Star Wars: The Cestus Deception By Steven Barnes

A list of important things in this book:
* Obi-wan has a lawyer friend who is a giant snail.
* the squid-headed people are called Mon Calamari. For real.
* the clone troopers have a complex military brotherhood culture.
* Obi-wan dances with a giant bee. The giant bee is impressed.
* Ventress is totally incapable of talking about anything other than how good it's going to feel when she kills Obi-wan. Even the giant bees are like, girl. Dig deep. Find some chill.
* Force- sensitive eels. With power of love.
* Every time Ventress thinks about Obi --wan she licks her lips. The words fleshly hunger are used more than once. Girl. Find some chill. 9780099472629 3½ / 5

Volevo amare questo libro, e l'unica ragione è Kit Fisto. Si lo ammetto, ho sempre avuto un debole per Kit che è tra nella mia top 3 di Jedi preferiti e quando ho letto la trama di questo libro ho immaginato che (finalmente) invece che seguire solo Obi-wan (che adoro ma che alla lunga stufa vista la serie infinita di libri scritti seguendo il suo unico POV!) avremmo seguito anche lui.
Inutile dire che è questa la ragione maggiore della mia delusione, avanti ma dov'era Kit Fisto in questo libro? non c'era mai!
Per buona parte del libro c'era solo Obi-wan, ma andava molto peggio quando arrivava il clone dal numero che ovviamente non ricorderò mai detto Nate ma giusto per confonderti si chiama pure Jangotar! Ma insomma, già che i cloni sono tutti uguali, se ha già un nome perché gliene date un altro? solo per farmi fare confusione ho capito. La sua storia d'amore era banale, noiosa e pure inutile secondo me. Abbiamo capito che i cloni non sono macchine ma uomini, hanno sentimenti e bla bla bla, c'avete fatto su puntate e puntata di Clone Wars ma perché ci scrivete pure un libro?
Ventress poi è arrivata, è stata nell'ombra per tutto il libro e poi è sparita. Avrei sinceramente voluto più azione jedi (un bello scontro Kit/Obi-wan contro Ventress, fatto bene magari! non quella sola cortissima che il libro ci ha rifilato!) invece che tutta questa polita.
Poteva essere meglio. 9780099472629 Before re-reading this book, I realised that I couldn’t remember it all that well. Yes, I said I’d read the Expanded Universe multiple times and I was deeply engrossed in it. Cut me some slack – it’s been at least a decade since I did an EU marathon, and of course the EU had its less memorable entries. But here’s the thing, all that I did remember from The Cestus Deception was that it featured Kit Kisto, it was entirely set on an alien world, and I enjoyed it, practically devouring it. So honestly it came as a bit of a surprise to me upon re-reading to discover that I felt rather underwhelmed by this.

I’m going to run through the positives first, since they are actually the same as the very points that made me like this book when it came out, and haven’t changed. As I mentioned in my review of The Approaching Storm, I do like Star Wars novels that focus on one world instead of hopping all over the galaxy. Partially this is because it is a welcome change of pace, and partially because the ability to devote all those pages to one world can really create something well-thought out and an in-depth vision of an exciting, alien place. I also think it helps to make the galaxy feel large in scope when you can occasionally devote time to a detailed planet portrait like this, it emphasises the impression that every planet is as large and detailed and interesting. However, I couldn’t help but feel that I didn’t get as much description and thrilling alien encounters as I had been hoping for. Barnes doesn’t go into as much detail about the environment, or come up with as many cool alien ideas – and I admit I was mentally comparing it against The Approaching Storm, purely because I re-read that so recently. I don’t know, maybe this is an overly harsh criticism, perhaps it is unfair to compare books, and perhaps the fact that Cestus’ surface is pretty much a rocky wasteland just makes for a less intriguing locale. I liked the fact that we’re very much focused on the one planet, but I think that the rendering of that planet could have been better. Barnes’ accompanying novella, The Hive, which takes place during the events of this book, actually adds way more context and cool alien stuff than the main story! It should have been incorporated into the text instead of cut.

