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The Joiner King by Troy Denning
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The premise: ganked from BN.com: After triumphing in Star Wars: The Unifying Force, the heroes of the New Jedi Order return in a dazzling new adventure!

Luke Skywalker is worried: A handful of Jedi Knights, including his nephew and niece, Jaina and Jacen Solo, have disappeared into the Unknown Regions in response to a strange cry for help that only they could hear. Now the alien Chiss have angrily lodged a formal complaint, accusing the missing Jedi of meddling in a border dispute between the Chiss and an unidentified aggressor.

Luke has no choice but to head to the Unknown Regions for serious damage control. Han and Leia follow, intent on protecting their children from what could be grave danger. But none of them are prepared for what they find when they reach their destination.

A colony of mysterious aliens is expanding toward the edge of Chiss space. The leader of the alien nest is resolute. Adept in the Force, he is drawing old friends to his side, compelling them to join the colony and meld their Force-abilities with his, even if it leads to all-out war. . . .

My Rating: Worth Reading, with Reservations

Rating these books will be weird, and it'll take some time getting used to. Because truly, I'm rating these books more against each other than I am against a general scale, you know? That said, anything rating "Excellent" or higher should be considered, provided it's friendly to non-SW readers.

In this case, my reservations are partially my fault, because it's been so long since I've finished the New Jedi Order. But the characterizations sometimes left me a little bewildered. I'm hoping that things iron themselves out once the trilogy continues, because as a fan of Jaina, I don't like where this book left her at all, and I'm (rightly) concerned about Jacen.

That aside, it was fun to finally come back and sink back into this universe once more. No, this is not a book I'd recommend to a casual reader, let alone a casual Star Wars fan. This is a book to be read immediately after The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force, and that series has its own prerequisites. So don't start here. But if you're a regular Star Wars Expanded Universe reader who just happened to miss this trilogy, it's looking like it may not be something you want to skip. I can see things shifting, setting up for a much bigger story (which is an unfair observation, since I already know there's a MUCH bigger story coming after this trilogy). The book has a solid beginning, middle, and end, and it left me looking forward to book two of the trilogy.

Spoilers, yay or nay?: Yay. And I also want to point out: there will be spoilers, at any given moment, for the entire run of Star Wars books up until the date the current book was published. So if the Star Wars are something you want to get into, stop now and read THIS instead. I don't recommend anyone reading the full review unless they've read the book I'm reviewing now, due to aforementioned spoilers, so stop now or -- if you have read the book -- carry on!

Comments and discussion are always welcome, so if you ARE caught up, feel free to read the full review at my blog. The link below will take you there directly. :)

REVIEW: Troy Denning's STAR WARS: DARK NEST I: THE JOINER KING

Happy Reading! ( )
  devilwrites | Nov 26, 2012 |
Good grief! Won’t farmboy, family and friends, ever get a chance to relax and have some fun? Troy Denning makes life miserable for Luke, Mara, Leia, Han and their kids. Bugs big and small, Dark Jedi, space dogfights, light saber duels, sexual tension, and two more books in the series to come. Included with this novel is Ylesia by Walter Jon Williams, a New Jedi Order short story previously released as an eBook.

Published in mass-market paperback by Del Rey. ( )
  mmtz | May 26, 2012 |
Very disappointed. I bounced back and forth between "blah" and "Hey, it feels like the good ol' days!" the entire time I was reading. Unfortunately, Luke's whole "new concept of the Force" is nothing more than moral relativism, and watching some of my favorite characters debate whether or not it's acceptable to turn their backs on suffering left a sour taste in my mouth. I'm hoping Luke's revelation near the end (hope that's not a spoiler) means the next couple of books will change for the better.
  ArmyAngel1986 | Jul 5, 2011 |
Remember when Star Wars was simple? You had your good guys; you had your bad guys. Light and dark. Jedi and Sith. Those good old days are gone.

"Right and wrong, good and evil, light and dark – most of the time, they are illusions that prevent us from perceiving the greater reality. The Jedi have learned to distance themselves from these illusions, to seek the truth beneath the words." - Luke Skywalker in The Joiner King

The Joiner King picks up about 8 years after the New Jedi Order series ended, with the Jedi still trying to work out the implications of their new understanding of the Force. Jacen has been off for several years studying all sorts of different traditions and honing his Force powers in new ways. He, along with Jaina and the other survivors of the mission on which Anakin was killed, are summoned, apparently through the Force, to the Unknown Regions to help a colony of insectoid aliens in a border war with the Chiss. The problem is, the Jedi are being assimilated into the hive mind, and Han, Leia, Luke, and Mara all rush off to try to bring them back.

