Audiobook Review: Star Wars: The Old Republic: Deceived by Paul S. Kemp
Genre: Science-Fiction, Gaming, Media Tie-In
Series: Star Wars: The Old Republic #2
Publisher: Del Ray (March 22, 2011)
Tiara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Narrator: Marc Thompson | Length: 9 hrs and 26 mins | Audiobook Publisher: Random House Audio (March 22, 2011) | Whispersync Ready: Yes
Second book set in the gaming canon for Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR), but not dependent on readers having read the previous entry in this series, Fatal Alliance, to understand what’s going on. I’m going to assume that all the books in the SWTOR series can be read as standalones, especially given their source material and how this is meant to help pad the game lore.
While peace talks between the Sith and the Jedi take place on Alderaan, a ruthless Darth named Malgus sacks Coruscant, believing it his destiny to raze the planet based on a vision he had when he was younger. He has an insatiable need for chaos and believes understanding of the Force only comes through strife and conflict. The only hint of humanity in him comes from the interactions with his slave and lover, Eleena Daru, who acts a sort of voice of conscience for him. However, after a completed mission, he learns that the Emperor has no intentions of razing the planet, planning to use an important seat within the Republic as a bargaining chip during the talks. Malgus is furious at this revelation.
Attending these peace talks is Aryn Leneer sans her master. Aryn’s Force abilities give her a special empathetic ability to feel the emotions of others, a power that requires her to keep up walls to keep the emotions out. Aryn is more prone to emotion because she can feel emotions so intimately. Calmness is something that she has to work hard at, but she often betrays herself. When her master dies during the attack on Coruscant, an event she felt deeply despite being on Alderaan, Aryn becomes a rogue Jedi intent on confronting the Sith who killed the man she loved as a father, refusing to abide by the Order’s “nonattachment” indoctrination. She turns to a friend, an ex-soldier turned smuggler named Zeerid Korr, for help in completing her goal.
This book was much less heavy handed than Fatal Alliance with making obvious nods toward things in the game, but this story does focus heavily on characters from the game such as Darth Malgus, Eleena, and the female Mandalorian, Shae Vizla. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t chuckle a little when they introduced Lord Baras, a Darth my lighside Sith marauder has a long and storied history with in game. Yeah, you read that right. Lightside Sith, which shamed my husband for a whole mess of reasons. I deal in the incongruous even in my games. Not all her lightside choices have actually been that “good,” and she may have her own motives for going against the grain. She is a Sith after all, but I digress.
This book took things, even power moves we know from the games, and weaved it in much better than Fatal Alliance. It was fun naming the in-game moves used just by the description in action scenes. Some of the relationships mirror similar relationships in the game that the player’s character can have with their companions. Scenes from the cinematic trailer for the game show up here described in all their glorious details. It was pretty awesome and one of my favorites from the game to date. It was fun to get the blow by blow of one of my favorite fights from the trailer.
However, none of this was done in a way that would alienate readers who haven’t played the game (or those who started the game after that particular cinematic was no longer used to open the game), but it’s a nice nod for those of us who have played.
Aryn and Malgus offered an interesting dichotomy of each other as Aryn rebels against Jedi “nonattachment” and Malgus struggles with his passionate feelings that don’t serve his purpose. Ironically, despite differing beliefs, there is that one moment they can meet in the middle and admit that they’re disillusioned by the respective Orders.
This conflict with both Aryn and Malgus presented a compelling story, especially where Aryn was concerned. Readers are pretty used to Sith drawing on emotion, especially rage, so it was nice to see this delving into how some Jedi might really feel about this “Jedi nonattachment.” The exploration of Aryn realizing that emotions and emotional attachments were important to her really was fascinating, and while Malgus can come off as typical Sith, his struggles with the softer emotions he feels add a new layer to an old story. In this respect, there’s a bit of a romantic plot/subplot going on in this book that manages not to suffocate the story and adds to Malgus’ conflict with himself and emotions most notably, and I enjoyed this exploration of conflicting emotions in a Sith and a Jedi took center stage rather than trying to quell them. This presents them as human despite vows they’ve taken for their respective orders instead of making it easy for them to overcome emotions that make them “weak” and “vulnerable.”
I think it goes without saying that Marc Thompson did an excellent job with the narration as usual. I won’t rehash all his virtues since I think I pretty much exhausted that in my review of Fatal Alliance. What I really appreciated with this book is that it did better with the background ambiance. Where I sometimes had a hard time hearing Thompson over the din in the last novel, which is a common complaint I have about many full production books even though I enjoy the added touch, I can’t say that I had that issue with this book.
The story had more depth to it, and the action scenes were choreographed well with words. Yeah, this story still has its corny scenarios, cheesy dialogue, and contrived plot points like the last novel, but overall, this was a stronger, better crafted novel than Fatal Alliance.
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