Colleen’s Book Corner: New Jedi Order: Dark Tide II: Ruin
Author: Michael A. Stackpole
Published: June 2000
Set: 25 ABY
The Villain Gets a Voice
The conclusion to the Dark Tide Duology, Ruin is an interesting read. It starts the exact opposite of Onslaught, making the Yuuzhan Vong front and center and their military leader Shedao Shai (eff that guy) a viewpoint character. Stackpole writes Shai well, giving him motivation and a great villainous voice. Onslaught only has one chapter from Shai’s POV, so this is a more in-depth look at his mental state. And damn. Just. Damn. So far, the Vong seem a little removed from the series narrative. Salvatore left a lot of their cultural backstory wide open for the authors who would come after him. For instance, I had no idea that they had as much structure and in-fighting as the New Republic. I thought they had a more singular vision for conquering the galaxy. Not the case at all. The differing factions (so far I’ve met the Warrior class and the Praetorite, who seemed more political in nature, and a Priest class has also been mentioned) might have the same general agenda, but they have different ways of doing things. And there appears to be a lot of jockeying for position within the Vong empire, which could be problematic for them later in the series.
PROTECT CORRAN HORN
I’m getting more attached to the newer characters (for me) too. Corran Horn is impressive and humble, and he has a lot to do in this book. I hope he’ll be around more for the rest of the series, because his semi-sarcastic attitude is great to read. His interactions with other characters, particularly Jacen Solo and Ganner Rhysode, are book highpoints. And he’s consistently Stackpole’s best POV and dialogue character.
This novel’s plot contains some of the most sobering sections in the series yet, making me furious at one point and crying the next. I may be an emotional reader, but I’m impressed with the level of connection Stackpole has written into certain characters. Chewie’s death worked well in the first novel because he was such an established character. Many of the people in this duology don’t have that nostalgic safety net and still I was moved by their fates.
A New Setting
I was delighted to finally visit Ithor, the Ithorian homeworld. Also called “hammerheads,” the Ithorians are a peaceful species who revere nature. Stackpole built their culture up nicely in this book, showcasing how they view their planet and how they choose to live above the great forests instead of within them. I’m enjoying that we get to a lot of different planets. It makes the galaxy much richer.
Final Thoughts: 9/10 Lightsabers
I liked Ruin better than Onslaught, although that could be because this is the conclusion to the duology. There were more emotional beats and surprises, and it seemed like Stackpole was more comfortable in this book. Maybe he was just waiting to get to the Vong sections, because those were excellent. He switched from action-based to a more cerebral story, which I greatly appreciated. I love action sequences, but it’s all about the characters for me.