Shatterpoint - Matthew Stover, George Lucas "He was looking forward to doing straightforward, uncomplicated butt-whooping"
Depa Bilaba, Mace's only student of Vapaad, has been sent to Haruun Kal, Mace Windu's homeworld. But a disturbing message indicating she is unstable causes Mace to return to his root. There, he must battle more than just the jungles, more than the predators around every corner, more than the Korunnai and the Balawai...he must face himself and what it means to be a Jedi.
NOTE: Based on audiobook and novel.
If you are going to open this with the thought of another fluffy, "feel good" Star Wars novel, then I suggest you put down the novel right away. This is not your average, clear-cut good guys vs bad guys mindless action romp (like the Jedi Academy Trilogy). This is a very mature, very gritty, sometimes disturbing introspective novel.
Mace Windu was an interesting character in the movies (partly, I am sure, because of Sam Jackson). But we never really got to see Sam make Mace bad @ss, other than some brief battles between Mace and Jango (considering Attack of the Clones, only). Matthew Stover wrote this novel as if Mace were Sam Jackson. I was shocked at how well done it was. Mace Windu was a tough man, a tough Jedi, and a fighter at heart. He uses his brains, most definitely, but he can definitely fight as well. I loved the way that Mace talks to both himself and others. The review title is one example; here's another of my favorites: "He had a different equation in mind: four steamcrawlers divided by one Jedi equals a huge, smoking pile of scrap." Matthew Stover perfectly wrote Mace and I just was enthralled. I could always imagine Sam Jackson speaking Mace's lines, thinking Mace's thoughts.
The core issue is: What does it mean to be a Jedi? Mace tortures over this idea, as he makes his way to Depa. Why did she "go sane"? What made her delve so far into the Dark Side? Part of it is the nature of the forest, the harshness and the predatory nature. Part of it is the inner hatred the native Korunnai and the outsider, Balawai, have for each other, so far that even the children can't see past the outside.
Which leads me to some of the most poignant, heart-wrenching scenes: children who refuse Mace's help because he's a "Korno". Parents who don't trust him because of who he is. Children who try to kill him, because the Korunnai killed their parents. An endless cycle of hatred and murder.
I really liked Nick Rostu, Chalk, and even Kar Vastor. Nick was amusing, a nice sidekick, an "average" guy. Chalk, I felt was a tough woman, even when everything was against her. And Kar Vastor was like an evil twin of Mace: wild, uncontrolled fury.
I don't really have a whole lot of complaints about the novel. If I have one, it was while listening to it the second time (first time I read this, it was in novel form), I got lost in the end battle. Vastor is on their side...then he isn't...then he is... It was very confusing, but I wonder if perhaps it was the abridged audiobook.
If I have any complaints, it's about the audiobook version. I did not like the horrible growling noise that was played whenever Vastor spoke. Made it sound like strange yawning, not an intimidating growl. Also, it was dumb, the voice given to Vastor was deep enough to convey his voice. But by far the worst offense of the audiobook was its COMPLETE omission of the ending. The last words of the book are Mace telling Vastor: "You are under arrest." That is it. No contemplations of the mission, nothing on if he gets back to the Jedi Temple, nothing on what happened to Depa Bilaba. It was a horrible ending, leaving way too many loose ends. How hard would it have been to include Mace's final journal entry, where he tells what happened to everyone and reveals the most important lesson (about the Jedi and how they fit into the Republic and the war)? If I hadn't known that it was there from reading it before, I would have been scratching my head in wonder.
This isn't necessarily a complaint about either audiobook or novel, but I do want to highlight that this is a VERY violent book, with much gore and fighting. Stover doesn't pretty it up, he doesn't glaze over it. Chalk is said to have been molested; two people die because of parasites in their brains. The smells of war and captivity are told in gritty form. So if you are at all queasy, you may want to take note.
This is an amazing novel. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I loved reading about Mace Windu, I loved his thoughts, I loved how he fought. I highly recommend to those who are up for a little grittier action in Star Wars.