It is a time of transition in the galaxy. A few years after the Battle of Endor, even though the evil Empire now only controls a quarter of its vast territory and Grand Admiral Thrawn's campaign to destroy the fledgling New Republic has been defeated, the former Rebels still face many challenges -- and many foes -- as they strive to restore peace and justice to the galaxy. Thrawn's campaign (chronicled in the 1991-93 trilogy by Timothy Zahn) and subsequent events not only prolonged the continuing conflict between the New Republic and the dying Empire, but they also highlighted the Republic's biggest weakness -- the absence of a strong Jedi Order to help protect its values and its citizens. Where once there had been 10,000 Jedi Knights in the days before Palpatine's rise to power and the demise of the first Galactic Republic, only Luke Skywalker remains as a full-fledged Jedi. Luke, of course, has been trying to train his twin sister Leia in the ways of the Force, but her duties as a member of the Provisional Council and her brother's recent experiences -- including a fall to the dark side and almost a repetition of their father Anakin's mistakes -- have impeded her progress as a Jedi apprentice. Leia's marriage to Han Solo and the birth of three potential Jedi children also demand her attention, so Luke must look elsewhere for Jedi apprentices. Kevin J. Anderson's Jedi Search is the first of a three-book cycle that chronicles Luke Skywalker's endeavors to set up a new Jedi Academy and to restore the order of Jedi Knights. With very few records left over after the Great Purge inflicted by the late Emperor and his own father, Darth Vader, Luke must not only scour the galaxy for data on the training of new Knights, but he also needs to find new candidates to teach. Even as Luke gets approval from the New Republic to set up a Jedi academy, new challenges and old enemies arise. On Kessel, Han Solo and Chewbacca are captured by Moruth Doole, a cunning mine official who now runs the entire spice mine complex -- and the individual that had, several years before, tipped off the Imperial tariff authorities that Solo was hauling a load of spice destined for crime boss Jabba the Hutt. The Millennium Falcon had been boarded, but not before Han had jettisoned the spice...which had saved him and Chewbacca from a stint in Imperial detention blocks but not, unfortunately, from a debt to Jabba. Elsewhere, a new threat emerges as Admiral Daala, the beautiful but ruthless woman (and only female flag officer in the Imperial fleet) in command of a squadron of Star Destroyers assigned to protect a top-secret research facility, prepares to unleash a new campaign against the Rebels who killed her paramour and destroyed her beloved Empire. With her four massive warships and several powerful super weapons at her disposal, Daala bides her time, waiting for the proper moment to start her devastating strike.... Anderson, a technical editor and writer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and author of other non-Star Wars novels, has become one of the most prolific authors of Star Wars Expanded Universe material. He loves the universe created by George Lucas in his five films (even though some of the Jedi concepts here are radically different from data established in the two prequels released in 1999 and 2002) and knows the characters and situations well enough to write interesting and entertaining "further adventures" novels, comic book series, and short stories set "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...."Read more ›
After reading Zahn's excellent Thrawn trilogy in the early 90's, I was hungry for more and picked up this book. By the first chapter I knew I wouldn't even read the rest of it. Well, actually I did skim through it and read a few more scenes, but they were just as bad as the first. Here's an important example... On page 5 of "Jedi Search," Han and Chewbacca are flying towards a planet when two TIE fighters come up out of the atmosphere, begin shooting, and fly back to the planet. Now they see an old X-wing come up behind them and Han says, "Chewie, contact the X-wing and tell him we'd appreciate whatever help he can give us." When I read that, I was like, "What? Even I'd know not to trust a strange ship." But Han just keeps looking ahead, gets blasted from behind, and yells, "We've got to get out of here!" I mean, give me a break. This is C3PO driving the Falcon, not Han. Now check out Chapter 12 of Zahn's "Heir to the Empire." Here Han is also flying towards a planet, and also sees an X-Wing come up beside him. It has Republic markings, and they even hear Luke's voice over the radio, but while Leia is relieved to see him, Han is still on guard. "It was Luke's X-wing, all right. Or at least, it looked like Luke's X-wing. 