Years ago Michael Reaves wrote a book about a janitor working in the Jedi temple who discovers the existence of the Sith. Darth Maul sets out on a quest to destroy that janitor and his droid. To anybody familiar with Darth Maul there is no doubting the conclusion. Reaves brought it all together well and made it feel, at times, like perhaps there was a small chance that some of the characters might live.
Well, they don’t.
But the janitor, Lorn Pavan, had a son named Jax who just happened to be Force sensitive and accepted to the temple as a Padawan.
In Reaves first Star Wars book I was impressed with his willingness to kill his main character. Too often in Star Wars the authors are afraid to have anything permanently damaging happen. After each story there is a reset button that puts everything back to The Way It Was. (This reminds me a lot of the episodes of pretty much all the Star Treks – bad things happen, good things happen, reset.) Of course it helped that the main character was one of his own and not one of the franchise mainstays that you can’t kill because, let’s face it who would read a book where Han Solo got killed (or believe it)? This moved Michael Reaves onto my short list of authors who write awesome Star Wars.
Alas, his presence thereon was short lived.
Michael Reaves has written several other Star Wars novels since then. Most of them are pretty bland. A few are just plain boring. There is never any danger.
In Patterns of Force Jax Pavan is still trying to track down the secret behind the death of his father. He’s also trying to figure out what happened to his old friend Anakin Skywalker after the great purge. He’s barely scraping by as a private investigator in the underbelly of Coruscant when he comes across an untrained Force sensitive boy named Kaj. Things get complicated since Kaj can’t control his temper, Jax’s old friend, Laranth, doesn’t want to hang out with him anymore, Darth Vader wants to have a talk with him, and his other friends might not be as loyal as he thinks.
It all adds up to a stew that should be exciting. It just isn’t.
Nothing really gets any momentum. Kaj gets out of tight scrapes because he has super powers. Laranth can block blasters by shooting the beam with her own blasters. Jax carries around a Sith lightsaber that a stranger mailed to him, even though he has the means to make his own. Drama is introduced simply for the sake of drama. When one of the characters finally does something smart it turns out that he didn’t really.
Even the showdown with Darth Vader feels silly and almost bland. The ending leaves enough unsaid between the characters that Reaves can always write more books about them.
This trilogy felt very episodic from the beginning, starting with a lot of promise, then ending with things exactly the same as when they started.
This frustrated me. Jax is a Jedi, living undercover in Coruscant – despite the stupidity of such a move – his life should be more interesting than trying to decide if the local constable knows he’s a Jedi or not. By the time of Luke Skywalker there are no Jedi left, which means something bad has to happen to these Jedi who survived Order 66 some day. I’d like to see a book where the empire is not incompetent and incapable of carrying out their prime mission. I’d like to see a story where Darth Vader is not an idiot (even if his storm-troopers can’t shoot).
In short this book was a quick and easy read but ultimately unsatisfying. I found at the end that I didn’t really care about any of the characters. I just wanted to finish the book.