- Colleen McMillan
Colleen’s Book Corner: Edge of Victory I: Conquest
Author: Greg Keyes
Published April 2001
Set 26 ABY
We Could Use Some Laughs...
Finally a little humor! Yes, there have been some funny moments in this series, but nothing that made me actually burst out laughing like this book and it’s companion novel. I was giggling through numerous chapters, mainly because of Anakin Solo’s teenage angst, clippy attitude, and chemistry with different characters. Keyes’s grasp on Anakin’s voice is fantastic, making me like the talented young Jedi even more. He’s got Han’s recklessness but also just enough of Leia’s sharp wit and leader charisma. Reading about him interacting with his childhood friend Tahiri was charming, mostly because he’s finally onto the fact that Tahiri is a GIRL. He’s sixteen and she’s fourteen, and they know each other well. Their relationship is the most important in the book, and it was interesting to see Anakin less sure of himself, even as he watches other young Jedi emulate him.
Anakin Solo Claims Center Stage
The plot centers around Anakin attempting to rescue the Jedi students on Yavin IV, where the ancient Jedi temple houses their training academy. There are three adult Jedi as well as the youngsters, but Anakin doesn’t think they’ll be able to withstand a heavy Yuuzhan Vong attack. Yup, Tsavong Lah’s proclamation to bring all Jedi to him has put them all in danger, none more so than the amature kiddos. So, off Anakin goes on an unsanctioned mission.
Oops, I’ve Been Using the Wrong Term!
What he encounters on Yavin IV brings the Yuuzhan Vong - never just “Vong,” that’s a slur - into more direct focus, showing more layers to their caste system. We finally get more from the Shaper caste, the highest level of Yuuzhan Vong society. I actually encountered three Yuuzhan Vong that I enjoyed! And not like I enjoy Nom Anor’s character. He’s awful, but at least he stands out from the rest of his people. But in this book, we get three new Yuuzhan Vong who have distinct personalities and stories. Nen Yim is an Adept Shaper, and just a bit of a heretic (GASP) who wants to save her people by searching for new scientific measures. Poor Tahiri is on the receiving end of one of these “experiments.” Ex-warrior Vua Rapuung forms a complicated connection to Anakin, needing to join forces to secure both their goals. And Uunu, a member of the lowest caste, the Shamed Ones, shows that not all the Yuuzhan Vong are happy with their lot in life and are possibly fomenting their society’s ruin in a Proletariat-style movement. Let’s just say: this is the best Yuuzhan Vong character- and cultural development I’ve seen.
YES IT’S KARRDE!
Talon Karrde was also a major player in this book, which made me insanely happy. I adore his character and am constantly worried that he’s going to be killed.
Final Thoughts: 9/10 Lightsabers
Apparently, Keyes was brought in to write this duology to replace a planned trilogy focused on Danni Quee. I would’ve liked to see what direction that trilogy went, but it wasn’t meant to be. If these books were written quickly or under pressure, I couldn’t tell. Keyes writes at a dynamic pace, voices the characters well, and gives a lot of insight into the Yuuzhan Vong culture without giving too much away. Many of the overarching series themes are starting to take clearer shape in this book. From learning more about the extragalactic invaders who are slaves to an ingrained societal divide, to the old guard making way for the new, the reader is realizing that the darkness isn’t just going to be defeated by the heroes. Indeed, they’re going to need whatever help they can get to push back the Yuuzhan Vong horde, and it may come from within the world ships and not within the New Republic.