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Written by Karen TravissAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Karen Traviss

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On Sale: June 28, 2011
Pages: 272 | ISBN: 978-0-307-79596-0
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Across the galaxy, the Clone Wars are raging. The Separatists, led by Count Dooku, the onetime Jedi and now secret Sith Lord, continue to press forward, and more and more worlds are either falling, or seceding and joining the cause. Under the leadership of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, the Republic heroically battles on, championed by its huge army of cloned soldiers and their Jedi generals.

Anakin Skywalker, believed by some to be the prophesied “Chosen One” destined to bring balance to the Force, is now a Jedi Knight under the tutelage of his Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Death is a constant possibility–and his chances of survival aren’t improved by the unexpected arrival of an apprentice: Ahsoka, a brash, inexperienced fourteen-year-old Padawan apprenticed to Anakin. But there’s no time for Anakin to question his latest orders: He and Obi-Wan have been assigned a new mission, and failure is not an option.

Jabba the Hutt’s precious infant son has been kidnapped, and when the frantic parent applies to the Jedi for help, it falls to Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and their clone troops to track down the evidence and retrieve the missing Huttlet. And more is at stake: For a grateful Jabba just might allow the Republic access to the Hutt-controlled space lanes that the Grand Army desperately needs in order to beat the Separatists into submission.

But the Republic is not the only power that craves access to those space lanes. Count Dooku, determined to win the prize for the Separatists, has set a trap for the Jedi. When they find the Huttlet, they will also find Dooku’s master assassin, Asajj Ventress, and countless legions of battle droids waiting to spring a trap.

The blazing new animated feature film Star Wars: The Clone Wars takes place in the years preceding Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and sets the stage for the groundbreaking TV series. Both contain all original material–direct from the brilliant imagination of legendary Star Wars creator George Lucas. And these exciting new adventures and characters are being brought to life in book form by none other than #1 New York Times bestselling Star Wars author Karen Traviss.

Features a bonus section following the novel that includes a primer on the Star Wars expanded universe, and over half a dozen excerpts from some of the most popular Star Wars books of the last thirty years!

Excerpt

One

We have to get access to those hyperspace routes that the Separatist droids haven’t seized yet. Without that, we’ll never be able to take the Outer Rim worlds. Unfortunately, that means we need the cooperation of the Hutts.

Chancellor Palpatine, on the logistics problems facing the Grand Army of the Republic

Ziro the Hutt’s palace, uscru district, Coruscant

“Could you kill a child?”

Count Dooku thought it was an odd question, coming as it did from Ziro. The Hutt had been perfectly happy to go along with the idea of kidnapping his nephew’s baby son. But if he’d thought through the reality of grabbing Jabba’s gangland power, then wiping out all rivals, even baby heirs, had to be high on his list of priorities.

Maybe it wasn’t. And that would be a fatal mistake.

“Could you?” Dooku responded casually. “Isn’t he almost your flesh and blood too?”

Ziro blinked, passing the nictitating membranes across his eyes with slow deliberation. It was the Hutt equivalent of raising a sarcastic eyebrow. The private chamber was deserted, with not even a serving droid to overhear them.

“You don’t understand us, even if you speak our language far better than most realize,” Ziro said at last. “He’s Jabba’s bloodline. Not mine. So I do whatever it takes, and my priority is my own offspring.”

Ziro might have been playing the hard case, or he might have been serious. If he was serious, then Dooku hoped for his sake that he was ready to kill Jabba, too, because his nephew would send every assassin in Hutt space after him if he found out his uncle was responsible.

“Try not to be too hasty,” Dooku said. Don’t blow this before I get what I need. The ploy was buying time. “Extract maximum leverage from this.”

“You don’t have to explain long-term strategy to a Hutt,” Ziro rasped.

Dooku tried to stop himself from falling into a chain of reasoning with Ziro. It would bring the delicate edifice of his own operation crashing down if he said anything that made Ziro wonder if this kidnapping was going to achieve anything for him. Dooku wasn’t convinced that taking Rotta would dislodge or even weaken Jabba’s grip on power, but Ziro thought it would reduce his nephew to mere clay in his hands—which was all Dooku needed.

