The first thing I want to say is, I did not expect that much from this book.
That said, it’s not like I ever expect much from any book based on a video...moreThe first thing I want to say is, I did not expect that much from this book.
That said, it’s not like I ever expect much from any book based on a video game, but I do like reading them for background information. And I’ll confess, I would not have even considered checking out The Needs of the Many if I wasn’t subscribed to Star Trek Online. Before this, STO players only had The Path to 2409 (included in the book’s appendix) to rely on for the story elements behind the game, and here’s the problem — a series of events detailed impassively through a bunch of web pages just wasn’t enough for me. This ultimately led me to pick up the book.
Unlike other works of this genre, however, the story behind The Needs of the Many is told through a string of interviews, along with a handful of letters, news articles and other documents thrown in for good measure. The overall format and tone of the book has been compared to the writing style employed in World War Z, the post-apocalyptic zombie novel. Knowing this beforehand wasn’t a problem, but it did lead me to believe I would not be as drawn to the story as I would have been if the book had been done in a more traditional style.
I could not have been more wrong. Was the book a literary masterpiece? Of course not. But that’s never the point when it comes to these kinds of books. I wanted a fun read, and I got one. “Jake Sisko” is compelling enough as a narrator, and the author has done a good job of capturing his and the other characters’ personalities through well-written dialogue. Each interview presented itself as a unique vignette, and while the main focus of the story remained on the events of the Undine War, I was not opposed to getting a look into the personal experiences and opinions of Jake and his interview subjects.
Were there moments where this made me feel like I was reading a current-day political commentary? Yes, I’ll admit it felt like the author was using Jake as a proxy to communicate his socio-political views at times, but this to me is just par for the course. It’s not like any of the Star Trek series have never been used to make strong and blunt comments on the major social issues of today.
And speaking of the TV shows, I wonder if my unfamiliarity with the Star Trek IP has affected my views on this book. I thought I would be completely lost, but I was surprised to find that I wasn’t. Maybe it was because I had little idea what was going on lorewise in the first place, so the book having no sense of chronology did not affect me as much. After all, you can’t technically be lost if you have no destination to begin with. In any case, my time with The Needs of the Many took me to memory-alpha.org more times than I care to remember in order to cross-reference events and characters.
Coincidentally, I must add that the Voyager episode that came on TV today was the first part of “Scorpion”, or the popular episode that introduced Species 8472 (the Undine) to the series. Funny how life works out that way, eh?
In the end, I think the purpose of this book was more about bringing the average STO player up to speed with the events that have unfolded over the course of the “Long War”, and less about telling an actual traditional Star Trek story. So if you’re looking for something like the latter, I would pass on this. However, it’s helped me understand more about the game and its missions.
Anyway, maybe it’s the fact I know less about Star Trek than the average fan, or my low expectations to begin with, but overall I have to say I enjoyed this book. If I have to pick some memorable moments, I would say the interviews with Quark and Geordi La Forge come immediately to mind. And there was also that one snarky line about Kathryn Janeway’s hair…(less)
Unless a book really hooks me, I know I can take much too long to read. So maybe I didn’t devour Star Wars: The Old Republic: Fatal Allliance in no ti...moreUnless a book really hooks me, I know I can take much too long to read. So maybe I didn’t devour Star Wars: The Old Republic: Fatal Allliance in no time like I had expected, but at the same time I delighted in taking my sweet time to read it. I’ll cut to the chase here — if you can look beyond the faults that are so typical of novels based on video games, you will probably enjoy it. Keep reading for further thoughts, though I’m not going to go into the plot too much (if you want that information you can find it here as well as preview the first chapter) and I promise there will not be any spoilers.
I’d like to mention that I am a big reader and fan of Star Wars expanded universe books, and I can honestly say that Fatal Alliance can stand next to any of them. I’d even go as far as to say it was better written than most of the Star Wars books I’ve read. Sean Williams’ writing style is easy to follow, without feeling like you’re being talked down to. Dialogue can get cheesy and positively cringe-worthy at times, but it’s made up for by the author’s excellent handling of the characters’ relationships with each other.
The story, on the other hand, was a bit disappointing. I realize, however, that storylines that work for a game don’t necessarily translate as well into book form, and I’m sure much of characters and plots from Fatal Alliance were developed under such game-to-novel constraints. At times you may find the story predictable, and inevitably, you will come across parts in the book which will make you stop and think, “Wait, that doesn’t make much sense!” Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to look past these flaws if you can maintain appropriate expectations for an MMO tie-in of this nature.
Fatal Alliance is also blessed/plagued with a large ensemble of characters, depending on the way you look at it. The novel follows the activities of no less than eight characters, no doubt for the sole purpose of showcasing all the classes of the SWTOR game. Consequently, you can expect to find the points-of-view constantly switching around between and even within chapters, sometimes rehashing certain events over and over again. This may annoy some readers, but I think most will end up appreciating the author’s attempt to give equal attention to both the Republic and the Sith.
