I’ve just finished one exciting read dived right into another.
The first is Outcast, the opening volume of the new Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi series by Aaron Allston. The nine-book series picks up 40 years after the end of Return of the Jedi, when the galaxy is still recovering from the crippling Yuuzhan Vong invasion and the havoc wrought by Darth Caedus, the self-styled Sith Lord formerly known as Jacen Solo.
Luke Skywalker, accused of dereliction of duty as leader of the Jedi Order after his nephew’s destructive fall to the dark side, accepts a plea deal that sends him into exile.
With his young son Ben in tow, he retraces Jacen’s winding path to find the root of his evil. This first outing takes the Skywalkers to a remote monastery full of dangerous secrets.
Meanwhile, the Jedi back on Coruscant must find a way to deal peacefully with increasing government oversight and interference, leading to an exploration of what it means to be a Jedi anyway. What kind of role can they can have after one of their own went on a rampage against the galaxy?
Outcast is a great read, with lots of action — and strangely, no space combat to speak of. The closest it gets is a roller-coaster ride through the fabled Spice Mines of Kessel and an air pursuit through the urban canyons of Coruscant. This is fine, because while Allson is adept at writing these scenes (see his entries in the X-Wing and New Jedi Order series) they tend by their very nature to get bogged down in detail. This is the establishing chapter of a series and needed to be quick on its feet with the characterizations.
Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi — Outcast by Aaron Allston, $25, Del Rey
The Language of Bees
The book I’m reading now is even more gripping — and you can’t even read it yet! I snagged a review copy of Laurie R. King’s Language of Bees, which is the ninth entry in the Mary Russell series (and my first experience with same). If you want to get a sneak peek, you can read the first two chapters on PDF. Don’t know Mary Russell? She’s the wife of Sherlock Holmes, of course. After the Great Detective’s retirement to the countryside to raise bees he met and married this extraordinary woman, his equal in wits and more.
A proper review is forthcoming, but I can already tell that I’ll be hunting down all the previous exploits of Mr. and Mrs. Holmes, staring with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Everything I’ve read so far has jibed especially well with the classic Arthur Conan Doyle stories of the famous consulting detective of Baker Street.
Mark your calendar: Language of Bees will be released April 28. King is scheduled to make an appearance 3 p.m. May 9 at The Poisoned Pen, 4014 N Goldwater Blvd., Suite 101, Scottsdale.
The Language of Bees, Laurie R. King, $27, Bantam
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