I enjoyed this book for the most part. There was good action in addition to some more interesting insight into the new philosophical direction the Jedi have taken. It was clear that Luke has his doubts about the new moral relativism of the Jedi order, and I hope that will be developed more fully as the series continues. The part of the book I had the most problem believing was that Jaina and her friends could be so quickly taken in by this insect colony and be so much under its control. They are Jedi, after all. I would expect them to be better able to resist what was essentially mind control. The descriptions of Jaina and Zekk rubbing forearms like giant bugs really creeped me out after a while, and I am hoping that Jaina snaps out of it in the next book! ( )
  shinyone | Mar 2, 2009 |
This is, arguably, the first serious STAR WARS novel in almost two years. That is, we've had the CLONE WARS books and the LABYRINTH OF EVIL/REVENGE OF THE SITH duology, which ranged from really really great down to actively awful. These books, for better or for worse, were mostly action-adventure romps wherein all the pieces are put back at the end for the main characters, we don't see the minor characters again, and there's no overall plot to speak of.

Meanwhile, though, we had THE NEW JEDI ORDER. While the CLONE WARS novels are merely set during a war, and don't really have any macroscale importance, THE NEW JEDI ORDER *was* the war; it took us from beginning to middle to end. Sure, there may have been some missteps along the way... but in the end, it was one giant space opera, in a manner that even the more serious (in terms of trying to be science-fiction, instead of a fairy-tale in space) STAR WARS movies were never really able to pull off. It's this series that DARK NEST is the successor to. Not the sequel--it doesn't touch on the plot of the NJO, and leaves the unanswered questions unanswered, though character threads were picked up.

So, if the CLONE WARS are a fairy tale, and TNJO is a massive space opera, then what's DARK NEST?

Both, to be honest.

The tone of the story is definitely more in line with the STAR WARS movies, or the CLONE WARS novels, than THE NEW JEDI ORDER was. At the same time, though, while it's a fast-paced adventure piece it continues the trend we've been seeing for a while now that really came to a head in THE NEW JEDI ORDER: it acts like a serious piece of science fiction, right down to the *groan* technobabble.

THE JOINER KING gets into some relatively heavy material for an "adventure" novel: the whole concept behind the titular Dark Nest, mainly, but also the continued ponderings on the nature of the Force extending from TRAITOR.

Perhaps my main complaint about the book is that it's started down a slippery slope of technology. The Falcon now carries war droids (and they don't even have interesting personalities a la HK-47 to justify thier presence); we have R9s now for no apparent reason; and one or two other pieces along those lines. More, none of this was actually necessary in the story. But it makes me fear a literal deus ex machina later on, beyond the minor not-so-literal one in the ending of THE JOINER KING.

Over the last five years, the Jedi have also been sliding down the slippery slope of morality as well. Most of them--even Luke--have twisted "the only 'dark side' is that within you" to "the ends justify the means". Seeing how this has affected the characters we've come to know is a bit of a shock; not everyone is as pure as you might think....

Overall: good plot, good writing as I've come to expect from Denning. Some interesting background was developed, and several moral questions were raised that aren't going to go away anytime soon, both of which mean the other two books are very promising indeed. But some bits that seemed like lazy writing (the technology that was introduced) were somewhat offputting. ( )
  ATimson | Dec 25, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345463048, Mass Market Paperback)

After triumphing in Star Wars: The Unifying Force, the heroes of the New Jedi Order return in a dazzling new adventure!

Luke Skywalker is worried: A handful of Jedi Knights, including his nephew and niece, Jaina and Jacen Solo, have disappeared into the Unknown Regions in response to a strange cry for help that only they could hear. Now the alien Chiss have angrily lodged a formal complaint, accusing the missing Jedi of meddling in a border dispute between the Chiss and an unidentified aggressor.

Luke has no choice but to head to the Unknown Regions for serious damage control. Han and Leia follow, intent on protecting their children from what could be grave danger. But none of them are prepared for what they find when they reach their destination.

A colony of mysterious aliens is expanding toward the edge of Chiss space. The leader of the alien nest is resolute. Adept in the Force, he is drawing old friends to his side, compelling them to join the colony and meld their Force-abilities with his, even if it leads to all-out war. . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:02 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Luke Skywalker is worried: A handful of Jedi Knights, including his nephew and niece, Jaina and Jacen Solo, have disappeared into the Unknown Regions in response to a strange cry for help that only they could hear. Now the alien Chiss have angrily lodged a formal complaint, accusing the missing Jedi of meddling in a border dispute between the Chiss and an unidentified aggressor. Luke has no choice but to head to the Unknown Regions for serious damage control.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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