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Review of Timothy Zahn's Allegiance - moonspinner
moonspinner
moonspinner
Review of Timothy Zahn's Allegiance
I read Timothy Zahn's Allegiance over the weekend. I promised Knight-Ander a review and here it is:

Well, on a scale of 1-10, I will give it 2 scores.

The Good Score.
Keeping a blind eye to characterization flaws, I'd rate it 7. It was entertaining for the most parts. Mara Jade's plot spanning her quest, her bit of espionage, and the final showdowns were a very fun blend of 'Alias' and 'James Bond'. The scene where she meets the Commodore in his 'den', complete with stereotypical arch-villain's genius madness, was classic 007 climax. Of course, in the end the Commodore is dispatched of pretty quickly and it's a lesser villain that rises in importance, but that's secondary.

The stormtroopers' plot was interesting. I kept expecting one of them to die, though, so the end with them getting off scot-free and intact seemed a little too 'Happily ever after' for me.

The whole over-arching plot with the pirates, the Alliance, and the corrupt governors and deputy governors was intriguing. I may have to re-read just to get all the clues straight. Still, I called Stormtrooper M (can't remember his full name) being related to the Governor. I actually thought he was his own son. :p However, I think the end where the Governor was revealed to be just as evil was a bit of an over-kill, though.


The Ugly Score.
Taking characterization into consideration, and rating the novel as part of an established universe/timeline of characters and situations, I'd give it a 1.

I was never made to care for Mara Jade, the stormies, Vader, or even the Big Three. I barely recognized any of them. Han came out best. Zahn did a good job by showing the conflict he must have felt between episodes 4 and 5 about joining the Alliance. But the scene where Han Solo, smuggler and smooth talker extraordinaire, sings like a bird to a bunch of stormies without stopping to ask them exactly who/what/with what authority they had to be asking him questions... just blew my mind. Nor could I see Han and Luke calmly accepting 'friendly' capture. It just really did not make any sense.

As for Mara Jade: shock! horror! Mara Jade was as Mary Sue as they got. Not only was she brave, quick-thinking, intelligent, resourceful and gorgeous to boot, she was also disciplined, principled, loyal, compassionate and all around, good-hearted. And everyone else thought so. Vader was threatened by her. The Emperor doted on her. (My child??? My child??!? ::stops and thinks:: Who knows? Maybe it's true!). The Commodore remarked on her beauty. The stormtroopers were over-awed by her, and pitied her naivete. ::Sigh::

And let's not even get into the Mara vs. Vader scene which was clearly contrived to show just how stupid, inept and clumsy Vader was compared to the Emperor's Hand. Wasn't that supposed to be some sort of top-secret, nobody knows anything about it, rank? If a quintet of merry Stormtroopers knew the Emperor's Hand, why didn't Mara Jade join them instead of a smuggling cartel? Or how Leia and Luke, her peers needed to be rescued and literally Force-fed respectively as opposed to Mara Jade who always saved herself, saved others and came out of every situation smelling like a rose.

So in summary, as part of Star Wars continuity, it sucked. Big Time. As a stand-alone novel i.e. if you read it as an original work with no similarities with Star Wars, it was entertaining.

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Comments
r0ck3tsci3ntist From: r0ck3tsci3ntist Date: February 19th, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOL! Why am I not that surprised? But frankly, I've never been a fan of SW novels. I liked Stovers RotS, but that was the only one. I gave up on them a while ago. I forced myself to skim the clone wars ones just to get an idea of the history there. Personally I hate anything that makes Vader look like an idiot because that just makes both his sacrifice at the very end and the Jedi's prophecy just seem lame.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 19th, 2007 07:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I won't even give Matthew 'This is how it feels to be Saint ObiWan the Perfect' Stover that much credit. :p My favourite novel is Sean Stewart 'Dark Rendezvous'. You really should read it. :)
r0ck3tsci3ntist From: r0ck3tsci3ntist Date: February 19th, 2007 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah - I have to admit that I did feel a bit like I was reading a YA novel with RotS. "This is how you feel" - oh come on!

