Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > Deceived

Deceived by Paul S. Kemp
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Aug 04, 2015

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bookshelves: amazon-vine, star-wars
Read from December 08, 2011 to January 04, 2012

"Be true to yourself"

In light of the quote I've chosen for this review, I will be brutally honest (though, that is really no different than I am any other time I write a review). This book was LIGHT-YEARS better than Fatal Alliance. Despite that, I had some issues. But first, a summary of sorts.

NOTE: I received this ARC through the Amazon Vine program.

Zeerid "Z-Man" is an ex-soldier now gun-runner. He does this to supply his paralyzed daughter (actually she doesn't even HAVE legs, so she really isn't paralyzed, is she?) with the basics, in the hopes that someday he can get her real legs. He has been given a dangerous assignment: evade the Sith blockade of Coruscant to deliver spice. On the way, he meets renegade (of course) Jedi, Aryn Leneer, who is out for...wait for it...REVENGE!!

Okay, so, let me say, after reading Fatal Alliance, I wanted to leave Star Wars books far behind. But I am an Admin of a Star Wars book club and the next book on the list was "Deceived", so I had to read it (well, I am sure I coulda found a way to cop out, but that would be a little Sithy of me, don't you think?). Fortunately, it wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting. Unfortunately, it could have been MUCH better.

My favorite character was, oddly enough, Zeerid. I was shocked when I figured this out, because Zeerid and his story has been told SO many times, I'll bet an 8 year-old would know the archetype. I don't know how Kemp did it, but he made me involved in Zeerid's story, interested in his outcome, and cheering for him to make it out in the end. Even if he was an ex-soldier with a crippled 7 year old girl who lives in a crappy apartment with her impoverished, overworked aunt. (By the way, the ex-soldier bit in this story works MUCH better than the ex-soldier in Fatal Alliance--instead of making his departure from the military another "The Man did me wrong, boo hoo", he leaves because of his *gasp* family!) I found myself reading his sections quickly, desperate to find out how he survives. As I read, I was also reminded of Lorn Pavan in Michael Reaves' Star Wars: Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter: both are competent men who don't have to resort to using the Force or wearing a bucket on their heads to be 100% awesome.

I wish I could say I was as fond of the other characters as I was of Zeerid, but I wasn't. Malgus had some interesting conflicts and on one hand, I liked his relationship with Eleea, but let's face it: Malgus is your typical Sith baddie. He spouts rhetoric about "Anger" and "getting rid of peace", like all good Sith. Eleena is a plot device, or what I've seen called in other places as a "Plot Moppet". She is wise, wonderful, caring, blind to Malgus' abuse, spouts all the right stuff at all the right times...and serves only to create conflict and results in others. There is no nuance in her character whatsoever. She has no desires, no ambitions, no likes, no dislikes. All she is is a sexy female Twi'Lek (because what female Twi'Lek isn't?) whose sole purpose is to make a reaction in the other characters or to be a weakness to other characters. This resulted in my not caring what happened to her, and hoping desperately that she would get a point of view scene that would show her completely different from what the Malgus' sections showed her to be (they didn't).

Representing the Jedi is the stereotypical hero-turned-Dark Sider (at least for 2.8 seconds before realizing that, d'oh, maybe revenge ISN'T what your master would have wanted), Aryn Leneer. While she is WAY more interesting than what's his face from--you guessed it!--Fatal Alliance, her character has been done to death. Kemp really does try to bring some conflict to her, tries to make it different (I liked the subtle romance between Aryn and Zeerid, I liked how Aryn was a woman--and not just a cliched female--and yet had a decent story arc), and I admire his attempt, but it didn't work for me. Aryn is just another Jedi who, when a loved one dies, immediately goes out for REVENGE. The results are lackluster, as always.

Rounding out the cast is Vrath Xizor, a mercenary on the tail of Zeerid. He certainly isn't bad--I really liked the fight scene between him and Zeerid, in which both are equally skilled--but other than that, nothing about him stands out hugely. I was surprised at his outcome, however.

