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Book Review: Star Wars: Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson

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And here we have another promise kept, readers! Today I will be reviewing Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Search. The first in a trilogy focusing on the founding of Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy on Yavin IV, there will be some Warnings for Younger Readers below. I don’t think they are particularly big red flags myself now, but I remember being very sensitive about the content of the books I read as a 10-15 year old. Because of that, I might not have read this novel when I was that age.

This leads me to note that, while Jedi Search might be the type of book a child in this age range would decide to avoid reading at the moment, they might want to keep it in mind for a future date. Speaking from experience, this writer knows that after a while young readers build up defense mechanisms which allow them to enjoy stories that contain mild to middling unpleasant content. What would have scandalized my fourteen year old mind doesn’t elicit a blink from me now. This will likely be the case for most other young readers at some point; as we learn more about the light and shadow battling for dominance in the real world, the unpleasantness we find in fictional fare becomes less shocking for us.

With this caveat stated, let’s turn to Jedi Search itself. The story starts out with Han Solo and Chewbacca heading to Kessel on a diplomatic mission. In order to keep the valuable spice produced on the planetoid from being sold to all and sundry (plus the Empire), the government wants to bring Kessel into the New Republic. And because Han used to smuggle spice between Kessel and Nar Shaddaa, it makes perfect sense to appoint him the official envoy to whatever hegemony has set up shop on Kessel since the war finally ended.

Han’s not exactly thrilled to be going back to Kessel. Last time he was there, he picked up a spice shipment for Jabba the Hutt, then had to dump it when he couldn’t escape an Imperial patrol. The alien who ran Kessel at the time, a Rybet named Moruth Doole, was the one who handed the spice over to Han. Privately, Solo suspects the alien double-crossed him and Jabba by calling the Imperials. It was rumored that Doole curried favor with both the Empire and the crime lords in this way; he provided both the smugglers and the Imperials with the valuable spice, sometimes by betraying the smugglers to the Imps. This way he earned money on the spice and the smugglers, since the Empire would pay him for handing over wanted criminals.

No one ever proved this, however. It’s all just speculation. And Han figures enough time has passed that Doole – if he’s still in charge of the mines – will be happy to talk about setting up a similar sort of arrangement with the New Republic. The guy’s a business man, after all; the only thing he cares about is lining his pockets. Why should he care who is paying him?

It’s a reasonable assumption. But Doole isn’t a particularly reasonable alien. No sooner does Solo hail Kessel with his diplomatic message than fighters are scrambled to attack the Millennium Falcon. Han and Chewie do their best to escape, but it’s no good. They are brought down and captured by Moruth Doole’s pirate forces, which he established after the fall of the Empire to help him keep control of Kessel once he and the nastier prisoners took over the mines.

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And he is really mad at Han.

See, it turns out that when Han dumped that load of spice, he wasn’t the only one the Hutt put a price on. Doole got one, too. Except that in his case, Jabba didn’t put a bounty on him; he set a death mark on the Rybet. As a result Doole had to dodge several murder attempts, one of which left him nearly blind. Determined to have his revenge and frightened by Solo’s thoughtless threats of official reprisal from the New Republic if he and Chewie aren’t released immediately, Doole decides to imprison the two in the spice mines.

Back on Coruscant, Leia and Mon Mothma are busy trying to get the planet Carida to join the New Republic. Their efforts are hampered by the Caridans themselves, who are still pro-Imperial. Carida used to be the home of the Imperial Naval Academy, and there’s a determined Imperial power structure still in place there. This means that the Caridan ambassador can throw tantrums and force concessions on the Republic government without fearing reprisal from his own administration. Eventually, though, he runs out of excuses to cause delays and has to agree to visit the New Republic – where he actually manages to become an even bigger pain in the neck.

On top of this, Jaina and Jacen – who are now two years old – are due to re-join their parents in a few days/weeks (I can’t remember which now). Having spent the first two years of their life in a protected location under Winter’s care, the twins were hidden in order to protect them from the Dark Side and the Empire. But their time of hiding is finally at an end, so Leia’s preparing to welcome them home at the same time she’s dealing with politics and missing Han.

