After the capture of Coruscant, the mighty heart of the New Republic, a stunned galaxy fears that nothing can stop the Yuuzhan Vong. Still, that crushing defeat produces one small miracle: Jacen Solo is alive. Yet he can scarcely imagine himself in stranger circumstances.
The young Jedi Knight is in the care of Vergere, a fascinating creature of mystery and power, her intentions hard to fathom, her cruelties rarely concealed. But this master of inscrutable arts has much to teach the young Jedi... for she holds the key to a new way to experience the Force, to take it to another level -- dangerous, dazzling, and perhaps deadly.
In the wrong hands, the tremendous energies of the Force can be devastating. And there are others watching Jacen's progress closely, waiting patiently for the moment when he will be ready for their own dire purposes. Now, all is in shadows. Yet whatever happens, whether Jacen's newfound mastery unleashes light or darkness, he will never be the same Jedi again...
If nothing else, I believe this book does prove to be the best written Star Wars novel ever. Finely done, it is the only book in the New Jedi Order series to follow only one character. Jacen has proven to be a bit wishy-washy through the majority of the NJO, but that all changes with this novel.
Jacen clearly emerges here with a new found purpose and strength. This dark novel strips him away and builds him back up again, through the careful eye of Vergere.
While much of it is very enjoyable and action packed, some of it is a bit annoying. Vergere's double talk gets old towards the end, and I felt a little frustrated by it. You kind of want to slap and her yell, "Just answer the freakin' question!" She also offers a new concept to the Force that would appear to fly in the face of everything we've ever been told.
There is no Light or Dark side to the Force, there is only one Force, according to Vergere. But, that Force has layers, and Jedi tend to exist on only one layer. That the Vong, who many have believed are outside of the Force because they don't come from the same galaxy, actually exist on another layer. While some have argued this view of the Force is bull, I think is generally makes sense. That there is no external Light or Dark side, but a Jedi's existence with one or the other is determined by his actions, and the motivations behind those actions. Not by outside manipulation from the Force.
The book also had one of the more thrilling and satisfying endings of any book in the NJO. I honestly believe this novel was one of this series' highlights, shadowed only by "Star by Star". Personally, I've liked Jacen's journey throughout the NJO. I sympathized and understood his doubts in "Balance of Power", and agreed with the questions he raised. And while he was never one of my favorite characters, I'm very curious to see where his realizations in this novel will lead.