I've finished Revenge of the Sith. It took a good fourteen hours over two evenings, which tells you I took time to enjoy it and that it was engrossing. I have to say that I concur with the folks who have averred that Stover has what it takes and can salvage even a really rough and plot-hole ridden culmination to a saga that is really starting to bear the imprint of the late 20th / early 21st century generation gap. More on this subject later, but I also stand by my initial impression that Adam Bertocci, curator of The Chopped-Off
History is philosophy teaching by examples. -Thucydides
I think the strength of Stover's writing is also its weakness: hyperbole makes for interesting and evocative reading, letting you get inside the head of the focal narrative persona, but it also tends to become jarring or cloying. For instance, I know Padme is supposed to die of ambiguous physical causes attributable to the proverbial broken heart, but even the most blatant foreshadowing doesn't have to repeat upteen quijillion times that she loves him as if he were her very breath, her light, her life, etc.
Stover's flair for the dramatic serves him well in narrating some of the tense scenes, such as the clone ambush, which startled me even though I expected something of the sort. I liked the punctuation of Anakin's fall by periods of severe ambivalence leading up to Dooku's fall and Windu's. I disliked how silence always fell "like a hammer" between him and Obi-Wan and how Anakin's fall seems to have him more dizzy than trapped in a genuine morality play and downward spiral of rationalization, guilt, jealousy, vengeful pride, etc.
The persistent, ultimately immortal dragon of fear and entropy is an interesting metaphor, but whereas Stover shows Zelazny-like skill in weaving the interlocking plots-within-plots together, I think the back-and-forth struggle between Vader and the dragon rings somehat hollow.
I liked the way that Yoda realized finally how the Jedi Order's stagnation during his lifetime had caused it to defeat itself simply by lagging behind the Sith quest to adapt and seek out new knowledge of the Force and its applications. I also liked the bridge between Windu's story in Shatterpoint (which I know the rough outline of but have yet to read). Some salient points about the history of the order are there.
My issue: The magnitude of the tragedy, the grandeur of what Sidious could have offered Anakin, is missing. Fine, Faustian bargain, deus ex machina, decoys, Jedi all dead, but why? Realpolitik, fine. Greek tragedy of portents, SW-style, sure. Anakin bore the seeds of his own destruction within him, great. But what makes Anakin suddenly so susceptible? Tell us more about the hubris and the inner struggle and less about how he wishes the confusing politics would stop. More about how he feels suspicion of the entire Jedi order and how Palpatine manages to dissipate and transform his anger. "The secret of immortality," if we are going the Palpatine-as-Mephistopheles route, needs to be more concrete than "hey, my Sith Master had it, and guess what, I'll teach it to you if you turn to the Dark Side".
Moreover: Why is Amidala a shrewder maneuverer than Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, anyway? Is she a natural? Are the people of Naboo stronger in the Force? She's no older, and "wisdom" in Lucas's universe has such a nebulous quality that I am reluctant to even figure that into the equation, despite Amidala's former reputation as queen.
Travis Bradshaw gave a very useful lunchtime seminar on "Switching your Notebook to MacOS or Linux", which is really an apologia for MacOS 10.x, but such a good one that I've decided against Dell and HP for Entulassë (my next notebook, after Númerrámar) and will probably get a G4 iBook. Yes, zengeneral, you may target me for destruction now. In fact, I think I'll give the next KDD seminar en Français, que dites-tu? (Hrm. I suppose it's just as well that Nichols doesn't have roof access and the window wells are hard to get out through... if you know what I mean.)
Ryan Shelton gave his practice defense on the Robosim today. As soon as I find my way around the bureaucratic morass that our Division of Continuing Education (DCE) has made of the Tegrity server, I will put the link here. Oh, and did I mention that I am looking for a new apprentice? ;-)
In other news, I phoned in one last return authorization on Númerrámar, my ThinkPad A31p (1.7GHz Pentium 4) before the 3-year warranty expires on 21 Apr 2005. After over a year and a half, the intermittent grainy video artifact persists.