With the Star Wars films soaring in theaters, interest in Hambly's sequel to her Children of the Jedi (1995) should be high--and, as usual, Hambly meets the challenge. In this latest episode in the never-ending saga, the New Republic, like any fledgling organization, is suffering growing pangs. As chief of state, Princess Leia Organa Solo has the thankless task of handling diplomatic relations with the distant Chorios system, represented by the charismatic Seti Ashgad. Leader of the progressive Rationalist Party, Ashgad seeks economic alliance--an arrangement Chorios's fanatically conservative ""Oldtimer"" majority views with outright hostility. As Luke Skywalker sets off to find the reincarnated Jedi Callista on Ashgad's homeworld, Ashgad kidnaps Leia and sets off a sinister plot to remove the rest of his opposition one by one. See-Threepio and Artoo-Deetoo's luckless attempts to warn the Republican Council of Leia's kidnapping provide comic relief, while Han Solo leads the cavalry that rides to the rescue just in time. Hambly juggles it all with consummate skill, investing convincing characters and settings with plenty of vigor. As media tie-ins go, this one is on the upper end of the curve and is sure to be a hit with casual Star Wars fans as well as longtime admirers. (May) FYI: In June, Bantam will publish Hambly's historical mystery, A Free Man of Color.