Colleen’s Book Corner: NJO: Traitor
Author: Matt Stover
Published July 2002
Set 27 ABY
Jacen Solo Becomes Interesting!
This novel is my second favorite in the series so far. Stover’s prose is fluid and sophisticated without rubbing the reader’s nose in it. His technique of mixing verb tenses is intensely disturbing, adding to the book’s sense of dread and discombobulation. He uses past tense for many pages then switches to present tense for no obvious reason, other to show Jacen’s disorientation and throw the reader off a bit. An excellent technique for a novel about one character’s mental, physical, and emotional breakdown. Or is it a breakthrough? That’s the central theme: what exactly happens to Jacen Solo when he’s captured by the Yuuzhan Vong, and what does it mean?
Jacen is the novel’s main focus and main character. And the cast list is short for this one, y’all. Seriously. The last book had two pages for the Dramatis Personae. This book lists only SIX characters. And most of them are in the periphery. Alongside Jacen is his chief torturer and teacher Vergere, the long-missing Jedi Knight of the Old Republic. How Jorus C’baoth was friends with the mysterious avian Jedi is beyond me. Her constantly shifting perspective and question-asking would have driven him bonkers. And that’s one of her main purposes: she wants Jacen to CHANGE. We as the readers are just along for the ride.
I don’t want to say too much, because Jacen’s growth and the surprises he has for readers gives us an incredible journey. Jacen’s enhanced empathetic talents are also on display, which I love to see. Stover masterfully enters Jacen’s mind, well ahead of the other NJO authors. Not for lack of trying or skill, but they hadn’t been able to capture Jacen’s inner turmoil as well as Stover does here. Jacen changes from a whiney Holden Caulfield type character into a complex, traumatized person. It’s nothing short of miraculous that Stover turned Jacen from one of my least favorite NJO characters into a front runner for best character.
Ganner’s Return and a Friend for Jacen
But the book doesn’t just have two Jedi. Ganner Rhysode is back in all his handsome glory, and this is a fantastic book for him as well. My favorite part of the novel involves him, so be on the lookout for some theatrics, at which he excels!
We also get a unique new Yuuzhan Vong creature, the dhuryam, a highly intelligent and evolved creature that’s meant to be the brain for Coruscant’s new identity: Yuuzhan’tar, the developing Yuuzhan Vong “homeworld.” The insights into Yuuzhan Vong culture that Jacen learns in this book are intriguing, and I hope we get more of it!
Final thoughts: 10/10 lightsabers WAY up!
Definitely read this book! It fits best within the New Jedi Order series, but it’s also just an enjoyable read. Well...the torture scenes are incredibly hard to get through, but the craftsmanship and care make this one of the most extraordinary SW books I’ve read.