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Star Wars: Jedi Trial : A Clone Wars Novel (Star Wars) by DAVID SHERMAN
Review by Drew Bittner
Del Rey Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0345461142
Date: 26 October, 2004 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

If Skywalker proves capable of leading a small army of Clone Troopers in the field, he will have earned the rank of Jedi Knight. But there's a long way to go before he can claim that honor -- and a lot for the young Padawan to learn.

An army of droids, commanded by the bloodlessly efficient Admiral Pors Tonith, seizes the communications center at Praesitlyn. Skywalker and Nejaa Halcyon, Jedi Master, take a hastily assembled force of clones to re-take the hub. They suspect that the hub's own security forces, led by General Khamar, have been overrun; what they don't know is that a squadron of independent warriors has already attacked Tonith's forces and are (barely) holding their own.

That might be good news, except that the warriors' leader is Zozridor Slayke, the enemy who caused Halcyon's disgrace.

While Slayke's forces engage Tonith's, a scout from the hub's army named Odie falls in love with a downed pilot named Erk. Mutual respect builds toward romance, made more urgent by the dangers they face together on and off the battlefield. When Odie fatally injures an ally, it becomes a leadership crisis that Anakin must solve on his own.

Even as Halcyon's forces arrive and deploy, working with Slayke proves to be far from Halcyon's greatest worry. Tonith has the crew of the communications hub hostage. He's broadcast what was meant to be their appeal for surrender to the galaxy at large. And he has a large task force of reinforcements on the way. If the reinforcements arrive before the hub has been secured ... it might all be over for the Jedi Master and his ambitious Padawan protege.

In this new entry in the Star Wars universe, set during the days of the Clone Wars, authors Sherman and Cragg use their personal experience in the military to lend authenticity to the story. Anakin grows up, learning the challenges and heartbreak that come with commanding men in situations of certain death. He's not leading faceless "red shirts" either; the struggles of clone troopers and ordinary soldiers are made vivid in small glimpses.

The stakes for Anakin are high; his advancement as a Jedi and his belief in himself as a worthy commander are both put on the line. He has a new mentor in the rueful, reflective Halcyon, one with very different qualities than Obi-Wan Kenobi, but who manages to bring out the best in the headstrong Padawan. Halcyon also faces a trial, in that victory means redemption for him in the eyes of the Jedi Council.

Jedi Trial shows Anakin becoming a man. This kind of story may sound old-fashioned but the authors do an excellent job. The combat scenes are specific and well staged, the characters pop, and the story hits both the highs and lows very well. Recommended.

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