Annihilation - Drew Karpyshyn Theron Shan may be the son of Satele Shan, Grand Master of the Jedi, but that doesn't mean he's a Jedi or even a Force Sensitive. He's a spy, an intelligence agent, a loner, now that his father-figure is dead.

He has been given a new assignment. The Sith have what could be their ultimate weapon: the Ascendant Spear, a ship so powerful and controlled by Darth Karrid. Together with Jedi Master Gnost-Dural, Theron has to do whatever possible to destroy this ship.

NOTE: I received this through the Amazon Vine Program.

If you would have asked me 6 months ago what I thought of Drew Karpyshyn, I would have said something like: "ZOMG, da best SW author EVAH!!" (Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but you get the point.) But after reading [b:Revan|10687840|Revan (Star Wars The Old Republic, #3)|Drew Karpyshyn||15597755], a book so disappointing, I was at a loss for words to describe how disappointing it was, I wasn't so sure. Up until Revan, I had been excited about Annihilation; after Revan, I was ready to be disappointed.

Well, there is good news and bad news. The good news is this is MUCH better than Revan. The bad news is it is nowhere near as good as Karpyshyn's Darth Bane trilogy.

One of the things I though Karpyshyn did better in Annihilation was the characters. Pretty much all the characters were 100% more interesting than the ones in Revan (and apologies in advance for all the comparisons to Revan, but since Revan so influenced my opinion of Karpyshyn's works, I think it is necessary to have some comparison). Theron Shan was definitely not the bland, stereotypical Jedi-turned-Sith-turned-whatever. I liked how Shan was not a Force user. It's fun to see regular "guys" in Star Wars have to figure things out without a flick of the wrist or a squint of the eyebrows. Furthermore, Shan has interesting drama - the fact his mother, a prominent Jedi, left him in the care of another and the fact he has no idea who his father is. If that doesn't mess a guy up, I don't know what would!

My favorite character, though, was Teff'ith. She was great; snarky, independent, opinionated, capable, and yet still caring and thoughtful. I liked her dialect (though I am puzzled over how she can go from such rough, heavily accented Basic to cultured Imperial speech so easily). I liked how she wasn't Theron's love interest. I liked how she was important to the plot. About the only thing I didn't like was that she didn't appear more.

One of the things that also tickled me was how even minor characters sometimes got interesting developments. The Director flirted with Jace's receptionist; Satele doubts at times whether it was good to leave Theron with someone else and not tell Theron's father.

The biggest "character" problem is how badly sketched the Imperials/Sith are. Darth Karrid, while very interesting with her ability to cybernetically attach to the ship, was still your stereotypical power-hungry Sith. Not much nuance there. There are a couple of other Sith - the Minister of Logistics (who, because he's a logistics guy, of course loves numbers and cannot possibly understand that "emotions" thing that people talk about - don't you know that emotions and logic can NEVER mix??) and one Sith on the Council - who seem to be important in the beginning, but completely disappear by the end. Why bring them up if you aren't going to at least touch bases with them at the end?

Storywise, this book felt a LOT like the early Bantam books to me. We have another super powerful, gonna-destroy-the-galaxy superweapon with the Ascendant Spear. And most of the story is just that. Director and Jace tell Theron to destroy it; Theron and Gnost-Dural investigate how to do that, snatching up the MacGuffin "black cipher" in order to pad the word count - I MEAN! - in order to break the Imperial code and find out where the ship is (as if a ship like that can hide behind a rock!!). I think the better portions are the ones with Theron trying to figure out how he feels towards his parents and even him working with Gnost-Dural. Other than that, the story really didn't "do" anything for me.

And now, I've been looking forward to it and I know you have been too...NERD NITPICKS!!

1. Is there a definition that says that any government called an "Empire" must be evil and xenophobic? I can understand the Sith Empire being a teensy bit evil, but killing people and destroying perfectly good capital ships just because the ships are fleeing a lose-lose situation? How stupid is that? I wouldn't want to be the person trying to explain THAT to the Uber-Evul, Satan-Incarnate Emperor. "Yeah, Empy, I was just trying to show them cowards who was I didn't think about the billions of credits we don't have to replace that brand-new, top-of-the-line ship..." As for the xenophobic, it must be shorthand for "evil". And I'm not saying it isn't, but WHY must every Empire be xenophobic? In a galaxy with MILLIONS of species, you seem to be cutting off a LOT Of allies.

2. Has the Star Wars galaxy never invented any forms of birth control? From Satele Shan to Etain to Padme Amidala, it seems no one in this universe knows how to get the pill or pick up a package of condoms. Perhaps this is a jab at those who want to oppose the American laws that insurance companies MUST provide women with access to birth control???

3. What do Imperials (ALL IMPERIALS) wear? Uniforms? WRONG. Hats? WRONG! Pride and arrogance. Because we've NEVER seen Republic or Rebel officers with pride or arrogance. No siree! Because Republic and Rebel officers are pure and blameless, always thinking of others and NEVER self-seeking.

4. The reason the Ascendant Spear is so tubular is because Darth Karrid uses cybernetic implants to directly speak with the ship and thus make everything faster (esp when she draws on her Force abilities). Soooo...why does she even bother to type things on a screen? Why not use her mental powers to tell the ship to do "X"? How can she enter a system and IMMEDIATELY see EVERYTHING? Wouldn't it take the ship some time to download? Has no one downloaded anything off the internet, even using a fast connection? It still takes a few seconds/minutes. You are telling me their computers are SO FAST that this takes no time??? I'm no computer expert, but I just don't buy it.

And this has been another...NERD NITPICKS!

About the best thing I can say about this book is "it's better than 'Revan'". The characters are pretty nicely drawn on the whole, but the story has been done so many times, there really isn't much to make it stand out. I had a hard time being interested in it.

As for Karpyshyn, I haven't given up on him yet. I still think he can write a great book if he has A) the right subject, B) the right characters, and C) enough time. Hopefully, next time the balance will be perfect.