Just when I was about to give up hope on the EU! This was not bad at all. I have to admit, I was hesitant about the whole Skywalker as anti-hero idea, even if it was a descendent of Luke's and not the main man himself. As I've mentioned in other reviews, I'm partial to morally unambiguous characters and I worried (still worry?) that I may not fully embrace young Cade Skywalker's cavalier and decidedly un-Jedi attitude, but I'm willing to roll with it and see where it goes. The reason, quite simply, is that Ostrander has done wondrous new things. Freed from the constraints of the timelines of the EU, and set over one hundred years after the Battle of Yavin, Ostrander is able to create a whole new galaxy, explore ideas that are foreign to the existing EU and create brand new characters. I think this is what the SW galaxy needs. As beloved as Luke and the gang are, they're old; and while I think I'll always have a soft spot for them and want to know more about them, I think the time has come to pass the torch. In the latest EU novel series, that's not being done very well. While some authors have created remarkable new characters, they've done them little justice and most of the high expectations I had for their development have fizzled.
Cade Skywalker and the Jedi as a whole have fallen on hard times. Once again, the order is being persecuted and hunted down after a joint Sith-Imperial conquest of the galaxy. The Galactic Alliance has finally fallen and the order that Luke so painstakingly recreated from the verge of extinction once again faces the same fate. The question, this time around, is whether or not the Skywalker line's destiny once again includes a chosen one capable of reunifying the order and freeing the galaxy from this new breed of Sith. You'd think so, until you meet Cade, a depressed, death stick junkie who's just as powerful as his ancestors, but a selfish, closed-minded wreck. Ostrander introduces several intriguing brand new characters and factions that are easy to identify with and rival the Skywalker progeny in the storyline for protagonist, which is befitting a multi-arc epic - something the novelists of the EU fail to realize. Does it have to be a Skywalker that saves the day in the end? Not really, but Ostrander knows including one grounds long-time fans in the story. He also echoes the original trilogy just enough to give those fans a sense of the familiar in this strange new galaxy he's created. It's brilliant, because it prevents you from rejecting this new arc as strange and unappealing (a problem that the entire Tales of the Jedi series had taking place thousands of years before the heyday of Luke, Han and Leia).
The writing is pretty solid, with usual comic-ese dialogue that occasionally makes you wince, but still manages to remain a cut above the drivel Christie Golden is producing in the novels. All-in-all, the pacing is tight and there don't seem to be random jumps along the plot line, which is always a danger and weakness of stories in this format. The story opens with the Sith conquest of the galaxy and a lot of interesting new questions. Ostrander jumps into the story in media res, with plenty of sword-swinging, swashbuckling action to hook you. Along the way, you're teased with the odd line referencing something that has happened in the immediate past, which of course, you want to know more about, so the hook is enticing enough and the treats spaced out enough to keep this a page-turner. There's also just the right amount of nods to the existing mythology for long time devotees to be satisfied that this is happening in the same beloved universe.
I'm eager to continue.