot thickens and worsens the Jedi’s situation with the government when Jedi Knight Valin Horn suddenly goes on an insane rampage of terror, with both Jedi and Galactic Alliance forces trying to capture him. The government begins employing observers and bounty hunters to help monitor Jedi activity and greatly chafes their ability to investigate Valin’s illness and perform their regular duties.
The two major plot lines, that of Luke and Ben and that of Cilghal, Jaina Solo, and other jedi on Coruscant are intriguing and clearly connected. One problem I had with the book was the third plot line with Han and Leia as they travel to Kessel to help Lando resolve issues with his mining business there. I found that complete part of the story irrelevant except to say that yes, Han and Leia are here and doing what they do. It didn’t do anything to forward the book in and of itself and hopefully as I read further into the series those events will have meaning.
Aaron Allston did a great job writing the fight scenes in this book. One memorable chase/fight scene was extremely cinematic and I loved the imagery and detail with which he depicted it.
Political intrigue conflicts can be very difficult to keep interesting but I think Allston did a great job at shaping the immediate conflict of the novel and setting the stage for the entire series. I highly recommend Outcast to Star Wars and Science Fiction fans everywhere!