The writing was so much better than that other book I keep mentioning in this review. I think I literally sighed with relief after reading the first page. It was descriptive, beautiful, without being too frilly. In places, sometimes Kemp's writing tended to slow the action to a halt, but other times, it gave a great idea of the destruction of the temple or an amazing fight scene in the cargo hold of a drop ship.

I did receive this as an ARC through the Amazon Vine program; I am desperately hoping that this goes through a final stage of editing, because, gorrammit, there are a ton of errors in here. From wrong word choices to incorrect grammar to using the wrong character, there were so many errors, I almost wanted to grab a red pen and give Kemp and his editor a hand.

And now, for my favorite section and yours...the newly debuted, Nerd Nitpicks!!

1. Zeerid spends 87 THOUSAND CREDITS on a hover-chair. This is MORE THAN A VEHICLE (at least on earth). It is more than what Han Solo demands as payment for transport to Alderaan (10,000) and it's more than what Obi-Wan promises Han for the same trip (17,000). It is also barely more than the JK unit from The Cestus Deception. And yet Yoda has one in the prequels. How much IS the average income of these people? Isn't this a hugely bloated figure? Why does a hoverchair cost more than a trip to Alderaan or a JK unit (weapon of war)? If HOVERCHAIRS cost this much, why is Yoda being such a scum bag and zipping along on one in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith? He's wasting good money that could have been used freeing Anakin's mother from slavery!!!

2. I do not believe, in my wildest nightmares, that you can get from Ord Mantell to Vultar to Coruscant in ONE DAY. I just don't believe it. This whole book should have taken a WEEK or MORE, not a whopping TWO DAYS. RIDICULOUS! And, might I add, this is supposedly OLD technology...that means that during the days of the Death Star, Luke and Ben should have been at Alderaan before they left Tatooine!!

3. Speaking of the whole "days of old" thing...this doesn't feel, in the slightest, like a story 3000 years before Luke is born. Coruscant is built to the same extreme levels; space travel is the same (no, wait, faster...); technology is apparently the same (prosthetic legs).

4. With the exception of ONE character, the ENTIRE Character List is human. This is a pet peeve of mine about SW EU; in the movies, we see all these aliens in the cantina, have all these aliens encounters in the prequels, and then in the books, all the main characters are human. It gets so bad, that I wonder what the point of having them in a galaxy far, far away is. Just make it Earth in the year 3000, and the story might be the exact same.

5. Why the kriff put Ven Zallow in the Character List when he is going to be dead for 75% of the novel? Here is this character that is very interesting, and he dies within the first 50 pages. Hopefully, a book will come out about his exploits before being skewered.

And thank you for joining us for yet another...Nerd Nitpicks!

Honestly, when I started reading these Old Republic tie-in books, I wasn't very excited. I am not a big fan of this era, I don't really care for how everything is almost exactly like the classic trilogy with the inclusion of Sith and Mandalorians, and I just don't care for the video games that much (and to answer your question: No, I've never played KotOR, I can't get it to run on my stupid Vista system). After reading The Book That Shall Not Be Named, it seemed like my suspicions had been confirmed.

Kemp's "Deceived", however, busted those suspicions. I'm not saying this is perfect--it has flaws up the whazoo--but I found parts that I enjoyed and Kemp was a decent writer. If you are interested in this era or are playing the TOR MMORPG, check it out. All others, well, check out if it sounds interesting, but don't feel bad if you pass it over.
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Quotes Crystal Starr Light Liked

Paul S. Kemp
“Be true to yourself"

- Ven Zallow”
Paul S. Kemp, Deceived

Reading Progress

12/08 page 16
6.0% "Already light years better than Fatal Alliance"
12/08 page 23
9.0% "I don't understand why, but Zeerin and Aryn feel way more unique than Jet Nebula, Larin, and Shigar"
12/11 page 43
17.0% "Action sequences are almost overwritten. Instead of me wanting to read faster, I have to slow down"
12/12 page 49
19.0% "At first, I was really liking the writing. Now, I almost feel it is too much...the action nearly comes to a halt."
12/13 page 59
23.0% "I think I know what my problem is: I liked the Zeerid sections of the book better than the others. Weird."
12/19 page 65
25.0% "Not a fan on Aryn. Not enough establishment of her father-daughter relationship with Zallow."
12/19 page 75
29.0% "I almost wish I didn't have to read about Aryn and Malgus :P"
12/20 page 84
33.0% "Malgus is such a moron. I think he's my least favorite character in this book"
12/21 page 101
39.0% "Zeerin spends 87k on a hover chair. somehow, that seems a ripoff, esp. when he got an advance of 100k."
12/29 page 149
58.0% "Why does this feel so slow?"
01/02 page 179
70.0% "Okay, no. You cannot tell me that Zeerid can go from Ord Mantell to Vultar to Coruscant IN ONE DAY. Likewise, Aryn going from Alderaan to Vultar to Coruscant in one day...NO! The timing DOES NOT COMPUTE!! Div 0 error!!!"
01/03 page 193
75.0% "Aryn better actually do something Dark Side or I am calling foul."
01/03 page 203
79.0% "Action scenes are decently rendered."
01/04 page 217
85.0% "And...Aryn pulls back. Because "she wants to HURT him not just KILL him". Cue eyeroll...why can't these guys just KILL people anymore?!"
05/20 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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Laura Hope you enjoy this more than Fatal Alliance. :)

Crystal Starr Light Laura wrote: "Hope you enjoy this more than Fatal Alliance. :)"

I got my fingers and toes crossed! :)

message 3: by Wendy Darling (new)

Wendy Darling Hah, your nerd nitpicks are hilarious. I'm only a casual SW fan (albeit one with an R2 phone and a Darth Vader voice changer), but I enjoyed reading your review anyway.

message 4: by Rachel (BAVR) (new)

Rachel (BAVR) Great review! And seriously, 87,000 credits for a hoverchair just seems exorbitant. With that much money, you'd think he could've bought his daughter a new pair of legs.

Crystal Starr Light Wendy Darling wrote: "Hah, your nerd nitpicks are hilarious. I'm only a casual SW fan (albeit one with an R2 phone and a Darth Vader voice changer), but I enjoyed reading your review anyway."

Thank you!! SW Fans can come in all shapes and sizes, from obsessive (definitely not me!) to casual and that is so awesome! I'm definitely more in the middle--I own a ton of action figures, most of the books, other odds and ends (posters, calendars, Darth Tater...), etc., but I am not a huge comic book/video game SW Fan and I really have no desire to try to be! :)

Rachel wrote: "Great review! And seriously, 87,000 credits for a hoverchair just seems exorbitant. With that much money, you'd think he could've bought his daughter a new pair of legs."

I couldn't believe when I read he plopped down 87k for the hoverchair (it gets weirder at the end when he can sell a cargo and a ship and somehow scrounge up enough money for prostheses, a farm on Dantooine for himself and his sister-in-law, and workers for his farm). I'll give Kemp credit for being one of the only authors to actually consider money constraints (the Solos never had that problem...Han could buy Leia a dress the price of the GDP of a planet, no sweat--and yes, that actually did happen!), but I wish it made more sense and was more consistent.

Iset I remember when that happened. You'd think a practical gal like Leia would be furious and berate Han for spending much-needed credits that could have gone towards the New Alderaan rebuilding efforts or kept a Republic cruiser going for five years, but, somehow, no...

Crystal Starr Light Isis wrote: "I remember when that happened. You'd think a practical gal like Leia would be furious and berate Han for spending much-needed credits that could have gone towards the New Alderaan rebuilding effort..."

Agreed! Leia has always been a practical woman, and Han is very down-to-earth. I can't imagine Han buying a dress that expensive, and I can't believe Leia wouldn't smack Han upside the head for buying her said dress. Very out of character!

message 8: by Ithlilian (new)

Ithlilian I absolutely hated Fatal Alliance, and highly doubt I will like this, especially with the negative reviews. Just because a book is set in the Star Wars universe does not automatically make it good. Plot is important, and the stereotypical cardboard cutout characters Fatal Alliance had, and this seems likely to have, just don't cut it. I'm sure they will keep making these, and I'm sure people will keep buying them, hoping that maybe the next one is good, or the one after that...

