Order 66 – Not the Jedi Slaughter You’re Looking For

Finished the Star Wars book Order 66 a while back, but still wanted to give it a quick review.  For those without an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Wars, order 66 is

Order 66 book cover

Photo Credit – Amazon.com

from the last Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith.  It’s the command the bad guy, Palpatine, gives to his army of clones to kill their Jedi Knight commanders.  These Jedi were men and women the clones had fought beside and served loyally for years.  Most of the clone troopers who receive the command obey it and kill any nearby Jedi.  It’s all part of Palpatine’s nefarious plot to take over the galaxy.

Given the book’s title, I thought Order 66 would be about the clone trooper slaughter of the Jedi.  That sounded interesting.  What did the troops receiving the order think about it?  How were the Jedi, renowned for their precognition, so inexplicably caught off guard?  Alas, the book’s title led me astray. Order 66 is part of the book’s last few chapters.  However, most of the novel has little to do with Order 66. It’s focused on a particular group of special forces commando clones and their clandestine effort to desert the Army of the Republic to live as ordinary men.

An additional disappointment was the fact that Order 66 is actually the 4th book in a series, the Republic Commando series. In theory, any book in a series should stand alone. That is, one should be able to read the 4th book in a series and understand it without having read books 1 through 3.  That was not the case with Order 66.  I understood it well enough to finish, but there was a lot of background I didn’t know that would have helped me understand what was going on. The author should have included a prologue or something before plunging right into the story.

You’ll notice, however, that I did finish the book. What I liked about it was the “alternative viewpoints” it gave.  You got to see the war from the perspective of the clone troopers.  You also got to see how the Jedi were not universally loved.  The main premise of the book is that a commander is scheming to help clone troopers formerly under his command desert the army.  These clones are tired of being treated like biological machines. Some have worked with Jedi commanders who despise clones and don’t consider them fully human. These clones have lost faith in the Republic and no longer was to risk death fighting for it.  They didn’t sign up for this war and they want out.

In the Star Wars movies, the Jedi are portrayed as the good guys. It’s indicated here and there that some people may fear their superhuman abilities, but that’s about it. There’s no indication that the Jedi are in anyway villainous or grossly misguided. Part of this is due to the nature of film. One can only fit so much material in a movie. Movies don’t have the space for all the subtleties

In Order 66, however, lots of folks aren’t feeling the love. There are ex Jedi who have left the order. They haven’t embraced the dark side. Instead, some fell in love and rejected the Jedi Order’s celibacy requirement. Some grew disillusioned with the Jedi’s complacency and arrogance.  And there are clone troopers, who have encountered Jedi prejudice or simply question the Jedi’s use of a clone army. After all, what kind of amoral organization uses an army of clones? It’s not like they asked any of the clones if they wanted to fight for the Republic. The clones don’t have the option of resigning from the army. When the clone army fell into the Jedi Order’s lap, the Jedi used it. Used human beings as biological tools, little different from how their foes use mechanical soldiers.

Despite its shortcomings, Order 66 was worth the read.  I don’t know if I’ll read any of the other books in the series. Star Wars books are pretty formulaic after all. But I’m glad I read this one.

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