Book Review: Ylesia

Third time’s the charm?

That appears to be the case with Del Rey’s latest foray into electronic literature. The third eBook to bear the Star Wars name succeeds on many levels where its predecessors failed. The exception to this rule is in delivery of the content online. In the real world, a books release date means walking into a bookstore on that date and picking up a copy. In many cases, advance ordering is possible. The attractiveness of eBooks is the ‘golden promise’ of not having to pay for shipping or wait for delivery again. A short download gets you the goods. In other words: instant gratification. So why, then, on September 4th, or even September 5th did many of the heavily touted other online sellers not yet offer it? Whether this was a problem with the publisher, or the individual online sellers remains to be seen. At least it was obtainable on time through the publisher. That’s better than the first Star Wars eBook Darth Maul: Saboteur, which took several days to appear, or Recovery, which came missing a chapter.

Ylesia not only provides enough of a story to merit its $3.50 pricetag, it also includes a couple extra goodies for readers. The first ‘extra’ is an interview with Walter Jon Williams, author of the eBook, as well as the upcoming hardcover New Jedi Order novel Destiny’s Way [DW]. In the interview, many hints are given about the plot of DW. After reading the interview, as well as the following excerpt from the novel, this reviewer is greatly anticipating Destiny’s Way.

The story in Ylesia takes place during the events of Destiny’s Way, though without knowing this information before reading, you would never know it.

The eBook’s plot revolves loosely around Jacen Solo–now reunited with Jaina–and his trying to fit back in among the New Republic. Disappointingly, Williams works in very little of the character development seen with Jacen in Traitor. Only once was Jacen’s “VongSense” utilized during this story, and it nearly directly contradicted another scene earlier in the novella. Jaina also suddenly doesn’t seem to use her “Trickster Goddess” repertoire anymore, which was a little disconcerting.

Some of these seemingly minor discrepancies seemed a little troublesome while reading, and are probably the only drawbacks to the story. Timing may have a lot to do with it, however, as most of Destiny’s Way had been written over a year ago, possibly before Traitor had gone through its final draft (publishing deadlines and schedules are strange sometimes). However, I will give the benefit of the doubt to Mr. Williams as–I believe–this story was written after Destiny’s Way was completed, and is but a small part of the overall story. Being small in page count doesn’t leave room for a lot of character development, I’m sure. The rest of the story easily makes up for the few minor problems, though.

Mildly impressive was the overall length of Ylesia, which is most likely equivalent to about seventy-to-eighty written pages of text. The story flows well, and never really drags on. Verbiage was also quite good with no particular over-usage to any noticeable effect. Classifying it as outstanding fiction would be difficult, but calling it good writing is not. If this eBook is any indication, Destiny’s Way should be worth the money for the events contained within, but not necessarily for an earth-shattering reading experience. One thing is for sure though: after blowing through Ylesia in an afternoon, Destiny’s Way should be a fast, enjoyable read.

Rating: 3.5 of 5

– Reviewed by Bradley K. Brown