Ascension begins when the Circle of Lords have a meeting to determine whether or not they should accept Abeloth’s bid for alliance to destroy Luke Skywalker and the Jedi Order.
The various members of the Lords are divided, but in the end, despite his reservations over Abeloth’s intentions, Grand Lord Darish Vol decides that the Lost Tribe of the Sith need Abeloth for the good of their future.
Vol then contacts Gavar Khai, who is returning with his fleet, Abeloth, and Ship to Kesh, and tells him that they must delay Abeloth’s arrival on the planet. This is in order to prepare a celebration for an ally like Abeloth, since she would be a valuable asset in defeating the Lost Tribe’s enemies. After Khai informs Abeloth of this, the latter is skeptical and suspicious of Vol’s motives, but accepts the conditions. Abeloth then tells Khai that he and everyone in his fleet should return to Kesh to visit with friends and family members; Khai doesn’t feel that this was merely a suggestion on Abeloth’s part. Later, Khai contemplates with his wife, Lahka, the implications of their daughter’s actions in regards to her siding with the Skywalkers. Gavar kills Vestara’s pet uvak, Tikk, as a result.
Eventually, Abeloth is officially welcomed to Kesh through a parade and a masquerade. Through this, Grand Lord Vol closely observes Abeloth to understand her motives. After all of the festivities are done, and Vol proceeds to go to sleep, he is assaulted in his dreams by Abeloth. However, Vol lures Abeloth into a mental trap, from which he uses to attack the entity. But when Abeloth is attacked, she sends out a Force shock-wave equivalent to that of a tsunami that destroys Kesh’s city of Tahv, killing millions of citizens, Sith and non-Sith alike, including Lahka Khai. Vol is weakened while Ship picks Abeloth up and leaves with her, taking with them the members of the Sith who remain loyal to Abeloth. Those loyal to Abeloth are Gavar Khai, despite his wife’s demise, and his forces (Abeloth influenced them all through the Force), and they leave with Abeloth and Ship through hyperspace. Later, Abeloth views footage of an interview of Rokari Kem, the beloved leader of the freedom fighters of Qaras, and takes great interest in Kem.
Luke, Ben, Vestara, and Jaina Solo discuss a list of Ship’s possible retreats, including a number of historically Sith-associated planets. Jaina suggests that they investigate Korriban first, and proposes that Vestara accompany the Jedi on the investigation, despite Luke’s misgivings over the idea of bringing an arguably trustworthy Sith to a planet so entwined with the dark side of the Force. When they do investigate Korriban, specifically the Valley of the Dark Lords, they’re confronted by dog-like guardians known as the tuk’ata. Vestara speaks to the tuk’ata in the ancient Sith language to ward them off, as well as asking them to lead the party to where there may be other Sith on Korriban. While the guardians fulfill their first demand from Vestara, they’re unable to fulfill her second request due to the fact that there are no Sith left on Korriban. When she reports all of this to the Skywalkers and Jaina, she neglects to mention that she had a third demand for the tuk’ata; if there are anymore Sith who come, the guardians must tell them to hide for their safety.
On Coruscant, Galactic Alliance General Merratt Jaxton is replaced by former GA Chief of Staff Wynn Dorvan as part of the governing triumvirate that includes Kuati Senator Haydnat Treen and Jedi Master Saba Sebatyne. The triumvirate and their chief advisers are doing their best to manage the Galactic Alliance’s duties, especially in the wake of former Chief of State Natasi Daala’s downfall from power and the governments throughout the galaxy ruled by ex-slaves who wish to become part of the Galactic Alliance. This is all convenient for the machinations of Imperial Moff Drikl Lecersen and his co-conspirators, which include Treen, Jaxton, Coruscanti Senator Fost Bramsin, GA Admiral Sallinor Parova, and General Stavin Thaal, who all seek to overthrow their respective governments so that they can rule in their wake. A new member is added to their conspiracy circle through one of the GA’s latest Senators, Kameron Suldar.
