Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I, Jedi

I never followed the Star Wars franchise very closely in terms of the novels. Like a lot, I read the Thrawn trilogy when the novel series was officially "launched" as a full-scale media tie-in (before this, although there were a few novels, as well as the movie novelizations, the franchise was far less organized, deliberate, or directed). Disappointed, I really didn't continue the series.

That is until Episode 3 came out. Disappointed in the "prequels," I went and picked up the Ep. 3 novelization, and liked that much more. This followed with some of the Old Republic/Clone Wars novels, and sort of spiraled from there.

Thus, I'll sometimes go back and "fill in" the collection. Just as I did with this book.

I, Jedi primarily focuses on the development of Corran Horn into a Jedi. Brought to us by Michael Stackpole (a writer I definitely enjoyed for his long years writing Battletech -- specifically the Warrior Trilogy, and the Return of Kerensky trilogy), the book sets off with the abduction of Corran's wife Mirax, and the Jedi training Corran receives in order to give him the tools to recover his wife.

I think the biggest problem with this book is one of pacing. Reading it, I also get the feeling the book was written from the periphery of larger events, and that I should have read those books instead first. Nonetheless, the first half of the book is about Corran and the new Jedi academy (established on Yavin 4, which we know as the Rebel base in "A New Hope") and their attempts to overcome the Force-ghost of Exar Kun.

This half of the book turned out to be a bit of a letdown. I'm not sure if it's because I didn't read the other books in this time period, but the defeat of Exar Kun seemed to be a bit anti-climatic. One would think more attention would be focused on Exar and his defeat, but as far as Darkside ghosts are concerned, Exar only really killed one person, seduced one other, and possessed one last. The Exar threat in other words seemed to be less prevalent than I think such a character should have.

The second half of the book deals then with Corran's attempt to recover his wife, primarily through infiltrating the pirate bands that have been threatening the New Republic's stability. Along the way, Corran discovers his Jedi heritage and of course rescues his wife.

Again, part 2 was a bit of a letdown, with lots of development of the infiltration, but with a little Deus Ex thrown in to get the plot to move, where it just so happens that Corran runs into the people he needs to reveal the location of Mirax, and just so happens that Luke shows up at the nick of time to save him, and assist on the rescue. Oh, and the random alien Corran runs into? Happens to be the nephew of the Jedi Knight that ran with Corran's actual grandfather. The actual rescue itself, as well as the confrontation with the Jenisaarai was anti-climatic as well.

It really feels like this book should have been 2 novels with two different focuses. Instead we get one novel that was a tad too long (only 450 or so pages, but too long in terms of pacing) and not as well developed as it should have been. Throw in a lot of Deus Ex Machina and I have to say this was not one of Stackpole's better efforts.

But I was entertained.

One comment sometimes see with regard to Stackpole and his character Corran Horn is that Corran is a bit of a Mary Sue. I think after reading this book, I can see the point of this. Throughout this book Corran doesn't really make any mistakes: he successfully determines the Force ghost plaguing the Academy is Exar Kun, successfully entraps him, and even after getting a bit of a throttling at the hands of Kun (and gets rescued at the last minute by a little Deus Ex), also infiltrates a pirate gang and successfully locates the Star Destroyer the pirates have been using, defeats the Jennisaaarai and rescues his wife. Along the way he learns the true meaning of being a Jedi.

Maybe I should go back and read Grave Covenant.

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