Sunday, April 11, 2010

No Prisoners [Star Wars Book Review]

There's a vast difference in theme and tone between The Clone Wars animated series and the The Clone Wars novels which are a media tie-in to the cartoon. The show presents the war in quite a one-dimensional way, with clear good guys (Jedi!) and clear bad guys (alien Separatists!). The novels, however, complicate the picture enormously and one of the prime movers behind this moral ambiguity is Karen Traviss. No Prisoners gives us a Clone Wars where Republic spies maneuver to keep dictators in power, Jedi splinter groups present a quite powerful critique of Yoda's "no attachment" policy, Padawans are put in place by experienced soldiers (finally, someone convinces Ahsoka that running around on the battlefield in a tube-top and miniskirt is perhaps unprofessional), and more. There's a lot of subversive elements in Traviss' work that challenges the Star Wars mainstream, and it's a shame that she left the universe over canonicity disputes. Her work is a great counter-point to the seeming Republic propaganda of the animated series.

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