Four and a half out of Five Stars.
Troy Denning continues the post NJO/Yuuzhan Vong saga with much more mystery and more characters. In the first installment of the Dark Nest saga , we are reintroduced to several characters from the original Star Wars trilogy and the ones we have grown to love from the NJO series. Even though Denning left Part I of the Dark Nest trilogy in a nice and tight manner, the Killiks and the Chiss continue to make aggressive moves towards one another. The Galactic Alliance is once again caught in the middle and this time, Cal Omas, Galactic Alliance Chief of State is forcing the Jedi's hands.
The Killiks are in a bad situation and they blame the Jedi for "tricking" them. So they proceed to send their colonies near the Chiss borders. This infuriates the Chiss who start to amass their military along the border. In the meantime, the Killiks are shipping out dark ambrosia, an alcoholic type elixir that has many of the insect species throughout the galaxy addicted. To make things worse, the Killiks are giving the galaxies pirates and smugglers safe haven in their new found galaxy. Remember that after the war with the Yuuzhan Vong, the galaxy is in shambles with several criminals taking advantage of the situation.
Luke, Han, Leia, Mara, and a few other Jedi decide to head to the Killik's new homeworld to investigate. Raynar "Unu" Thul, accuses them of tricking them into a disaster. Luke and Han decide to stay as "hostages" as Leia and Mara try to alleviate the situation with the Galactic Alliance (GA). What a bad move.
Several things happen such as Leia getting arrested by the GA military. The Jedi pretty much setting off a war between the Chiss and the GA. Jacen Solo causes much more trouble. The Jedi Council is forced to take a new leader in the absence of Luke, and the Jedi Order splits.
Overall, the book is great. Denning really makes a mess of things and forces to reader to impatiently anticipate the third installment. Cal Omas really shows his ill political side. It's interesting to see how Jacen continues to push the idea of how the Jedi now view the living Force. He also does some pretty interesting things.
The highlights are watching the Jedi fight off the GA and then turn around and aid them in fighting the Killiks. We also really see the extent of Luke's jedi powers. We have not seen this much of Luke at work since the Grand Admiral Thrawn days. He is not only powerful in the raw sense but he can perform several actions at once. Ben Skywalker is now an "apprentice" to Jacen Solo and it gets real interesting. He is finally opening up and using the force and it seems that he will grow up to be the most powerful Jedi ever.
Alema Rar also returns to cause much havoc. Raynar Thul however is reduced to an idiotic joiner who keeps getting duped by the Dark Nest. We are introduced to Nek B'wathu, a Bothan admiral, who immediately takes a dislike to the Jedi. Much of this is probably due to the friction between the Jedi and the former Bothan head of the Galatic Senate who blamed the Yuuzhan Vong invasion on the Jedi. The Bothans seem to look forward to conflict and are always vying for positions of power. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
I was really amped to see Gavin Darklighter return. He is forced to arrest the Jedi and even gets a star destroyer stolen from him. Man, I can't wait to get the next installment.