Curse of the Black Hole Pirates by Ryder Windham

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Secret Missions #2

Curse of the Black Hole Pirates

Ryder Windham continues the fun he started wit Breakout Squad with a pirate adventure and Chiss. Curse of the Black Hole Pirates takes the characters to the Unknown Regions and puts them up against the complexity of the Chiss. To make things exciting, Ryder throws in pirates and bounty hunters. Nuru and Breakout Squad have to deal with all these issues and more. The icing on the cake for Expanded Universe fans is the introduction of a Kwa Star Temple. Yes, there’s ancient alien technology playing a key part in the plot which is already filled out by Chiss, clones, pirates and bounty hunters. It’s lots of fun.

First off, I loved some of the topics this book tackled. In the beginning, there’s a scene with Nuru the Chiss padawan meditating on the ship. It becomes a talking point for the other characters but eventually draws in the droid Cleaver to ask Nuru if it can meditate as well. This is subject that’s been tackled elsewhere in the EU. From Jorj Car’das meditating as a non-Force sensitive and actually exhibiting mild Force powers to 4-LOM trying to meditate and gain Force abilities. Even Jax Pavan’s droid tried to reach into the Force and may or may not have been successful. Ryder doesn’t do anything as controversial as having Cleaver use the Force, but it was interesting to see other characters take a genuine interest in Nuru’s habits. It’s the sort of natural thing people would do in real life and it’s the kind of thing that makes the story that much more immersive.

Another thing I really liked in this story is the use of the Chiss. They’re not used as these really cool, badass characters or cheap copies of Thrawn. Instead, they are used exactly as author Timothy Zahn portrayed them in his books. The Chiss are not like Thrawn at all. They are aliens. And by that, they are strange, foreign people who do things that don’t make sense and most of the time they are down right frustrating, infuriating and cold. Ryder’s Chiss capture exactly what the species was originally portrayed as. They’re secretive and standoffish. Nuru of course is an exception as he was raised by the Jedi and was never exposed to Chiss culture. It’s amusing to see him interact with the Chiss. He longs to learn more about his species and the Chiss, naturally, aren’t forthcoming with anything.

The other entertaining element of the story is the pirates/bounty hunters. Bounty hunters played a role in the first book, and they continue to do so here. Cade Bane had a nice part previously, and in this one readers will get their dose of Bossk and a little Robonino (the fish like alien bounty hunter from The Clone Wars who wore an eye patch). The Black Hole Pirates are interesting lot of assorted aliens and not your typical pirates. Perhaps part of that is because it’s a kid’s book, but these pirates are rather friendly. Still, it doesn’t break the book or the vibe of the story. It fits.

For Star Wars fans steep in the lore, the biggest draw of the this book is the Kwa Star Temple. The main characters not only find one, but they end up exploring it, using it, and fighting whuffa worms. For those who don’t know, the Kwa are an ancient alien race who lived hundreds of thousands of years ago. Prior to the invention of hyperdrives, they used Infinity Gates to travel around the galaxy. These portals allowed them to instantaneously traverse across space. However their civilization came to an end and their technology was lost. Part of their history is followed up in the Dawn of the Jedi comics and involves the Rakata (a nice treat for KOTOR fans) but they were first introduced in The Lando Calrissian Adventures. If you’re a fan of the Kwa and the Star Temples, you’ll definitely want to check this book out.

Curse of the Black Hole Pirates is a fun story with Chiss, bounty hunters, pirates and a Kwa Star Temple. While it is a kid’s book, it’s well written and still enjoyable for all ages. Plus with all the EU tie-ins, it’s a cool read for well versed Star Wars readers. I give it a five out of five baby nexus.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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