even though i'm not a big fan of reading, i do enjoy a good book - more so when the book is set in a universe i enjoy, which is a criteria that star wars easily meets. in preparing myself for total, geeked-out, nerd slaying immersion in the old republic MMO, i took it upon myself to begin reading the star wars books and i feel i couldn't have picked a better time. the following pieces are my reviews of the old republic era literature currently available.
Lost Tribe of the Sith by John Jackson Miller
if you are like me and traditionally favor the light side of the force, have a hard time being a dick in choice-centric role playing games, etc., then the Lost Tribe of the Sith series is a great introduction to the other side. the fact that they are free e-books/pdf downloads is just icing on the cake (i'll provide links at the end of this review). each of the six that are currently available are fairly short and easy reads, but tell a pretty rich story that fans of the movies may find as refreshing as i did. you get a good glimpse of the sith as a people, who from the interbreeding of the sith race and dark jedi have nurtured ancient ties to the dark side into a culture that values power and cunning.
Lost Tribe of the Sith books:
1/Precipice, 2/Skyborn, 3/Paragon, 4/Savior, 5/Purgatory, and 6/Sentinel
The Old Republic: Deceived by Paul S. Kemp
this was a great book. i found darth malgus to be very intriguing, as he offers a view on the dark side and the empire that i hadn't really seen before. the idea that because the force has both a light and a dark side, it in itself represents conflict; therefore it is through conflict that one achieves a greater understanding of the force - as someone who finds the philosophy of the force pretty interesting, i feel that this is just a great addition to an overall understanding of the star wars universe. also, you can't really go wrong with a star wars book that has its own trailer.
The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance by Sean Williams
while i feel that the character development in this book was a little slow, it was only because it was so action packed. you get unique views on the story as you witness major events from each character's perspective, and it is accomplished in a way that is easy to follow while offering variety. on an overly analytical note, i think stories written this way work well in the star wars universe because you sort of get sense of how the force brings everything together the way it must happen - but i'm not going to invest too much time going down that road. getting a good glimpse at key players in SWTOR like satele shan is a definite plus to this book.
Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber
let me preface this particular review by saying, generally, i don't even start books i don't think i'll really enjoy - so pretty much everything i've read is about something i've already been interested in or something that came highly recommended to me. also, like some video games, it is easy to lose interest in something if it's boring or poorly written.
that being said, Red Harvest is the worst book i've ever read. any good aspects of the story were completely overshadowed by what boils down to be poor writing and the fact that mr. schreiber had absolutely no place writing a star wars book. here's a quote from page 53:
"Listen to me, Trace told him. I don't know who you are, but I am in possession of a very special set of skills. If you bring my sister back right now, unharmed, then I'll let you go. But if you don't, I promise you, I will track you down. I will find you. And I will make you pay."
the worst part about it was that it was completely unnecessary. it's from a jedi who is trying to telepathically send out a message to someone he knows will never receive it.
all of the star wars aspects of this book appear to be thrown in just so it can have star wars in the title. there is one part where the author mixes up two names, and toward the end when he's trying to show what's happening from another person's perspective he completely messes up the order of events. it could have been a good book and i read it through because it was set in the old republic era, but it was just so poorly written and edited that it makes me a little angry that it was ever published. the only capacity this piece of literature should have ever existed in was on the fan fiction section of some obscure horror forums under the title "STAR WARS ZOMBIES!". long story short, if bad writing, overused ideas, supporting mediocrity, and poorly injected star wars aspects bother you - skip this book.
these are all the books currently available that predate the setting of SWTOR (3643-3641 BBY); Knight Errant and the darth bane trilogy do occur within the old republic era (aka the sith era), but they are over 2500 standard years after the setting of SWTOR, so they were not a priority to me. i may talk about the darth bane trilogy at a later date.