Meanwhile, Luke makes a speech to the New Republic Senate asking for permission to officially restart the Jedi Order. After the assembly gives him their full-throated approval, he sets off to track down a few thin leads he has on some possible Force-sensitives. The first of these Force-sensitives – Gantoris – is the leader of some survivors from a crash on the dying world of Eol Sha. It takes quite a bit of work to recruit Gantoris because he is proud, independent, and he claims to have seen “a dark man” in his dreams who leads him to his own destruction. Gantoris thinks Luke is that man, and so he has the Jedi work to prove that his intentions aren’t evil.

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Luke eventually does gain his trust. Unfortunately, he does so with some very flashy displays of his Force powers. Promising to send a ship to take the few remaining colonists from the dying world, Luke sets off to find his second potential student.

This time the possible Jedi he’s looking for is an older man named Streen, who lives in Bespin’s Cloud City. Streen’s aware he’s got a special ability, but he doesn’t know how to control it. This means he senses people all the time, so for years he has lived in seclusion high above the City. Here he avoids the pain and embarrassment sensing others’ emotions causes him and them. Luke promises to help him “stop sensing people all the time” but finds that, since neither of his prospective students is happy in a crowd, he needs to set up shop in a place that’s unpopulated. So he heads back to Corsucant to ask for Leia’s help locating a world where he can train new Jedi in peace.

Meanwhile, Han and Chewie are trying to figure out a way to survive the mines and to escape them. In the process, they make friends with a kid named Kyp Durron. The son of political dissidents the Empire imprisoned, Kyp and his parents were sent to Kessel when he was eight years old. His fourteen year old brother, Zeth, was forcibly conscripted into the Imperial Navy and sent to Carida.

New Jedi Order – Mr. Rhapsodist

Kyp Durron

You would think that this would be as bad as it got for Kyp, but it actually gets worse. His parents were killed by smugglers in the mines before his eyes, leaving him utterly alone in the dark, surrounded by very unfriendly people. When Doole re-took control of the planetoid from the Empire and set out to become the sole proprietor of Kessel, he “forgot” to free Kyp (and probably several others). They have been used as slaves in the mines ever since.

With Kyp’s help, Han and Chewie finally manage to escape Kessel. In the process they learn that the boy is Force-sensitive and received some rudimentary training in the ways of the Force from the Jedi crone Vima-Da-Boda. Chased toward the Maw, a cluster of black holes between Nar Shaddaa and Kessel, the three have to dive straight into the gravitational maelstrom to escape Doole’s forces, relying on Kyp’s Force-sensitivity to safely pilot their pilfered ship. The harebrained scheme works…

…But it also lands them smack dab in the middle of a secret Imperial installation run by Admiral Daala.

And that’s all the plot spoilers you are getting, readers! Personally, I find Kevin J. Anderson’s style annoying, although he is not so bad when he’s writing the Young Jedi Knights series. But when he’s writing for Han, Leia, and Luke, I want to reach through the book and shake him.

Part of the reason his depiction of Luke annoys me is due to the fact that Jedi Search takes place after the Emperor Reborn story arc. In the old EU Palpatine discovered how to avoid becoming one with the Dark Side of the Force immediately after death. Maintaining a toe-hold in the physical realm, he eventually put his spirit into a clone body and tried to rebuild the Empire. When the Emperor “returned” and began wrecking the fragile New Republic, Luke stupidly decided that the best way to stop him was to pretend to join the Dark Side.

The result is obvious in Search. Luke pulls in his Jedi hopefuls by speaking of teaching them about power and by showing off his own abilities in the Force. His wanton use of power is terrifying; the Force is a Jedi’s ally, not his/her servant. Luke’s dabbling in the Dark Side, however well-intentioned, taints a lot of his actions going forward here and in other books. This led to some very big, very bad consequences for the new Jedi, the Republic, and Luke in particular during the old EU. Reading this book, I can see why Zahn took every opportunity in Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future to verbally slap Luke upside the head for his poor choices (and possibly Anderson and other EU authors as well).

