WARNING: there are SPOILERS in this review. If you do not want to know what goes on, PLEASE skip this review...
Four and a half out of Five Stars...
Troy Denning, the author of the Star Wars novels Recovery, Star by Star, and Tattooine Ghost, delves further into the New Jedi Order with Star Wars Dark Nest: The Joiner King. Denning is already familiar with several of the major characters outside of Luke Skywalker, Leia and Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Wedge Antilles, and several other of SW fan favorites.
The story takes place 35 years ASW, and 5 years after the war against Yuuzhan Vong. Ben Skywalker, Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker's first son, is now 8 standard years old. There is a new Jedi Council consisting of Luke Skywalker, Kenth Hamner, Corran Horn, Kyp Durron, and the Jedi healer Cilghal. Jacen Solo, one of Han and Leia's twins, is a traveling Jedi hermit who is studying with various Force sensitive adepts around the galaxy. The galaxy is in shambles after the war. Several races have been displaced because of the destruction the Yuuzhan Vong have caused with their terraforming.
The story focuses on the survivors of the ill fated Myrkr mission in which several young Jedi headed by the late Anakin Solo plan a suicide mission on a worldship (sort of like a Yuuzhan Vong capital ship) orbiting Myrkr to destroy a labratory that creates the Jedi killing Voxyn. Several Jedi including Anakin are killed in the process. In the beginning of Joiner King, several of the survivors are summoned via the force to the outskirts of Chiss space. Jaina Solo, Alema Rar, Lowbacca, Zekk, Tekli the Chandra Fan, Tezar (one of the few surviving members of his race), Tenel Ka (the current queen of the Hapes Consortium) and later Jacen Solo all head out to the Chiss border withouth consulting the Jedi Council.
There is a race of insect like beings, the Killik, who are infringing on the outskirts of Chiss territory. So the Chiss, who are a military race of beings which the infamous Admiral Thrawn hailed from, are forced to push the Killiks back. The Killik are joined as one by a Jedi thought killed during the Myrkr mission. There are also dark jedi who were thought dead after being rescued by Anakin and the others. This leads to the discovery of a Dark Nest. Luke, Mara, Saba Sebatyne, Han and Leia all head out to the Chiss frontier to investigate. They later return with several members of the Jedi council to avert a war with the Chiss.
The book is well written by a veteran of the SW Expanded Universe (EU). Unfortunately, a reader unfamiliar with the New Jedi Order series, particularly with the Myrkr Mission, would be lost. If one did not read Survivor's Quest by Timothy Zahn would be missing out in certain cultural tidbits about the Chiss. So it is important that they read at least a few books centered around the Myrkr Mission and the last few books of the New Jedi Order.
Denning throws several surprises at us like the re-emergence of Raynar Thul, a jedi knight who was kidnapped by two dark sider Jedi's during the Myrkr mission and many thought was shot down. Ben Skywalker is strong in the force but because of the trauma he felt during the Yuuzhan Vong war, he has cut himself off worrying his parents. Luke Skywalker gives a delegate of the Chiss a tour of the new Jedi temple which has been relocated to Coruscant (which still shows evidence of the Vong terraforming). This gives insight to how the Jedi run things much differently than the Jedi of the BSW era. Jacen Solo's concept of the force continues to develop.
The only reason why the book does not get a full 5 stars is because much of what happens to the galaxy after the war is left out. The Yuuzhan Vong destroyed several worlds, killed billions, and displaced billions more. Denning does discuss the plight of the Ithorians, one of the first race of beings to lose a planet to terraforming but thats about it. He also leaves out characters such as Lando (even though his company, which is raking in millions of credits is mentioned several times) , Wedge Antilles, and Gavin Darklighter. Yet it is only part one of a three part series. The Jedi are also grappling with thier new approach to the Force. People are beginning to notice. I have no beef with the latter part but the Jedi are slipping into the same problem their predesscors did in the Old Republic era. That's wack
Overall the book is a dope read.