Star Wars: Republic Commando
Book 1: Hard Contact
Book 2: Triple Zero
Book 3: True Colors
Written by Karen Traviss
Del Rey Books
I seem to have a penchant for reading myself into places where I am completely unable to extricate myself. These places often seem to leave me on a literary cliffhanger or left in the lurch in a romantic storyline where the end could be either happy or grim. I have a terrible knack for doing this to myself, leaving myself several months until the resolution arrives in my nice little Amazon box on my front doorstep from a delivery man I am getting far too familiar with.
All of this rambling does have a point, as I reach the second week of what is definitely going to turn in to a hectic eight or so weeks of Star Wars reading.
In this week’s installment of our Countdown to Clone Wars series, we look at the three published books from the Star Wars: Republic Commando series. Spawned from the computer game of the same name, the Republic Commando Series is written by Karen Traviss and is a paragon of franchise writing.
The Star Wars universe of books is not the first franchise I have traversed from the screen to the page. A quick look in my library will showcase more novels from the Star Trek universe than all my other books put together. Half were a generous donation from someone who had outgrown their collection, the other half the result of my hard-earned wages from my teenage years.
And the thing to remember is that though they may be stories based upon an already founded fictional universe, the writers are no less spectacular for that. Some of my favorite authors specialize in writing for franchises, such as S.D. Perry and Peter David.
All of that being said and I still haven’t gotten to one of the greatest mini-series I’ve ever read. The stories focus around a group of clone commandos, known as Omega group, who are each the last surviving members of four-man teams that were sent to Geonosis at the outset of what Yoda termed “the Clone Wars.” For clones, genetically bred to serve, fight, and die for the Republic, they have no rights, no choice, and a deep attachment to their brothers. In some part, this series serves to present the clone troopers as something other than cannon fodder; despite the prevailing thought by us, reading the book, and those within the books.
So straight out of the box, in the first book, Hard Contact, we have the story of four clones getting to know each other in harsh conditions, and learning to work with men that — though trained identically to them — are not those that they had spent the formative years of their lives with (even if those lives were sped up to bring them to fighting strength and age faster).
The series of books focuses much on their lack of rights as clones, giving an eye into a part of the Star Wars Clone Wars that was much overlooked in the movies. Whether Lucas had intended the clones to serve such a literary purpose as they have in these books, as nothing more than meat and bone droids being used and abused by the Republic and, more importantly, the Jedi, I’m not sure. But either way, Karin Travis has excelled at making these stories mean more than just random fighting.
This series is a random skim across a massive literary universe, and I will not attempt to persuade you that I am doing these books justice. Reviewing three books at once is not the best way to sell you on them, except to say that if you have a love of good storytelling, these books are for you.
The second book, Triple Zero, is based back on Coruscant, the center of the Republic. The commandos, now joined by their oft-referred too sergeant, Kal Skirata, and Kal’s first trainees, all of whom have become like sons to him, set out to break up a terrorist group on the planet.
With them are a pair of Jedi. Bardan Jusik is a young man who excels at what he is asked to do, and finds himself more at home with these Mandalorian warriors, old and new. Etain Tur-Mukan, however, is much more the focus of the story. She first appeared in the first book, and grew deeply attached to Omega in the events that unfolded in that book. However she developed a deeper attachment to the first books lead clone, Darman, and that relationship is what has left me hanging in the lurch as I mentioned previously.
You see, I am a soppy, old fashioned romantic, and with my own torrid family history, I dislike seeing failed romances and relationships. So when I see something that could ruin and tear apart a literary relationship, I get antsy. And throughout book two and three of the Republic Commando Series, this is exactly what happens.
Don’t get me wrong and think that Travis has written this poorly; much the opposite. It is my inability to separate myself from what I read, my love of reading, and my subsequent ability to dive completely into a universe that leaves me wanting more and more; needing to know what happens.
Throughout the second and third books in this series, Travis manages to so deftly weave a feasible story of discontent in the Republic war effort and their treatment of clones, that by the end of the third book True Colors, there is more than a hint of what will happen, and it makes utterly perfect sense.
The fourth book, to be released September of this year (thank the heavens!), is titled Order 66, and for anyone with even the vaguest memories of Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, you will remember that this is the code for the order to execute the Jedi. So with that knowledge in hand, and with the events of the first three books, Karen Traviss has set us up for what will hopefully be a crashing and tremendous finale.
Looking at my collection of close to a thousand books, I can only name five authors that have written books that, in my humble opinion, score 10 out of 10. I say this, because I want to add a modicum of gravitas to the fact that book one scored 8 out of 10, and books two and three scored 9 out of 10. Karen Travis is a master storyteller, and with her background (check out her bio on the back pages of one of these books) it is no surprise.
I cannot do justice to these books in such a small space, but by saying so I hope to do them a measure of justice. Amazon has these books cheap as “˜mass market paperbacks’ as can be seen on our Amazon list for the Countdown to Clone Wars series, so make sure you get them! I guarantee you that you will not regret picking them up.