Dooku was certain of one thing, though: harming the Huttlet would unleash a tidal wave of incredible vengeance, and Jabba was going to be around a long, long time to make sure he found everyone involved in the kidnapping and punished them in his uniquely inventive way.

Dooku was counting on it. He wanted the Hutt in the Separatist camp, and the way to do that was to frame the Jedi for Rotta’s disappearance.

But if Ziro’s cover is blown—then he has to be silenced. We can’t have Jabba realizing he’s been maneuvered by us . . .

It would be too bad if anything happened to Ziro. After Jabba was signed up, Ziro’s fate was inevitable; he would have to be silenced before he implicated Dooku.

Either Hutt would do, though, in a pinch. It didn’t matter if it was Jabba or Ziro who denied hyperspace passage to Republic forces. Dooku wasn’t selling ideology, and he was sure neither Hutt was buying.

“Of course not,” he said, smiling at a being he would kill without hesitation if he threatened his plans. He had no doubt that Ziro would do the same to him. “But you do have to consider what you’ll do with Rotta in the longer term.”

Ziro eased his bulk across the marble floor onto a platform strewn with shimmersilk cushions that he swept out of the way. Hutts needed smooth surfaces to move properly; carpeting and upholstery didn’t go well with a lubricating layer of slime. But Ziro surrounded himself with the finest examples of furnishing anyway. It was as if he wanted to show the rest of the galaxy how powerful he was in terms that other species could understand. Dooku didn’t despise that. He felt the faintest pang of pity. It explained the Hutts’ need to flaunt Twi’lek dancers and other glamorous humanoids, so radically, physically different that no Hutt could possibly have found them attractive. They collected them because humanoids coveted them, and so it sent the message clearly: I possess everything you lust after, so I have power over you.

It all came from fear. Hutts felt threatened at a subliminal level. Once Dooku worked that out, it had been far easier to deal with them by pressing gently on their paranoia.

“Rotta should be on Teth soon,” Dooku said, taking a slow turn to look at the doors. He could hear raised voices in the chamber beyond. He sensed anxiety; no unusual thing in a Hutt’s palace with a capricious boss. Maybe the servants couldn’t find whatever overpriced delicacy he’d sent them to procure. “Plenty of time to consider your position at your leisure.”

“I’m expecting confirmation any moment. Tell me, why do you hate your Jedi family so much?”

“They’re not my family, and haven’t been for a very long time,” Dooku said. “Does it matter?”

“Motivation is everything in business.”

“Lord Ziro, I suspect you really have no need to ask. Would you put your future in their hands?”

“I wouldn’t trust the Republic to do anything for Hutts except try to stop us from making a living.”

Ziro saw Jedi and Republic as one entity. Dooku had reached a similar conclusion years before. “And anyone who doesn’t want to be part of their happy Republic family must be a tyrant or an anarchist. If a world wants to leave, it’s accused of being undemocratic, because the will of its inhabitants doesn’t suit Coruscant. Such a beautifully embroidered veil of irony.”

“You don’t have to sell me on Separatism, Dooku. I don’t care about your politics, but I know in which sauce my gorog is marinated.” Ziro seemed the braggart in Jabba’s extended clan, but sometimes Dooku saw hints of a subtler intelligence underneath. He kept a cautious eye on that. “You help me get what I want, I help you get what you want.”

“Welcome to politics,” said Dooku. “Don’t delude yourself that it has to have party labels.”

Dooku steeled himself to relax. The doors suddenly snapped apart; two droids strode in at a brisk pace, and Dooku slid quietly into a shadowed alcove to watch unnoticed from the sidelines.

“Exalted Lord,” one said in a flat monotone. “We have bad news. Your nephew’s son has been kidnapped by criminals.”

Ziro reared up in feigned shock, then settled down again with a noise like slapping a wet stone. “It’s an outrage! Have they demanded a ransom? This is an insult to all Hutts! Organize a search team. We’ll find the scum who did this to poor Jabba.”

