Star Wars Fate of the Jedi: Vortex
The novel starts out aboard the Rockhound. Jaina Solo and Lando Calrissian are traveling back to Coruscant to inform the New Jedi Order of Luke and Ben Skywalker’s whereabouts.
However, they find themselves nearby Kessel, which wasn’t any of their intended destinations. Jaina and Lando soon find that the ship’s droids are being manipulated by an unknown source to ruin their plans. Jaina goes to her damaged StealthX wing against Lando’s wishes and finds that the StealthX’s weapons are being dismounted by one of the droids.
Jaina then learns that on the Rockhound’s stop at Klatooine, the ship had received a mouse droid as a new delivery. Jaina, in conclusion, determines that whoever is manipulating the droids—she suspects the Lost Tribe of Sith—is using that mouse droid to maneuver the Rockhound toward Kessel instead of Coruscant. She then tells Lando to look for the mouse droid while she goes out in her StealthX wing, now equipped with only four shadow bombs, to ward off anyone trying to take hold of the Rockhound. Several skiffs arrive in the system, and Jaina fights them off, using up all four of her shadow bombs to destroy most of the skiffs and their “mothership.” But because there are still a few left, Jaina pilots her StealthX back to the Rockhound, hearing from Lando that he located and destroyed the manipulative mouse droid, and she tells him to get the Rockhound into hyperspace for escape.
On the mysterious planet where the Skywalkers and the Lost Tribe of Sith fought and killed the mysterious entity known as Abeloth in the previous novel, Luke Skywalker is working with High Lord Sarasu Taalon and Gavar Khai to find out Abeloth’s origins via her lair. Meanwhile, aboard the Jade Shadow some distance away from Abeloth’s lair, Vestara Khai tells Ben Skywalker that the Sith Meditation Sphere known as Ship has contacted her through the Force, telling her that he is coming back to serve the Lost Tribe. They agree to take this to Luke. But Vestara has Ben check in on their patient, Dyon Stadd, where she locks him up in the Jade Shadow’s medical bay with Dyon so that she can go directly to either Taalon or her father rather than Luke to inform them of Ship’s impending arrival. However, Ben gets out of the medical bay via his lightsaber and catches Vestara before she can make it to Abeloth’s lair, making her promise not to betray him or Luke nor tell either Gavar or Taalon of Ship coming to the planet. With that, they continue on to the lair where, despite the presences of Gavar and Taalon, Ben is able to communicate to his father about Ship while Vestara, even under the threat of punishment, does not inform either of her masters about why she and Ben left Dyon alone back on the Jade Shadow.
Knowing that the Jedi-Sith alliance would crumble if either Taalon or Gavar got this knowledge, Luke proceeds to save Vestara from abuse from Taalon (more as a distraction than as a genuine concern for her well-being) while Ben tries to take Abeloth’s body so that they can get her back to Coruscant for examination by Cilghal. Vestara and Taalon see what Ben is up to and Taalon nearly kills him before Vestara stops the High Lord by showing everyone present the form covered beneath the sheet that was, during the Sith’s confrontation with Ben, thrown off the supposed Abeloth’s body: Dyon Stadd’s corpse. Therefore, the supposed illusion that Abeloth had conjured up in the appearance that she had killed off Stadd at the climax of her battle against the Jedi-Sith alliance was real, while her death and Stadd’s recovery was the real illusion.
On Coruscant, Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala continues her Mandalorian siege on the New Jedi Temple to take away Jedi Knights Sothais Saar and Turi Altamik for being victims of the Force psychosis. Han Solo acts as an intermediary between the Jedi and Daala as he convinces the Chief of State that it is safe for Saar and Altamik to step out, as the Force psychosis is now gone. Daala’s Bith surgeon, Thalleus Tharn, looks them over for a brief preliminary test to confirm that they’re not impostors or still insane. Tharn tests to make sure of this by kneeing Saar in the groin, which prompts Altamik to stop the surgeon by raising him up in the air with the Force to prevent any further attacks from the Bith. Using this action as basic evidence that Saar and Altamik are not impostors or still insane, considering how the latter Knight controlled herself in the event of the attack, it appears to be a foregone conclusion that the Force psychosis is indeed gone, and the Knights are sane again. Daala then decides to call off the siege, but says that until she knows that the Jedi are holding nothing back from her, and that Valin and Jysella Horn will remain in the Galactic Alliance Security’s custody until so.
