Old Friends: Barriss Offee, I-5YQ
Synopsis: MASH and ER meet Star Wars - What a great idea! 2 years after The Attack of the Clones, on a backwater planet the Separtists and the Clones are fighting over a plant called bota, similar to Bacta, a cure-all for just about anything. The Empire has deployed clone Stormtroopers to protect the bota, and mobil medical units to care for the troopers wounded in combat. But, as usual with any SW adventure, there is more here than meets the eye.
Review: Jos Vandar and his medical team are stuck on a hot, humid, smelly, sickley planet patching up wounded clone troopers, with little help from anyone. They are short on supplies and equipment. What they have is constantly in a state of disrepair due to the climate and shortage of parts. Basically, everyone is meserable. Especially Admiral Bleyd.
Bleyd is not a nice guy - he has a hidden agenda that endangers everyone except himself. Filba the Hutt is part of Bleyd's plan to rip off the Empire and steal as much of the bota as he can, hide somewhere and retire with all the credits he can get his hands on. But there is a spy somewhere who has an eye on everything that is going on on Drongar.
Barriss Offee, who you should remember as Master Luminara Unduli's Padawan, is assigned to Drongar as a Healer, one of her Jedi gifts. She is unsure if this assignment is, in fact, her "trial" but will do her best for the injured. Her arrival initially brings skepticism from the regulars, but that turns to respect as she quickly integrates into the team and adds her abilities to the surgeons and techs and droids. She does, however, suspect that there is more going on than is obvious.
A little Sullustan, Den Duhr, is a free lance reporter for the Empire and is "embedded" into the Rimsoo 7 med team (obviously the authors have taken a note from the recent war in Iraq) and this little guy has his nose in everything. He seems to have connections to everyone, and wants the truth told, no matter what. Arriving mid-story is I-5YQ, the droid you might remember from Darth Maul, Shadow Hunter. I really liked this droid then and he is even better now.
If you are into the heavy-duty space battles, this isn't the book for you. It all takes place on planet, and there is little real fighting described. This is more the story of the people who heal, not fight. Perceptions of the clone troopers change as the team realizes that they may be the same, but they are different, they have feelings and attachments, and a sense of duty.
There is comedy in a manner similar to the dialogue from MASH, using humor to deflect the horror of war. Some characters come and go quickly, but they have an impact on those they interact with. Don't discount names you don't know - they move the story along nicely. Between the medical emergencies, the spy, the plat to steal the bota, a little romance, and a few other things you will have to read for yourself, the reader is definitely pulled into this story and leaves you waiting for the next part - due in October, '04.
I could see this storyline moving forward thru the Clone Wars as a series very much like the X-Wing series in the Classic Universe. We'll just have to wait and see what happens next!
Title: MedStar 1: Battle Surgeons