I know what my true colors are, and based on my past they involve a little bit of red, as in I bleed all over the place!
Cover Art By: Greg Knight
Written By: Karen Traviss
“We sanction the use of a slave army. It’s against every single principle of our belief, and it’s a stain on us, and we will pay the price fir our hypocrisy one day.” – Jedi Knight Bardan Jusik
Coming off of Republic Commando: Triple Zero, this entry in the franchise had a tough road to hoe. Republic Commando: True Colors tries admirably, but when all is said and done it doesn’t quite live up to the expectations of what had come previously in the novel series. The reason for this is twofold, story and one character. Outside of those two elements Republic Commando: True Colors was yet another engaging read from Karen Traviss and a valuable addition to the world Star Wars.
In terms of story the issues that plagued Republic Commando: True Colors all centered around the novel lacking a definitive plot. In every sense of the word the third novel in the Republic Commando franchise is a transitional novel. There isn’t a true plot or an end to Republic Commando: True Colors. Instead there exists within the pages of Miss Traviss’ novel a series of events that are intended to move the reader along to the next entry in the series. With that being the case the novel feels somewhat empty and a lot like a cheat. I know I felt cheated out of an actual story. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to spend time yet again with the characters that inhabit the Republic Commando series. At the same time I wanted more of an actual story with a beginning and an end. That’s not what I was given and because of that my reading experience with Republic Commando: True Colors felt emptier than it should have.
The other issue I have to take Republic Commando: True Colors to task for is the character of Etain Tur-Mukan. As each novel in the series has progressed I have become increasingly frustrated with her character. Her decisions were always bad, but now she has turned into a beaten character. She’s afraid to make decisions and lets others make every important decision for her. It’s hard for me to care about the moments when she acts tough or resilient because she lets herself be bossed around so much all the rest of the time. I always respected the questioning nature of Etain, but in Republic Commando: True Colors she no longer really questions herself. Instead she has stopped believing in herself and in her actions. That makes it very hard to get behind one of the main characters and that made certain passages of the novel hard to get through or connect with.
As much as those two elements of Republic Commando: True Colors bothered me they didn’t completely ruin the novel for me. I still enjoyed spending time with the characters of the Republic Commando series. I really enjoyed how Miss Traviss kept hammering away at the Jedi way of life, while at the same time second guessing some of the Mandalorian traditions that she introduces the reader to as well. My face had a giant grin on it during the scene where Bardan Jusik tells Jedi Master Arligan Zey his feelings on the way the Jedi are handling the war, involving themselves in politics, and using a slave army. That sort of “taking the Jedi to task writing” isn’t found anywhere else in the expanded universe and I love the heck out of it. I know I’ve complained in the past about Miss Traviss leaning too heavily on anti-Jedi sentiment in her stories. But, in Republic Commando: True Colors I felt she found the perfect delivery so that the anti-Jedi sentiment was loud and clear without feeling forced or heavy handed and that made me insanely happy.
It’s not a perfect novel by any means, but Republic Commando: True Colors is another entry in the series that left me with a slight smile on my face. I have to say slight because the issues I had were large enough to affect my feelings on the novel. I don’t know what to expect from the next entry in the Republic Commando series, but I hope that it features all the elements I’ve come to love about the series and tweaks the issues I had with this one. Either way, Republic Commando: True Colors is a Star Wars novel worth your time, as long as you’re willing to acknowledge that you have to read the rest of the Republic Commando series to truly find that worth.