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Gungan to the left

Why Eluding Royally Rocks
A review of Eluding What Will Come

By : obaona

Once upon a time, there was an author named Pallas-Athena. (All right, so that's not her real name, but it will suffice.) As with most writing projects, Eluding What Will Come came to life because of a number of different, tiny (seemingly insignificant) decisions. To write a Jedi purge piece of fiction. To have it be romance. To have the girl be the bounty hunter, and the boy the Jedi.

Boy, who knew what she would end up with?

To begin with looking at the story as a whole, it has a very rare type of pacing that is, very even. Time is appropriately spent on each scene, not making any overly lengthy or overly short, which is all too often common, the author doing more of what they personally like to read and shorting the rest of the scenes ... leaving to one to wonder why they bothered with them at all. But in Eluding, the love scenes have purpose; so do the fight scenes. Despite that the author claims not to be particularly skilled at fight scenes, never in the story is a fight scene cut short or clumsily avoided.

Which brings us to the execution of the plot. As no scene is clumsily done, neither are there any loose plot ends. While the story is begun after the original meeting of the Jedi and the bounty hunter, information on their background is given largely without an info-dump (the horror of summarizing paragraphs). There are a few, of course, but they are easily forgiven because the author doesn't shy away from those paragraphs, but instead uses them to great advantage, making them part of the story and what is happening in the present, rather than just a set-up.

But the plot. It's simple, no question: bounty hunter falls in love with the Jedi she's hunting, and vice versa; then Vader takes up the hunt after the Jedi. Which makes it so utterly appealing how the author takes her time making that happen believably. After all, we know the Jedi aren't supposed to know love. And it's rather obvious that to fall in love with your target is a pretty bad idea. And we certainly can't forget that Vader is Vader (come on, people! Vader!) and few, if any, Jedi ever escaped him. The author doesn't forget that either, and gives Vader his just due, even for the short period he is actually in the story.

Through all of this, characterization plays a huge role. It's always lovely to see a story driven by characters rather than the plot, and even better when the plot and characters actually work together to make a complete story, in the true sense of 'complete'. The story is about the actions, feelings and reactions of these characters in this given set of circumstances, and the complications of those feelings and emotions are always present and accounted for. The bounty hunter has trouble expressing her love, and yet, when she does, she goes for it whole-heartedly, almost desperately. The Jedi, having already been shown to be something of an oddball Jedi, also has trouble and even after the first night together (wink, wink), he has doubts that have been firmly set inside him by his Jedi teachers.

All of this ultimately makes the end more tragic. Stalin said that one death is a tragedy, a thousand a statistic. This author takes us into one Jedi's life during the Purge, and consequently makes those other thousands real because suddenly, we, the reader, are being hit with the knowledge that all those thousands were real people, and maybe a few fell in love, maybe a few didn't. Maybe a few died afraid, maybe a few died fearlessly. It also puts Vader's killing of the Jedi into a new context for the reader, showing one of his hunts out of the hundreds (if not thousands) he probably did. How many Jedi recognized him as Anakin Skywalker, and asked him 'Why?' Did all those whys build up until a certain second Death Star?

So. The story, the plot, the characters all work together to create a powerful story. But let's talk about the words. It's not too difficult to come up with a good storyline. The one for Eluding seems simple enough. But we've all heard of the perpetual 'in progress' novelist. The actual writing of a story determines how good it is. The depth of characterization, the execution of the plot, and that certain turn of phrase that just works so damn perfectly in that sentence.

Pallas-Athena nails that perfect phrase, that perfectly chosen word in that moment. There are all kinds of different styles of writing, from sparse to descriptive, from emotional to somewhat distant, and a million shades of color in between. Yet this isn't about style, not completely. The author shows an amazing awareness of the meaning of words, not just the arrangement of this-many descriptions and that-many lines of dialogue. And when it comes down to it, that awareness of meaning transcends the barrier of personal style preferences, and tells the reader this is it, people. This is what is happening; it's not about style, it's about meaning.

And the meaning of Eluding What Will Come? A great many things, this humble (okay, not so much) reader feels. It's about the horror of the Jedi Purge, and on a greater scale than Star Wars, any massacre of innocents. Or perhaps the gang killing of a police officer as an initiation rite. It's about how interconnected life can be, with the child of a murdered Jedi and the child of the murderer one day becoming the other's half. Most of all, I think it's about that amazing irrationality of love.

At the heart of the story is the relationship between the bounty hunter and the Jedi Nyssa and Daven. Neither had it easy, and both are affected by their pasts. And yet, even as small a point as it was, it is easy to see that they both have some awareness of that fact, and they use their free will to choose how they will act and react to the events occurring. They get past those things to fall in love, in this worst of times. And so, they have a brief moment of bliss a chance given and a chance taken, because we know that Vader isn't going to stop hunting the Jedi. When that moment passes, they go as best they can, living and dying. That's life, such as it is, but that ending doesn't diminish that meaning of their love.

That's why Eluding What Will Come royally rocks. Because despite all the horror and pain and death, there's something more than that, and these two characters experience it. And how can you not love them for reaching for that?

Comments to obaona or post it in the Jedi Council Fanfic Forum.
Uploaded: Monday, April 21, 2008

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