"The time has come. Execute Order 66."
With this short, seven-word transmission to the Grand Army of the Republic, Chancellor Palpatine—having finally revealed himself as Darth Sidious—brings to fruition a millennium of Sith plotting and patience by ushering in the end of the Jedi Order.
As the Clone Wars continue to rage across the galaxy, clone troopers turn on their Jedi generals, whom they now believe to be traitors to the Republic. Few would survive the initial onslaught and the relentless purge follows.
Though the Sith plan to destroy the Jedi began a thousand years earlier—and has roots even further back in galactic history—the exact method began taking shape much more recently. When a Jedi Master commissions a clone army to protect the Republic, Sidious sees a chance to sow the seeds of the Order’s ultimate downfall and hijacks the project.
Interestingly, Star Wars storytelling has taken two different approaches to explain how the protocol turns the clone troopers against their generals. Karen Traviss’s works—now part of Legends—present the contingency order as something instilled into the clones as part of their training. Later, in The Clone Wars television series and all the Canon works that follow, we find that the protocol was encoded in the behavior modification biochips implanted in the clones’ brains as part of the cloning process.
Regardless of whether Order 66 was a function of training or literally wired into the clones, its effects were profound. Thousands of Jedi died nearly instantaneously, and many more fell to Darth Vader and the inquisitors, while the galaxy plunged into the “dark times.”
Every Star Wars movie has an accompanying novelization, but none so impressive as Revenge of the Sith. While it expertly tells the story of the film, it also manages to add to it in unexpected ways. Not only is it the best novelization, it’s a fantastic work of fiction in and of itself.
Matthew Stover outdoes himself in this novelization by painting Obi Wan, Anakin, and the rest of the Jedi as glorified super heroes in the eyes of the common man in the Star Wars universe. Somehow, this raises the stakes of one of the most intense episodes of the saga and makes Anakin’s ultimate fate even more impactful.
The job of the clone troopers is simple: destroy the enemy at all costs. But as the war wages on and its atrocities add up, some clones start question their purpose and plan to lay down their arms altogether. Suddenly, a seemingly simple command from Chancellor Palpatine ruins those plans and also leaves them wondering exactly who the enemy is that they’re supposed to destroy.
Karen Traviss—who has proved more than capable of placing the reader inside the helmet of a trooper—is once again successful with this novel. The pain and suspense of the Order 66 scene in Revenge of the Sith is somehow stretched the entire length of the novel. Readers who have followed the Republic Commandos series can’t miss this part of the story!
Order 66 may have unified the galaxy under the Empire’s control, but it split members of the clone army. Just weeks after the order was carried out, former brothers-in-arms now find themselves on opposite sides. Will they ultimately choose to serve their Emperor or their ex-comrades, the Jedi? And just how far are they willing to go in the process?
While the Jedi may have gotten the worst of it, Karen Traviss manages to brilliantly portray the struggle of the clones following Order 66. This book serves as a fitting end to her run with the Republic Commandos.