Jedi Trial - David Sherman, Dan Cragg Separatist Admiral Pors Tonith has attacked Praesitlyn, home of the communications hub of the Republic. Palpatine sends Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Padawan, and Nejaa Halcyon, a shamed Jedi Master (he lost a ship to Zozrider Slayke, who coincidentally, happens to be defending Praesitlyn), to regain control of Praesitlyn and restore communications to the Outer Rim worlds.
NOTE: Based on novel and audiobook.

When I first reviewed this book several years ago, I said it was the worst Star Wars book. Of course, that was when I liked The Crystal Star. So, I decided to go back and "reread" to see if it is as bad as I feared.
It is.
I had probably listened to barely a minute of the audiobook, when I made my first note, which was "Wow, the writing style is worse than Jude Watson, who purposefully writes for children". From there it went downhill.
For its credit, Jedi Trial does a few things okay. There are some continuity nods, most notably using the communications center on Praesitlyn, which was first established in Heir to the Empire, Armand Isard, and Nejaa Halcyon. Also, it's obvious that the authors are well aware of how the military functions.
If you can't already tell, I am really grasping at straws, trying desperately to find any sort of "good aspects" to this book.
This book is positively dreadful, a pain to read. I found I could only listen to a few minutes at a time; it was as if the book was giving me real, physical damage.
What's wrong with Jedi Trial? Well, here goes nothing!
1. Characters. From established movie characters like Anakin and Obi-Wan to Expanded Universe ones like Nejaa and Asajj to original characters like Odie and Reija, the characters are dreadful. They are one cliché built on top of another, barely characterized beyond one or two words.
a. Anakin feels blank and under-developed. If it weren't for the fact his name is "Anakin", I would never have known that this is the man who becomes Darth Vader. He becomes instantly attached to Reija, the blatant "Shmi" insert that the authors don't even bother to dress up, so that he can become enraged when she is harmed. Anakin has never seemed like the kind of person to become so quickly and indiscriminately attached to people.
b. Nejaa Halcyon, Corellian Jedi with a wife and child of his own, could have been "Anyone Jedi" for all his character development. He spends one moment even thinking about his family; most of his other scenes are him planning, yelling, or doing a bad job commanding.
c. Asajj Ventress, big and splashy on the cover, plays a cameo role, in which she does nothing but growl at Pors Tonith for no reason (yes, let's just growl and yell at your admiral just because). Oddly enough, Count Dooku appears more in this book than Asajj. So why is she on the cover? Did someone mix up this cover with the one for The Cestus Deception?
d. Pors Tonith is a classic Cackling Villain. Most of his scenes center around him chuckling about how smart he is, how clever his plans are, and how he drinks dianoga tea that stains his teeth. It's a bad sign when one of the highlight characteristics of your villains is the color his teeth have been stained. It's also bad when the authors can't stop mentioning the color of the stain of his teeth every two seconds.
e. Reija Momen was painted as this wonderful, perfect "everyone's mother" (so called by an alien, of all beings) that came off so clichéd and over done, you couldn't have made it more obvious if you had painted it on the cover of the book. If I had to heard one more time how "motherly" Reija was, I would have attacked my iPod.
f. Odie Subu not only has a horrible name (Garfield!) but she is the most boring, bland, uninspiring, stupid woman ever. She supposedly is the best recon pilot, but she doesn't do anything that intelligent and instead does what any good traditional woman should and let her man, Erk, make all the decisions.
g. Erk Harmond is a horribly clichéd fighter pilot. It's like reading X-Wing and taking drugs at the same time. Take Han Solo, Dash Rendar, and Corran Horn, remove away any characteristics that aren't related to piloting, exaggerate all the over-confident, arrogant mannerisms, have him laugh at the most inopportune times and you have Erk. Whenever he entered a scene, I wanted to drive a drill through my head.
h. What is with everyone worshipping Zozrider Slayke? The guy drove me bonkers, and if I had to listen to another of his "motivational speeches", I will strangle myself.
2. "Show, don't tell". The authors must have skipped this lesson in Writing Fiction 101, because the novel is literally littered with "telling scenes" and very few "showing scenes". When Nejaa is first mentioned, Anakin talks about how Nejaa is great. Well, that's nice, but can't we see how Nejaa is such a good Master and swordsbeing? When Reija enters, we are told she's a good administrator and that she's kind, but we never see her being kind to her employees. Ditto for her being "everyone's mother". And one of the highlights of the book, one of the biggest reasons I had to read this book, to read how Nejaa and Anakin, both married men, relate to each other, is so hastily, sloppily, and pathetically done, it's embarrassing. Anyone, literally anyone, could have written a better scene where Nejaa and Anakin reveal their marital status and make it more stirring and impactful. The scene literally goes "Nejaa told Anakin about his wife and son...Anakin told Nejaa about Padme". AGH! If Stackpole or Allston were at the reigns, this easily could have been a chapter, instead of the paragraph!!
