12 April, 2010

Review: Star Wars Galaxies - The Ruins of Dantooine

Star Wars Galaxies: The Ruins of Dantooine
by Voronica Whitney-Robinson, with Haden Blackman
(286 pages, Paperback, Lucas Books/Del Rey, copyright 2004)

Wow. Even by the standards of a media tie-in novel, The Ruins of Dantooine is just bad. Really, terribly, excruciatingly bad.

The novel was written as a tie-in to the Star Wars Galaxies MMORPG, and unbelievably, it actually reads like the kind of task or quest an ordinary game player might find assigned to them in an online role-playing game. Basically, the plot of the novel is your ordinary player-character (in this case, a young woman named Dusque Mistflier) undergoes a quest to recover a McGuffin (in this case, a holocron with the names of Rebel Alliance agents), and along the way must solve a number of puzzles as well as periodically shooting it out with the random non-player characters standing in her way. Aided in her quest is a mysterious individual named Finn, who is not only the heavy-handedly portrayed love interest but whose ultimate sympathies are so thinly disguised that its really incredible that no one can’t see through them. The novel even has occasional guest appearances by popular Star Wars characters, whose sole purpose to the story seems to be to point Dusque in the right direction for the next level, as well as to establish her Mary-Sue bonafides as even Luke and Han can’t seem to take their eyes off of her.

Yes, the book is that bad. The dialogue is terrible, the plotting is even worse, and the characters are so shallow their depth can be measured in pixels. Where some media tie-ins are at least partially saved by a certain level of humor or good-natured fun, The Ruins of Dantooine can’t even claim that low threshold. Instead, it commits the ultimate sin for a piece of derivative, media-driven fiction: it is boring, with uninspired characters, mired in an unengaging plot, and burdened with bland dialogue and hackneyed writing.

The ending of the book makes it clear that more stories based on the Star Wars Galaxies backdrop in general -- as well as Dusque and Finn in particular -- were planned. If this first outing was any indication of where they would have gone with it, it is probably a good thing that the series was scrapped after the first book. Really, even if you’re a huge Star Wars fan, skip this book and pretend it doesn’t exist; you are not going to miss anything, except perhaps the time you wasted reading such a vacuous and empty book.

Rating: *


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