MedStar: Jedi Healer

July 18, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

healerMedStar: Jedi Healer by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry

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First, the covers of these books. They have nothing to do with the stories within. In Battle Surgeons, Barriss doesn’t attack a battle droid with a lightsaber; in Jedi Healer, she never heals a trooper in his armor (to say nothing of the Force not glowing when it’s in use). Sure, there’s some license to be expected here, and it’s not nearly as bad as the skeleton pirates that graced the cover of Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides, but it can’t be overlooked.

Second, this series makes a huge improvement in the second book. The first one frustrated me with its wandering plot and the uninspired characters, but Jedi Healer takes that plot to its conclusion. It occurred to me about halfway through this book that the reason Battle Surgeons felt so frustrating was because I was reading half a novel. All that’s set up through the events in Battle Surgeons comes to its logical conclusion here in Jedi Healer. Should I be surprised? I mean, I knew these two books were their own little series going into them, but I also knew the same about the Darth Bane series, and each of those books could stand alone (to some degree). These two, though, could have been edited down into one book.

The characters also improved in this book. We still have the same central characters (minus two, at least), and their characters develop more in this story. Jos, our main character, continues to learn more about what defines humanity, again with the help of I-5, a protocol droid who shows signs of sentience. That character originated in Reaves’ Shadow Hunters, and I wonder if the author had planned to revisit the droid as he was writing that book. The way the story develops into MedStar (and, I’m guessing, will continue developing in his Coruscant Nights) makes me think he did, but I wonder if he had the stories planned out at that time.

Jedi Healer was one of those books I couldn’t put down once starting. With some Star Wars books, I have trouble staying focused on the story once it gets more into detail than character, but that wasn’t the case here. The characters and the plot take central stage here, even more so than they did in Battle Surgeons. Again, I feel like the two books are just one story and could have been one volume, and I wonder if that was originally the authors’ intention. It wouldn’t be the first time a publisher has asked an author to split one book into two volumes, for a variety of reasons.

As I say often when I really like a book, the story isn’t perfect. Jos misses something that was obvious to me as soon as the situation presented itself, and I was annoyed with him when it took nearly 100 pages to figure it out. Also, the authors cram in several modern sayings, like “For increased life satisfaction, lower your expectations”, tweaking them just a bit to make them fit into the universe of Star Wars. I was okay with one or two, but it seemed like they showed up about once every other chapter. I do have to give the authors credit for referencing a Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster while in a bar, though.

I’m surprised and pleased with Jedi Healer. These books were my first foray into Steve Perry, whose name I knew from his original Alien novels, and I know he’ll show up again with Shadows of the Empire. I’d recommend this series to anyone who likes a good, fast-paced, engaging story, with the caveat being that you have to make it through the first, less satisfying book to get to the good parts.

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