Ziro wasn’t a bad actor, all things considered. But even if he’d rehearsed it, his choice of words was revealing. Dooku noted that it was more about loss of face rather than concern for the child’s safety. But Hutts didn’t think like humans, and the social rules of organized crime were not those of middle-class Coruscant. He tried not to judge when his own species had so little to boast about at times.

Dooku listened, waiting for the droid to leave. Now to the next stage. Now to making sure that we lure the Jedi to Teth . . .

“There has been no ransom demand yet, Lord,” the droid said. “Most unusual.”

“I’ll see the scum fed to a rancor.” Ziro held out an imperious hand to the second droid. Dooku couldn’t quite see the other droid around the edge of the alcove. “Get me the comlink. Let me console my nephew. I expect all Hutts to rally around and help him.”

He’s really getting into the role . . .

“Lord Jabba is said to be inconsolable. He has asked the Republic to help—to send Jedi to find the child.”

Dooku was a hard man to surprise, but the thought of Jabba—Jabba—throwing himself on the sympathy of the Jedi hit him like a punch.

Why would the head of one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the galaxy, who could buy any number of bounty hunters and an intelligence network that many governments might envy, beg the Jedi for help?

It was an inexplicable move for a species—a gang lord—so concerned about loss of face, about looking weak, about being seen to be an easy target.

Not Jabba. And it will be explicable, if I think about it . . .

The Hutt was up to something appropriately slippery. Dooku wasn’t sure what that might be, so he was instantly on his guard. But it was the most perfect stroke of luck—unnaturally perfect—for Jabba to ask the Jedi to walk into his setup and implicate themselves in the kidnapping.

Some would say it was meant to be.

And while Dooku didn’t believe in luck half as much as he believed in the less random patterns of conspiracy, plot and counterplot, he wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity.

He hoped the Jedi Council would do the decent, upstanding, moral thing, and say yes.

He was certain that they would.


From the Hardcover edition.
Karen Traviss|Author Q&A

About Karen Traviss

Karen Traviss - Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Karen Traviss is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of three previous Star Wars: Republic Commando novels: Hard Contact, Triple Zero, and True Colors; three Star Wars: Legacy of the Force novels: Bloodlines, Revelation, and Sacrifice; as well as City of Pearl, Crossing the Line, The World Before, Matriarch, Ally, and Judge. A former defense correspondent and TV and newspaper journalist, Traviss has also worked as a police press officer, an advertising copywriter, and a journalism lecturer. Her short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Realms of Fantasy, On Spec, and Star Wars Insider. She lives in Devizes, England.

Author Q&A

A Conversation with Karen Traviss

Question: Your new novel, The Clone Wars, is an adaptation of the animated film set for release in August. What's it like to write an adaptation? How do you turn the script into a novel, and do you have any freedom at all in terms of plot and characters?

Karen Traviss: The words "based on" mean just that — in fact, the phrase "very loosely based" would probably comply better with the UK's Trades Descriptions Act!

It's an animated feature film, and this is a novel, so the book can't be the same as the movie; there's already a gulf between what works in movies and what works in books anyway; you have two completely different products. Readers expect (and need) much more complexity and much deeper characterisation, and they're more demanding of plot logic - you have to tweak plots, because what is convincing to people watching a visual spectacle in a cinema very often doesn't work at all in print. And, inevitably, there's only so much movies can ever cover — they can never, ever see inside a character's head like a novel can. They have what's known as an omniscient viewpoint, and my books are all very tight third-person POV. So it's as different as chalk and cheese.

I'm pretty process-driven when I tackle a job like this, so I read the script, noted the main plot points, then worked out how I was going to cover the ground so that it started and ended in the same place as the movie and hit the same plot beats. Then I just...wrote it.

Now that movies are available on DVD, people buy books to get an experience that's different from what they can see on screen. They don't need or want a print version of the movie. They want something extra. It's my job to see they get it.