Another point that I enjoyed both then and now was Kit Fisto as a main character. Okay let’s just skip over the fact that his name sounds rather… dubious. In general, a lot of Star Wars main characters are human, and I get why, audience identification and empathy and all that. But when you’re paddling in the pool of sci fi adventures, alien characters – like alien worlds – are too good an opportunity to pass up. It adds a lot of interest to get inside their heads and learn about their culture and personal journeys. I approve of this. However… upon re-reading I realised that we don’t really get inside Kit’s mind at all. Yes, he’s there, sharing the limelight with Obi-Wan, but we see Kit as an actor and are inside Obi-Wan’s head most of the time. We barely learn anything about Kit’s homeworld and people, and even less about what he’s thinking. This is a disappointment. Still on the topic of main characters though, I consider it a plus point that Obi-Wan leaves Anakin behind on this one. Some authors do better than others in handling Anakin, but when done poorly he’s whiny, grating, and a huge jerk. Leaving him out of the story entirely (bar a quick cameo here), neatly dodges any worries about his irritating appearance marring the book.

Let’s turn to the negatives. I really am not feeling the romance between A-98 and Sheeka Tull. I agree that the clones are an excellent opportunity to explore associated ethical dilemmas regarding the nature of humanity, and even romance… but not like this. Pursuing a relationship with the clone of your ex-partner seems unhealthy at best and downright creepy at worst. I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it. The whole thing came off as desperate and stalkerish to me, and decidedly unromantic.

The other sticking point was that I just have a hard time suspending my disbelief about the main plot. The story isn’t bad in and of itself – using deception in war time to try and save lives – but it just seems so… un-Jedi. Am I being too much of a stickler about this? Maybe I just view the pre-Empire Jedi differently to the post-Empire Jedi. Luke comes up through the Rebellion and his Jedi are a different variety from what I perceive as Obi-Wan’s time, operating in a highly structured organisation with a codified set of principles that every Jedi is intensely aware of and strives to adhere to. Again, the book suffers in comparison to The Approaching Storm, where Obi-Wan is well aware of the Jedi mandate not to take sides in local disputes, but nevertheless manages to cleverly help one group “deal with” their traditional enemies by bringing them to the negotiating table. Jedi actions here would seem to contravene this very principle. Kit promises the disgruntled common people an uprising against the government, and while admittedly he is careful to suggest they will aim for a bloodless coup and avoid harming anyone, he and Obi-Wan are both well aware that the uprising may never be needed at all, if Obi-Wan succeeds in his negotiations. They therefore keep this force on ice until events turn and they are actually needed. Surely this counts as taking sides in a local dispute? It comes off as manipulative and deceptive, and, especially in a situation where one could easily guess that Separatist forces will be working against them, surely Obi-Wan must know that any deception could be disastrous for gaining trust and turning the tide in a war.

To be fair, I could easily argue that the Jedi supporting the Republic is the same sort of risky side-taking but on a grander scale, and that I would have thought that the structure of governments had little interest for the Jedi unless they were oppressive and particularly if worlds voluntarily secede – so to some extent I have some difficulty buying into the Jedi taking sides in the war at all. Again, pre-prequels, the picture painted of the Clone Wars was a fairly lawless time, where the clones were specifically stated as having gone insane, so it makes far more sense to me that Jedi would be involved, protecting innocents from rampaging former clone soldiers in the aftermath of a war. But the picture the prequels gives us is of a highly organised structure engaging in formal war joined voluntarily on both sides… and it just doesn’t make as good sense for the Jedi to be partisan here. But I’m taking a detour here – this is not a criticism of The Cestus Deception, as it goes beyond one book.

So to summarise, there were two major points that put me off this story, and the positive points that I remembered were not as great as I’d thought they’d been. The result is not a terrible book – I can even now think of worse entries in the Expanded Universe – but a book that just left me feeling underwhelmed. When I consider the question of whether to include it in my personal canon, I have to say that, at best, it is just mediocre and missable.

5 out of 10 9780099472629 For 2022, I decided to go back in time and reread all the Prequels Era novels published between 1999 and 2005, plus a smidgen of other novels (like Survivor's Quest and the Dark Nest trilogy) released during that time frame. This shakes out to 21 novels, four eBook novellas, and at least thirteen short stories.