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In regards to Leia and Han, in my opinion Anderson doesn’t let Leia seriously worry about her husband for at least half the book. Instead, he leaves her convinced that Han is using his assignment to visit Kessel as a chance to goof off, completely forgetting that their twins will be coming home soon. Anderson lets this attitude of hers persist for far too long, in my opinion; the fact that Han was overdue to report back to Coruscant at least via holocomm should have told Leia that something was wrong within a few days. Instead, it takes getting hung up on by Doole, plus a couple of more days/weeks (I’m not sure which it is now) of communications’ silence for her to realize that Han’s in trouble.

On the bright side, Han came through this story pretty well. Since he’s stuck on Kessel the day that Jaina and Jacen arrive on Coruscant to stay, his frustration and anger at missing their return makes him attack the guards. His action is not that of a man frantic to escape an unjust situation but of a desperate father who wants to go home to see and hold his children. It’s a very touching, realistic moment, and it’s one of my favorite scenes in the book.

Despite Anderson’s limitations as an author, he does tell a good story. He also ably presents us with the newest Imperial antagonist, Admiral Natasi Daala. Hidden by Grand Moff Tarkin in the Maw for eleven years to protect the installation where the Death Star and other super weapons were designed, she’s a hard, nasty woman. She was probably like this in her early life, but her years of training at the Caridan Academy only made matters worse. In the old EU the Imperial military was virulently anti-alien; it was only a little less anti-woman. Daala is the only known female admiral in the Imperial fleet in the old EU – and her appointment was a secret one.

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Admiral Daala

As a result of this policy, Daala was mocked by the male students at the Academy and looked down upon by her male instructors. Out of pure frustration, she created an “online” persona at the Academy after graduation where she could get noticed and put her tactical skill to use. Intrigued by her suggestions and tactical prowess, Tarkin investigated. He discovered Daala’s real identity and took her under his wing – and, despite being a married man, he also took her as his lover. Locked in the Maw for eleven years since he left to command the Death Star, Daala has let her red hair grow well past regulation length, but that’s the most feminine thing about her.

This woman is nasty, readers. She strikes me as someone who has burned every emotion but fury out of her mind and body. To be frank, I think she’s nearly insane. Though tactically capable, Daala’s attacks tend to lack finesse. She charges out of the Maw like a raging tigress screaming for blood, making Governor Ahrinda Pryce look like a push over and Ysanne “Iceheart” Isard appear completely serene by comparison. This is one villainess I would not want to meet in a dark alley at night, readers. She is unpredictable, vicious, and ruthless.

Now for those Warnings for Younger Readers which were mentioned above. To be perfectly honest, I think that Jedi Search rates less than a one on the scale of objectionable content. That, however, is my voice of (relative) experience talking; young readers should judge for themselves if they are ready to read this book now or not.

With that in mind, the first thing I want to cover is the sex references in the story. There’s a point in Search where Moruth Doole goes to a private prison room in the upper levels of Kessel where he keeps a large number of female Rybet slaves. Although he regularly abuses these alien women, we don’t see him force himself on any of them, or get many details about what that would entail. He just goes in to pick one out of the group for an afternoon of “fun,” and the rest is left up to the reader’s imagination – if they let it go in that direction. I don’t, and so the scene has no bad implications for me.

Then there are Daala’s reminiscences about her relationship with Tarkin. These aren’t detailed; Anderson leaves the reader to fill in the gaps with his or her imagination, using a few words to paint a very general picture. The closest we might come to an explicit reference is a brief mention by Daala that she chose “well built and attractive” men from her Star Destroyer crews to be her bodyguards because they allow her to have sexual fantasies. This mention is one sentence in length and her bodyguards are never seen or described again, making it a bare blip on my sensitivity radar these days.

Jedi Academy

Also, Lando appears in this novel and ends up tracking down a gambler whom Luke suspects is Force-sensitive. The man isn’t Force-sensitive, however; he is a con artist who got in deeper than he bargained on going. When a rich duchess advertised for a husband this gambler – Tymmo – rigged the lottery she was using to choose a suitor so that he could win the competition in order to marry her and retire. What he didn’t anticipate was the fact that, since her people mate for life, she’s a bit…enthusiastic in her daily gestures of affection. Tymmo eventually found he couldn’t stand her attentions, so he ran away. He mentions the duchess’ gestures of affection only in passing after Lando catches him, making them really easy to skim over.