Meanwhile, as Daala remains on the loose in the galaxy thanks to Boba Fett, the latter reveals to the former what he and the Mandalorians have discovered since they carried out her orders of putting down slave riots whilst she was still Chief of State. The discovery was that Lecersen was responsible for giving form to the Freedom Flight specifically so they could cause enough trouble to overstress Daala and lead her to the coup that she experienced. So Daala allies herself with Moff Porrak Vansyn and he leads Lecersen into a trap in Imperial space. There, Daala offers an ultimatum to Lecersen; either she will kill Lecersen for his betrayal, or otherwise reveal to the galaxy the evidence that proves Lecersen’s selfish connections to the Freedom Flight, or the Moff can join her in fulfilling her plans. Meanwhile, still concerning Daala, the Squib trio of Emala, Sligh, and Grees meet up with the Solos in order to divulge Daala’s whereabouts in exchange for credits and safety from their Imperial pursuers. The Squibs carry out their end of the bargain, but when they meet Imperial Head of State Jagged Fel, the alien trio reluctantly reveal that they had stolen an Imperial chemical that reverses aging, which Jag blackmails to have back. The Squibs surrender the chemical reluctantly in exchange for their safety. Meanwhile, Allana Solo gains an interest in the Squib trio that starkly contrasts her grandparents’ irritation of them.
Luke, Ben, Jaina, and Vestara’s search for Abeloth and her Sith allies leads them to one of the Sith home worlds of Dromund Kaas. There, they confront a strike team of ten Sith Sabers led by Gavar Khai, all loyal to Abeloth. Whilst the Skywalkers and Jaina defeat and kill their enemies in combat, Vestara is forced to fight her father to the death; a fight she ultimately wins in. This experience proves to be the culmination of Vestara’s path in sliding toward the light side of the Force. Ben and Vestara ultimately admit their love for each other, and she asks to become a Jedi apprentice. After probing her thoughts for expected deception, Luke sees that Vestara is genuine in her want to become a Jedi, and accepts her into the Order. The beginning of Vestara’s redemption allows Ben to view his late cousin, Jacen Solo, not as the Sith Lord Darth Caedus, who he died as, but as the good man he once was before the Second Galactic Civil War.
Afterward, they return to Coruscant—with Luke’s ban from the GA capital world and any other Jedi base officially lifted since Daala’s deposition—in order to accomplish two goals; to investigate further into discerning Abeloth and her allies’ whereabouts, and for Luke to make an announcement. After Luke decides that Saba Sebatyne won’t be penalized for killing Master Kenth Hamner back in Vortex, as she did it for the good of the Jedi, he declares that the Jedi Order shall become a separate entity from the Galactic Alliance. This effectively dissolves the GA triumvirate, prompting the Galactic Alliance Senate to hold an emergency session in order to vote on a temporary Chief of State whilst the Jedi prepare to leave Coruscant. While this happens, Jagged Fel meets with the Solos, who give him the custody of escaped GA convict Tahiri Veila. In exchange for being sentenced to whatever fate Jag deems for her in an Imperial court, since the crime she was convicted of under Daala’s rule as Chief of State was directed at the Imperial Remnant, Tahiri wishes to atone for killing Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon. Jag accepts this.
As the Jedi depart Coruscant to go to the Sith-associated world of Upekzar (which had been discovered through research from Jedi Knight Natua Wan), very few of them are left; Leia stays behind in order to help advise in the Galactic Alliance leadership, and Tesar Sebatyne and his fellow Barabel Jedi secretly guard the Jedi Temple via the caverns they nest in. In the aftermath of this, Senator Suldar and many other newcomer Senators in the GA form an anti-Jedi subcommittee that drastically affects the vote for the temporary Chief of State; so, instead of Wynn Dorvan being voted in, former terrorist/freedom fighter Padnel Ovin is sworn in as the Chief. But Ovin is sharp enough to realize that his voters decided on him due to his simplistic leadership style, which they believe could allow them to manipulate him as a puppet. So Ovin hires Dorvan back into the latter’s position as Chief of Staff, which he held during Daala’s reign, in order to help Ovin cope with the political machinations that he would surely endure.
As it turns out, Kameron Suldar, whose real name is Ivaar Workan, and all of the other Senators in the anti-Jedi subcommittee are really the human members of the Lost Tribe of the Sith doing their duties whilst their Keshiri colleagues scour the Jedi Temple. The mandate of the subcommittee has Leia arrested on false charges, but she agrees to being arrested; as it also turns out, Luke was aware of the Lost Tribe’s infiltration of the GA early on, which was what partially persuaded him to remove the Jedi from the Galactic Alliance and Coruscant. While this does allow the Sith to secretly control the government, it does give the Jedi time to deal with Abeloth, Ship, and their Sith allies; when Abeloth and the others are taken care of, the Jedi will swoop in on Coruscant and wipe out the remainders of the Lost Tribe in one swift stroke.
