Star Wars
Yoda - Dark Rendezvous

Authors: Sean Stewart
Arrow Books
RRP 6.99
ISBN 0 09 948186 3
Available 02 December 2004

The Clone Wars are exacting a heavy toll on the people of the Galactic Republic and a heavy price on the Jedi, peace keepers turned soldiers who pay that price in blood. There is no end in sight for either side and the fighting keeps getting fiercer. Suddenly one lone Jedi returns from a mission on a tainted planet, allowed to live to deliver a message to Master Yoda... a message from the leader of the Confederation Count Dooku, calling for peace. Yoda knows his former Padowan is most likely luring the leader of the armies of the republic into a trap, but Yoda must still go there. Go to a planet tainted by the dark side in the slim chance that Dooku truly wants the war to end. Yoda must go to confront Dooku and bring him back around or to battle his greatest enemy his once great hope...

Yoda - Dark Rendezvous is a Star Wars prequel to a prequel, and maybe that's the problem with the book. Its main character may you'd probably guess from the title is Jedi Master Yoda. However anyone who has seen the original trilogy knows this little guy survives all the way to Return of the Jedi. So do we fear for his life? No. Thus half the tension is gone from the book already.

I have a great trouble with people writing about Jedi Master Yoda. To me he is often fobbed off as a cheap gimmick - a Jedi Ewok. There is however just a little more depth to his character which has been brought out in the new trilogy and the book does balance on the fine line between following this trend or reverting to trivialising the character.

We already know that if Dooku and Yoda get together, just like in the end of Attack of the Clones, they'll both survive and thus any fight will be meaningless.

But I am not trying to put you off. This is still a book which offers a lot to the Star Wars universe. It does explore Yoda's character gives him a little depth but most of the action is centred on smaller characters. What saves the book is that these lesser characters are so well handled.

The author makes you care about them and as creations in the book their fates are entirely unknown. You don't know if they will survive the many trials set out for them. So there is some tension and this is the driving force behind the novel.

The plot is simple. It stays centred mainly around a core group of characters - a sort of Dawson's Creek does Star Wars - in the beginning which slows it down, and it does take a while for the action to get going. However in the slow star the author dedicates enough time for the reader to get to know the characters which ensures that by the end of the book, when the climax comes, you care.

The ending is disappointing, the book slowly builds up and a fantastic finale looks promising. But even the addition of Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi, who remain fringe and pointless characters, fail to make the end any better than it should have been.

This isn't a Star Wars classic but it's good enough to be picked up and read without leaving any nasty after tastes.

Charlie Brine

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