On the gore front, this book probably rates a three for one scene. This moment comes when Moruth Doole remembers how he captured the Imperial commander of Kessel and worked him to the bone in the mines. Once the man’s spirit was broken, Doole fed the Imperial several spice worms, froze him in carbonite, and hung him on the rear wall of his office to die. It’s a pretty brief scene, but it packs an emotional punch and makes a reader dislike Moruth more than they already do.

The next most disgusting moment comes when Doole, who uses his larval offspring to process the glitterstim spice, decides to kill one of them because it’s starting to show some spirit. He can’t have a spirited young Rybet trying to oust him from power, and so he regularly murders the larvae when they begin to outgrow their usefulness. There’s also a heat absorbing monster in the book which Han, Kyp, and Chewie escape from while fleeing Kessel through the mines. It doesn’t actually chew on its prey – just spears them and drains the heat/life energy from them. So although this creature is scary, it doesn’t actually kill in a graphic manner. Rereading the book again for this review, I have to say that I actually find the concept behind the monster kind of interesting.

If I had read Jedi Search as a 10-15 year old, I’m not sure that I would have said then that these items were small potatoes in the objectionable content department. Having encountered far more precise depictions of death, dismemberment, and sex in various other works though, the brief scenes in this book no longer bother me. So if any young readers in this age group checking out this post feel that Jedi Search isn’t good for them right now, I understand completely. All I’m doing is sharing my opinion of it and suggesting that they come back to the book whenever – or if ever – they feel they can handle it.

Jedi Search isn’t this writer’s favorite original Expanded Universe novel, true. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading every now and again. If you decide to check the book out sometime, then I can tell you that it’s not bad. It’s not great, but it’s not bad.

May the Force be with you, readers!

1994 Bantam Books STAR WARS JEDI SEARCH Paperback by Kevin ...

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Spotlight: Star Wars’ Forgotten Heroines, Part 2

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Welcome back, readers! Once more we fly into the breach to learn about Star Wars’ forgotten heroines!

I know I am repeating myself here, but the fact that Disney ditched these women still astounds me. After forty years of build-up, the new owners for this beloved franchise cast aside characters they could have used in new stories. Even if they declared everything after Vision of the Future non-canon, there would have been enough leftover material to spawn new books, several dozen movies, and more than enough subject matter for TV shows like Rebels.

Every time I sit down and really think about it, I look sideways at Disney and say, “Why? Why waste all of that good material? You had a gold mine here, and you shut it down because….well, why did you shut it down?”

Several people have theories about why Disney dropped the old EU, but I won’t bore you with a recital, since these posts are supposed to be relatively cheerful. I already alluded to my own opinion in the post about the final season for Star Wars Rebels, which has not changed. I doubt it ever will, sadly. But the fact is that what’s done is done, and there is no point trying to alter it.

Yes, I know there are people petitioning for Disney to redo Episode VIII. While I sympathize with them, since Carrie Fisher is (hopefully) residing in a galaxy far, far away now, there is no method by which that film can be redone while including her. Disney has already signed an agreement stating they will not use CGI to bring Leia back into the franchise, and even if a cast and crew could be found to remake the rest of the movie, working in Fisher’s existing scenes to a new movie would take a lot of work. It might not result in a good film, either.

More to the point, there’s no way in Mustafar that the kingmakers in Hollywood would let a remade Episode VIII into theaters. Most of the “important people” in Tinseltown have hated Star Wars and the majority of its fans since the first film came out, and many will go on hating it and us ‘til the day they die. I’m sorry, but there’s just no way around that or The Last Jedi. The only things which those of us who dislike the new films have got are the original movies, the original EU, and stories by some bright creators who want to do homage to the original movies.