I'll give DR a look over. Mostly I like character and plot driven novels - :p - and I tend to find SW ones have cardboard characters and predictable plots.

BTW - it pitifully clear that TKL knows nothing about publishing. No one publishes without being edited - no one.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 19th, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dark Rendezvous is both - character and plot driven. You'll enjoy it immensely. Re: Herman's thread, I haven't checked on it since I left the office. Looks like I'm missing out... ;)
lazypadawan From: lazypadawan Date: February 19th, 2007 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree, "Dark Rendezvous" is fantastic.
charmisjess From: charmisjess Date: February 20th, 2007 01:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I hate to rudely butt into your conversation just to scream "IAWTC!!!"---but...ho, my, IAWTC!! Kudos, lovely!

---lol, SaintObs. Let us not forget what that awful man did to poor, poor, mad Dooku. >.> I was almost relieved when Anakin put him out of his misery. I even brought my RotS novel out of storage this weekend just so I can make some text icons of his insane one-liners and laugh in horror at them!
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 20th, 2007 06:13 am (UTC) (Link)
What is IAWTC?

---lol, SaintObs. Let us not forget what that awful man did to poor, poor, mad Dooku. >.>

LOL! Of course, it all boils down to Dooku for you. :p Not that I object to such priorities. lol! Do make those icons. I'd change to a Plus account just to wear them proudly. :D
charmisjess From: charmisjess Date: February 20th, 2007 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
"I agree with this comment!" ^^

I've got three made already. :D

And yes, it does all boil down to Dooku. Is that...sad? I think that it is.
lazypadawan From: lazypadawan Date: February 19th, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm reading "Allegiance" now and even at this point, I can see how Mara Sue's been over-idealized. I just read a scene in the book where a guy says, "You're just like Vader!" And her reply is along the lines of, "Yes, but I'm better!"
charmisjess From: charmisjess Date: February 20th, 2007 01:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad you reviewed this, darling, I almost bought it out of curiousity in the bookstore--luckily I was saved by being poor. *shew!* A close call!

*shakes head* Mara Jade, Mara Jade. I was starting to be bemused by her in late NJO/Dark Nest (I thought her concern for Jacen after the whole Vong-torturey incident was sweet. Aunty Mara. Mm. I think I may just be an angst/h/c junkie.)---but your review alone reminds me of my deep, deep hatred. ^_^

Also, by the by, I love the layout/style of your review, with the scoring and all. I may have to steal it for my next review---may I?
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 20th, 2007 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)
My good deed for the day then! ::angel::

My advice - wait for the Library or the paperback version. But shell out over $20.00 for this? No way.

I haven't read the NJO. I've heard it said that other writers actually do a better job with her character than Zahn. Zahn almost seems to want people to hate her!

Also, by the by, I love the layout/style of your review, with the scoring and all. I may have to steal it for my next review---may I?

Please do! :)
charmisjess From: charmisjess Date: February 20th, 2007 03:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!! :D
chickosaurusrex From: chickosaurusrex Date: February 21st, 2007 07:38 am (UTC) (Link)
'Lo! Sort of stumbled in and read your review; very glad I did, as I almost bought this book a week ago, but was wary about it as I've always suspected Zahn's Mara Jade of being rather Sue-ish. I suppose that aspect of his writing hasn't changed with time, then? :/
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 21st, 2007 07:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Nope. If anything, he has proven with Allegiance that she is a Mary Sue. ::shudders::
chickosaurusrex From: chickosaurusrex Date: February 21st, 2007 08:30 am (UTC) (Link)
D:

I guess I just don't understand what everyone else sees in Zahn? He gets recced to me constantly, and while his prose is decent, his obvious love of Mara Jade is just so--blech! It almost feels like he'd be right at home at ff.net...

moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 21st, 2007 08:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I think he made a name for himself because he was the first writer to publish ‘serious’ EU – a hardcover novel that actually continued the OT.

He gets recced to me constantly, and while his prose is decent, his obvious love of Mara Jade is just so--blech! It almost feels like he'd be right at home at ff.net...

Along with the other Mary Sue writers. :)
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