Crystal Starr Light I did not particularly care for Fatal Alliance myself (you can read what I didn't like here).

Ithlilian wrote: "Just because a book is set in the Star Wars universe does not automatically make it good. "

I 100% agree! I am a Star Wars fangirl, but I do NOT believe that anything written or produced under the Star Wars name means it is awesome. In fact, so many books published under the Star Wars name end up being, well, crap.

I am not sure if it is because of Lucasfilm or the authors themselves or pressure to pump out as many novels as possible are what is making SW books so meh, but I am hoping that we can get some good authors to write some real quality books--books that have an actual plot that hasn't been regurgitated 100 times before, characters you can care about, and writing that doesn't make you cringe.

Laura They probably know that it's Star Wars, so regardless of quality, people will buy it.

Crystal Starr Light Laura wrote: "They probably know that it's Star Wars, so regardless of quality, people will buy it."

I think that is exactly the mentality. You know what they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The motto has worked for Lucasfilm/Del Rey in the past, why change?

Laura Crystal Starr Light wrote: "I think that is exactly the mentality. You know what they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The motto has worked for Lucasfilm/Del Rey in the past, why change?"

Pretty much. That's why I usually don't buy books unless I've read them, unless it's at a used bookstore or it's in a series or something.

message 13: by Iset (new) - rated it 3 stars

Iset They tried to shake things up making the switch-over from Bantam to LucasBooks (or whatever it's called)... but whether or not that was an improvement is sometimes up for debate.

Crystal Starr Light At first, I thought Del Rey did a marvelous job. But when I started really looking at the books, the quality of the Del Rey books isn't that much different from the quality of the Bantam books. The Bantam books just get a worse rap for being goofy (though there ARE pretty bad books under the Bantam label).

I don't buy too many used Star Wars books anymore (though most of the rest of my collection I did buy used), but I don't buy hardback, unless it is Timothy Zahn.

message 15: by Ithlilian (new)

Ithlilian I know they tried to market this series to people that play the MMO, but I really don't see that as a selling point. I recently quit the MMO because the story was lacking, among other things, and the game didn't in any way make me want to read these. Mostly it was that the third one is called Revan, I liked KOTOR, I saw that Fatal Alliance was first in the series, so I started there. I also tried Plagueis and didn't like it, no matter how much I wanted the extra information to connect to the movies, it didn't make it a good story.

I'm also a bit picky when it comes to books, and have very little patience for bad ones.

Laura I loved Plagueis, I just didn't like how slow it was. There were a lot of parts that were either very slow or very actiony. It didn't have a good balance. But I couldn't get over how awesome Plagueis was, and now I love Palpatine waaaay more.

message 17: by Crystal Starr Light (last edited Jun 08, 2012 02:55PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Crystal Starr Light Plagueis is pretty slow, which is why I haven't made much progress in it. I love the new information, but I do need to have some sort of drive to push me along (and it doesn't have to be an action sequence every chapter or somesuch).

message 18: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider Ithlilian wrote: "I know they tried to market this series to people that play the MMO, but I really don't see that as a selling point. I recently quit the MMO because the story was lacking, among other things, and t..."

Ith, darling, you aren't a "bit picky" when it comes to books. You are more like a woman in search of a pearl in an oyster...and when you come across that rare find, you not only want a perfect pearl, you want to eat the oyster, use the shell as a soap dish and save any bits of sand for possible mulch in the garden. If any of those things are missing, well, you get a bit picky. *grin*

message 19: by Ithlilian (new)

Ithlilian I think the final straw in Plagueis for me was when he met Palpatine. Plagueis came off as weak and dumb nex to Palpatine who was a teenager, and I thought that was nonsense. I find sith much more interesting than jedi in general, yet they are never written to their full potential. That may be a fault in the Star Wars universe and it's focus on jedi, or it could be the writers. Sith are written as muahaha and fond of torture, when that seems awfully stereotypical and biased. Jedi are somehow allowed a greater range of character and development, yet they aren't supposed to have feelings and seem like a glorified police force. What jedi versus sith comes down to is basically a religion. Sith are not inherently evil and jedi are not naturally good, their religions just seem to imply that they should be. End rant.

