Scourge By Jeff Grubb

June 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Posted in Books, Guild Wars 2 | 2 Comments
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The cover is actually a bit different from the usual Star Wars novel.

I’ve read a lot of Star Wars novels in my time. You might call me a bit of a fan. So when I heard Guild Wars 2 writer and designer Jeff Grubb was authoring a Star Wars novel I immediately looked forward to it. He’s a well known fantasy author in his own right with a long history in the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms universes, so I was interested to see what he could do with Scourge.

I wasn’t disappointed. Scourge is a solid novel well written with likable characters. There’s a fair amount of humour and mystery. It delves into areas of the Star Wars universe that are often mentioned but rarely visited.

Mander Zuma’s former apprentice is murdered and while searching for a reason why, he’s pulled into the depths of the seedy underworld crossroads between Hutt space and the corporate sector.

Star Wars novels are typically very adventure based. There may be some element of mystery but the emphasis is on swashbuckling and battles. Duels can take the form of dogfighting starfighters and epic battles are complicated naval exercises. You’ll see a lot of novels that are fantasy adventures, spy thrillers, and military action and little else.

That’s where this novel comes in. I think it’s more of a crime noir. Certainly Grubb gets across that Mander isn’t much of the swashbuckling type. He’s not the best swordsman, and he spends most of his time as an archivist. He’s wracked with guilt about the death of his student, driven to know where his student failed and by proxy where he himself failed.

Any nerd can identify with a protagonist who is less an action hero and more a librarian and that makes Mander unique. It leaves me wondering why there aren’t more characters like him.

The mystery is well enough plotted out but there are a few places where I think Grubb telegraphs the eventual villain to the reader. People are presented as suspects but Grubb spends either too little time with them or doesn’t build up their possible motives. In one case in particular he downplays their possible motives and I think he virtually eliminates them as a suspect, which is a mistake.

And a couple of loopholes are left after the book closes out. The very basis for the book, the apprentice’s death, is never really explained to my satisfaction. Why he was set up is easy to understand, but how he let himself be lulled into such a position in the first place, not easy to understand at all.

Overall it’s a fun read. I thought it was superior in style to the Corscandti Nights series of Star Wars books, the other attempt at crime noir in the Star Wars universe. I may have figured out mystery long before the end but I was still compelled to continue reading and see how it all turned out. That’s definitely a good sign in my opinion.

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2 Comments

  1. This looks really good. I need to read more of the newer SW novels, but I’ve just started the Fate of the Jedi series after deciding to take a much needed break from the tedious New Jedi Order. I did however read Darth Plagueis when it came out, dont know if youve read it yet but highly recommended.

    • I’d probably only give it a 3 out of 5, it’s short and a bit non-memorable, but a quick fun read.
      Fate is an ok place to start, Legacy might have been better since a lot of Fate stuff is direct fallout from the legacy storyline.
      Personally I’m a bit behind. Haven’t read darth plagueis, the 2nd two darth bane novels, order 66 or 501st, choices of one (not out in PB yet) and a couple other books.


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