Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Review: Crosscurrent by Paul S. Kemp

Crosscurrent by Paul S. Kemp
Del Rey: Random House Publishing Group
352 Pages
Final Pre-Release Proof Copy

An ancient Sith ship hurtles into the future carrying a lethal cargo that could forever destroy Luke Skywalker’s hopes for peace.

The Civil War is almost over when Jedi Knight Jaden Korr experiences a Force vision so intense he must act. Enlisting two salvage jocks and their ship, Jaden sets out into space. Someone—or something—appears to be in distress.

But what Jaden and his crew find confounds them. A five-thousand-year-old dreadnaught—bringing with it a full force of Sith and one lone Jedi—has inadvertently catapulted eons from the past into the present. The ship’s weapons may not be cutting-edge, but its cargo, a special ore that makes those who use the dark side nearly invincible, is unsurpassed. The ancient Jedi on board is determined to destroy the Sith. But for Jaden, even more is at stake: for his vision has led him to uncover a potentially indestructible threat to everything the Jedi Order stands for. (Amazon.com)

Crosscurrent is set some 41.5 years after the events of A New Hope...and some five thousand years before that. Crosscurrent is told through a series of flashes from the past and the "present". It's very much about threads of fate, plots and events of the past coming to fruition in the future.

Now most of the time this way of storytelling can be jarring. I've put books down and left them on the shelf because of this. Usually it's hard to keep the flow of interest going on two simultaneous stories.

The author does a masterful job in tying the two together as well as keeping both halves of the story exciting. He makes it really work. I do love being surprised!

Without spoiling anything I can say that the story (stories) definitely nail the Star Wars vibe. Sith vs. Jedi showdowns, space battles, star fighter chases, smarmy cantinas, cryptic force-visions and how they play out...all really well done.

A lot of the names from Star Wars canon are mentioned, but the reader isn't bashed up-side the head with them. It would be easy to make up a formulaic "Star Wars" Story, slap some canon names on things and call it good, but Paul S. Kemp actually crafts a very thoughtful story. It's not preachy (as some Star Wars novels have been.)

You can certainly see a difference in the Jedi of ages past versus Jedi of "The New Order" but you can see similarities too. They are still Jedi. I think in a lot of ways "The New Order" Jedi have to be a bit more contemplative: seeing more shades of grey than the Jedi of old (which I think led to their fall).

Crosscurrent is a stand-alone novel. You don't need to read anything else before reading it, which is nice. This is a great book to give to people that haven't read a Star Wars novel before, or if they've read them all: I think the story stands up nicely.
I did have to go back and re-read a few bits. Occasionally I got confused on whether I was reading X's story or Y's story. This is to be expected, especially when the whole thing is a series of flashbacks (and flash forwards.) I did get a bit confused on names too, but I think that is because I'm reading the PDF version and not a paper book where I can easily flip back to the "Cast of Characters" page for handy reference.

The author does a fine job of keeping the reader on their toes. I wasn't sure where the story would lead or who would die or not. I think that's a great thing in storytelling (something many authors don't seem to achieve).
I love to be kept guessing as well as being wrong in my assumptions of where the plot is going. Granted there were a couple groaner events, but still...a really great story.

One part in-particular wraps nicely around a card game. Beautifully crafted scene. Very well done. That is one of the best negotiations I've seen in a long while. There are funny moments and great dialogue and some full-stop moments that will have you scratching your head.

About halfway through the novel you have an “Oh Crap” moment and everything starts falling together. At this point if you weren’t snagged by the author’s hooks, you are now!

Overall, it's a fun ride with lots of bumps, twists and turns. Good sci-fi in general, smart Star Wars fiction in particular.
4 of 5 stars!

No comments: