Originally published at http://www.rancorslovetoread.com/2008/12/andrews-review-of-truce-at-bakura.html
3/5 Rancors – There are no vacation days for the heroes of the Rebellion. Finally, the Emperor’s reign of terror has been ended, the Empire is in disarray, and the Rebellion is suddenly in a position to start laying the groundwork of a new galactic government. Unfortunately, mere hours after these tumultuous events a distress call from the remote system of Bakura arrives at Endor and it’s back in the proverbial saddle for Luke Skywalker and his buddies. The Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers tells the story of an alien invasion of the Bakura system, a place “protected” by the Empire but in desperate need of aid. The Rebels must find a way to help the Bakurans while maintaining an uneasy alliance with Imperial Governor Wilek Nereus and his forces.
The alien invaders are an extra-galactic reptilian species named the Ssi-ruuk. Total enslavement of all other life is the Ssi-ruuk reason for their assault on Bakura and other systems. The most unusual aspect of these creatures is the method they use to power their fleet. It is called entechment and involves draining living beings of life to power the vessels and droid fighter with their energy, essentially like transferring their soul to a mechanical device. It is a grotesque concept and certainly serves to underscore the pure unadulterated evil that Tyers’ Ssi-ruuk characters represent.
Dev Sibwarra is a Force-sensitive human slave aboard the Ssi-ruuk vessel Shriwirr. Dev is able to soothe prisoners with his Force powers while they are enteched, making for a more efficient process. Spurred by their knowledge of Dev’s special abilities, the Ssi-ruuk hope to find a more powerful Force user, one who will be able to facilitate mass-scale entechment of entire worlds. Inexorably their paths and that of Luke Skywalker intersect and Luke becomes the keystone of the Ssi-ruuk scheme for complete galactic domination.
On Bakura, an unbalanced system of government exists where the Imperial Governor holds the real power but the Bakurans are allowed nominal control under his oversight. This system seems to be what the Emperor has envisioned when it is mentioned in A New Hope that the Senate has been totally dissolved and regional governors will hold direct control over their populations. On Bakura, it required a nasty purge to establish Imperial power but things have been relatively peaceful since. Initially the Rebels have difficulty establishing trust with the native leaders, but as the severity of the Ssi-ruuk threat makes itself clear, rapid progress is made toward a new alliance.
One Bakuran Senator is particularly interesting to Luke. Her name is Gaerial Captison and her intelligence and beauty captivate him from the moment they meet. Through the book they develop a strong affinity for one another, but both are at a point in their lives where their careers are going to destroy any serious chance for a relationship. In the novels, Gaerial is Luke’s first love interest (well, excepting Leia), although other sources indicate there were women before Gaeri. I found this plotline to be a good attempt at developing Luke further but there were no real sparks between the two.
Plans are forming in Luke’s head to find other Force-sensitive individuals in the galaxy and take them under his wing for protection and training. He does everything within his power to bring Dev to his side and help eradicate the damage the years of Ssi-ruuk abuse have done to the boy. This development in Luke’s character feels quite natural and a logical extension of his unshakeable belief that there is good in everyone, including his father, Darth Vader.
Tyers does a great job of conveying the after-effects of Luke’s electrocution via Force lightning on the second Death Star. His exhaustion and hindered abilities drive home the feel of this story taking place right after Return of the Jedi. I also enjoyed the exploration of Leia’s emotions towards her newly-revealed father. While Luke has had time to digest his troubled heritage, Leia has just had the news dumped on her at Endor and is quite understandably extremely resentful.
The other main characters assume fairly typical roles in this story. Chewbacca and Han run around Bakura stirring up trouble and doing some great flying, the droids help out to the best of their ability, and supporting favorites such as Wedge Antilles, Mon Mothma, and Admiral Ackbar make appearances.
The strongest aspects of The Truce at Bakura are the insights into the long road ahead of the Rebellion in building a new government and in dealing with the substantial remnants of the Empire. The Ssi-ruuk themselves are memorable but fit uneasily with the larger Star Wars universe. Entechment feels more like a hard sci-fi than a Star Wars plot device, and the Ssi-ruuk’s complete lack of redeeming characteristics make them into one-sided villains. Their unpleasant role as shallow antagonists counterweights the intriguing Imperial/Rebel dynamics to make a solid if not extremely memorable novel.
Originally published at http://www.rancorslovetoread.com/2008/12/davids-review-of-truce-at-bakura.html
4/5 Rancors – The Truce at Bakura picks up with the Star Wars saga just after Return of the Jedi. After reading the Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy and various collections of tales in the preceding books from the Expanded Universe, a return to our familiar heroes is welcome indeed for me. In this book we are back with Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, R2, and Threepio as they head to the far-flung Imperial outpost of Bakura in response to an Imperial drone ship that carried a message to the late Emperor Palpatine. The message stated that Bakura was under attack by an alien force and needed help urgently. The leadership of the Rebel Alliance decided that Luke should lead a relatively small fleet of ships to Bakura to see what help could be provided. Leia is responsible for trying to forge an alliance with the Bakurans despite the control there of an Imperial Governor named Wilek Nereus.
The attack on Bakura was by the Ssi-ruuk, a species of warm-blooded saurians who were engaged in a campaign of conquest. Their fearsome technology called entechment could transfer the life-energy of a human prisoner into the circuits of a battle droid. Their goal was to entech the population of Bakura to give them enough mechanical warriors to pose a threat to the entire galaxy.
The Alliance fleet arrives in Bakuran in the middle of a Ssi-ruuk attack and provides valuable assistance to the Imperials to win the day. The Ssi-ruuk fleets backs away but does not leave. From that point the story moves to diplomatic maneuvers by Leia to obtain Bakuran support for the Alliance. Her efforts are offset by the devious maneuvering by Governor Nereus who clearly cannot be trusted.
The Ssi-ruuks have a young human boy named Dev Sibwarra in the fleet. Dev has been brainwashed to the point where he willingly helps his alien masters with their entechment process. Dev also has some Force presence, and he senses the presence in the opposing fleet of Luke Skywalker. The Ssi-ruuk then adjust their plans to focus on capturing Luke with the idea of enteching his Force skills and creating an even more powerful force of battle droids. Governor Nereus agrees to give Skywalker to the aliens while at the same time placing a lethal parasite in Luke’s food. Things look bad for a while, but in the end our heroes come through in a battle with many ups and downs.
The tale also has a number of interesting side stories which occur along the way. Leia has a visit from the spirit of her father Anakin Skywalker, and she does not welcome him with love. Luke becomes extremely interested in Gariel Captison, the niece of the Bakuran Prime Minister. She returns the interest, but in the end duty pulls them in opposite directions. However, we do get to understand Luke’s feelings of loneliness and his wondering of where he might end up in the future. Wife? Family? Kids? The farm boy from Tatooine is growing up. We also get a great scene late in the book where Threepio, wearing a stormtrooper suit, tries to get back on the Millennium Falcon and is not warmly welcomed by Chewie.
Ms Tyers has written an extremely entertaining book covering a very important period in the Star Wars saga. Well worth reading.
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