Set several thousand years before the antics of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the Knights of the Old Republic franchise is actually spun out from a series of superior computer games. This book takes nothing but the era and setting from the games though: the Jedi are the protectors of the galaxy and remain a strong and powerful organisation, but the Sith (basically dark Jedi) are challenging their hold, and invading Mandalorians (Boba Fett’s people) are taking advantage of the chaos.
During these chaotic times, Zayne Carrick has been training as a Jedi on a distant planet. Truth be told, he isn’t particularly good at it, and his graduation to Knight seems unlikely. Things start getting increasingly out of hand though and, when he turns up to his graduation ceremony late and finds his fellow students slaughtered by their masters, he’s going to need to bring all his feeble Jedi skills into action much sooner than he thought.
We’re left with a book that’s one part chase, one part murder mystery. The machinations of the plot veer violently towards the nonsensical, with situations cropping up that are clearly designed to allow the plot to move along rather than create any semblance of practical reality. For example, our fugitive and his associates take shelter in an asteroid field deemed too dangerous for an entire planet’s-worth of local police and Jedi craft, yet it seems safe enough to harbour the escapees and their barely space-worthy craft. There are other oddities but you can forgive it some quirks – it is Star Wars after all, and it’s no more ludicrous than Luke Skywalker rescuing a princess and eluding capture by shooting a hole in a wall and hiding amongst some garbage.
On the other hand, the lack of known characters also means the storyline doesn’t have to be as earnest as some of the more recent stories, and the dialogue is brimming with wisecracks and one-liners which bring back fond memories of Han Solo. The art maintains the kind of standard we’re used to from Star Wars comics, helping to communicate the story with a certain flair, combining the usual blend of wacky characters and flashing lightsabers.
Although it initially feels formulaic, the dialogue keeps the plot cranked up and there are a few surprises by the end. It doesn’t quite feel like essential Star Wars reading due to the relatively obscure setting, but should still appease those who can’t get enough lightsabers with their interplanetary adventure.