Shield of Lies - Michael P. Kube-McDowell I wish it had been all a dream too, Luke...
The second book in the Black Fleet Crisis series opens with Lando, Lobot, C-3PO, and R2-D2 as they are stuck inside the Vagabond investigating. Luke is off with Akanah as she continues to search for her people, the Fallanassi, and Leia's tenure as president is on rocky ground as the conflict with the Yevetha increases.

I Liked:
Lando's story, while extraneous, was mildly interesting. Furthermore, it was cool to see Lobot.
The real highlight here is Leia's story. I wasn't so fond of it in Before the Storm, but here, it is much, much better. I really found myself liking it at the odd part where Leia is signing a bunch of planets into the New Republic. Yeah, I know, weird, but somehow, this was interesting to me. I think MKM has done a fairly good job building this plot thread and giving it decent treatment.
The characters aren't even too bad, namely Leia and Lando. Leia finally sees what an idiot she was and really has to make up for being so oblivious. And Lando, while nothing to write home to, was certainly not painful to read.

I Didn't Like:
Let me first pause and say, "Where did Han and Chewie go?" Why are we focusing on Lando and his Story That Goes Nowhere and totally neglect Chewie, who has taken the Falcon back to his homeworld? Why not also focus on Chewie? Or what about Han? Surprisingly, he becomes a plot point, very rare for a male, only existing to tie up the loose ends (who is taking care of the kids? Who does Leia trust enough to do her military work?). And perhaps this is the fault of the abridged audiobook, but I still have no clue how he got captured.
By far the worst character remains Luke. While he does attempt to pull his head out of his rear, he continues to let himself get whipped around by moody Akanah. Instead of growing a pair and making her tell him the truth, he lets himself be bullied, pushed around, and shut up as if he has no voice. And how is this guy the head of a new Jedi Order???
But that is far from all. Akanah is even more intolerable here. She demands trust and the truth from Luke but never once gives it. Like the saying goes, in order to earn respect/trust, you need to give it. Plus, every other scene, she is bawling, crying, whining, getting angry, and huffing about something. I wanted to slap her around or throw her out of the ship!
And again, why, when Leia and the rest of the galaxy are going through a crisis, is Luke conveniently absent? This doesn't jive at all with his earlier incarnations! And you can't use the excuse he doesn't know, because halfway through his section, he finds out!
Speaking of which...MKM decided in this book that the stories weren't disconnected enough and split them into three separate sections. On one hand, it makes skipping Luke's section a lot easier. On the other, that means you get stuck reading about any one character and no idea what is happening in another character's time line. Also, it just makes it glaringly obvious that the sections have nothing to do with each other.
Again, Lando's story seems disconnected and leaves me wondering why we spend so long in the beginning learning about this weird ship. Why is it so important?
As for Leia's story, much better, but still, if she hadn't been a dip-head last book, perhaps this book would have turned out differently.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Perhaps a spattering of d*** and h***.
Luke and Akanah travel the galaxy together. Akanah has a father who apparently isn't married to her mother (or isn't anymore?). It's not obvious.
The Yevetha take over planets and commit genocide.

Overall:
Oddly enough, this book is better than the last. However, considering how bad the last one is, that isn't saying much. And still, there are enough "Huh?" moments that continue to befuddle me. Why doesn't Luke try to help Leia? Why does Luke believe his mother is a Fallanassi? Why does Akanah need Luke so badly (seems she is doing an okay job investigating herself)? Why does Luke trust Akanah? What is this White Current and is it related to the Force or not? Where is Chewie? Why hasn't he returned to help Leia? Why didn't Leia just listen to her advisers and avoid this whole mess? What about Han? How the heck did he get captured so easily? Why is Lando's mission even in here, other than to give him something to do?
So, the sagging middle book retains its one star rating, and I wonder how MKM will wrap this trilogy up.