Into the Void is the third Star Wars novel released in 2013 and is very much different from the first two. In January we got Scoundrels, the highly anticipated novel by Star Wars writer royalty Tim Zahn. February saw the release of The Last Jedi, a novel that was basically the unofficial 4th book of the Coruscant Nights series. Scoundrels featured a large cast of characters including film characters Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and Chewbacca. The Last Jedi didn’t have any of our film good guys but did feature Darth Vader as the main villain.
Into the Void had no film characters to rely on to attract the casual readers. It didn’t even have the familiar eras. In fact it started it’s own era, “Before the Republic” (yes the Dawn of the Jedi comics officially started this era but Into the Void is the first novel). Hopefully this unfamiliarity will not drive off readers, because I believe the strength of this book is how different it is.
Here is the official synopsis…
On the planet Tython, the ancient Je’daii Order was founded. And at the feet of its wise Masters, Lanoree Brock learned the mysteries and methods of the Force—and found her calling as one of its most powerful disciples. But as strongly as the Force flowed within Lanoree and her parents, it remained absent in her brother, who grew to despise and shun the Je’daii, and whose training in its ancient ways ended in tragedy.
Now, from her solitary life as a Ranger keeping order across the galaxy, Lanoree has been summoned by the Je’daii Council on a matter of utmost urgency. The leader of a fanatical cult, obsessed with traveling beyond the reaches of known space, is bent on opening a cosmic gateway using dreaded dark matter as the key—risking a cataclysmic reaction that will consume the entire star system. But more shocking to Lanoree than even the prospect of total galactic annihilation, is the decision of her Je’daii Masters to task her with the mission of preventing it. Until a staggering revelation makes clear why she was chosen: The brilliant, dangerous madman she must track down and stop at any cost is the brother whose death she has long grieved—and whose life she must now fear.
I was excited when I heard that this book was going to feature a female character as the lead. Not because I feel female characters are under-represented in the Star Wars universe but because I just wanted to see something different. Lanoree Brock was different. I loved the character. Powerful, confident, but not flawless. We have other female characters like this in the Star Wars universe but it’s rare an entire novel is told solely from their point of view. Into the Void is almost a one character book. Lanoree has her unwanted sidekick Tre, and other characters play important roles, but Lanoree is the star that carries this book. Her character is fleshed out so well that you feel like she has been part of the universe all along and you forget this is the first story to feature her. She is one of my favorite new additions to the pantheon of Star Wars characters and I hope that they at the least bring her character into the comics storyline, if not give her more novels.
The other two main players in the book are Tre Sana, Lanoree’s Twi’lek tagalong, and Dalien, her troubled brother. I liked Tre as a character, although it seems the Expanded Universe has overused the Twi’lek sidekick of late. Recent novels The Last Jedi and Annihilation have used similar Twi’lek characters. I would have liked to see Tre be of a different species. As a character he worked well as a counter to Lanoree and there are some interesting mysteries surrounding him. Dalien Brock plays the villain of this story. I thought it was very interesting that he was not a Force user but rather hated the Force and everything about it. He was a very unique villain that Lanoree had to deal with psychologically and physically. The fact that he is her brother makes things a lot more complicated for her.
I have praised books before for their simplicity and I will do the same for this story. I love that there is a clear story and defined characters to follow. Early on we know who our heroes are and who they are trying to stop, and the book just takes us through the progress of how it all goes down. At no time did I feel lost or lose track of which character was doing what. By focusing on just a few core characters, the story allowed us to really get to know and care about them in a relatively short novel.
I am a fan of the Dawn of the Jedi comics and I have been intrigued with the idea of going to the beginnings of the Jedi Order. Into the Void helps flesh out that world, and in some ways I think it did it better than the comics. Where the comics quickly went to familiar weapons like lightsabers (in the comics they are called forcesabers), the novel has Lanoree only fight with her Jee’dai sword. This gives it a more medieval feel to me. As you can imagine the use of a sword is more violent than a lightsaber. This less civilized option really put me in the mindset that this was an earlier era in the Star Wars universe.
The use of alchemy was a nice touch as well. I remember reading the old Tales of the Jedi comics from the 90′s and was always intrigued by the use of alchemy in the more ancient times. You don’t see this type of use of the Force in the more modern eras. It gives you the feeling that the Jedi eventually realized the dangerous implications of it and phased it out of their training regimen. It’s use in the book is a nice tie in to the Old Republic era materials that have come before.
I really loved this book. It gave us great characters to root for in Lanoree and Tre and a disturbed villain in Dalien who was easy to root against. It was filled with perfectly timed action and engaging environments that kept me interested from beginning to end. Don’t let the lack of movie characters scare you. If you are looking for something different set in a Star Wars universe that is just a little off of what you are used to, this is the book for you. It is my favorite Star Wars novel so far of 2013 (Yes I am including Scoundrels).
Random thoughts and observations
They had the holonet back then? Seems too early.
Ironholgs is strange but cool droid name.
Skilled-metallurgy, elemental manipulation, alchemy – not your typical Force skills.
I want to know more about this Wookiee warlord Gharcanna.
The guy who has three lekku is named Tre. Nice.
I found some of the content and especially the language surprisingly harsh for a Star Wars novel.
Swords can block blaster bolts.
They had caf even so long ago.
The “Before the Republic” era would be a great place for the SWEU to play while staying away from the post Return of the Jedi era.