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Weird Beard

Book Review #10 - The Reavers of Skaith

The Reavers of Skaith by Leigh Brackett is the final book in the Skaith trilogy, and it's just as fun and good of a book as the first two were.  A quick recap - Brackett's hero, Erik John Stark, has come to the remote planet of Skaith to rescue his friend and mentor.  During this process, he is thrust into the center of a political struggle between the rulers of the planet, the Wandsmen, and some of it's repressed groups of citizens.  This forces Stark to turn the entire planet on it's side, and crush the Wandsmen army.  As part of this, Stark arranges for one of the last remaining spaceships on the planet to take a group of delegates from the repressed peoples of Skaith to the galactic center to request aid in relocating off world, since their sun has been slowly dying over the past 2000 years. 


This book starts off with that plan a shambles, as the captain of the spaceship has decided it would be more profitable to return to Skaith and loot it, while marooning Stark and his allies on the remote world.  With the superior firepower of three armed ships and their smaller planet hopper shuttles, they easily capture Stark, and ransom the delegates they were supposed to be helping.  Not surprisingly, Stark manages to escape, but into the southern half of Skaith, where he has no allies, and no weapons.  From there he must somehow find a way to stop the off world reavers, and once again stop the Wandsmen from destroying resistance to their rule.  This is further complicated by the balance of the ecosystem finally tipping to a world too cold to support all of it's life, and massive armies and refugees on the move, desperately seeking a way to survive.

Stark remains a ruthless killer and the ultimate survivor, with a combination of trained fighting prowess and animal instincts keeping him alive.  Brackett once again spins a compelling story that gets the blood pumping and grabs the reader and wont let them go until the conclusion of the story.  One of my favorite lines from the series perfectly exemplifies both traits: "He woke with a snarl and a lunge; and there was a man's neck in between his hands, ready for the breaking."

As mentioned in previous reviews of Brackett, she is known for many things, including being the author of the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back.  Due to this, Paizo was able to get a well known filmmaker to write the introduction to the book.  George Lucas does a good job praising Brackett, as well as acknowledging his strengths and weaknesses.  It's a shame he didn't repeat his advice for the 2nd Star Wars films with the prequel trilogy.