With that in mind, let’s go back to the listing I started yesterday. One of the best ways to keep the original Star Wars alive is for its fans to show the old EU to new readers and prospective fans, which is why I wrote these two posts. So, without further ado, let’s look at some more of the leading ladies from the original SW timeline:

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Jan Ors: Jan Ors was a Rebellion operative/spy who reported directly to Mon Mothma. While in a Rebel asteroid base, she was one of several Rebels captured – but not executed – by Imperial Stormtrooper and future Jedi knight Kyle Katarn. Although on opposite sides in the war, Kyle immediately felt a connection with Jan, as she did with him. This led him to spare her life and the lives of most of her compatriots. It was after this act of mercy that Kyle learned his father, Morgan, had been killed in a “Rebel” strike on their homeworld of Sulon.

At first, this made Kyle extremely hateful toward the Rebellion, including Jan and her friends, whom he met again before he was to enter Imperial service fully. It was during a brief fight with Ors’ companions that Kyle was to have his eyes opened to the truth; during the conflict, Jan name dropped Sulon, catching Kyle’s attention. She was able to prove to him that his father – who was a Rebel sympathizer and supporter – had been killed by the Empire, not the Rebellion.

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Jan Ors and Kyle Katarn

Kyle immediately defected after this, helping Jan and her fellows escape back to the Rebellion. There he became an agent who specifically answered to Mon Mothma, running missions she would trust to no one else. Kyle soon proved to be a one-man wrecking crew, carting up to six or more heavy weapons during his missions. Jan accompanied him on some of his assignments, one of the most famous being his operation to stop the Empire’s Dark Trooper program. In that event, she was his “mission officer.” This basically meant that she sat in front of enemy lines and, after giving Kyle needed info, watched with a bag of popcorn while he cut a swath of carnage through enemy ranks.

From what I have read, we never got to see Jan run her own missions very often. Usually, when she appeared, it was because she was being rescued by Kyle. This wasn’t because she was an incompetent agent and couldn’t handle her own; the reason she needed rescuing so often was because everyone who wanted Kyle Katarn knew the best way to get him angry was to threaten or “kill” Ors. During her own missions, it seems, Jan didn’t have near as much to worry about. She was a good shot and a capable fighter – at least where the average Imperials were concerned.

Throw in Dark Jedi, though, and she was out of her depth. On those occasions she very wisely did the sensible thing, which was to sit down, shut up, and pray Kyle would find her before the bad guys decided she was more trouble than she was worth. Because he was Force-sensitive, Kyle always managed to find her, despite the fact that her friendship with him was what usually got her into these messes.

None of this is what led Jan to turn down Kyle’s repeated offers of marriage, though. No, she turned him down because they were both fighters involved in the myriad wars which afflicted the Star Wars galaxy following Return of the Jedi. Any day could be their last, and Jan didn’t want to have Kyle for a brief space of time only to lose him a day, a week, or an hour later. It is also probable that she knew that, whenever she was captured or appeared to “die,” Kyle skirted dangerously close to the Dark Side in order to rescue/avenge her. If she actually died in combat with an enemy, the last thing Jan wanted was for her death to make him into one of the monsters they fought so hard against. Better they stayed friends; that way, whatever happened wouldn’t hurt as much as if they were man and wife.

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Since Kyle was originally one of the agents who stole pieces of the plans for the first Death Star, there is no compelling reason explaining why he and Jan were not included in the film Rogue One. The writers could have written the story so that Galen Erso was Galen Ors, making Jyn the twin or older/younger sister of Jan Ors. If they had gone that route, the story would have been twice as interesting and complex as it was; remember, in the original EU, Jan worked directly for Mon Mothma. The film writers could have maintained this for the movie; in order to protect Jan from general interest, Mon Mothma could keep the younger woman as her private agent.

It would have added extra tension for Jyn’s story, too. Say the sisters were both “dumped” by Saw Gerrera, but one returned to the Rebellion (Jan) while the other rebelled in her own way (Jyn). Throw Kyle into the mix to play off of the wayward Cassian Andor and Jan, and the writers have got a boiling kettle of emotions to play with. Then, at the end, Jan and Kyle are the only members of the Rogue One team to survive the mission, emailing the plans to Leia moments before hightailing it back to Yavin for their next assignment. Boom, you have material for more fill-in movies starring Jan and Kyle as they deal with the aftermath of the Rogue One mission and Kyle’s Jedi adventures. It’s a win-win all the way around.

But the new guys didn’t do that. Bummer.