I like the Star Wars universe, I like the technology, and the history, but that doesn't mean a book, or a game for that matter, will be any good unless it is done right. Much like the war of the spider queen books. I like Drow, and the plots seemed very interesting, yet each book has a different author and the quality varries from a badly written video game, to boring quest fantasy. In other words, the idea and the world is no substitute for an engaging plot, a great cast of characters, and well thought out writing.

Crystal: I definitely wanted to push through to get to the new information with Plagueis, but something just wasn't working for me. It could have been the way the information was presented, or the characters themselves, but there wasn't enough for me. I usually skip through action scenes in books because it is rarely done well. Having read so much urban fantasy one action sequence is much like the next, and I only skim to find out who is alive at the end of it all. Very rarely does action keep me on the edge of my seat. With 300 or so book on my to read list and more coming out each day, I definitely can't waste energy and create stress by reading a book I want to throw at the wall in frustration :)

Crystal Starr Light I have noticed the same problem myself. About the only series that I thought did any justice to the Sith was the Darth Bane trilogy, and what Karpyshyn did right (in my opinion) was refuse to make Bane some violence happy Sith. Sure, Bane did kill and quite a bit, but he also was smart and cunning and used stealth almost as much as he used violence.

The Jedi stories keep feeling the same to me: something bad happens to Jedi, they "turn to the Dark Side", struggle a bit, then are redeemed. And while a TON of stories could follow that super basic plot, what kinda irks me is how BORING most authors make it (or how little they deviate from the formula).

For instance, in "Deceived", Aryn's master dies, she decides she wants revenge, but when she faces off her master's murderer, she backs away from doing anything "too dark". Not surprisingly, by the end, she is back "to the Light Side".

(This is even WORSE in the New Jedi Order book, "Dark Journey" by Elaine Cunningham where Jaina supposedly goes to the Dark Side, but never really does anything dark.)

Why are Sith shown as murdering evil cronies, unable to put two intelligent thoughts together? Why are the only emotions we see "hate" and "anger" (and a side of "passion" and "jealousy"? What about other strong emotions--like "love" and "surprise" and "zeal"?

message 21: by Ithlilian (new)

Ithlilian I definitely agree, I had to do an eyeroll when the Jedi that is turning to the dark side plot line is revealed. Then I cringe when nothing dark actually happens...

Character driven novels are definitely my favorite. I like a character that makes decisions for a reason, and those reasons make sense within their personality. These characters don't have a driving need to follow the law no matter what, and aren't out to vanquish all evil without even considering why. Yet, they also do not kill for no purpose, or torture for the pleasure of it. For some reason all Star Wars lore insists that Sith enjoy torture and punishment, which is just nonsense. Sith masters instilling fear as a method of teaching is also boring and requires very little creativity on the part of these writers. How about using the fears of the enemy against them as a way to use the "fear" aspect of the Sith code, instead of torturing your apprentice? Also, why does ever single Sith want to be the master of the universe? I mean it is not realistic for every single character to have that as a goal of their life.

It really should be looked at as two opposing factions, neither of which are inherently good or evil. There can be Jedi that are jerks, or that strive for success. They shouldn't fear to act because they are worried they will become "dark." Sith should similarly be capable of compassion, and that should not make them weak or "light." Instead of writing to the stereotype, authors should try to write to the characters. Don't force those characters to fit into nice little labeled containers of "Sith" and "Jedi," "light" and "dark."


message 22: by James (new)

James Caldwell Don't forget A New Hope. "And it's going to cost you something extra. Ten thousand--"

"Ten thousand?!"

"All in advance."

"This is ridiculous! We can almost get our own ship for that!"

So let's pretend a ship is 15,000 credits. That better be a damn fine hover chair Zeerid! It better have a hyberdrive and twin turbo lasers and, and, yeah!

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