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Adobe PDF eBook Rights: Copying not allowed. Printing not allowed. Lending not allowed. Reading aloud not allowed. Never expires. Civil war rages as the Galactic Alliance--led by Cal Omas and the Jedi forces of Luke Skywalker--battles a confederation of breakaway planets that rally to the side of rebellious Corellia. Suspected of involvement in an assassination plot against Queen Mother Tenel Ka of the Hapes Consortium, Han and Leia Solo are on the run, hunted by none other than their own son, Jacen, whose increasingly authoritarian tactics as head of GA security have led Luke and Mara Skywalker to fear that their nephew may be treading perilously close to the dark side.
But as his family sees in Jacen the chilling legacy of his Sith grandfather, Darth Vader, many of the frontline troops adore him, and countless citizens see him as a savior. The galaxy has been torn apart by too many wars. All Jacen wants is safety and stability for all--and he's prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.
To end the bloodshed and suffering, what sacrifice would be too great? That is the question tormenting Jacen. Already he has sacrificed much, embracing the pitiless teachings of Lumiya, the Dark Lady of the Sith, who has taught him that a strong will and noble purpose can hold the evil excesses of the dark side at bay, bringing peace and order to the galaxy--but at a price.
For there is one final test that Jacen must pass before he can gain the awesome power of a true Sith Lord: He must bring about the death of someone he values dearly. What troubles Jacen isn't whether he has the strength to commit murder. He has steeled himself for that, and worse if necessary. No, the question that troubles Jacen is who the sacrifice should be.
As the strands of destiny draw ever more tightly together in a galaxy-spanning web, the shocking answer will shatter two families . . . and cast a grim shadow over the future.
From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpts: Chapter one He will choose the fate of the weak. He will win and break his chains. He will choose how he will be loved. He will strengthen himself through sacrifice. He will make a pet. He will strengthen himself through pain. He will balance between peace and conflict. He will know brotherhood. He will remake himself. He will immortalize his love.
--"Common Themes in Prophecies Recorded in the Symbology of Knotted Tassels;" by Dr. Heilan Rotham, University of Pangalactic Cultural Studies. Call for papers: the university invites submissions from khipulogists and fiber-record analysts on the subject of the remaining untranslated tassels from the Lorrd Artifact. Symposium dates may change, subject to current security situation.
It was odd having to trust a ship. Ben Skywalker was alone in the vessel he'd found on Ziost, trusting it to understand that he wanted it to take him home. No navigation array, no controls, no pilot's seat . . . nothing. Through the bulkheads he could see stars as smeared points of light, but he'd stopped finding the ship's transparency unsettling. The hull was there. He could both see it and not see it. He felt he was in the heart of a hollowed red gem making its sedate way back to the Core.
And there was no yoke or physical control panel, so he had to think his command. The strange ship, more like a ball of rough red stone than a vessel made in a shipyard, responded to the Force.
Can't you go faster? I'll be an old man by the time I get back.
The ship felt instantly annoyed. Ben listened. In his mind, the ship spoke in a male voice that had no sound or real form, but it spoke: and it wasn't amused by his impatience. It showed him streaked white lights streaming from a central point in a black void, a pilot's view of hyperspace, and then an explosion.
"Okay, so you're going as fast as you can . . ." Ben felt the ship's brief satisfaction that its idiot pilot had understood. He wondered who'd made it. It was hard not to think of it as alive, like the Yuuzhan Vong ships, but he settled for seeing it as a droid, an artifact with a personality and--yes, emotions. Like Shaker.
Sorry, Shaker. Sorry to leave you to sort it all out.
The astromech droid would be fine, he knew it. Ben had dropped him off on Drewwa. That was where Shaker came from, like Kiara, and so they were both home now. Astromechs were good, reliable, sensible units, and Shaker would hand her over to someone to take care of her, poor kid . . .
Her dad's dead and her whole life's upended. They were just used to lure me to Ziost so someone could try to kill me. Why? Have I made that many enemies already?
The ship felt irritated again, leaving Ben with the impression that he was being whiny, but he said nothing. Ben didn't enjoy having his thoughts examined. He made a conscious effort to control his wandering mind. The ship knew his will, spoken or unspoken, and he still wasn't sure what the consequences of that might be. Right then, it made him feel invaded, and the relief at finding the ancient ship and managing to escape Ziost in it had given way to worry, anger, and resentment.
And impatience. He had a comlink, but he didn't want to advertise his presence in case there were other ships pursuing him. He'd destroyed one. That didn't mean there weren't others.
The Amulet wasn't that important, so why am I a target...
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