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Star Wars®: Coruscant Nights
By Josephine A. Kaszuba Locke, March 2009

Michael Reaves' latest Star Wars® offering - a Coruscant Nights trilogy - follows Episode III - Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. In order, the titles are Jedi Twilight; Street of Shadows, and Patterns of Force. There is repetition in each book, from one-to-the-other as well as individually. However, the stories and characters certainly caught my attention. I enjoyed Reaves' rich use of language, such as his description of Senate debates as 'boot-licking fests' or his comments that a team of Whiplash operatives 'were armed to the teeth, fangs, and mandibles'; his creative backgrounds; intrigue; humor; Jedi mystique; and bantering dialog. And the final chapters leading to a non-ending ending caught me off guard – admittedly, pleasantly.

It is the worst of times, after the Emperor's Order 66, which led to the destruction of the Jedi Temple, the killing of children and adult Jedi, forcing the living to flee into hiding. Reaves begins his series in the darkened streets of Coruscant, aka Imperial City. Jedi Knight Jax Pavan (a survivor of the massacre and self-appointed PI) commits himself to assisting the downtrodden in the Blackpit Slums. That includes those who want to escape Coruscant to another world, out of reach of Palpatine's Inquisitor squad. Jax remembers his childhood, and his parents enrolling him in the Jedi Temple. He had a distant acquaintance with Anakin Skywalker, and wonders whether the talented Jedi is still alive.

Then a unique, droid (thought to even have a soul) enters Jax's life. The sentient protocol droid I-Five (I-5YQ – whycue), and his friend, ex-journalist Den Dhur, become Pavan's loyal companions. The twosome once served another Master - Jax's father, the betrayed Lorn Pavan. I-Five quickly became my favorite character, with his wisdom and colorful retorts such as 'The droid could fall apart from metal fatigue waiting for you two'. Den and I-Five also share many healthy exchanges (hard to resist this duo!)

Darth Vader sends his minions in search of Jax. A female with powers relating to pheromones, Zeltron empath Deejah Duare, ex-partner to murdered light artist and sculptor Ves Volette, wants Jax's help to find his killer(s). Gray Paladin Twi'lek Laranth Tarak is of continuing interest to Jax. Zabrak police prefect Pol Haus investigates local crimes, interacting with Jax Pavan - as they assist each other. While powerful Inquisitor Probus Tesla serves Lord Vader loyally to the death, Vader's ex-assistant Haninum Tyk Rhinann joins Jax and crew with an agenda of his own.

Thi Xon Yimmon, a Cerean male, is leader of the insurgent Whiplash group. Sakiyan Whiplash associate Tuden Sal approaches I-Five and Jax to assassinate Emperor Palpatine. The request leads the entourage on a journey - dangerous if they do it, dangerous if they don't. Some search for hidden elements - bota and pyronium (powerful Jedi Force enhancers). The Inquisitors wear Jedi-searching taozin necklaces.

A key scenario is Jax's undertaking to be Master to a fifteen-year old male untrained Force adept, whose family farm and parents were destroyed by the Imperials. Kajin 'Kaj' Savaros is discovered while killing an Inquisitor, and brought into hiding by Jax and friends. Kaj's exceptional powers developed from his need to survive. And in the meantime, when his Master is late for a date, I-Five voices: 'Jax, may I remind you that we're plotting to assassinate the Emperor, not planning a family picnic.'

Michael Reaves is among the best of Star Wars® authors, and he slips in intriguing new creations in Coruscant Nights. There are the Monarchomechs, who 'existed four hundred standard years ago as an obscure sect of fanatics ... and promulgated tyrannicide ... they were cyborgs - essentially encapsulated organic brains in robotic bodies'; and the Silents, monks whose mission it is to heal. I recommend you don't overlook the Coruscant Nights trilogy, especially if you are a die-hard fan of a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. And it is not a proper closing unless I add: 'May the Force be with you!'

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