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Mallatobuck: Mallatobuck is here because I do not know if she survived the switch to the new timeline. In the original EU, Chewbacca married Mallatobuck several years before A New Hope. Together they had one son, Lumpawarrump (yes, that is really his name, and yes, Lowbacca was a better choice). I do not know too much more about her, having not encountered her anywhere outside my New Essential Guide to Characters. I understand she was in the less-than-appealing Star Wars Christmas Special, but really, that show was not her fault. If, as I suspect, Mallatobuck did not make the new timeline’s cut, we are down yet another interesting character.

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Vima-Da-Boda: Descended from the famous ancient Jedi Nomi Sunrider and her daughter, Vima Sunrider, we first hear about Vima-Da-Boda in Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Search. A Jedi from the pre-Clone Wars Order, Vima went mad after her own daughter fell to the Dark Side. She ended up in the spice mines of Kessel, where she met and gave rudimentary training to the future maverick Jedi Knight Kyp Durron. It was apparently enough for the kid to pull off mind tricks on the people running the mines.

Somehow, Luke or one of our other heroes found Vima in time to solicit her help fighting the reborn Emperor Palpatine (that part is complicated). Later on she became an instructor at Luke’s new Jedi Academy, seemingly recovered from the despair-induced madness she suffered when she lost her daughter.

The old EU was initially more flexible about Jedi breaking the ban on marriage before the Purge than the new one is. Corran Horn, as we saw yesterday, was descended from a long line of upstart Corellian Jedi. New Jedi Knight Kam Solusar’s father, Jedi Master Ranik Solusar, caused a real upset in the old Jedi Council when he married and fathered Kam, who was old enough to run off into Wild Space rather than die in the Purge or become a Dark Side follower of Palpatine.

And during the years between the Jedi Purge and the Rebellion, there were surviving Jedi like Kanan Jarrus who just plain ignored the ban because it did not matter any more. All of this makes Vima’s descent from a long line of Jedi women rather unsurprising. It was actually one of the things I really liked about the old EU; by the time of the Purge, Jedi were practically banned from marriage. But when Luke’s new Order came on the scene, they could break with that ban because, like the original Jedi Knights millenia ago, they were starting almost from scratch.

I would have been REALLY happy if the writers had kept this aspect of the original EU for the sequel films. It is still mind-boggling to me that they wiped out Luke’s new Jedi Order prior to TFA. What would be wrong with having new Jedi from the books Force-jumping out of drop ships into the melee on Takodana? The writers could have gotten Kyle Katarn, Corran Horn, Kam Solusar, and lots of other cameos into that film and Episode VIII easily in that manner.

But they didn’t do it. *Sigh.*

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The Dark Woman: This Jedi, who wielded a purple lightsaber like Mace Windu and Jaina Solo, was so devoted to the Force that she renounced her very name in its service. A Jedi Master, the Dark Woman trained Ki-Adi-Mundi to Knighthood but failed to take care of future bounty hunter Aurra Sing. Her inability to train Aurra, while not entirely her fault, made her unpopular with the Jedi Council.

Nevertheless, two years after the Battle of Naboo, the Dark Woman took over the training of A’Sharad Hett, the son of the great Jedi Knight Sharad Hett. A’Sharad had been raised among the Tusken Raiders of Tatooine and was Ki-Adi-Mundi’s apprentice until he accidentally brushed the Dark Side. At that point, the Dark Woman stepped in and took over his training.

I do not know how things ended for A’Sharad – I hope he lived to meet Luke at some point in the old EU – but I know that the Dark Woman died on an Outer Rim world shortly before the Battle of Yavin. Rumor has it Mara Jade was the one who located her, but it was unquestionably Darth Vader who killed her. Aurra Sing must have been disappointed, since she had already accepted a contract on the Jedi Master’s life just before Vader found the Dark Woman. Sing joked she would have killed her former master for free, since she was still smoldering over the woman’s perceived abandonment of her years earlier.

The Dark Woman is here primarily because I do not know if she made it into the new timeline. Apart from the fact that she is interesting on her own, I would really like to know if her last apprentice survived the Purge by going back to live with the Tusken Raiders. There would have been a very interesting story there if he had – not to mention another new candidate for Luke’s Academy.

