About the Author:
A New York Times bestselling author, Michael Reaves also won an Emmy for his work on the animated Batman television series. He lives in the Los Angeles area.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3.3 out of 5
Star Wars: Coruscant Nights I - Jedi Twilight
The first book of a trilogy set in the Dark Times following Episode III, 18 BBY. Not having enjoyed Reaves' previous Star Wars stories ('Shadow Hunter' and three collaborations with Steve Perry) and with this book having been delayed by a year, I can't honestly say I was expecting much from it. Which is possibly why I actually rather enjoyed it!
This book has none of the cash-in overtones of 'Shadow Hunter' and the boring nature of the MedStar books and 'Death Star' have been left behind. Here we are introduced to a varied selection of characters with interesting pasts who all have their own agendas. Among these characters are reporter Den Dhur, unusual droid I-5YQ, Black Sun agent Kaird, war hero-turned rebel Nick Rostu and two fugitive Jedi, Jax Pavan and Laranth Tarak. Part of this book's charm is that with these characters, in this timeframe, literally anything could happen and you can't be sure who'll survive until right at the last moment.
This series promises to be a welcome change of pace for the Star Wars saga. Its one major disappointment is that Darth Vader's role in the book somehow never quite manages to really grasp the looming sense of threat that is present in other books featuring him as an antagonist (Steve Perry's 'Shadows of the Empire' being the best example).
Followed by Jude Watson's 'The Last of the Jedi: The Desperate Mission'.
4 out of 5
Star Wars: Coruscant Nights II - Street Of Shadows
The second book of the trilogy, set 18 BBY, maintains the tone and quality of the first. Jax Pavan and his cadre of misfits find themselves operating as private detectives in the murder case of a noted and politically-active artist.
The way in which Jax takes up the case (supposedly having to solve the murder before he draws too much attention himself) is this book's biggest failing, being simply too contrived. However, once you've accepted that him and his friends are now P.I.s then you can get on and enjoy a thoroughly good novel.
Adding pace to the story are the somewhat parallel quests of Captain Typho and Aurra Sing. Typho (Padme's bodyguard in the movies) is attempting to track down the killer of the woman he secretly loved in order to extract revenge. Sing (a Dark Jedi bounty hunter seen in Episode I), meanwhile, has been hired by that selfsame killer, Darth Vader, to hunt down Jax.
This story won't change the Star Wars galaxy forever, but in some ways that's its charm. It has no pretensions of being 'epic', it's just a noir story about people trying to survive the Dark Times.
One final thing I should mention, since Star Wars fans will care, is that there are a few continuity inconsistencies that detract from the book (not to mention a bizarre failure of editing in which Typho learns that Darth Sidious went to Mustafar and then vows to kill Darth Vader - without actually aquiring any knowledge of Vader's bearing on his quest).
Followed by Jude Watson's 'The Last of the Jedi: A Tangled Web'.
4 out of 5
Star Wars: Coruscant Nights III - Patterns Of Force
The third and final book of the series, set 18 BBY, sees Jax take a powerful young Force-sensitive under his wing, making him a far more urgent target for the Empire's Dark Jedi Inquisitors.
Sadly, I felt this book was a bit of a downturn for the series. It's as well written as the others and the Dark Times setting still makes for a brilliant background to the story, but the book it let down by the collective effects of a number of small problems. Among these are the anticlimatic end to the bota story thread, the too obvious rewriting of the Dejah-Jax-Laranth love triangle and the lack of exploration of Jax's relationship to Anakin Skywalker.
Following on from this last point, Reaves' worst failing is his complete inability to write Darth Vader convincingly. He conveys none of the quiet menace of the classic era Vader, but also none of the pain and rage of the post-Revenge of the Sith Vader. To my mind, if you're going to put Darth Vader on the cover of your book, you'd better make sure you do the character justice.
Followed by 'The Last Jedi' by Reaves & Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff.
3 out of 5
Star Wars: Darth Maul - Shadow Hunter
Set just before the events of 'The Phantom Menace' in 32 BBY, this book tells the story of Darth Maul's efforts to keep the existence of the Sith a secret. The information in question falls into the hands of a down-and-out Corellian, Lorn Pavan, and his droid I-5YQ. Meanwhile Jedi Padawan Darsha Assant is attempting to take her Jedi Trials, but her path brings her and her Master, Anoon Bondara, into contact with Pavan.
After a brief introduction of the set-up (ie Sith secret out on Coruscant, Maul to kill everyone who knows) the story immediately becomes a chase story. And goes on being a chase story right up to the end. This is one of the book's many failings; the fact that it is simply a repetition over and over of 'encounter Maul, escape, encounter Maul, escape' etc etc, becoming rapidly very boring.
A far worse failing than the thin and repetetive plot is the fact that, having seen 'The Phantom Menace', we already know that Pavan and Darsha don't manage to succeed and therefore their fates don't make you say 'oh no' so much as 'about time too'. Knowing that the main characters don't stand a chance from the very beginning takes the entire point of reading the book away.
Another, smaller, crime is the fact that Reaves has Obi-Wan wandering around Coruscant, not actually doing anything, as if by having another movie character in, it will somehow validate the story. It's not all bad, mind. The two duels are excellent, with Anoon managing to get the drop on Maul and Darsha finding a connection to the Force as strong as any Master.
Overall, a book that is little more than Lucasfilm's attempt to quickly cash in on Darth Maul's popularity.
Followed by Joe Schreiber's 'Maul: Lockdown'.
2 out of 5