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Star Wars Order 66: A Republic Commando Novel    by Karen Traviss order for
Star Wars Order 66
by Karen Traviss
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2008 (2008)

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Seasoned author Karen Traviss extends her Star Wars® Republic Commando series with Order 66 - a directive which declares 'The Jedi have tried to stage a coup, and all must be shot on sight'. The Clone Wars ascend towards a climax; the Battle of Geonosis is past. Thousands of species have migrated to the galaxy's capital, Galactic City, Coruscant. There are more wars to be fought.

Known to his troopers as Kal'buir, Papa Kal, Sergeant Kal Skirata adopted the GAR commandos as his sons. Kal keeps the truth to himself, 'that he'd been one of life's losers until his unhappy life had been transformed by a bunch of clone kids who needed him simply to survive, and so now he would do ... absolutely anything, to give them a normal life and the life span that went with it'. Skirata searches for a scientist who will develop a formula to alter the accelerated aging in clones. Sergeant Walon Vau is the nearest to a father that his ARC troopers have known. Mandalorians Skirata and Vau 'had been at loggerheads about everything from tactics and how to motivate troops to the color of the mess walls, sometimes to the point of fistfights'. But the war has softened their outlook.

Mandalore has no current leader. The inhabitants listen to the daily recitation of comrades who have fallen, wondering, 'So many names. Is mine going to be on that list this time next year?' RC-8015 Omega Squad sniper Fi Skirata, on disability retirement, is protected as 'discharged dead'; the trooper's mind has not been the same after a severe head injury. Fi's healers are former Jedi Knight Bardan Jusik, along with Fi's girlfriend Parja Bralot, who nursed him. Fi has known it would be difficult for his Jedi healer to be accepted, even though Jusik walked like a 'swaggering Mando without a care in the world'. Fi felt duty-bound to watch the healer's back for the rest of his life.

Agent Besany Wennen searches Republic Treasury records, musing 'I'm a spy. I'm working against my own government. I was always such a good girl, wasn't I, Dad? And now look what's become of me'. Besany downloads information from the Grand Army budget file finding evidence of credits being channeled into cloning facilities far from Kamino. 'Numbers were her life; but the numbers in Chancellor Palpatine's defense budget didn't even come close to adding up'. Null ARC trooper N-11 Ordo, her lover, watches out for her welfare; Besany is being followed, and Ordo follows the follower.

RC-1136 Darman, Omega force, and Jedi Knight General Etain Tur-Mukan are in love. Etain has borne a son but in agreement with grandfather Sgt. Kal Skirata, Darman has not been told, as it might jeopardize him on the battlefield. Etain visits Laseema at the cantina where the Twi'lek waitress is caretaker for baby Kal with her partner RC-3222 Atin. Others believe the child is Laseema's, but all are adamant that the child will be protected from those who would claim him for the Jedi forces.

Bardan Jusik fills the role of acting uncle to Skirata's grandson and has sworn to give his life to protect the child. With a forged civil service ID from the Coruscant Health Administration, Jusik visits the Valorum Center psychiatric unit, on the pretense of filing a routine report for the bureau's administrator. Using Force-mind to manipulate the Center's deputy chief administrator, Jusik's search for missing Separatist genetics expert, Dr. Ovolot Qail Uthan is successful. While walking the hallway, Jusik senses someone behind a locked door. Plans are in progress to rescue more than the doctor, as Kal Skirata learns that his biological daughter is missing, and another personage, thought to be dead, is found in the process.

A rumor flows that the Chancellor has been breeding more clone troops. The Battle of Coruscant is imminent as General Grievous approaches the city for the Separatists; anti-air battery pump ion rounds into the sky. A voice message is broadcast – 'Execute Order Sixty-six', the unexpected voice of Chancellor Palpatine. Every ARC Republic commando has known the translation with perfect recall since their birth. While Sgt. Kal Skirata and his minions attempt to rendezvous at a chosen location, plans are thrown askew with dire consequences.

Karen Traviss gives life and light to the Mandalorians and clones, deftly delivering well-grounded, luminous stories. She renders strong characters, with solid plot and drama in dialog, leaving readers with impressions long after the final page ends. At the beginning of each chapter, she includes a philosophical quote, like: 'If we were given just one word of information in our entire history, how we'd treasure it! Yet today we have trillions of words, tidal waves of information, and the smallest detail of every action our government and businesses take is easily available to us at the touch of a button. And yet ... we ignore it, and learn nothing from it. One day, we'll die of voluntary ignorance.' And I love the Mandalorian proverb: 'Time doesn't heal. It only forms a scab.'

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