Q: The animated film is kicking off the new Clone Wars animated TV series. Does this new series pick up where the old Clone Wars series left off?

KT: No, it doesn't. It covers the same ground, although some of the continuity in the movie has changed from that in the last CW animated series. Because this is such familiar territory to SW fans —- I wanted to give them some things they'd never seen before. So they'll see the characters from a whole new perspective. Jabba, Ventress and Dooku may be a big surprise for some readers, as will some of the droids.


Q: Are you going to be involved in the new series–perhaps more novels set in this era of the Star Wars universe?

KT: I'm doing three of the five books from this series, with the other two being written by my good friend Karen Miller. It's a lot of fun to work with a buddy, and especially with someone who has the same take on fiction — that it's about character, character, and more character. We spend hours on the phone having debates about the psychology of the characters — often at weird hours, because she's in Australia and I'm in the UK.


Q: Can you set the stage for us? Where does this novel fit in the Star Wars chronology, and what do readers coming to the book with little or no knowledge of the Clone Wars need to know?

KT: The movie starts soon after the Battle of Geonosis, and Anakin has already been made a Knight -- and then he gets a Padawan he doesn't want. Any reader can pick up the books and dive right in. I believe in making books accessible to the casual reader. You shouldn't have to pass an exam in SW trivia before you can get into a book. And as I say, the power of a story isn't about dates, the length of star destroyers, or lightsaber colours - it's all about the characters. You just sit back and see where they take you...

Q: As in your other Star Wars books, you have a real affinity for fleshing out dark characters, getting inside their heads and portraying them as more than stereotypical baddies. Here you get to work with some juicy ones: Darth Sidious, Count Dooku, Jabba the Hutt, and the renegade, Asajj Ventress–not to mention Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader. What is it that draws you to the dark side?


KT: It's because I'm still a reporter at heart, and therefore I don't take sides; I just present different points of view. It's also because I despise and fear simplistic binary thinking — good or evil, right or wrong, us or them, this dangerous desire for fast and easy answers about complex issues. That thinking is responsible for most of the suffering, bigotry, and violence in this world, and I don't want to add to it. I certainly don't want it in books read by youngsters. Like it or not, fiction subtly shapes how people see the world — trust me on that, I was a journalist and a political spin doctor, so I know it has more power to sway than hard news ever has — and anyone who reads my stuff has to confront the fact that there are at least two sides to any story, and usually many more. The idea that Jedi are all saints and the dark siders are all irredeemably evil doesn't fit with what real people are like, and so it makes for bad fiction, quite apart from being a dangerous mindset for folks to be lulled into. It's not moral relativism; it's simply presenting the facts for the reader to draw their own conclusions. I don't give the answers, and I usually don't have them anyway. I know what I believe in, but I'm also old enough to know that I might need to hear the other guy's point of view too. Because I've had to change my mind about ethical issues a lot in my lifetime. Life just isn't that simple.

Q: There is one other type of character that you seem to really enjoy–and that is the soldier, the grunt. In this book, that role belongs to Clone Captain Rex and Torrent Company of the 501st Legion. How much of your own experiences in the military do you draw on in your portrayals of soldiers like Rex?

KT: I grew up in a naval port in a family where nearly everyone had either been in uniform or had worked in defense at some time. Later in life, I was a defense correspondent, and I was in the reserves for a while. Some of my dearest friends are in uniform, and currently fighting a very bloody war. So, yes, I understand how service personnel think and feel. I also regard it as my duty to tell the truth in fiction, given its power to create stereotypes for good or ill, so I show the fighting man and woman as honestly and as accurately as I can. There's been way too much nonsense peddled in fiction (and the media) over the years about soldiers and how they feel. I respect servicemen and women far too much to give them anything less than a fair portrayal. I have a lot of military readers, and what matters to me more than anything else — absolutely anything - is that I do right by them. They're the people I do this job for.

Q: Tell us a bit more about Captain Rex. Is he going to be a recurring character in the series?