This week’s focus: the second adult novel in the Clone Wars multimedia project, The Cestus Deception by Steven Barnes


Steven Barnes has written episodes for television shows like Andromeda, Stargate SG-1, and The Outer Limits, but he's predominantly known as a science fiction, fantasy, and mystery writer. Barnes is deeply interested in martial arts—his interest in them is very apparent in his works—and in 2004, he became the first Star Wars author who was a person of color. Even to this day, the realm of published authors is predominantly white, so that lack of diversity (especially within the subset of early 2000s sci-fi) shouldn't have come as a surprise to me, yet it still did.


While the cover of The Cestus Deception looked familiar to me, the content of the book wasn't…so I'm not sure if I read it, or if I just saw it?


When the economically depressed planet of Ord Cestus makes a deal to sell killer droids to the Separatists, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine dispatches a team of two Jedi—Obi-Wan Kenobi and Kit Fisto—to the planet to halt the deal at any cost. If diplomacy fails, the Republic will not hesitate to unleash an attack on Ord Cestus…and that is an outcome that Obi-Wan Kenobi very much wants to prevent.


The Cestus Deception felt like a war novel to me, but in a different way than Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover. The Five Families that rule Ord Cestus have developed these JK-class droids which are nicknamed Jedi Killers, and Palpatine wants them stopped at any cost. The first half of the book is pretty much Obi-wan trying to pursue the diplomatic route while Kit Fisto and the four clone troopers train the local populace to become a guerrilla terrorist movement. But the Five Families won't listen to Obi-Wan, the titular deception goes very much awry, and the situation on Ord Cestus is more complicated than Obi-Wan initially assumed. The indigenous people of Ord Cestus, the insectile X-Ting, were almost completely wiped out by a plague over a hundred years ago, and they have very little control over what happens on their own planet. When Obi-Wan's attempts at diplomacy fail, the Jedi and the troopers shift over to terrorist attacks against the factories and cities on Ord Cestus.

So throughout the novel, Obi-Wan is trying to reconcile his concern for everyone that lives on Ord Cestus with his concern for how the indigenous people have been taken advantage of and misused and become relegated to lower class citizens merely because they didn't have the political adeptness to realize what they were signing away. He doesn't want the Republic to step in and start bombarding Ord Cestus, but he's also not a hundred percent behind these terrorist attacks—yet these terrorist attacks seem to be the only way that they can get the Five Families to agree to stop production of these deadly droids.


There’s a lot of different factions at play here: besides the Five Families, there's the Regent Duris (albeit a regent in name only); there's an X-Ting crime boss named Trillit, and Trillit’s relations; there's Desert Wind, the local guerilla group that Kit Fisto trains; and our sole clone trooper viewpoint character, ARC Trooper A-98, or Nate.

Even though Count Dooku appears on the cover, he's not in the story at all and instead we have Asajj Ventress as the main Separatist opponent. She’s been dispatched to get the Five Ruling families to hand over what they agreed to, and when she hears that Obi-Wan Kenobi's on Ord Cestus she becomes fixated on killing him. Her desire to kill Kenobi is described as “a fleshly hunger” at one point which is…pretty awkward.

Of the Jedi, I felt like I didn't get much of a handle on Kit Fisto because we spend very little time in his head. Most of the time we're in Nate's head, or Obi-Wan's head, and it’s how they perceive Kit. So all I really got is that he uses Form One for lightsaber combat, he’s always on the edge of anger, but he’s a very skilled warrior. I wanted a little more insight into his character, but that's all we got.

Obi-Wan is very zen here. I didn't get much of his snark (more of Alec Guinness’s Obi-Wan, and less of Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan), rather like in Alan Dean Foster’s The Approaching Storm, where you see him as a Jedi first and foremost and less so as a character with an individual personality. He's surprisingly balanced here; he's concerned about what's happening on Ord Cestus and whether he’s going to be able to fulfill his mission, he sympathizes with Regent Duris and questions what they're doing, but he's pretty calm about everything right up until the final battle with Ventress.