'So,' he said casually, swiveling the laser cannons around to target the other. Situated the way it was, the X-wing would have to yaw 90 degrees around before it could fire at them. Unless, of course, it had been modified... Somehow, they needed to make a positive identification, and fast." He can see it's Luke's own X-wing, and hear his voice, but still doesn't trust it. Is even watching out for an unexpected attack. In short, here's a pilot I'd trust. And an author I trust as well. Also, check out the language. In Anderson's book, Han says, "Chewie, get over here. I'm taking the laser cannon." Would Han really say that? In Zahn's book he says, "Chewie, take over; I'm going to fire up the quads." Of course, the best Star Wars action writing is to be found in Brian Daley's Han Solo trilogy. On the very first page of "Han Solo at Star's End," as they're about to be attacked, Han says, "Charge main batteries, Chewie, and shields-all." Quick and to the point - just what a seasoned pilot would say. And Daley, too, knows well the art of deception in war. In fact, he's a Vietnam veteran from the 11th Armored Cavalry. Here's Han's advice to other pilots before a battle: "'Since we're protecting a ground installation, we'll have to ride our kills. Don't think just because he's nosediving and leaving a vapor trail that he's out of it. That's an old trick. If you get an explosion from him, fine. If you get a flamer, let him go; he's finished. But otherwise you ride your kill all the way down to the cellar.'" All Anderson's Han is able to say is "Chewie, I think you'd better get our forward deflectors up," and "Turn it around!"
So while I hate to dump on any author, Anderson's book just doesn't make the grade set by Lucas, Daley, and Zahn. If you've read them all and want more, go for it. But there's no need to start here when there's so many better works to enjoy.Read more ›
The Jedi Academy Trilogy was one of the first set of novels to appear after Lucas gave his blessing to a new series of original books in the Star Wars universe, and unfortunately it shows. The story is basically about the efforts to establish a new order of Jedi Knights, to replace the old order that was wiped out by the Empire. While Luke Skywalker searches the galaxy for potentials, Han and Chewie stumble upon a very powerful candidate while stuck on the mining world of Kessel, Leia is up to her neck in politics and trying to be a good mother for her twin children, and Lando tries to schmooze his way to the next Big Deal. Added to this mix are a hidden Imperial weapons research facility, a very dedicated female Imperial Admiral, and a petty Imperial loyalist with delusions of grandeur, and what you end up with is a hefty assortment of plot lines and potential entanglements for our heroes, all inter-spaced with the usual dollop of gun play, space battles, and a light saber or two. The story moves at a rapid pace, almost as if KJ Anderson were trying to stuff about ten episodes of a television series into one book. The general effect of this is that the novel tends to be more episodic than a smoothly flowing tale, and some of the sub-stories feel so irrelevant to the main plot that they come across almost like filler, as if Anderson were trying to pad his page count just a little. Because of this characterization suffers; the regulars (Han, Luke, Leia, etc.) all come across as a little flat, and the new characters (Kyp Durron, Admiral Daala) feel a little rushed and cardboard. But the ending is pretty good space opera, although a little improbable on the coincidence side, and enough interesting threads remain hanging to draw you to the next book. Sadly, the biggest problem with Jedi Search, and indeed the series as a whole, is that the books have become incredibly dated since the advent of the First Trilogy. We know a lot more about the original Jedi and their practices now, and quite frankly the image as depicted in the books doesn't quite mesh with what we've seen in the movies. Yeah, I know, the Star Wars authors have attempted to get around this by saying that all knowledge of Jedi training was lost with the purge, but logically you'd think that even the public knowledge (like, that Jedi didn't marry and were discouraged from fraternizing) would have filtered down to Luke's time -- it's only 20-30 years later, after all, not hundreds or thousands of years! You'll have to put all of this down to the fact that the authors were pretty much making things up without being privy to Lucas's thoughts on the matter, and the end result is the distinct impression that you're reading something that is taking place in a slightly alternate universe to the movies. Anyway, rant aside, Jedi Search is adequate for most Star Wars fans. I don't think I'd give it anyone who wasn't interested in the SW universe, though, but if you're looking for a Star Wars Classic fix, it's worth an afternoon or two.Read more ›