Yoda: Dark Rendezvous

August 10, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

yodaYoda: Dark Rendezvous by Sean Stewart

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Of all the authors I would have expected to write a Star Wars book, Sean Stewart is somewhere far, far down that list. I’ll admit I’m not that familiar with his work overall, but the one book of his I’ve read — Perfect Circle — was a ghost story about a man who’s haunted, but not by ghosts. It’s a book that’s stayed with me for years, not just because of its imagery and plot, but also because of its characters and poignancy. It felt literary, like it was written by a serious author slumming in genre, and I never looked into his other books. It turns out that he’s written several science fiction novels, most well-regarded and some award-winning, so I suppose this novel is more his style than I realized, but it came as a surprise to me when I realized who this author was.

It’s no surprise that this book is a few steps above a standard Star Wars novel. It doesn’t have that literary feel like Perfect Circle had, but it still has the kinds of characters and observations I remember from that book. In Dark Rendezvous, the story is about Yoda facing down Count Dooku, who used to be Yoda’s Padawan so many years ago. Stewart captures Dooku well, giving us more of an insight into his arrogance and motivations. He’s not as complex as I would have liked, but having an understanding of who he was before he became a Jedi, and the events that led to his seduction to the dark side, makes him more complex than he was in Attack of the Clones.

With Yoda, though … well, to be honest, Stewart didn’t have a whole lot to work with there. Yoda is an enigma. No one knows his real age, his history, or even what kind of alien he is. The story can’t be told from his perspective, because there’s nothing there for the reader to connect to. Luckily, Stewart recognizes this limitation and instead tells the story from the perspectives of those who know Yoda. The story is told by Dooku, other Jedi, Padawans, and other people who encounter him throughout the journey (some a bit more random than others). As such, our understanding of Yoda is only as good as the understanding other characters have of him, which may not always be accurate. It’s a theme that hearkens back to the main theme of The Sound and the Fury, so maybe this novel is a touch more literary than I first realized.

Even though Yoda’s name is in the title of the novel, the book is really about two Padawans, Scout and Whie, accompanying him on his journey. One is strong in the Force, while the other has to rely more on her strength and wits because the Force doesn’t flow easily through her. They have differing opinions on the Jedi and their methods, and as they travel with Yoda, they learn more about the history of the Jedi, making them question their beliefs in their own order. Whie also has the ability to dream the future, and a portentous dream of his own death hangs over much of the story.

Dark Rendezvous is a compelling read, which was a nice surprise, since some of the other books in the Expanded Universe have been informative, even if they weren’t the most readable. I tore through the book in a matter of days, which isn’t something I’ve experienced with most of the Star Wars books, even the ones I’ve liked. I don’t see this one showing up on the “must read” lists of EU books, but it will certainly show up on mine.

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