I quite like ‘Star Wars’ but have only a nodding acquaintance with the films and am not a ‘Warsie’, if there is such a being. I mention this in order to elicit forgiveness in advance for any errors I make from those hardcore fans who know Han Solo’s shoe size and Darth Vader’s favourite colour. Black, presumably. As I have enjoyed several novels related to that other big space opera franchise, I thought the ‘Star Wars’ books would be worth a look. If nothing else, the copyright controllers of these vast enterprises do ensure a minimum standard of competence in any product issued.
At the front of the novel, there is a helpful chronology which shows how the many books fit into the timeline along with those big films. ‘Crosscurrent’ is set near the end, forty years after the film ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’.
‘Crosscurrent’ uses several viewpoint characters and also starts off in two different eras, so the reader needs to focus. First up, 5,000 years before the Battle of Yavin, Sith Lord Saes Rrogon – a Kaleesh male – rips the crust off a moon to mine a huge supply of Lignan. This is an ore which hugely enhances the power of dark side users. In hot pursuit of Saes is Relin Druur, his former Jedi Master and Drev Hassin, Relin’s current Padawan. Drev is an Askajian male while Relin is human, which in a galaxy far, far away doesn’t mean an Earthman, of course. The Jedi need to stop the Sith forces getting hold of the Lignan as a major battle is coming up.
Meanwhile, 5,000 years in their future, Jaden Korr, human male and Jedi Knight, has a Force-inspired vision telling him he must go to the black hole of Fhost. Undeterred by the fact that Fhost doesn’t have a black hole, he sets off. Also headed there is Kell Douro, an Arzat assassin who eats peoples’ brains, who has been sent by the Sith. Fhost has no native species and only one real settlement. At the edge of known space, it is a haven for an assortment of bad types. Clearly, the scene is set for action!
I was hooked by page 40, which is soon enough. These kind of books are written in a very tight style with much plot and nary a wasted word. Words that add a bit of depth to the characters and setting are not wasted and this was done with some skill. ‘Loose wires hung from everywhere, the entrails of science’ is a nifty way of describing a wrecked control room. A lift door stuck half open is an eye frozen in the act of closing.’ The descriptions of the action, sometimes quite gory, are also well done. The characters are changed by the events as in any good fiction and there is even some Jedi wisdom applicable to writers: just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything.
Of course, there are loads of sizzling lightsabers, blistering blasters and speeding spaceships, which is what you want in a good space opera. This novel was crafted by Paul S. Kemp, a corporate lawyer, alas. But a man who likes ales, cigars and single malt scotch can’t be all bad. I enjoyed his book.
(pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books/Lucas Books. 318 page paperback. Price: $ 7.99 (US), $10.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-50905-5)