3. Vagueness. Time and again, a scene is written as if it is a summary. When Anakin and Nejaa spar, their session is described in the barest of terms and lasts maybe three paragraphs. I have no clue what half the characters look like, besides vague descriptions such as "short, brown hair" (as for Odie) or "everyone's mother (for Reija, and no, I'm never going to let that go). About the only time the authors aren't vague are when they are going into excruciating, mind-numbing detail about the tactics that will be used to fight the war (but, Force Forbid, never for the actual battle).
4. Bad writing. Hold it, that should be "God-awful bad writing". Seriously, I've not listened to and read such bad writing in forever. As my first comment shows, it reads like a child's book...but this is sold in the adult's section! From questionable sentences like "Lan Moore was perspiring faintly" (he was close to fainting?) to "Someone cursed foully" (isn't all cursing technically foul?) to the grammatically incorrect list including "highly trained, highly motivated and equipped with armored vehicles", the pages are rife with writing that wouldn't pass in a fourth grade English class. I honestly don't know how the authors could have submitted this work. I would have been embarrassed. I was embarrassed as I listened to this.
5. Bad Dialogue. Characters talk all the same, without any distinction between Outer Rim and Inner Rim, Jedi and soldier, alien and human, male and female. They also tend to spout off clichéd sayings such as "Surrender is not an option", "It has been a pleasure to fight along side you", and "Attack, attack, attack" (which, apparently everyone including peaceful Alderaanians say).
6. Romance. Hang me up by the ears right now! I've railed against many an author who has written a bad romantic pairing, but none has come to the sheer awfulness that Jedi Trial has. Odie and Erk are barely one-dimensional characters. Throwing them together in a rough environment, inserting dopey dialogue, and having them "bond" ("Be my wingmate!" "Sure!") over the course of a few days does not a romance make. Callista and Luke's romance is better than this. Anakin and Padme's romance in Attack of the Clones is better than this. Edward and Bella's romance is better than this. I thank the Maker that whoever edited the audiobook excluded Anakin officiating their wedding. I've already abused myself enough over this book; I think hearing that would have taken me to the funny farm.
7. Laughing. I am so glad that people in this book can laugh at the drop of a hat. Odie and Erk meet and two minutes later, they are laughing with each other. Anakin and Nejaa spar...and then share a laugh. Erk is in the middle of a combat zone...and laughs. Slayke makes a joke about not having a plan and then everyone of his team bursts into gales of laughter. Does any of this sound, oh, I don't know, awkward to you? I don't know about you, but I just don't think people would be laughing and joking as much as they do in this book.
8. Too much focus on battle plans. Yes, this is a Clone Wars novel. Yes, I expect a big, huge Clone Wars. No, I don't want to read the intricate, detailed plan of such an attack. I don't want to read about how much food they must supply, I don't want to read about where they are going to move this artillery and I certainly don't want to know what sort of retreat they have in plan. I want to read about the actual battle, the clones on the battlefield, the Jedi leading the way, spaceships flying and maneuvering.
9. Too little Star Wars. Minus character names and some technology, this book could have been set in Earth's future (or "Any Planet's" future). Artillery, military rankings, and the gushing over how much an officer is loved by his men for getting his hands dirty (I lay odds that both of these guys are enlisted and have dream visions of what an officer is) feels out of place in the galaxy far, far away. Meanwhile, I still don't know how a Star Wars ship could be boarded without one of the bridge officers noting the drop in the shields. Other ignorance of Star Wars technology makes the book frustrating.
When I first read this book, I hated it with a vengeance, like I've never despised a Star Wars novel before and since. And when I reread it, I found my opinion hadn't changed. This book is absolutely the worst novel in Star Wars Expanded Universe, worse than The Crystal Star, the entire Jedi Academy Trilogy, and the Black Fleet Crisis combined. While I am a bit perturbed at how the new Clone Wars TV series has changed continuity of this era, I will gladly accept it if it means that it totally retcons and throws this piece of bantha excrement from Star Wars EU. I have one thing to say: Avoid at all costs, unless you take enjoyment out of picking on novels MST3K style.