I also found the character development sufficient, but perhaps die-hards will still find it unsatisfying. In some ways, I believe the book was written with the expectation that the reader is already familiar the Star Wars universe, as well has decent background knowledge of the SWTOR MMO. Indeed, the class archetypes (Smuggler, Jedi Knight, Trooper, etc.) and their traits are well reflected in the novel, and readers will greatly benefit from having existing knowledge of them. Otherwise, you may find the story background and characters’ histories severely lacking and even confusing, and admittedly character development will not go that much further beyond what has already been established and/or understood about the archetypes.
Nonetheless, I am impressed with the way Williams handled the characters and the classes they represent, especially considering how much of it is obviously required to correspond to the game. It’s a challenge to create characters that are based on such prominent archetypes and still make them unique and interesting, but he manages well. Particularly, if you are interested in the Smuggler or Imperial Agent and are disappointed by the limited information Bioware has revealed on them so far, Fatal Alliance will be a treat. While reading, I also picked up on many hints regarding class abilities and other game mechanics, so SWTOR addicts might also have that to look forward to.
While some of my criticisms of Fatal Alliance might seem a little harsh, I do want to make it clear that I enjoyed the book. I think most people who are looking for a fun, casual read will enjoy it too; just don’t expect an epic tale. If you are a fan of Star Wars or the expanded universe, this book is worth checking out. And if you’re a fan of SWTOR, this is a must-read.(less)
I'm starting to really like Drew Karpyshyn. After reading his first Star Wars: Darth Bane book and now this, I'm convinced this is a guy who can write...moreI'm starting to really like Drew Karpyshyn. After reading his first Star Wars: Darth Bane book and now this, I'm convinced this is a guy who can write a concise novel without rushing the story.
Revelation was a pretty short book, yet I was surprised at how much I was able to get out of it. There was some strong character building, great action sequences, and even some background information into the technology and inhabitants of the Mass Effect World.
Like most novels in the video game tie-in genre, there were a few forced plot points that you just kinda have to make yourself go with. Despite that, I thought this was a great book, especially for lorehounds like myself, and it was a pleasure to read a game book that doesn't follow the typical "bunch of adventurers go on a quest" pattern. If you're interested in the story from the first Mass Effect game about how Anderson *almost* became a Spectre, Revelation has all the details.(less)
One thing I admire about Drew Karpyshyn and his books is his ability to make you sympathize with even the biggest jackwads. This is the guy who also w...moreOne thing I admire about Drew Karpyshyn and his books is his ability to make you sympathize with even the biggest jackwads. This is the guy who also wrote the Star Wars: Darth Bane books, and actually managed to make me cheer for that evil Sith Lord.
Same kinda deal here with the character of Paul Grayson -- a Cerberus agent, drug addict, and ruthless killer who follows the shady Illusive Man and follows all his crooked demands without question, including running dangerous experiments on his own daughter. So why the hell did I find myself rooting for him?
I liked this book; there is essentially no filler in these Mass Effect novels, just action and more action, the story constantly driving itself forward. Typical of a video game tie-in, but I find it much better written than many.(less)
The third book in the Mass Effect series, and the first time I actually felt a twinge of disappointment. I felt the story was sloppier than the others...moreThe third book in the Mass Effect series, and the first time I actually felt a twinge of disappointment. I felt the story was sloppier than the others, filled with plot points that jarred me out of my reading, distracting me from really getting into the book. It almost felt like the author was rushed.
Also for the first time, I started to get very irritated with Kahlee Sanders. Characters in the book even made it a point to remind her she's not the best judge of character, but seriously, how many more times must she fall for traps and enemy ploys?
I also didn't really buy her "relationship" with Paul Grayson (warning: spoilers for Mass Effect: Ascension); like, come on, they were practically enemies in the last book, up until the very, very end when Grayson finally has a change of heart and sees the error of his ways. Even then Kahlee was bringing him in as a prisoner when he zapped her unconscious with a stun gun to escape. But now they're all buddy buddy with a "special" relationship? (less)
I love Star Wars and I love Thrawn, but this series just didn't hook me. Let me just say I thought the story was quite good, but the writing style was...moreI love Star Wars and I love Thrawn, but this series just didn't hook me. Let me just say I thought the story was quite good, but the writing style was hard for me to get into.(less)
Well-written, but I found it so very dry. I think it could have been paced a little better, as the first half of the story was very difficult to get i...moreWell-written, but I found it so very dry. I think it could have been paced a little better, as the first half of the story was very difficult to get into, and once it actually started going, the action sequences were over way too quickly leaving me wondering just what the heck happened.