KT: I'll be using him in my books in the series, yes; I don't know yet if Karen is making much use of him, because we're trying not to cover the same ground. Rex is a good solid commander, learning fast about the outside world he's been thrown into, and — like all the clones — he's learned to find his own private space in his thoughts, a place where he isn't regarded as subhuman and expendable. He's got a bit of an edge to him; and he has a sharp sense of black humour with the banter to match. He likes Anakin and is loyal to him because he sees him as a soldier's soldier — Anakin treats his men with respect, not as droids, and leads from the front. Discipline and loyalty is not the same as blind obedience. When push comes to shove, the 501st are loyal to Anakin, and they go on being loyal to him when he becomes Vader — and you understand exactly why they'd follow him anywhere.

Rex is a typical soldier; he does heroic things without seeing himself as a hero. He does it for his buddies, not for ideology. He's scared, like any normal human being would be in combat, but he still does the business. And he grieves for his comrades. He's a man like any other.

Anyone who's seen the epic 60s movie ZULU will, I hope, recognise a certain scene and have a quiet smile about the discussion between the clone troopers ...



Q: Ahsoka is a fascinating addition to the Star Wars universe. Anakin is obviously a difficult person to be around, but she gives as good as she gets. Is she going to be a recurring character in the series?

KT: She'll be back in later books. But because her backstory is off limits, there's a limit to what I can do with her. I can't write a character's point of view if I don't know where they've come from. It's absolutely fundamental to my approach to characterisation, which is psych profiling. I'm right inside the character's head when I write; and unless a character has amnesia, they'll be aware of their past and that past will shape every thought and action in the present. (And if they do have amnesia, it's a whole new story!) So I'll only ever be showing Ahsoka in the various ways that others see her. But that works better sometimes than I imagined possible: I've just done another novel for a game where I couldn't use the main character's POV, and it actually helped create the sense of his being a closed book to most people.

I based my characterisation of Ahsoka on the fact that her species — Togrutas - evolved from a cat-like predator, and so I saw her as a carnivore, a hunter, with all a hunter's instincts and sometimes skittish and unpleasantly violent reactions. She's rough around the edges because she's a child, and it's as much Rex as Anakin who helps her mature. As Rex ribs her about her eating habits. Rodent jokes abound.

Q: One of the elements of this novel that I really enjoyed was seeing the bond between Anakin, Rex, and the other soldiers of Torrent Company–a bond forged in battle and strengthened by loyalty and trust. Anakin, unlike many others, sees the clones as human beings and treats them as such. He even sees machines as more than just lifeless automatons. Normally we think of empathy as a virtue, but sometimes it seems to me that Anakin feels too much, that his powerful empathy is as much a curse as a blessing.

KT: Yes, Anakin fell because he loved too much. He's passionate and compassionate, but he's also had so much taken from him that he's damaged and dangerously afraid of loss. That makes him ripe for manipulation by Palpatine, the greatest psy-ops maven and spin doc of all time. Anakin has been messed up and treated badly, and as Dooku says in the book, the Jedi make their own nemesis there.

A Jedi with that much empathy is also a dangerous threat to the Yoda school of thought, even if he never turns dark. Empathy makes you question everything. And after centuries of having things his way, Yoda's not up for gut-level back-to-basics questioning like that. He's great on the philosophical theory of compassion, but lousy on its day-to-day application to flesh and blood beings — like so many in the real world who talk a good game about decency and morality but never practice it.



Q: What other projects are you working on, both Star Wars—related and in your own fictional universe?

KT: I'm concentrating wholly on military and political fiction for the foreseeable future. I'm having a wonderful time working on Gears of War, which is a profoundly intelligent and well-created universe about a squad of soldiers in a post-apocalyptic world — yes, there are chainsaw rifles, but it's also very smart stuff - and I'm continuing the Republic Commando series in Imperial Commando books. There are a few other SW books in the pipeline too, including a Boba Fett one. In my creator-owned work, I'm writing a political thriller series about mercenaries, set in the very near future . I'll also be doing some comics work, which is something I've wanted to do for a long time. So, no vacation for a few years....or sleep....!


From the Hardcover edition.


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