BOOK REVIEW: The Black Fleet Crisis trilogy, by Michael P. Kube-McDowell


Publisher: Bantam

Genre: Space Opera

Books: 3

Published: 1997

Verdict: 4/5

It has been over a decade since the defeat of the Empire. But while Leia Organa-Solo holds together a fractured New Republic and Luke Skywalker trains the next generation of Jedi Knights, a new threat is rising. A threat called the Yavetha…

Between 1991 and 2014, an entire Star Wars Expanded Universe was developed. Stretching across several thousand years and with numerous subseries and standalones, there’s a lot to take in. Over time, the complexity got a little too much for its own good. The Black Fleet Crisis is one of the earlier installments. It’s been a long time since I read anything from the old EU, but a lot of the names were familiar to me. Particularly Borsk Fey’la, the Bothan senator. In a way, it was like returning to old friends.

One important thing: These books were written before the prequel trilogy was released. A such there are continuity errors there, particularly in Luke’s storyline, in which he searches for his mother. There are also passing references to the Empire, suggesting it existed for far longer than the twenty-three years it canonically did. None of this gets in the way of the story, but it does create a slight disconnect when you’re more experienced with Star Wars canon. Frankly though, it’s a miracle that the interweaving storylines work together as well as they do.

The Black Fleet Crisis itself is concerned with a diplomatic rift between the New Republic, and a race known as the Yevetha. This major storyline is where I take issue with the series. A large section of the first book involves Leia negotiating with the Yevetha leader. However, this entire arc involves Leia being unbelievably naive and gullible. Considering how long she has been running the New Republic for at this point, I just find it a little hard to believe that she would be so easily manipulated.

The second storyline is Luke’s, and involves the Jedi master searching for his departed mother. Going into any detail here would be a major spoiler, but suffice it to say that if you like close examinations of the Force, then this storyline will likely be your favourite.

A final storyline is Lando’s. Lando Calrissian became a major player in the EU, and here he is at his finest. Separated from the rest of the cast, he is stuck on an ancient spacecraft for essentially the entire trilogy. Trapped with Lobot, C-3PO and R2 D2, he is largely a prisoner of circumstance.

As you’d expect, these three storylines do link up eventually, though not wholly convincingly. Lando’s in particular never really meets up to the others. Despite that, it remains my favourite of the three arcs. There are other storylines – Han and Chewbacca both have important roles to play – and appearances from old favourites like Admiral Ackbar and Mon Mothma, but they are largely there in a supportive capacity.

While there are a few flaws with the plotting, overall this is a strong series. For one thing, it’s a nice continuation of the Star Wars storyline that focuses on the heroes of the original trilogy. It’s also an interesting look at a universe in development. A lot of the elements that would come to characterise the EU are on show here. it’s not just nostalgia, but there’s something nice about the familiarity of the setting, and the characters.

Whether you’re a Star Wars veteran or a newcomer to the EU, this is a decent place to start. And there’s a full list of other books to keep you going . . .

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