In the meantime, Leia, still incarcerated, had previously gotten involved in a different conspiracy circle through Club Bwua’tu, which includes the secretly-reawakened Admiral Nek Bwua’tu, his uncle Eramuth, Wynn Dorvan, and a few others; their intention is to unwrap the supposed conspiracy boiling within the Galactic Alliance. And because of all this, including Lecersen’s forced alliance with Daala, the Imperial-Alliance conspiracy circle gradually dissolves, beginning with Stavin Thaal telling Senator Treen that it’s time to disband. Treen kills Bramsin, making it look like he died of old age, and then retires from politics in order to return to her home world of Kuat. Parova is caught by Club Bwua’tu, but before she can reveal any information, she is killed in a refresher by Ivaar Workan’s Sith, who committed the deed to frame Tahiri. Jaxton is forced into suicide by Thaal, and the Imperial-Alliance conspiracy ends.
Meanwhile, Jag confronts Moff Tol Getelles on the experiments the Squibs discovered, which leads to him shooting Jag aboard the Bloodfin and Getelles reporting the deed back to Daala as a success. However, unbeknownst to her, Getelles actually staged the whole thing, only stunning Jag and then explaining Daala’s plans to him. In an attempt to stop Daala’s bid for becoming Empress of the Imperial Remnant, Jag, together with the vanguard of the Empire of the Hand and his own loyal forces of the Remnant, track her down to a meeting of her Maw Irregular Fleet and the forces of Lecersen, Vansyn, Trevin, and Getelles, surprising them in the Exodo system. With Jag attacking her from the front, killing Trevin and his forces, and Getelles turning on Daala, it looks as if Jag can defeat her forces. But the tide of the battle changes when Lecersen destroys Jag’s hiding place, the hollowed-out moon Boreleo, as well as the Pellaeon hidden near the moon. Jag, Kthira’shi’ktarloo, and Tahiri manage to escape to the Bloodfin , commanded by Admiral Vitor Reige, but now face a hard battle.
Grand Lord Vol, arriving from Kesh after Tahv’s destruction by Abeloth, learns from Lord Workan that Rokari Kem, the new and beloved Senator from Qaras, is not who she claims to be and is considered by Workan to be a threat to the Sith. Vol decides to kill her as a result, only to be killed by Kem herself. Kem then tasks Workan, in his guise as Senator Suldar, to get her elected as Chief of State in place of Ovin; by using the Force, she gives the Chief of State a heart attack as he tries to prevent her from being voted in by rambling about his homeworld of Klatooine’s history. Kem’s plan succeeds as a result. She then takes residence in the abandoned Jedi Temple, where she learns that Leia escaped prison with the help of several people (such as her husband, Lando Calrissian, and Zekk), but that one of the conspirators, Wynn Dorvan, has been captured. Kem then goes to Dorvan in order to learn what she can from him, and reveals herself to be Abeloth.
Meanwhile, on Upekzar, Luke leads the combined Jedi forces of the galaxy hunting for Abeloth, only to discover that she set a trap for them in the form of the Sith known as Tola Annax, whose dying form is used to detonate a Force bomb. The Jedi manage to escape, albeit with a number of losses. At the same time, Ben, Vestara, and Natua are tasked by Luke to explore the inactive lava tunnels below the planet and are then attacked by a mutated Dream Singer; while fighting it, Ben is rendered delusional by hallucinations. Vestara, seeing no other way to save his life, incapacitates Natua in order to feed her to the beast, rescuing Ben’s life. Despite managing to save his life, making the choice to kill a Jedi instead of trying to fight the beast some other way makes Vestara realize that she might be too much of a Sith to ever truly become a Jedi; this was further evidenced when the Dream Singer previously communicated to Vestara about her Sith nature.
The novel ends with Vestara reflecting that one day, she will be forced to completely return to her Sith roots, and may also be forced to unhappily kill Ben as a result.
Ascension by Christie Golden is the eighth novel in the Fate of the Jedi series
Categories: Star Wars