AN: Republic Commando: Hard Contact

What exactly is hard contact anyways? Is that the sort of thing that happens when I say something inappropriate to a woman and she slaps me?

Cover Art By: Greg Knight
Written By: Karen Traviss

And with this I believe I have hit upon my first hot button topic of the Expanded Universe, Karen Traviss. I’ll get my viewpoint out of the way, right away, I’m not a Traviss fan. I don’t have a problem with the form of her writing like some do, I have the same problems that the majority share, albeit in a different way. I agree with her views on the Jedi for the most part, but I don’t like the way she goes about presenting her views. By vilifying the Jedi to the extreme that Ms. Traviss does, she actually does more harm than good to the anti-Jedi cause, she makes the Jedi sympathetic because she tries to paint them in such a negative light. I’m also not a fan of her pro-Mandalorian stance, once again it’s not that I disagree with her view, rather it’s the heavy handed way she goes about presenting that view. By turning the Mandos into a god like race that can do no wrong she doesn’t have the effect on me that she desires, I end up disliking the Mandos a fair deal because of how obviously she tries to make them the best in the universe at everything. So yeah, I’m not the biggest Karen Traviss fan and for the sake of honesty and full disclosure I felt you needed to know that before we moved on.

Thankfully my dislike of Ms. Traviss has little to do with Republic Commando: Hard Contact. This is a corker of a novel, working in just about every way that one can ask a self-contained Expanded Universe novel to work. Republic Commando: Hard Contact stays in the here and now with the story of the mission on Qiilura but also touches lightly on more meditative ideas such as the life of a Clone, the new role of the Jedi in the galaxy, and Mando honor. It does all of this at a nice clip, and all the while Ms. Traviss creates some interesting characters who I enjoyed spending time with and couldn’t help but want to spend more time with when the novel was finished.

I suppose that’s the best place to start, because one area of great contention among Star Wars fans would be the Clones. It’s obvious that Ms. Traviss and I share the same view of the Clones, as well as how the Jedi treat them. The Clones are people, the same as any other living, breathing, being in the universe and the Jedi are nothing more than willing slave owners. Now, now, now, settle down for a second, that second part isn’t touched on in Republic Commando: Hard Contact so I’ll leave it there for now, but trust me we will return to that in future novels. The first part however is a major part of Republic Commando: Hard Contact, as the secondary layer of the novel is about the main characters becoming their own person. In the case of the Clones, Darman, Fi, Niner and Atin it’s not just about becoming their own person but Ms. Traviss is able to infuse them with life so that their dilemma of how they are viewed versus who they actually are becomes a tangible thing. Etain also gets to grow as a character, a lot, and the time spent with Ghez Hokan is nice, but character wise Republic Commando: Hard Contact is all about the growth of the Clones.

As much as I am a history buff, I’ve never claimed to be a genius when it comes to strict military history. I can tell you what happened at historical battles and whether or not some moves were smart, but I’m not a tactician. That may be why I enjoyed the tactical aspect of Republic Commando: Hard Contact so much. Ms. Traviss crafts a narrative that feels very tactical, but is tactical on a level that the layman can understand. I probably didn’t need to know all of the information she relayed as far as the tactical side went, but it never felt like I was being given too much information or info that was over my level of understanding.

Based on the first paragraph of this review I’m confident none of you saw my review of Republic Commando: Hard Contact coming to this end, did you? That’s right, I am going to highly recommend this novel, even if you aren’t a fan of Karen Traviss’ writing I see no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy this particular novel. Republic Commando: Hard Contact is a good character novel and a good action novel, it’s a good novel period, and yes, I did just say that about a Karen Traviss novel, so by all means this is a Star Wars novel you need to check out if you haven’t already.

Rating:

B+

Cheers,
Bill

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