Later, the Jedi High Council hold a meeting over how they can convince Daala to thaw Valin and Jysella out of carbonite, with acting Grand Master Kenth Hamner insisting that they confront Daala through non-violent means while the rest argue to go into an all-out war against the Chief of State in order to reclaim the Horns. But while Hamner’s position in the Council is very tenuous, the rest do agree to do it his way after Corran Horn says that the time and circumstances aren’t right; not yet, at least.
Back on the mysterious planet in the Maw, the Skywalkers and the Sith, now aware of Abeloth’s continued existence, find Ship, which doesn’t break up the Jedi-Sith alliance because Abeloth is still alive. Ship points them in the right direction down a cavern that leads to the Pool of Knowledge. The Jedi-Sith alliance finally breaks when the Sith see a Jedi queen on a throne surrounded by many of her Force-using kind, prompting Luke and Ben to attempt to just kill High Lord Taalon and the Khais so that Allana Solo’s existence is kept a secret (this vision of Allana being a queen was seen by Luke back in Abyss). The Skywalkers barely leave alive, aware that Abeloth has already taken Ship and the Jade Shadow off planet, so their only way off-world is to use the Emiax, one of the Sith’s ship. They decide to use Vestara to get them in and off-world, and keep her so that she can lead them to Kesh to destroy the Sith, after Taalon and Gavar Khai use her as bait to place the Skywalkers into a death trap. Luke convinced her to come with him and his son by reminding her that since she failed her duty to lead the Skywalkers to their death, Taalon and Gavar just might see to end her life, if not punish her any more severely. Now off-world, the Skywalkers, with Vestara in their grasp, begin their search for Abeloth.
On Coruscant, Tahiri Veila’s trial seems to continue to be going badly, especially now that her lawyer, Eramuth Bwua’tu, seems to be incompetent. The Solos hire a second defense attorney named Sardonne Sardon to help Bwua’tu prove that Tahiri was acting under orders from the late Darth Caedus to kill the late Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon if she couldn’t persuade him to side with Caedus in the Second Battle of Fondor in the Second Galactic Civil War. Unfortunately, Bwua’tu and Sardon’s different legal methods impedes Tahiri’s passing of the trial under the pretense that she was acting under orders, which soon prompts Tahiri to fire Sardon, as she finds that Bwua’tu can actually act better solo. His acts of incompetence were to make Tahiri look good and not so much like a fool, despite the fact that it was harming her case. So Bwua’tu manages to show the evidence, a holovid recorded aboard the Star Destroyer Bloodfin, that proves that his client was acting under orders from Darth Caedus to kill Grand Admiral Pellaeon if he betrayed him at Fondor.
Meanwhile, Admiral Nek Bwua’tu is in a coma since the false Jedi attack on him in the last novel. Even Chief of State Daala knows that the Jedi couldn’t have been behind it because it is tactically unsound for them to attack such a high-placed officer in the Galactic Alliance military, as well as the fact that two Jedi could have easily killed Bwua’tu rather than render him in a coma as they did. In her quest to find out who was behind Bwua’tu’s attack, Daala finds out that the Admiral seems to be stimulated by the sight of reporter Madhi Vaandt on the HoloNet reporting of anti-slavery revolts on the planet Blaudu Sextus. Daala doubts that Bwua’tu is stimulated by her sexually, and starts to believe that Vaandt might be behind the attack.
It isn’t long before a slave revolt on the aforementioned backwater world of Blaudu Sextus erupts from Mandalorian violence, led by Belok Rhal, the same Mandalorian mercenary who led the siege of the New Jedi Temple and killed Kani Asari, Grand Master Hamner’s assistant, on the Temple’s steps. Though the Mandalorians are stopped by Sothais Saar and Avinoam Arelis, Madhi Vaandt is killed by Rhal. This outrages the Jedi, with everyone, except for Kenth Hamner, of course, believing that now is the time to take the fight to Daala. Hamner’s disagreement on this leads to the rest of the Jedi Masters informally voting him out as their leader. This results in a complex plan to free Valin and Jysella Horn from their carbonite imprisonment and to respond to Luke Skywalker’s recent distress call for the Jedi StealthX wing fleet to come to where he has found Abeloth: Almania’s moon of Pydyr.
