18 August 2014

Return of the New Jedi Order, Episode XV: Emissary of the Void by Greg Keyes

Kindle eBook, n.pag.
Published 2002

Read July 2014
Star Wars: Tales From the Great River: Emissary of the Void
by Greg Keyes

Year Two of the Invasion (Month 8)
Getting hold of this story is nearly a story in itself. It's a six-part, 40,000-word novella: the first three parts were serialized in Star Wars Gamer and reprinted on StarWars.com; the last three ran in Star Wars Insider. I managed to get the whole story through a combination of the Wayback Machine and DD/ILL requests and assembled it all into a Kindle eBook. I know I read this when it came out, but both reading on a screen (for episodes 1-3) and reading serially (for episodes 4-6) meant I retained very little of it.

Which is a shame, because this is good fun. Like with his work on Edge of Victory I: Conquest, Keyes shows that he gets Star Wars. Other than Uldir Lochett (who appeared in three kid's novels in the 1990s!) there are no familiar Star Wars characters here, but it instantly feels recognizably Star Wars, but switched up enough to be fresh. You have a somewhat straight-laced smuggler with his crew (except they're working for Luke Skywalker) coming into contact with a wildcard Jedi Knight, sending them on an adventure that risks both their lives and the whole galaxy. The relationship between Uldir and Klin-Fa feels like Han and Leia, if Han was a female Jedi!

Keyes really gets the serial format: each installment ups and changes the stakes, as our heroes go from avoiding pursuit on a Peace Brigade planet to fighting droid starfighters to uncovering the Emperor's secrets on Wayland to freeing refugees to trying to stop a bacta-poisoning plot! It's a great roller coaster with great twists, and it's a real shame it's been relegated to obscurity by never being collected anywhere or anything.

The subtitle, "Tales From the Great River," would seem to promise more adventures from this era (or at least other characters working for Luke to save Jedi from the Yuuzhan Vong), but that never happened. In one sense, I'm disappointed we've never gotten more adventures of the crew of No Luck Required (they're a great lot), but on the other, I like that we can get these one-off peeks into corners of the Star Wars universe and still recognize them as Star Wars.

(Continuity fans should note this story occurs in parallel with Edge of Victory II: Rebirth; during episode 6, the No Luck Required briefly intersects with events of Rebirth's climax. Indeed, considering that Rebirth consists of a number of parallel stories that only partially touch on each other, Emissary of the Void could easily be distributed among them as another part of the novel.)

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