When I look at you through the Force, I can see where you break.
A Star Wars Legends
novel by Matt Stover
. Mace Windu's once-Padawan now-fellow-Council-member goes rogue. Mace Windu returns to his birth planet to find her. Three hundred pages of action scenes, musings on the nature of the force, and Windu being badass. War Is Hell
Has a sequel in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor
, which uses several of the same characters and many of the same themes.
Tropes used include:
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Several scenes where Mace, Nick, and Depa are just talking, including excerpts from Mace's audio journal. And those aren't the only ones.
- Awesome by Analysis: This is actually a speciality of fully-trained Jedi; using the insight the Force allows them to navigate any situation and achieve an optimal outcome (be in within combat or otherwise). Mace Windu's unique gift is that he can sense what action in any given moment will achieve the optimum outcome with minimal exertion and always could. Effectively, he gets the results of Awesomeness by Analysis without having to run the numbers. Looking at a crystal that would dent a sledgehammer, for instance, he can instantly spot where a light tap would shatter it (i.e. the shatterpoint). Looking at a person, he can see weaknesses in armor or physiology or strategy, and disable or kill them. This doesn't mean a shatterpoint always exists or that tapping it will be easy, however.
- Action Girl: Chalk. Unfortunately, Vasquez Always Dies.
- Badass: Windu, of course. Lesser badasses include Depa, Nick, Kar and Chalk.
- Batman Gambit: Since Kar draws on the Force of the jungle, Mace can't pick him out from the background through the Force. Unless, of course, Mace lets Kar beat him to a pulp with his bare hands so Kar will end up with his lightsaber. And no, he didn't throw the fight. He knew he wouldn't win.
- Blood Knight: Amazingly, Mace Windu. He actually loves to fight, and maintaining a Jedi's serenity instead of simply kicking the asses of everyone involved in the problem he has to solve is a great deal of effort for him.
- Bulungi: Haruun Kal is, in essence, a failed state in Sub-Saharan Africa re-imagined as a planet.
- Captain's Log: Mace's journal.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mace, emphasis on "deadpan"; Nick, emphasis on "snarker". They are an excellent comedy duo.
Nick: What's the matter, Windu? Depa says you got a great sense of humour.
Mace: She must have been joking.
- Death World: Haruun Kal is covered in active volcanoes that spew so much toxic gas, the majority of the planet is completely uninhabitable. The native humans and the largest off-worlder population centre are both on the same large plateau, which is high enough above the gases to foster a complex ecosystem. Unfortunately, said complex ecosystem is so insanely, inventively aggressive that Mace theorises the native Korunnai are predisposed to Force-sensitivity because the ones who don't have that edge just don't survive.
- Defeat by Modesty: Two dirty cops attempt this on Mace and several others. Mace being Mace, this does not end well for the cops.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?/Call Forward: When Mace arrives at the Haruun Kal spaceport, he's wearing a white shirt, dark leather vest and boots, the latter with dark pants tucked into them, and he's carrying a Power 6 pistol. A knock-off of the one Han Solo uses. Or will use.
- Everybody's Dead, Dave: The end fight; the clone troopers, militia prisoners, Kar's bodyguards, Nick's team, Depa (sorta), all die. Nick and Kar barely survive with terrible wounds.
Mace: I seem to be...the last one standing.
- Evil Counterpart: Mace describes Kar Vastor as not necessarily "evil", just having given himself to "the jungle" to survive. Which is basically The Dark Side (or life without the restraints of society). They have a lot of similarities, and turn out to be from the same clan. See Foil, below.
- Face-Heel Turn: War and the dark side. Not a good combination.
- Fatal Flaw: Windu's looking at everything through the prism of Jedi philosophy and civilization itself. His initial impression, which everyone else on the planet shares, is that you can't fight the Hungry Jungle using ethical means and survive. Over the course of the novel, he learns the truth: the "jungle" is everywhere - it's desperation, despair, and the things it drives people to do. Civilization is what you get when you do fight those things - and you don't need to win. Just fight. You'll never achieve a civilization free of desperation or despair, or destroy the potential for those things within yourself, but even if it isn't perfect, that doesn't mean it's not worth fighting for. But it takes a lot of suffering, death and a near-fall to the dark side for him to figure it out.
- A Father to His Men: Windu to Depa, Depa to the Korunnai resistance.
- Flipping the Bird: Mace does this to a pair of dirty cops just before beating the crap out of them.
- Foil: Though not precisely quite Evil Counterparts, comparisons are made between Windu and Depa, Kar Vastor and Mace, and the Akk Guards and the Jedi. Kar and his Guards in particular, are dark reflections of the Jedi and Mace. Jedi lightsabers are designed to cut, stab and slash, but are most often used to deflect blaster-fire. The Akk guards' vibroshields obviously stop bolts and bullets, but their edges are razor-sharp...
Mace Windu: I use my sword as a shield. They use their shields as swords.
- The Fettered: Throughout the book, it's very clear that Mace is just barely restrained from mauling several people due to his adherence to the Jedi code and his personal restraint. As his foil, Kar Vastor is The Unfettered and revels in his freedom.
- Mace plays this one straight as an arrow at the end. His final revelation is that the To Be Lawful or Good dilemma he's been wrestling with is a false dilemma. It's fighting for the Jedi Code and the morals of civilized society that allows for justice and eventually peace, rather than victory over those who oppose them. Regarding the Jedi:
"We don't have to win. All we have to do is fight."
- Field Promotion: Mace brevets Nick Rostu as a major in the Republic Army. He later recommends that the brevet rank be confirmed.
- He also gives a posthumous one to Chalk.
- Foreshadowing: At one point, Mace has visions of the Jedi Temple ransacked and its inhabitants slaughtered. He also sees Coruscant transformed into an impossible jungle more savage than Haruun Kal. Though he doesn't know it, the audience knows he's seeing both Order 66 and the Yuuzhan Vong's capture of Coruscant.
- During the journey to Depa, gunships seem to appear shortly whenever Mace uses his lightsaber. He doesn't realize until they get to the Lorshan Pass that the blade's energy signature is being tracked by Geptun.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Mace is a Jedi and an incredibly experienced warrior, so he doesn't have hang-ups about being unclothed in public. He specifically notes that from a tactical standpoint, species acclimated to wearing clothes feel vulnerable when caught naked - particularly humans. Two bandits are taking advantage of this fact in the spaceport at Haruun Kal to rob travellers, and end up Bullying a Dragon in Mace.
- Genius Loci: Occasionally, Mace personifies the jungle, describing everyone in it as being its playthings or its dreams; it doesn't help that Haruun Kal's life is predisposed towards developing Force talents, so when he 'senses' things, they can often 'sense' him back. Nick tells him not to be stupid - the jungle isn't a thing you can treat like a sentient being, it's just a place where stuff lives - but often Kar Vastor acts as though he's a conduit for the jungle's wishes, and the translation of the native Korunnai term for the Force is literally jungle-mind.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Nick Rostu's reaction when he realizes that he, Mace, and Kar Vastor are about to be bombarded by DOKAWs: "Oh, nuts. Ohhh, nuts nuts nuts."
- The Gunslinger: Nick Rostu. Already a highly experienced combatant at a young age, he has untrained Force talent that manifests in a number of ways, including here.
- Guns Akimbo: When you're a Force-user you don't have so much trouble firing in two directions at once.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: See above.
- Quick Draw: Shooting a lightsaber out of a Jedi's hand, pressed to her own temple, before she could hit the activation plate. In one shot. While delirious from blood-loss. He can also call his weapons to his hands.
- Honor Before Reason: Why Mace didn't just kill Dooku at Geonosis. Deconstructed as this allowed the Clone Wars to go forward and billions of people have died because of it, but Reconstructed when Mace comes to understand that the ensuing events will allow Anakin to fulfil his destiny.
- Hungry Jungle: Both literal and figurative. The planet Haruun Kal is home to an omnipresent fungus that eats technology, as well as much larger and more dangerous creatures in the jungle that eat...just about anything else, including each other.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Mace Windu is on the receiving end of this trope, via lightsaber, and survives by ensuring the blade is turned off and dissipates, leaving a smoking, ghastly - but cauterised - wound through his midsection, instead of ripping the blade out sideways and burning him in half. His injuries are terrible but survivable, assuming medical attention.
- Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: The DOKAW (De-Orbiting Kinetic Anti-emplacement Weapon) — essentially a hundred kilos of durasteel falling from space to hit the ground at ten kilometers per second.
"In a word: WHAM."
- The trope is generally Discussed. This book marks one of the few times "slug-throwers" (i.e. guns that fire bullets) make an appearance in the galaxy far, far away. Haruun Kal's metal-eating fungus renders blasters and their delicate circuits worthless in hours or less, but slug-throwers are much less vulnerable - keep them maintained and they last. However, Haruun Kal is one of the only places such low-tech weapons as slug-throwers and DOKAWs would be of any use at all. A DOKAW is almost hilariously ineffective against anything smaller or more mobile than a town, and can be pushed off course or even brought down by, at minimum, particularly poor weather. Slugs aren't deflected by lightsabers (they just get disintegrated), are useless against energy shields and bounce unpredictably in tight quarters.
- Known Only by Their Nickname: Chalk. Her real name, as Mace learns after her death, is Liane Trevval.
- Lady of War: Depa was one - a Jedi Master (and a member of the Council); a woman; a highly spiritual, intelligent, cool-headed and graceful individual; and devastating in combat due to her mastery of the lightsaber. Her time on Haruun Kul left her...changed. She's just as deadly, but her mental state no longer lends itself well to grace.
- Man Bites Man: Kar Vastor is a very practical individual.
- Manipulative Bastard: Col. Geptun.
Mace: I keep forgetting he's smarter than I am.
- Motive Misidentification: After bribing Colonel Geptun to cut him loose, Mace runs into a pack of mercenaries. When he tries to defend himself, he finds his lightsaber's running on empty. Mace thinks Geptun was trying to cover up the bribe by leaving him defenseless for the kill. He doesn't realize until later that Geptun had no knowledge of the attack. The depleted lightsaber was a really a result of his techs analyzing its energy signature — thereby allowing Geptun to track Mace all the way to the ULF's base.
- My Greatest Failure: Mace regrets not killing Dooku at Geonosis. He would have died at Jango Fett's hands, but it would have been worth it as Dooku was the Separatists' Shatterpoint. The resulting battle and the escalation of the conflict means that Shatterpoint is gone — and with it, any chance of easily ending the Clone Wars.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Again, Mace feels responsible for the Clone Wars as he did not take the opportunity to kill Dooku at Geonosis.
- Mace is also indirectly responsible for alerting Colonel Geptun to the location of the ULF's main base. Kar Vastor calls him on this.
- Once More with Clarity: An interesting variation occurs when Mace activates his lightsaber at the Lorshan Pass. He's suddenly assaulted with Force images of shatterpoints. He follows the Force's threads, which take him back towards earlier events during the journey to the Lorshan Pass...and allows him (and the reader) to grasp the truth behind innocuous details that he didn't notice at the time.
- Oh, Crap: Mace realizing that Geptun used him to locate the ULF's main base...and that he's about to drop a DOKAW on the Lorshan Pass.
- Or Was It a Dream?: Overlaps with Fever Dream Episode. Windu has several visions of meetings with Depa, days before they actually meet, but she appears 99% accurately to how she looks and acts later. Dreams because Mace knew her so well? Or something more real through The Force?
- Plucky Comic Relief: Nick Rostu, crossed with Sad Clown; his rapier-quick wit is his coping mechanism, and he really needs it.
- Recycled In Space: Compare Joseph Conrad's Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness. Shatterpoint is (explicitly according to Matt Stover) based upon both.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Slides all the way to cynicism, then past it to become pure idealism again. Everyone Mace meets insists that the only way to survive on Haruun Kal is to focus on nothing except survival, and the only way to win the war against any enemy is to to do whatever it takes to win, damn human decency and Jedi codes. Except that's not the way to survive as a human being, or as a Jedi. By taking those measures, the person you were dies and you may as well have lost.
Mace Windu: Our enemy is power mistaken for justice. Our enemy is the desperation that justifies atrocity. The Jedi's true enemy is the jungle. Our enemy is the darkness itself: the strangling cloud of fear and despair and anguish that this war brings with it.
- Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: Mace takes "the one hostage a Jedi can legally take": himself. He puts Depa under arrest, saying he will escort her from Haruun Kal (to which Kar Vastor would object very strongly) or die in the attempt. Meaning Depa will have to talk Kar down if she doesn't want him killing Mace. She sees through the gambit immediately and agrees to be taken off-world - however the jungle has changed her, she still cares for Mace.
- Unwitting Pawn: Mace doesn't realize Geptun's using him to locate the ULF's main base until it's almost too late.
- War Is Hell: The main point of the book is how profound an effect war has, partly on the galaxy's population as a whole, but more so on the force-sensitive Jedi. They sense (and are affected by) pain, suffering, fear and threat, and what is war?
- Worthy Opponent: Kar considers Mace one; Mace really really doesn't reciprocate. Also, Mace and Geptun; after the war, Mace recommends Geptun be inducted into Republic Intelligence.