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Tahiri Veila: Like A’Sharad Hett, Tahiri Veila was raised by Tatooine’s Tusken Raiders. They killed her parents on their homestead but, for some reason, the Sand People decided Tahiri was worth keeping around. Luke eventually discovered her and brought her to Yavin IV, where she and Anakin Solo quickly began a Romance Reel. Captured and brutally abused/brainwashed by the Yuuzhan Vong, Tahiri was eventually rescued by Anakin. The two never got past their first kiss; Anakin died a little later in order to destroy creatures the Yuuzhan Vong had designed specifically to hunt Jedi.

This must have really upset Tahiri, since Jacen was later able to take her as his Dark Side apprentice. Even after being redeemed from the Dark Side, Tahiri never went on to become a full Jedi Knight. Instead she became a bounty hunter, which I think was a total waste of her potential by the writers for those stories. Seriously, why didn’t the writers for the new timeline have Tahiri and Anakin married by The Force Awakens? It would have been nice if they had had a child or several children, too.

I have always thought it was highly unfair that the old EU writers never let Leia and Han have more than one grandchild to carry on the Solo name after losing both their boys. It is one of (several) things I had half-hoped the new timeline would correct. Giving Anakin and Tahiri a child would also have prevented her from falling off of the Light Side bandwagon, something else which has always upset me. Truly, readers, I think the destruction of Star Wars began toward the end of the old EU, as will be demonstrated when we look at the next heroine on our list….

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Tionne Solusar: The near-human wife of Jedi Knight Kam Solusar, Tionne could use her voice and music to amplify her Force powers. In the Young Jedi Knights series, Luke liked to cede the floor to her so she could teach his students Jedi history by singing it. According to the books, her voice was spell-binding; listeners did not quite see visions of the past when she played and sang, but neither could they find the heart to interrupt her or take their minds off of whatever lesson she was teaching.

I do not know much about Tionne. She was an under-used heroine in Star Wars long before the new timeline. Recently, I learned that during Jacen Solo’s Dark Side reign, Tionne was killed and mutilated by his forces. Her husband, Kam, was in the same battle. Though he was left for dead, he didn’t die, but I sure don’t envy those who had to tell him about Tionne. And if he saw what was done to her – blogger winces – Good Lord, that was even worse for the two of them.

If this brutal end for Tionne Solusar does not prove that the Star Wars haters had already gotten their talons into the franchise before Disney bought it, I don’t know what does. There was no reason for the authors to murder Tionne like this – none. It was done out of pure spite to the franchise and its fans. That was my big problem with Star Wars from the Yuuzhan Vong War onward; characters were killed off either for shock “value,” to add “gravitas” to the universe (how can you get more grim than “planet destroying, man-made moon”?), or as a way to demoralize and dishearten new readers and old fans.

Everything people are complaining about in the new film trilogy started with the old EU’s Yuuzhan Vong War. This is why I find the new films even more disappointing than most others do; Disney had a chance to clean up the mess the novel writers were making with the new trilogy. But instead of seizing this opportunity with both hands, they let it pass.

There is no excuse for that, readers. None whatsoever.

Moranda Savich: Moranda Savich is the last heroine on this list that I will discuss in detail. A pickpocket and information courier for Talon Karrde’s organization, Moranda played a big role in Vision of the Future, trying to help Wedge Antilles and Corran Horn find out who wanted to sabotage the Bothawui planetary shield generators.

Spunky and sharp, with a whiplash wit and keen mind, I am pretty sure Moranda bit the dust before the book ended. She was a lot of fun, and I was sad to lose her. So having a young Moranda Savich chasing around the galaxy in Rebels at some point would have been great for me. I get the feeling there were a lot of stories behind the old, grandmotherly woman we meet first in Specter of the Past.

Oh, well, what’s done is done, and there is no undoing it now. *Sigh.*

Well, readers, that was a long post, wasn’t it? I am going to finish this article with a list of heroines I do not know enough about just yet. Others I know a little something of, but because they are in a video game (KOTOR), I will let those who are interested pick the program up and play it to encounter them personally.

