This is a really cool book in that it gives a simple explanation as to how Luke goes from barely being able to hold a lightsaber in New Hope to mentally reaching for one with the force that is on the ground while he is hung upside down in a cave in The Empire Strikes Back. I have always wondered how this happened with Obi Wan Kenobi dead and Yoda not yet introduced. At the beginning, Hearne reproduces Luke's still, slightly whiney side as he bemoans not having anyone to teach him about the Force and wondering how he will be able to become a Jedi.
Leia sends him on a mission to a planet where one of the small clans would like the Alliance to help them beat their oppressive enemy clans who are mostly in league with the Empire. Luke is given the beautiful, sleek, and fast Desert Jewel to fly. It is owned by Nakari Kelen, whose father owns a huge lab that collects samples of new creatures and botany in order to create new medications. He cannot go up against the Empire directly, as they will destroy him and his business, so he takes their contracts even though he'd rather tear them up. His daughter, however, has no such constraints on her, so she helps the Alliance in numerous ways, including teaching sharp shooting skills. When she does work for her father, the money she gets she uses to upgrade her ship and help the Alliance.
Luke is immediately attracted to both the ship and Nakari. On his way to meeting the clan who has weapons for sale, he notices a Kupohan ship being attacked by the Empire. The Kupohans are on the fence about helping the Alliance, but they have helped them in the past. Even though it will endanger his mission, Luke helps the Kupohan ship escape. This makes his ship put on the list of ones the Empire is now looking for. Luke's mission with the clan is successful and he has set up a source for weapons.
Leia now has a new mission that will include Nakari. The Empire is holding a Given named Drusil, who is an expert cryptologist, probability theorist, and hacker. Givens have a unique introduction ritual that Luke and Nakari will have to learn. They recite a complicated math problem to solve and you give one too. Luckily Leia has a few for them to use. They are to rescue her and take her to Omereth, a mostly oceanic planet filled with monstrous sea creatures, and join her family that the Alliance will get and she will work for the Alliance. First, though, Luke and Nakari need to upgrade the ship to prepare for going up against the Empire. They need weapons and other things for the ship. In order to get the money for that they go to Nakari's father who offers them a job to go to the unknown planet Fet where he has sent two teams to collect samples and they have not returned. He wants them to find the crew and bring them back.
Fet is a hideous place. They are provided with special suits to protect them from a vicious animal called the skullborer, which does exactly as its name implies and eats brains. They find the second ship and when they enter it, they find mostly dead bodies and a surprise: loose skullborers. These creatures are invisible until you hit them with a blaster or stun stick. Luke and Nakari have quite an adventure trying to complete this mission. Nakari's father gives them a huge sum of money and they go to the clan and load up on supplies.
Next they go to a planet where a Kupohan spy provides them the information they need about Drusil. Rescuing her is not easy, but when they escape the planet with her, the Empire knows their ship and how many people to look for and begin to search for them. They escape the Empire ships, but the Empire has also put a bounty on their head. Their ship gets damaged and they go to the planet where the Kuphon's live, because the spy gave them a list of names of people who will help them and one of them is on the planet. He does not want to help them, but they offer him information in exchange for parts and repairs. Drusil blocks communications to the Empire to keep his workers from turning them in for the bounty, but she is not quick enough and one man gets through and the Empire sends someone to investigate. Luke and Nakari kidnap them to keep them from turning them in and wait for their ship to be fixed.
While waiting, Nakari and Luke become close and Nakari helps Luke out with his Jedi problem, by giving him advise on how to move objects. With Nakari's support, Luke is more relaxed and is able to move a noodle across the table. While this is not much, it is the first time he has been able to do it. Luke figures out that he is not moving the noodle, the Force is and he is pushing the Force to move the noodle.
Drusil is kind of like C3PO, in that she is readily coming up with probabilities in every situation they find themselves in, but unlike C3PO, she does not anticipate doom and she is quite fascinating and unbelievable in her abilities. Luke eventually begins to trust her and not suspect that she is secretly working for the Empire and they become friends.
More adventures await the group as they try to get to Omereth and hope that the Alliance were able to get her family there, because Luke has been unable to get news from them as to whether they have succeeded. Nakari is a very empowered woman that you can look up to. She is good in a fight, has a wonderful sense of humor, and is determined to bring down the Empire, especially Darth Vader, who has hurt her family as much as he has hurt Luke's.
I really enjoyed this book a lot. It is filled with great adventure, fancy flying, strange creatures, bounty hunters, and a mission that continues to become more difficult and possibly unlikely to succeed. Drusil proves to be a very valuable asset to the mission with her math abilities and probability theories that provide them with ways to escape capture. The question is, will they complete their mission all in one piece or get taken down by the Empire or the deadly bounty hunters.
I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell