Colleen’s Book Corner: NJO: Star By Star
Author: Troy Denning
Published October 2001
Set 27 ABY
Be Careful When Traveling the Stars
Tsavong Lah threatened to destroy the New Republic and the galaxy star by star in Balance Point. I’m not sure if this book’s title was taken from that quotation, but Anakin Solo uses the phrase “star by star” in its over 600 pages. The largest NJO novel - and the second longest SW book after Timothy Zahn’s Vision of the Future - this book is a sweeping epic taking place on multiple narrative fronts. Denning is a deft writer, weaving the stories together with urgency and care. He lacks description in some places then soars with it in others, showing nail-biting space battles alongside intimate character moments. This book is an incredible achievement, the so-called Empire Strikes Back of the series. I’d agree that it bears a resemblance to ESB, mainly because there are surprises and the stakes are heartbreakingly high, but it surpasses the film in many ways. So many more people are threatened in this book than in the movie, making the entire book a writer’s lesson in tension and foreshadowing.
These Young Jedi Are Cool!
Our favorite characters are back, and newer faces are given time to shine, though I would have liked some of the young Jedi characters to have had more narrative exposure prior to this book. The focus is on Anakin Solo and his cadre of mostly teenage Jedi attempting to infiltrate Yuuzhan Vong space, but we also get plenty of time with Han and Leia, Lando, and Luke and Mara. But Anakin and his crew have the most compelling storyline. Denning does a fantastic job bringing a Xenomorph-like creature to life, and the Jedi finally have a foe they can’t cloak themselves from with the Force. This series is most impressive when it gives the Jedi something more formidable than themselves, and Star By Star delivers at every turn.
We’ve Come to the Turning Point
I feel like it’s the fulcrum of the series, the turning point from which no one can afford to look back. Everyone must change their gazes to the future and hope they can one day defeat this implacable foe.
BEWARE THERE BE SPOILERS
And now I must travel into that dense thicket of spoilers. You have been warned. Do not read past the spoiler break if you want the novel’s secrets to remain hidden.