I've read better Star Wars books, and better books in this New Jedi Order series.(less)
3.5 stars, but I rounded up. A good read, though not as well told as the first book. I liked book one for Drew's impressive handling of Darth Bane's t...more3.5 stars, but I rounded up. A good read, though not as well told as the first book. I liked book one for Drew's impressive handling of Darth Bane's transition from a miner to a Sith lord. Rule of Two was more about the story of Zannah's own transition to become Darth Bane's apprentice, but I didn't find her journey nearly as dramatic, since we do skip ahead 10 years in the novel from the time Bane first takes her on.
The ending, however, was superb. It's one of those where you know that something awful's going to happen but you just can't wait to see how things play out, and when they do you think to yourself, "Wow, I totally saw that coming but dammit, it's still so awesome." Like most Star Wars books, the plot is completely predictable but Drew Karpyshyn always does such a good job of tying everything together nicely and making it all make sense, so I just learn to go with it. That said, you have to be willing to root for the "bad guys" to really enjoy the story, but then again, if you're picking up a Darth Bane book you probably already knew this well before you even cracked the cover.
Reading this, I also inevitably thought about combat in the upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, especially when reading about the different force and lightsaber abilities used by the characters when they fight independently or in groups. This novel takes place way after the setting of SWTOR, but considering Drew's background in video games and the influence of BioWare's Knights of the Old Republic RPG, I can't help but think many of the abilities I read about and their mechanics will make it into the MMO.(less)
I'd never read a Star Trek novel before this (that is, if you don't count the Star Trek Online book) and I'm glad I chose this one for my first taste....moreI'd never read a Star Trek novel before this (that is, if you don't count the Star Trek Online book) and I'm glad I chose this one for my first taste. I quite liked Enterprise, even though by the time I actually got to watching the series it had already been canceled for several years. That might have affected the way I viewed the events in the series finale, in the cool manner with which one accepts anything that happens on a doomed show.
However, I knew a lot of other people were upset with the way things ended, and I didn't have to read long to realize that this book is here to right those wrongs. In other words, it's pretty much a big eff you to the series finale.
I'm glad for the new direction, even though I'm not sure I felt too strongly about what had happened to Trip on the show in the first place. I can't say he was my favorite character, but call me a hopeless romantic, I never got enough of his relationship with T'Pol. This book was okay, but I think my favorite part about it was the closure it brought to the love between those two.(less)
God help me, but I liked this book. I didn't want to and didn't really think I would, but well, I did...and most likely because I didn't expect much f...moreGod help me, but I liked this book. I didn't want to and didn't really think I would, but well, I did...and most likely because I didn't expect much from it in the first place.
When I first heard of a Star Wars book about zombies, I could only predict disastrous results. Zombies are fine and good, but I couldn't imagine their presence in my beloved Star Wars universe; it just didn't feel right. But I can't deny I was curious. I saw that Death Troopers was also a fairly short read, so I picked it up.
A whaddya know, a few chapters in and I actually started having fun. I mean, wookiee zombies? And there was that delightful surprise when a couple of old friends showed up...
Sure, there were lots of plot holes and things that didn't make any sense, but that was fine because this book was also everything its cover promised -- blood, gore, dismembered body parts, flesh eating Stormtroopers and Imperial zombies, children being put through the most horrible and terrifying situations, etc. I mean, you don't pick up a book like this and expect anything more. It delivered where it was supposed to, and that's what matters to me.
That said, it's probably pretty obvious, but this is not your family-friendly general-audience type of Star Wars book. A little kid would probably have nightmares after reading this.
Anyway, now I'm thinking about picking up Red Harvest, Schreiber's other zombie/Star Wars mash-up book that was released a few months ago...and trying not to feel dirty for it. These books belong in my closet of guilty pleasures for sure. (less)
We first met him in a Star Wars: The Old Republic game trailer — the mysterious masked Sith that brought down the Jedi Temple during the sacking of Co...moreWe first met him in a Star Wars: The Old Republic game trailer — the mysterious masked Sith that brought down the Jedi Temple during the sacking of Coruscant. Darth Malgus, dark lord of the Sith, was the one who led this brutal assault and cut down countless Jedi on their own sacred ground. Now he is one of the main characters in Deceived, the second book in the SWTOR series by Paul S. Kemp, which tells the story of the attack as well as the calamitous events which came afterward.
On the surface, Deceived might just be another novel based on a video game, but after reading it, I admit the quality of the storytelling took me by surprise. Even as Star Wars novels go, I have to say it is better than most. Granted, it is still your standard Star Wars fare — you have your archtypal tale about a Jedi and her comrade pitted against a Sith Warrior and the dark side and such. But still, it was refreshing to read a game book for once and get the sense that the author is actually more interested in telling a good story rather than trying to write a blatant MMO marketing piece that attempts to showcase every single player class and their abilities (which, incidentally, was my main complaint about the first SWTOR book).