Barnes also made the interesting decision to not include Anakin in this story. At first, I was fine with it, as this is mainly an Obi-Wan and Kit story. But then I read an archived interview with Barnes on the website, where he said the reason he omitted Anakin was because he had no idea how Anakin was going to turn to the Dark Side. He couldn't get in Anakin’s head, so it was better to leave him out. But leading into Revenge of the Sith, I feel like a lot of people's sense of Anakin was that he was going to fall to the Dark Side because he's very angry and he's very attached to his family. Perhaps his fall was going to involve his relationship with Padme? So that made me side eye Barnes a little—like really? You don't understand how Anakin would fall at all?

I found Nate an interesting character here: he’s a clone trooper, one of a million identical men, but as we spend more time with the clones we see how non-identical they are. They received basically the same upbringing, but their training has been different, the situations they've gone through since the Clone Wars started have been different, and Nate is trying to find his identity apart from everyone else like him. I liked the idea of this, but I had some issues with the actual execution.

The Jedi’s local contact on Ord Cestus is a woman named Sheeka Tull. She’s also an interesting character, because it turns out she was Jango's Fett's ex from twenty years ago. But then her backstory seemed a little bit too Jean Valjean from Les Misérables for me; Valjean stole a loaf of bread to feed his sister's children, and Sheeka went to an interdicted planet because her sister and others needed medical assistance. I guess she can't be morally dubious at all, she still has to be good—and I had some definite issues with her arc as well.

I liked Regent Duris, who is definitely stuck between a rock and a hard place in that she's trying to not just serve in the best interest of her people, the X-Ting, but she's also trying to serve in the best interest of everyone who lives on Ord Cestus. But she holds no power, and her relative within the Five Families holds a lot of threats over her head.

I do wish that the X-Ting had felt more alien, though. They're these human-sized insects, and apparently every three to five years they swap genders so they go back and forth between being male and female. They just didn't feel particularly alien to me, especially for this insectile race; they speak basic and their names looked very human (I guess you could probably argue that’s a basic translation because their actual language is described as sounding like clicks). I wish they had been a little bit more strange or foreign to the human characters.

I also felt like the subplot with Trillit and the underworld X-Ting was rather unnecessary in the end. I think I would have preferred that Asajj Ventress came in and met directly with the Five Families, instead of introducing this underworld character who gave Obi-Wan and Ventress information but not wasn't utilized very well in the story.


My first issue with The Cestus Deception is that Barnes made the choice to have a lot of very short chapters. The book is 82 chapters long, but it's like a midsized Star Wars book. Some chapters are only one or two pages long, and it affected the flow of reading for me. I think that when chapters are done right, you don't really notice how they're broken up; but when it's not working, you notice those separations more. There's so many chapter breaks, and I wondered why? Barnes would cut away to some character's viewpoint but it's just one page, and then there would be chapters that cut back and forth between viewpoint characters. So I didn't really understand what the distinction was, and it made the flow of the story feel a bit choppy and non-fluid to me.

There were also some inconsistencies throughout the story: Kit and the troopers recruit local Cestians, almost 200 arrive but they have 48 good prospects at the end of the first day, then Nate says they only lost 40%??

The Jedi’s actions seemed particularly unJedi to me, and I think that's the war novel peeking through. Obi-Wan comes here and wants to achieve a diplomatic goal, but at the same time he's been planning this deception from the beginning to make it look like Kit Fisto is a Separatist goon of Count Dooku. Kit abducts members of the Five Families, Obi-Wan swoops in and saves them, and this is supposed to turn them against Dooku and make them side again with the Republic. But in doing so, Obi-Wan is straight up lying to the Five Families and to Regent Duris.

Somewhat improbably, Obi-Wan gets caught in this lie—I guess Ventress recorded it, and it's obvious that he's not really killing the Desert Wind/Separatist people. They know he faked it, and they're so mad that they tell him to leave. Ventress blows up his ship, and Obi-Wan sneaks back to Kit’s camp and they start their terrorism scheme. I have trouble believing that Obi-Wan would be okay with this plan to begin with. I think that within the Clone Wars, the Jedi start to do things that they wouldn't have done in times of peace, and they start down a slippery edge. As we saw with Depa in Shatterpoint, the Jedi are doing things they were never meant to do, and this is going to have an adverse effect on them. Yet I'm honestly surprised that Obi-Wan didn't put up more resistance to this plan, because it feels like a step too far even for Mr. “From a certain point of view.”

Nate and his journey of self-discovery had a lot of promise, but its actual execution decidedly did not work for me. Nate is trying to figure out who he is beyond his identity as a clone of Jango Fett. And that’s interesting! I like digging into the clones here, and how people perceive the clones. In Shatterpoint, we saw that Mace Windu has trouble looking at them, because when he sees a clone he only sees Jango. I got the sense here that the Jedi don't always see the clones as distinct individuals and it makes them uncomfortable. So Nate's arc made a lot of sense to me, yet these revelations come about because of his interactions with Sheeka Tull.

Sheeka sees Nate, and she sees her ex from 20 years ago. They end up having a romantic relationship, she says that he needs to choose his own name that’s not a number and then she names him Jangotat (which apparently means Jango’s brother). Nate/Jangotat thinks about having a future with Sheeka, but returns to the clone troopers and sacrifices himself so that the Five Families can be eliminated.

We find out in the end that Sheeka's pregnant with his child…and here's the thing: I think there is a very creepy aspect to Sheeka having a relationship with someone who is a literal clone of her ex. Beyond the age difference, there's also the fact that she sees him and she sees Jango. Nate/Jangotat is not Jango, and yet he takes a name that Sheeka gives him which means Jango's brother. So much of his emotional journey is prompted by Sheeka, and it's exceptionally creepy. I don't mind Sheeka being a part of his journey here, but I think making her Jango's ex was a step too far.

I think there's enough questions you can get into about clones having romantic relationships when they've gone through a vastly abbreviated upbringing—that they did not have a normal childhood, they didn't have parents who raised them, and they age very quickly. Yes, he looks like a grown man, but he's really only lived ten years in the galaxy. You could get into loads of questions about the morality of these relationships here!

That was my biggest problem with this novel: Barnes had interesting ideas, but they didn't work for me, either because I found them creepy or because I questioned if the Jedi would really do those things. Kit and Obi-Wan and the Cestians become terrorists, and while they try their hardest not to kill people, they're still committing acts of terror! I had trouble with that.

The entire concept of the JK droids—that they're Force sensitive because they've got eels inside, but then it turns out that the eels are actually sterile juvenile eels and they can't commit harm so the droids never would have been a threat to begin with—felt like an excuse to get the Jedi to Ord Cestus. I found the droids hard to visualize, and in the end they’re sort of a non-issue anyway.


The Cestus Deception was not one of my favorite Clone Wars stories. While some of Barnes’s ideas are intriguing, I didn’t like his execution of them. I find it fascinating how he fleshed out the inner lives of the clones, but the romance subplot between our ARC trooper and one of Jango Fett’s exes was creepy and off-putting. It additionally bothered me that the Jedi were behaving like terrorists here, and that Obi-Wan repeatedly lied to people with very few consequences.

Next up: an eBook novella set concurrently with The Cestus Deception, The Hive by Steven Barnes

My YouTube review:

“Steven Barnes: Inside The Cestus Deception” (May 2004): 9780099472629 This is one of the better Star Wars books I have read. The plot is clever and the storyline is not too predictable.

The best part about the book was the descriptive writing. So many Star Wars authors offer odd names and poor description of alien worlds, technologies, and species. Steven Barnes shows the reader what his characters look like, where they are, and how they are interacting in their environment. Even the action scenes were shown to the reader instead of dictated in a dull/ inexperienced penmanship. It made reading the novel so much more enjoyable. 9780099472629

Well-written, with fully realised characters. Even made me forget at times that the alien race in question is basically a bunch of overgrown bugs. But that's one difference between the page and the screen. The story is an interesting study of duty and honour. The author really gets into Obi-Wan Kenobi's head and convincingly depicts how he operates within the Force. There's a very Zen feel to it. Obi-Wan's quiet confidence in himself as an instrument of the Force makes him powerful. He doesn't try to control the Force, his ego doesn't get in the way. Reading this book has actually enhanced my viewing experience of Revenge of the Sith. 9780099472629 While not as epic as the Cartoon Network CG Clone Wars series, this book still holds its a degree. Having a character named Doolb Snoil--which is the title of another one of this author's books backwards--was a bit ridiculous, and some of the details seemed out of place for a galaxy far, far away, but it was still good for what it was. Though there are much better Star Wars books out there, you could also do a lot worse; The Crystal Star, anyone? 9780099472629 I really enjoyed this book, the clone wars era is one my favorite to read about.. One of my characters in the book was kit fisto,it was nice to read something about him. The story take place on Festus with obi one and kit fisto costing the hive family Ventress is on planet to stir up trouble as usual.Another car after I like was made the clone,it was nice to see how mate interact with people of cestus and with himself. I like how author made mate more human than just cannon fodder. I would love more stories on kit gusto and some of the other jedis. Ventress is being bad ass and really want to get obi one. 9780099472629 Ord Cestus is an out-of-the-way planet that the Republic reneged on their payments with. Which turns out to be a bad thing when the planet begins negotiations with the Separatists over a new droid, a JK or Jedi Killer. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Kit Fisto are sent with Doolb Snoil and ARC trooper, A-98 Nate, to repair the situation.

While listening to this audiobook, I ended up with quite a few notes. I'll let my notes speak for themselves:

1. Yay, Kit Fisto is in a novel! And his lightsaber form is Form I!
2. this REALLY Kit Fisto? He kinda acts angry all the time...and really serious...does he have a headache?
3. Why do we bother including Anakin at all in this novel? He never reappears.
4. Uh, 80,000 credits per JK unit isn't that expensive. Plus, is it just me or does this technology sound like a rejected Star Trek plot point?
5. Why can't the Jedi sense the Force in the Darsha eels? They can sense the Force in everything else. In fact, not sensing the Force is a HUGE plot point for the New Jedi Order/Yuuzhan Vong storyline, sooooo...
6. Yay, the Koornacht Cluster is mentioned again.
7. Uh, why is Ord Cestus so critical to everything again? If it's so critical, why do Obi-Wan and Kit employ such a stupid plan that is a sure-fire way to get them in serious trouble? Isn't the whole deception thing kinda against the Jedi code anyway?
8. What's WITH the whole Dashta Eels thing anyway? First they aren't they are but only some of them. And people interact with them? And then...they can't kill because they go nuts? HUH? How does that work with the first scene?
9. Are we done with all the backstory? Doolb Snoil has a backstory; Trillit has a backstory; Fizzik has a backstory; and Sheeka Tull has a backstory...ENOUGH!
10. What is the point of G'Mai's duel?
11. Where is Dooku?
12. Clones talk about humanity! Haven't seen THAT one before!
13. What's up with Asajj? Sitting along the sidelines and cackling about how great you are and how you are going to kill someone does not make you ominous. Neither goes cackling Delicious when thinking about destroying Obi-Wan. That was in Villains 101.
14. A person can learn a light whip in a few hours? COOL! (not)
15. What is up with Sheeka Tull? Don't people find it kinda crazy that she falls in love with Nate because he's Jango? And what's with all these former lovers being unable to move on after a relationship, even though it ended over a decade ago?
16. Can Sheeka's character be any more cliched? Jango's ex: check. Bad guy who is found to not be a bad guy, just someone who did something against the law for her sister: check. Insensitive but supposedly the reader should sympathize with her: check.
18. Jedi support...ANARCHISTS?
19. Could someone please explain to me the politics in this book? Because this doesn't make ANY sense.
20. Are Sheeka and Nate done falling in love yet? Because I'm over that plotline.
21. Can we kill Doolb yet? Please?
22. Did someone use the Cliche Book of Cliched Novels for writing this? Use your heart? What do you feel? Is this Pocahontas?
23. Wow, ARCs are so good, if someone comes up behind them and reads over their shoulders, they can't even tell!
24. X'Ting are sorta interesting.
25. Can we stop talking about humanity?
26. Can we stop watching Sheeka and Nate fall in love?
27. What the heck are Obi-Wan and Kit doing in the lightsaber battles?
28. Why does Obi-Wan tell Kit that delving into the Force is bad? Aren't Jedi supposed to do this?
29. Sheeka, barking with laughter is NOT attractive.
30. OMG! The audiobook SO DID NOT end like that!

If you've gotten through that, I commend you. Most of those are direct transcriptions of my notes (which covered both sides of two 5X8 sheets of paper).

This book isn't horrible. But it isn't brilliant either. Mostly, it's just...mind-numbingly dull. I never bought how important Obi-Wan and Kit's mission is, and right there, that's a major problem. If I can't buy the whole premise of the book, well, why bother reading? Learning about Nate's humanity was cool, but I just found Sheeka's love for him to be a little creepy. Plus, Karen Traviss did a way better job with clones falling in love in all her books (and I'm not even a big fan of the middle ones).

Ultimately, I would skip this novel. It contributes nothing to the Clone Wars (the conflict is pitifully small and the attempts to bloat its importance in the grand scheme of things are just embarrassing), nothing to the characters, nothing to the Star Wars universe. Read if you insist on reading them all, but I highly recommend you pass this puppy over. 9780099472629 Ungh, so many mixed feelings on this one...let's just plunge right in to the review!

Positives: Barnes sure can write some tight, compelling prose, and his treatment of the Clone characters was insightful.

Also, the action sequences were above par, particularly the close-quarters fighting scenes in which the author was able to draw upon his own considerable experts (multiple black belts, etc.)

Lastly, I honestly wasn't expecting that one of the most noteworthy deceptions in the book would be carried out not by the nefarious Separatists but by the noble Jedi Obi-Wan and Kit Fisto. Nice to see the good guys get creative and try one on, even if it was ultimately unsuccessful and humiliating for poor Kenobi.


Probably too many characters, ultimately, to really service what was a fairly straight-forward story. The crime lord Trillot, and her cousin even more so, were pretty superfluous.

Also, Doolb Snoil gets killed off somewhat randomly, scant pages after barely getting rescued from an escape pod. Maybe this was meant to be the Now it's personal! stakes-raising moment, but it fell flat for me.

Though I liked the ARC Trooper character Nate, his romance arc felt a bit forced at times. And did Sheeka really need to be Jango Fett's ex? Kinda creepy.

And the less said about the complete non-event of a showdown between Duris and Quill, the better.

In Spanish, disappointment is decepción, which is what I felt about this book after a very promising start. 9780099472629


Ord Cestus, a planet mostly barren and inhospitable to life, was first colonized as a prison world—until a handful of hardy pioneers discovered its rich ore deposits and managed to build up a successful droid-manufacturing industry. But when the Clone Wars erupted, bringing severe rationing of imported resources and a Republic ban on the production of battle droids, Ord Cestus was threatened with imminent economic collapse.

Enter the Confederacy of Independent Systems—the Separatists—with a life-saving offer to purchase a generous quantity of the planet’s most lucrative export: bio-droids. Possessed of tactical capabilities that rival the fighting abilities of even the most advanced Jedi, these sophisticated, techno-organic hybrid units would prove a most formidable weapon if ever deployed for military use. And now the Confederacy’s intention to invest in what amounts to an army of bio-droids has sent ripples of alarm through the highest echelons of the Republic government.

Determined to halt the bio-droid sale—but fearing a show of force will result in a political backlash—Supreme Chancellor Palpatine dispatches a team of envoys, led by Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Their mission: persuade Ord Cestus’s government to abandon its dealings with the Confederacy . . . while secretly stirring up revolution among the planet’s struggling underclass. Diplomacy is paramount. But if all else fails, the Republic will not hesitate to launch a full-scale attack—and wipe out not only the means of bio-droid production, but countless lives as well, to demonstrate the consequences of disloyalty.

For Obi-Wan, the prospect of such wholesale slaughter only serves to fuel his growing suspicions about the sinister path the Republic seems to be taking. But the brash Jedi Master Kit Fisto and the detachment of clone soldiers assigned to the mission are ready and willing to do the Supreme Chancellor’s bidding. As the leaders of Ord Cestus refuse to capitulate and Palpatine rapidly loses patience, Obi-Wan’s hopes of a peaceful resolution are dwindling. Now, facing a crisis of conscience, Obi-Wan must find the wisdom and strength to prevent a bloodbath and safeguard the Republic— while abiding by the ancient code to which he has pledged his life.

Features a bonus section following the novel that includes a primer on the Star Wars expanded universe, and over half a dozen excerpts from some of the most popular Star Wars books of the last thirty years! Star Wars: The Cestus Deception

Steven Barnes ☆ 4 Summary