The Approaching Storm

May 5, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

stormThe Approaching Storm by Alan Dean Foster


I was as eager to read The Approaching Storm as I was to read Rogue Planet, because Alan Dean Foster is an established author. I know he wrote the novelizations for Star Wars and The Force Awakens, but in those cases, he was writing based on someone else’s story. Here, he was creating his own story from scratch, and I wanted to see what he could do with the material.

The story here is about Ansion, a small planet in the Republic that is threatening to withdraw. Small as it is, the planet is a linchpin for other, neighboring worlds, and if it withdraws from the Republic, the others will, too. Given the fragility of the Republic at the time of this book (just before Attack of the Clones), the Jedi Council sends Obi-Wan, Luminara, and their Padawans to Ansion to convince them to stay in the Republic. Of course, forces are working against the four of them, as some characters behind the scenes (gosh, I wonder who they could be?) are working toward a collapse of the Republic. Thus begins The Approaching Storm.

Summed up that way, the book sounds very much like a Star Wars book, but ultimately it has a very different feel from other books in the Expanded Universe. Foster’s style focuses more on discovery than action. What action does take place happens quickly, and sometimes is summed up in a single paragraph or a few sentences, which makes it feel unlike anything else in the universe. The book is all about the world-building, which I understand is Foster’s forte, and I won’t deny that I enjoyed what world-building he did. The book just feels like it was an older idea that Foster had held on to for a long time before realizing he could fit it into the Star Wars universe with a few tweaks.

Foster’s narrative is stilted, enough so that there were times when I had to stop and parse his sentences to understand what he was trying to say. They were correct, but awkwardly constructed, and I couldn’t help but think there was an easier way to get his point across. I noticed it less and less the more I read of the book, but it was difficult getting used to his style.

Obi-Wan and Anakin are two of the central characters in the book, but Foster doesn’t capture their voices very well. They feel realized, but they don’t feel like the characters as the movies (and other authors) capture them. I’ve seen other reviews that talk about how the two characters feel forced into the story, and while I don’t feel that way, I do feel like Foster had different characters in mind for the story, and decided to call them Obi-Wan and Anakin for the sake of continuity.

I did enjoy this book, despite it being an anomaly among the Expanded Universe books I’ve read so far. Readers who like books about world-building should eat this up, though, as Foster creates a whole new planet from scratch, including its wildlife, races, ecology, and society. I think readers who are expecting another action-packed novel set in the universe, though, should look elsewhere.


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