That is not to say Deceived is completely devoid of references to the upcoming MMO, just that I feel they are much less pronounced. In fact, in true BioWare fashion, what I think the book attempts to do is to set the stage for the type of light-side/dark-side interactions we can expect to see in TOR. Deceived does this by delving deeper into character motivations and ambitions, and treading the line of morality.
Instead of hobbling the story, the addition of this interplay actually made things better. Subsequently, I felt the characters of Deceived were more fleshed out than I would have expected from a video game tie-in or Star Wars novel, because of the personal reasons and internal conflicts that drive them. The angry and hate-filled Darth Malgus, for example, may surprise you with his tenderness towards the woman he loves. Similarly, the Jedi protagonist Aryn Leneer has her own reasons for turning her back on the Order and going rogue. The reader will also find the smuggler Zeerid struggle to make some difficult decisions, in the name of keeping his family safe.
As such, even though this book can be read as a standalone novel, if I have to relate it back to SWTOR, I want to say Deceived prepares us for the kind of moral dilemmas and questionable choices and we will no doubt face in-game. In the context of the novel, however, this also serves to provide in-depth characterizations for the heroes and villains, and helps readers connect to characters who are otherwise new to the Star Wars expanded universe and are thus relatively still unknown. It’s a win-win situation, really.
There were a few things that annoyed me about Deceived, and I feel I need to mention them. One of them pertains to Darth Malgus, who was the one I was most looking forward to reading about, but unfortunately he also turned out to be the weakest character for me. I felt that his evilness, anger, hate, and all that lust for destruction and melodrama was just a tad over-exaggerated, making him just another broody Sith Lord in the Star Wars line-up, overshadowing what depth he could have had. Aryn and Zeerid, on the other hand, were much more interesting to me.
The book also changes points-of-view very frequently, bouncing around, sometimes only after just a few paragraphs at a time. Word of warning, it can get taxing if you are unused to that. Thankfully, there are blessedly few subplots in this novel, which made the constant shifts bearable. I liked how the storyline in Deceived has a clear focus, and Kemp follows through with it very well.
I would recommend this book to fans of Star Wars, fans who are looking forward to the MMORPG, and even those who are just looking for a quick but fun video game-related read. If you enjoy scenes of lightsaber combat and space encounters, you will not be disappointed — in fact, you can even expect to read about the Sith attack on the Jedi Temple in all its glorious detail and appreciate it anew. However, there is also more to Deceived than just constant action; there is also a deeper poignancy and intensity behind the events that I honestly didn’t think I would find in a Star Wars game novel. Perhaps other readers will be pleasantly surprised as well.(less)
With the New Jedi Order series being one that comprises about 20 books, I guess I can't be too surprised when I hit a slump or two. Jedi Eclipse wraps...moreWith the New Jedi Order series being one that comprises about 20 books, I guess I can't be too surprised when I hit a slump or two. Jedi Eclipse wraps up the Agents of Chaos story, and while I liked it better than Hero's Trial, I can't say I really enjoyed these two books. Many of the subplots were too dry, and the one involving the Ryn felt more like a gimmick than something actually meant to draw you in. At times I really felt like I had to force myself to finish the novel.
I would have given up and never looked back if I didn't know better stories are in store for me in this series. (less)
3.5 stars. Probably the best book I've read in the New Jedi Order series so far. I liked how the focus is back on the Solo and Skywalker families, the...more3.5 stars. Probably the best book I've read in the New Jedi Order series so far. I liked how the focus is back on the Solo and Skywalker families, the characters and their internal conflicts as well as their relationships with each other. I especially enjoyed reading about the Solos -- about Han and Leia resolving their issues, Jaina overcoming the resentment for her mother, Jacen dealing with his struggle to understand the force. I think I appreciated these conflicts even more than I did the action scenes. (less)
I loved the fact that this book was an Anakin Solo-centric installment to the New Jedi Order series, but as much as I wanted to like it, Conquest just...moreI loved the fact that this book was an Anakin Solo-centric installment to the New Jedi Order series, but as much as I wanted to like it, Conquest just didn't do it for me.
Perhaps it had to do with Anakin's allegiance with one of the Yuuzhan Vong at the end; for some reason, it never sat right with me. I found the relationship somewhat unrealistic, and some of their conversations seemed forced, to be sure.
Also, while I appreciated the chance to get to know Anakin better, I acutely felt the absence of the other characters, which left a tangible void. I found myself missing them -- Han and Leia most of all -- and God forbid, even Jacen Solo. (less)