At this point it should be clear that the Republic and the Jedi have overextended themselves. Despite repeated warnings about the Nihil, Republic excesses continue unabated. Now, in Race to Crashpoint Tower by Daniel Jose Older, it all comes tumbling down.

After the success of her first great work — Starlight Beacon — Chancellor Lina Soh doubles down. Committed to showing off what the Republic has to offer, she puts together a fair. But not just any fair. An over-the-top menagerie of technology, science, innovation, the arts, and cuisine.

Yet, instead of hosting this on Coruscant or somewhere else around the Core, she chooses a backwater world — Valo. It’s her intent to signal the Republic’s strength and its pledge to the Outer Rim. Unfortunately, the Nihil attack on the planet sends another message entirely.

A Quick History of Crashpoint Tower

Ram Jomaram and Crashpoint Tower

Near the beginning of the book, we’re given a view of Crashpoint. It’s a comm tower outside the main hub, Lonisa City. Maintained and overseen by Jedi Padawan Ram Jomaram, it’s an easily forgotten piece of equipment. Especially for a quiet town on a world far from the center.

Yet, almost from the start the tower causes issues. The signal it reliably sends out stops sending. This causes Ram’s master to instruct him to resolve the problem, what with the eyes of the Republic squarely on Valo. But what starts out as a simple fix turns into an adventure not to his liking.

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You see, Ram is a techie. He likes being around mechanical things. Not so much people. Or what normally makes a Jedi so renowned. As such, he’s not into lightsaber combat or negotiating with aliens and various cultures. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue. It hasn’t for as long as he’s lived on Valo. Yet, on that fateful day, with that fateful assignment, everything changes.

Nihil Attack!

Nihil Attack Republic in Race to Crashpoint Tower

With the Republic fair in town and with the Republic opposing the Nihil, some sort of attack was inevitable. Yet, the Jedi Order appears to be oblivious. Rather than having beefed up security for all essential systems, they allow a main communication hub to go virtually unprotected.

No matter. While Ram starts off as the only Jedi knowing or caring about Crashpoint, he’s soon joined by other Force sensitives. Ty Yorrik gets him out of a jam when he’s mistaken for an infiltrator and thrown in jail. After that the numbers swell as Padawan Lula Talisola and Zeen Mrala arrive from Starlight Beacon, along with Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh.

It becomes clear that the comm tower is essential when no other Republic force joins to repel the Nihil. Needing to restart the system, Ram and company avoid the bombardment long enough to make a break. Only to find the dreaded Drengir all over the base of the tower.

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Crashpoint Tower: Going Green

Drengir and Nihil in Race to Crashpoint Tower

The Drengir make restarting the system a real chore. It’s not enough that the Nihil are flying all around, blasting any and everything to smithereens. No, the chaos must be joined by carnivorous plants bent on eating all sentient life. Especially Jedi life.

Good for the Republic — Ram knows mechanical things. Whether it’s a tower or a ship, he knows how to fix them and start them up. Also, how to break them and shut them down. Multiple times he’s able to avert true disaster by redirecting ships and sending them plummeting just by using the Force.

In the end, resolving the situation comes not just from understanding the mechanical. Ram is able to show the Drengir how the Nihil lied to them. How the Nihil are not good allies. And this leads to dissension. To a reworking of a mutual agreement. And ultimately to a path into the tower, where a signal can go out.

Judging Crashpoint Tower

Drengir Attacking Jedi

While the novel has a subplot and an engaging character in Ram, the depth of the story isn’t as involved or as riveting as it could be. Certainly a Nihil attack and a Drengir sighting makes for a lot of action but maybe that’s the issue — there’s too much plot. Not enough character building.

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Much like the adult readers, which are chock full of characters, this book has a wide range of Jedi, Padawans, and Force sensitives popping in and out of the tale. Although the story does center itself with Ram, his plight isn’t fully realized and the impact of so much attention being placed on his home planet not given enough consideration.

This book is entertaining. It pushes the plot along at a quick rate. Which is all well and good. But sometimes it’s nice to dwell. And to truly embrace a moment.

THE GOOD
Quick and easy to follow plot
Creative main character
Cinematic action
THE BAD
Short on character building
Large cast of characters
7
Good

Review Summary

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