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Wild Space is book two in the Clone Wars series, roughly following the events of the movie release. To avoid trodding the same territory as the weekly cartoon show, Karen Miller’s debut Star Wars novel abandons Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano in favor of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The first few chapters confused me. Wild Space opens immediately after the events of AOTC--the Republic is cleaning up the mess, tending to the wounded, and sweeping away destroyed battle droids. Anakin’s just gotten his arm chopped off by Count Dooku and Obi-Wan’s being treated for his own lightsaber wound. Padmé, well aware by now of Anakin having been injured, is pissed. Namely, Yoda won’t let her in to see Anakin and, after reprimanding Obi-Wan for doing a bad job of teaching Anakin the dangers of attachment, orders him to speak to Padmé instead. The budding relationship must be stopped, at all costs. Under the impression that he’s finally convinced Padmé to leave the planet, and Anakin, on a short vacation, Obi-Wan leaves her apartment. But Padmé, as we all know, grabs Anakin as her escort and skips to Naboo for an impromptu wedding ceremony under the Jedi Order’s very upturned nose.

Once I got to chapter four, I realized the first few chapters were flashback and set up for the rest of the novel. The importance of attachment and its dangers fill the dialogue coming out of Yoda, Mace Windu, and Obi-Wan’s mouths. And dialogue is mostly what this novel is built on. If you were looking for action, don’t expect it out of this one. I went in with an open mind; Karen Miller is new to the saga and not being familiar with any of her previous non-Star Wars books, I wasn’t expecting anything.

At first, I was impressed with her characterization of Padmé. Not a lot of authors get the chance to flesh out Padmé. Though, I couldn’t figure out if I liked her or not. I think the same problem I used to have with Leia, I was experiencing with Padmé. She came off fiery, passionate, and fiercely independent. This Padmé I could imagine spitting in the faces of the Jedi and in the next moment, composing herself to Senator-mode. She looked powerful and I liked that. But then she meets Anakin and turns into a giggling mushy pile of girl goo. Thankfully, by the end of the novel, she’s back to ass-kicking mode.

Obi-Wan was a different story. As the book kicks into gear, Obi-Wan is informed of a Sith plot to destroy the Jedi. His source, Bail Organa refuses to betray the confidentiality of his unnamed information supplier and forces Obi-Wan’s hand: either the Jedi accompanies him on this journey to unravel the secret and dispel the dangers or Bail goes alone. Obi-Wan has no choice. Bail’s friend of the Republic has given him only a set of coordinates, the first in a series of quizzical planet jumps that will lead them to the mysterious Sith planet, Zigoola. There was nothing strange about Obi-Wan or the Jedi here. They were aloof, meditative, and extremely cautious. This is perhaps Karen Miller presenting the Jedi Order to us through Obi-Wan, pre-Zigoola. These are the same Jedi who missed the appearance of Darth Maul and the mounting danger of Darth Sidious until it was far, far too late. The same Jedi who forbid attachment and are in the best position to develop a change of heart and overhaul some of their maxims and practices.

Since he was first introduced to us in ANH, Obi-Wan has always been the quintessential Jedi. He stood for the grand order long gone by the time Luke had the desire to go to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters. So I was pretty impressed Miller chose this particular Jedi to put to the judges.

Obi-Wan and Bail Organa make an unlikely pair--Kenobi’s dislike for politicians is well-known and we haven’t really seen that much of Bail at all. But the two need to bond and create the close, trusting friendship into which Obi-Wan turns to in his moment of need. Miller addresses the question of: how come Obi-Wan trusts Bail Organa so intimately at the end of ROTS? How can he entrust the safety of little Leia into this relative stranger’s hands? There has to be more to it than Bail being a staunch supporter against Palpatine’s Empire. And there is. This book proves it.

There’s a long hyperspace journey aboard a cramped ship and what seems like an even longer journey on a Sith planet bent on destroying Force-sensitives for Obi-Wan and Bail to get to know one another. They play cards, make small talk, and share food. But as the ship gets closer to Zigoola, Obi-Wan begins feeling the effects of the Dark Side and becomes gravely ill. Haunted by nightmares from his past, he starts to lose it. It’s at this point that Bail becomes a bystander. Frightened by what’s happening to the Jedi and determined not to be placated, Bail stays positive and helps Kenobi through his hellish personal journey.

The two bond and it’s all rather cute on some level. Obi-Wan gets sweaty, Bail blushes, but in the end, everything turns out okay. Kenobi gains some perspective on politicians, but Bail in particular and begins to see the uplifting effects of genuine friendship and learns that despite what Yoda, Mace Windu and the rest of the Jedi Order have preached for thousands of years, attachments really can be a necessary, positive thing to lean on.

I look forward to reading Karen Miller’s other Clone Wars contributions. She writes from a fresh perspective. It’s not the same old thing (not that I don’t like the same ol’ same ol’ of Star Wars). But--Zigoola, really? That’s not just code for that Sithy planet Ben found that Sithy spaceship on? How many Sith planets are out there, really? The Star Wars Universe is getting smaller and smaller, but for something like this to be pulled off, they need to make less cross references to the same planets in books spanning across decades. Besides, Zigoola’s just a silly name.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
jawajames
Jan. 12th, 2009 07:52 am (UTC)
Zigoola Zigoola Zigoola!

i enjoyed Wild Space... just at times, it felt like fanfic, and i really don't read fanfic, but i figured that some parts felt like "this is what fanfic is like"

it just took a while for the story to get going.
jawastew
Jan. 12th, 2009 07:57 am (UTC)
You know, it did read like fanfic sometimes...

*mostly because I kept waiting for an elongated sex scene between Anakin and Padmé or some concrete wish fulfillment for fans eager to see Bail/Obi-Wan or Obi-Wan/Anakin (yes, he so totally checked out his former padawan!).

That, and, the torture Obi-Wan went through was rife with calculation: "Heal me, Bail! Heal me!"

Did you hear that? It was as if a million hearts suddenly thudded in desire and then were suddenly silenced.

Edited at 2009-01-12 08:41 am (UTC)
pronker
Jan. 13th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)
Yes, the action was more of the 'Frodo and Sam' slog through Mordor type than the "oliphaunt!what do we use against 'em?" type. I was somewhat confused about the plot, like just how could that planet be a danger to the Jedi since it was so far out. But by the time Palpatine's calculations about getting rid of both Bail and Kenobi came into play, it justified the story well enough. "Thudded in desire and then were suddenly silenced"? Ya, you betcha. The visuals (Obi-Wan checking out Anakin post-exercise, Bail peeking at Obi-Wan sans tunics during meditation and wondering about his lone scar, Anakin and Padme playing squish-the-berries-in-bed) plus my old original fanfic love, h/c, made this book hit all the buttons. And the genesis of the O/B trust held together well for me.
jawastew
Jan. 13th, 2009 03:24 am (UTC)
Yup! I was pleased at the end. Things were tied together in all the important places and it was refreshing to get a new author's perspective.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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