Star Wars: Scourge Book Review
Scourge, on bookshelves today, was written by Jeff Grubb. This is his first Star Wars novel but he is not brand new to the Star Wars Expanded Universe, having previously written and contributed to a number of roleplaying guides and supplements. Scourge is unique in the fact that it is a novelized version of the roleplaying game supplement Tempest Feud, making it the first Star Wars novel completely based on a story from the roleplaying game.
If you are a diehard roleplaying gamer who picked up Tempest Feud back in 2002 then you already know how the story goes. For the rest of us here is the official synopsis.
In the heart of crime-ridden Hutt Space, a Jedi Scholar searches for justice. While trying to obtain the coordinates of a secretive, peril-packed, but potentially beneficial trade route, a novice Jedi is killed—and the motive for his murder remains shrouded in mystery. Now his former Master, Jedi archivist Mander Zuma, wants answers, even as he fights to erase doubts about his own abilities as a Jedi. What Mander gets is immersion into the perilous underworld of the Hutts as he struggles to stay one step ahead in a game of smugglers, killers, and crime lords bent on total control.
Scourge was a book I was really looking forward to reading for a number of reasons. I loved the idea that the book was set in the New Republic era just before the Yuzhan Vong War. I was looking forward to a novel that focused on brand new EU characters and not the main cast. I love books about individual Jedi on an adventure like previous books I, Jedi and Crosscurrent.
Sometimes what you think you want isn’t really what you want. As I was reading through this book I found myself longing for familiarity. I was happy to have a book that did not focus on Luke Skywalker but I could have used a reference or two to him. This book is the definition of a stand-alone novel. Characters and locations that would be in play at this time (19ABY) are not even mentioned. If it wasn’t for a couple of throw away remarks about the Jedi Praxeum being on Yavin 4 and Tionne being Mander’s former Master, this book could really have been set in any era. I kept looking for something to anchor me into the galaxy and I just couldn’t find it.
Mr. Grubb does introduce some cool new characters into the galaxy. Mander Zuma was an interesting Jedi to read about because he lacked the confidence you would expect in a Jedi Master. It was a refreshing take on a Jedi character. His main companions in the book, the Pantoran female Reen Irana and the Bothan male Eddey Be’ray, were great additions to his team and I wanted to know more about all three of the characters. The Hutt characters were also interesting and unique. The one Hutt having an entourage of drunken Wookiees made me smile every time they showed up on page.
The book addresses serious issues like drug use but still stays very lighthearted. There is no lack of humor and sarcasm and the author writes it well. The characters are put in some ridiculous situations and they know it. One particular scene our heroes are attacked by a “Hutt in shining armor” and one character says aloud exactly what was on my mind, “You have got to be kidding me.” Situations like this were obviously not meant to be taken too seriously and I really enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek style.
The book really reads like a game. I don’t have much experience with roleplaying games, so I related it more with video games. The characters go to a planet, solve a mystery, defeat a boss…repeat until you get to the big boss at the end. Scourge was a fun adventure/mystery book. It is not action packed. The galaxy as a whole is not in peril. There are no Skywalkers or Sith Lords. It is just an entertaining story set in the Star Wars universe.
There were moments the book moved slowly but it picks up toward the end, and the ending is very satisfying. There are also some twists that, if you are not paying attention, you may not see coming. I liked this book. If you want a book that breaks away from the norm and doesn’t rely on the movie and major EU characters, you may very well love it.
“Gon kodowin pumba mallin.”
Was Toro our first Pantoran Jedi?
I really want a portrait of Mander, Reen, and Eddey in the Essential Readers Companion.
The drug trade kept making me think about Breaking Bad.
Best Hutt death ever.
The Jedi Mind Trick is really explored in this book.
Lots of hand injuries in Star Wars novels lately.
Let the ship wars begin… Mander/Angela or Mander/Reen.
Not since Beldorion the Splendid…