I’m part-way through reading The Joiner King, a Star Wars novel by Troy Denning and I’m finding it harder going than my previous read, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick. Considering one novel is about drugs, lies and paranoia and the other is set in the fluff-filled world of Star Wars, that’s come as quite a surprise.
Now, I’ve huge respect for the Star Wars universe. I like how it’s developed a life of it’s own beyond the movies themselves with the games, novels and comics all contributing to the whole. The central characters grow up, raise a family and grow old in this timeline; it’s like a version of Bonanza in space, and it’s streets ahead of Star Trek’s faux optimistic and simplistic worldview.
The problem with this novel lays with Troy Denning’s writing. He tries to paint broad sweeping sci-fi vistas using made-up Starwarsglish words that no doubt make sense to the hardened Warsie but just come out as complete nonsense to the average reader (ie, me). The end result comes across as if someone’s bolted a few verses of Jabberwocky into each chapter; hardly the stuff which encourages you to carry on reading.
Here’s an example from the start of Chapter 13:
- …She saw the hawk-winged silhouettes of the four inbound defoliators sweeping in just meters above Qoribu’s dazzling ring system, racing for the gap between the moons Ruu and Zvbo on initial approach for a dispersal run. With a four-squadron escort of clawcraft, the Chiss were clearly determined to reach their targets this time.
I mean; what the heck does that mean? And do I really care? Perhaps Troy is showing off his in-depth knowledge of Star Wars trivia but to me it just looks like he’s farted on the keyboard. Sorry, but…….
Cut through the first few hundreds words of each chapter and the story itself is an enjoyable enough romp where the Solo and Skywalker families meet an insect collective hive mind. The characterisation of the folks from the movies comes across as cardboardy and wooden but the writing improves markedly when the action flips over to characters from the Expanded Universe.
In short, The Joiner King is a book I’ll struggle to finish and absolutely won’t be reading again; only pick this up if you really, really like Star Wars.
- `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.