Troy Denning’s first installment in the Fate of the Jedi series Abyss is the third book of the FotJ series so far, following Aaron Alston’s Outcast and then Christie Golden’s Omen.

Jedi are going mad, Luke Skywalker is in exile, former imperial Admiral Natasi Daala is the Chief of State of the Galactic Alliance; this is the reality that Abyss opens with.

Two more Jedi have fallen. The recent event this time was not one but TWO Jedi Knights, one right after the next.

As the Order struggles to discover what is affecting the young Jedi who were hiding in the Maw during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. Reporter Javis Tyrr has been exposing the recent events every step of the way though unknown means. Though we soon discover that Javis has been getting help from a Moff in Jagged Fel’s Empire who has been giving Javis highly sophisticated spy ware.

Turns out Daala is thinking about hiring Mandalorians to handle the Jedi situation.

As matters turn more dire Luke and Ben Skywalker have made it to the Maw, and are looking for clues that will lead them to Jacen Solo’s first steps towards his dark path.

They discover a Space station like Centerpoint located inside the Maw, and here they come across the Mind Drinkers we heard of in Omen. Though as it turns out Mind Drinkers is an outsider’s term for them. They call themselves Mind Walkers. And they agree to teach Luke how to travel “Beyond Shadows” which is basically a Force technique that lets them travel out of body. One interesting thing was in that realm Luke’s robotic hand was a shadow…(perhaps his living Force presence? Since we know in the Legacy series his Force Ghost has all of its parts)

As Luke travels he figures out that his guides are trying to keep him on the other side while his body dies. Ben however has other ideas and soon fashions a plan to go after his father. When he arrives his guide agrees to take Luke and Ben farther- they travel out of body to a planet that is in the Maw- and in the shadow version of this world they see a lake called “the Lake of Apparitions” here they see the Force ghosts of Anakin Solo and Mara Jade Skywalker reflected in the water. After interesting discussions they move on and find Jacen Solo’s spirit and in turn talk with him. All this time we are seeing that Jacen’s actions were more forced on him then we originally had thought. And that he knew that to stop a great evil he’d have to die. Did he foresee what would happen to himself? We never find out. But it’s still cool to see these characters appear like they did.

Ben explains why he shut himself off from the Force as a child, and the reason is bone chilling. Abeloth a new character introduced in this book is a mysterious entity- to the Mind Walkers and the Skywalkers she seems like a tentacled being with lots of dark power.

While this is going on Han and Leia have had their hands full- the crazy Jedi are being moved off of Coruscant, and so the Jedi set up a scheme to blind side Daalla’s people and get the Jedi out. They succeed but not without running into the Mando’ade first. Jaina though is suffering from her new engagement to Jag Fel, mainly due to his finding out about the Mando’s through his political connections. Unfortunately he had to remain quiet so he can smoothly bring his Empire more into the Galactic Alliance. He tells Jaina but not until after he had her promise to not say anything to the Order. Unfortunately that conversation is one of the private conversations leaked to the Media. Causing tension between Jaina and her parent’s mostly her Father Han.

Meanwhile the Sith from the Lost Tribe are hunting for Ship; the same Sith meditation sphere from the Legacy of the Force series. Ship took off and went straight to the Maw.

Sith Saber Vestara Khai has been communing with Ship and has tracked the sphere to the planet located inside the Maw. It’s on this world the Sith meet Abeloth. Abeloth appears to be an attractive female whose features seem to shift. She has been stranded on the planet for years she says, yet has an ability to keep the carnivore plant life on the planet from attacking the Sith.

After awhile Vestara sees Abeloth as she is; the same thing Luke and Ben see in the beyond shadows parody of the world. Its obvious Abeloth doesn’t want the Sith to leave, but soon Ship confirms Vestara’s suspicions.

Abeloth soon feels the Skywalkers and decides they need to die. Soon Luke and Ben are trying to get off the station they are on when the Tribe find them and attack. The battle is a great little battle- where Luke is not seen as the omni god he’s been written to be mainly because his body is so weak from his Mind Walking. For once I felt this could be it for Luke Skywalker!! Luke’s tale ends when they defeat all but a few of the Sith. Luke used a Blood trail on Vestara like Jacen had with Jaina in Legacy of the Force. The books ends with Luke and Ben following the Sith to see what they are up to.

My first reaction after finishing this one was simply YES! Denning for me has always done well on books that fit inside a series. I have always felt it was his series endings that felt rushed, yet in this case I was left wanting more! The build up at the end felt very Empire Strikes Back, things are getting grim and yet there is still hope while our Heroes still live. Abyss has set the Fate of the Jedi series back on track and sets up the story to really take off!  It even plays with the over all fate of Jacen Solo, the implications at the Lake will leave me drooling for Backlashes arrival!  I give this one a STRONG 4 out of 5.