On Pydyr, the populace is infected with a plague that turns out to be an illusion cast by the Fallanassi. Luke immerses himself in the White Current to escape the illusions while neglecting to inform either Ben or Vestara as to the nature of the plague so that if Vestara would be able to call her Sith masters over to Pydyr, she wouldn’t be able to inform them of the plague’s nature. Luke does not mention this to Ben because he is wary of his son’s slippery relationship with Vestara, and he might tell her about the nature of the plague because he would feel that he would be able to trust her. So as Luke sets off to find Abeloth himself, leaving Ben and Vestara aboard the Eniax, he encounters Akanah Norand Goss Pell, a Fallanassi he once knew, and finds out from her that her organization is actually hiding Abeloth, since the entity herself is somehow a Fallanassi. And as Ben and Vestara arrive, having disobeyed orders to stay behind with the Eniax, the Sith also arrive, having managed to respond to one of Vestara’s calls that she sneaked past Ben.
However, High Lord Taalon is now undergoing a transformation thanks to having gained great superhuman abilities that have gone beyond his previous powers in the Force thanks to the Pool of Knowledge. Luke agrees to help Taalon and the rest of the Sith to find Abeloth so that she can tell Taalon what is happening to him and then kill her. But once they do find Abeloth, who has now taken over Akanah’s body, nearly all of the Sith, except for the Skywalkers, Taalon and Vestara, are being attacked by illusions cast by the Fallanassi. Abeloth then leads the four of them into a meeting hall where she manages to manipulate Taalon, by offering to tell him what he is transforming into, to command Vestara to turn on the Skywalkers. Luke and Abeloth fight, and he kills her again, only to find out that she has another body in the form of Callista Ming. Luke and Ben are captured, and are about to be executed. However, Vestara, knowing that Abeloth is a greater danger and that Taalon would only become her puppet to control the Sith, turns on the High Lord and kills him.
On Coruscant, the Solos and several other allies break into the prison where Valin and Jysella are being held in and free them in the midst of a riot. Meanwhile, the Errant Venture holds a sabacc tournament so that they can use the highly-placed people aboard, such as Wynn Dorvan, Drikl Lecersen, and several others, as hostages while the Venture fires at orbiting satellites around Coruscant. This was a ruse to lead the Sixth Fleet’s attention away from the Jedi Temple as they prepare to launch their StealthX fighters. As the Fleet chases the Errant Venture right before it goes into hyperspace, the StealthX launch is nearly impeded by the actions of Kenth Hamner. Hamner tries to regain his authority in the New Jedi Order by trying to kill Saba Sebatyne, who is leading the Jedi against Daala’s interests. Hamner intended to impede the launch in a way that the Alliance Military could react to. Saba and Hamner engage in a duel, with Saba ending up wounded. She kills Hamner to ensure the success of the launch. With Hamner now dead, the StealthXs make it off Coruscant and to Pydyr. The other Masters appoint Saba interim Grand Master of the Order until Luke Skywalker returns. She is stricken with regret after practically usurping Hamner’s position.
As Abeloth flees after Vestara killed Taalon, the StealthX fleet arrives and battles the Sith forces, who have recovered from the false attacks by the Fallanassi. Although Vestara still claims she’s not willing to embrace the Light Side, she knows that killing Taalon will get her executed in her society. So, Vestara decides to stay with the Skywalkers as they are her only remaining allies. Luke and Ben allow her to join with them only if she treats them as true allies. She agrees and saves them yet again by killing the Sith who were about to kill them. The three of them take the Jade Shadow, confirm their identity to the Errant Venture and prepare to find and track down Abeloth to finally put an end to her.
On Coruscant, Allana Solo, her Jedi guardian Bazel Warv, and her pet nexu Anji discover a hidden catacomb deep within the New Jedi Temple where Tesar Sebatyne and two other Barabels have made a nest. The Barabels wish to keep the nest a secret, and are willing to either kill Allana, Bazel, and Anji, or have them join them for the next two months. Allana agrees to keep their secret if they, and Bazel, agree to keep her secret: her name is not Amelia Solo, it is Allana, granddaughter of Han and Leia Organa Solo, daughter of the late Jacen Solo and Hapan Queen Mother Tenel Ka Djo. With that, the novel ends with the Barabels letting Allana and Bazel leave so that the latter two can join with Han, Leia, Corran and Mirax Terrik Horn in watching Cilghal and Tekli unfreeze Valin and Jysella from their carbonite prisons.
Vortex by Troy Denning is the sixth novel in the Fate of the Jedi series.
Categories: Star Wars