Right now, I am off to plan my next torture routine – ah, I mean, post. So here are the Honorable Mentions from Star Wars’ very, very lengthy list of heroines. You can look them up at your leisure, or wait for me to get around to writing about them in the future. That will probably be a long wait, though, so you may want to check ‘em out yourselves:

Gaeriel Captison Thanas, Callista, Siri Tachi, Xaverri, Lorana Jinzler, Teneniel Djo, Anja Gallandro, Releqy A’kla, Tash Arranda, Aril Nunb, Lieda Mothma, Sera Faleur Darklighter, Mirith Sinn, Dr. Qwi Xux, Mission Vao, Nomi Sunrider, Vima Sunrider, Jori Daragon, Bastila Shan, Tendra Risant Calrissian, Jysella Horn, Rianna Saren – and many, many more I cannot yet name, but which I hope to know in the future.

May the Force be with you, readers

Star Wars’ First “Spark of Rebellion”

Hey there, Star Wars fans!  Strap into your X-wings, grab your blasters, and hang on to your lightsabers, because today’s subject is Disney’s animated series Star Wars Rebels!

I had intended to write a post about this series not long after it aired. But, with so few episodes played on television, I feared that doing so would be premature. I still wanted to write about the series, but I thought it best to see the first season through before I said anything in favor of – or in protest against – Star Wars Rebels.

Now that the first season of the show has run its course, I am free to unleash my opinions about it. To start this post off, if you have not seen the series, here is the main cast of Rebels:

Ezra Bridger: Ezra is a street boy from the capitol city of Lathol, an Outer Rim planet, who is also Force-sensitive. Physically designed to look like Aladdin, but somewhat younger (fourteen at the beginning of the show, fifteen from the middle of the first season onward), he makes his living as a minor pickpocket who is not averse to stealing bits and pieces from Imperial officers. He is particularly fond of stealing Stormtrooper helmets, and is quite willing to pull pranks on the Imperials – when there is no chance of their realizing that he is behind the prank, that is.

In Rebels’ first episodes/introductory film, Ezra falls in with a small band (you can count their number on one hand) of rebels who regularly cause trouble for the Empire. Though Ezra at first has no intention of staying with the crew for very long, he soon becomes fond of them and joins the gang permanently.

 

Kanan Jarrus: Originally called Caleb Dume, he took on the name Kanan Jarrus after the fall of the Jedi, probably because his real name was on the roll of Jedi known to have been in the Order at the time of the Clone Wars.

Kanan was the apprentice of Jedi Master Depa Billaba, but his training was cut short when Order 66 was implemented. He was fourteen when he saw his Master killed by Clone troopers. Following her order to “Run,” he disappeared into the galaxy, letting his Force skills atrophy to nearly nothing and burying his past as a Jedi in the same drawer where he kept his lightsaber, becoming a fair shot with a blaster as a result.

Joining up with the pilot of the Rebels’ band, Kanan became the gang’s leader. Smart, cocky, and ready with a snappy comeback or piece of battle banter, Kanan’s Jedi history was a secret known only to his crew. Until the group had to save a band of Wookies in the opening film for the series, the Imperials were none the wiser of his existence, let alone his heritage.

Kanan’s past as a Jedi meant that he recognized Ezra’s Force-sensitivity fairly quickly. Knowing that sooner or later the kid could get caught and what the Empire would do to him once they discovered his connection to the Force, Kanan offered to train Ezra in the ways of the Jedi. This left him uneasy, however, since his own training was incomplete and he had avoided being a Jedi for some time. Now, he and Ezra are learning about the Force in concert, and Kanan has been told that this is his last chance to be a Jedi. If he fails now, he and Ezra are both toast.

 

Hera Syndulla: A Twi’lek and pilot of the rebels’ ship, the Ghost, Hera is the mother figure for the crew. Down-to-earth, firm, but also warm and kind, Hera keeps the rebels centered. She rarely loses her temper, but when she does, duck. She has a good right hook, and should not be underestimated in hand-to-hand combat. Hera’s friendship with Kanan may be more than a friendship, as she will refer to him as either “dear” or “love” from time to time. She seconds for him in almost every situation and he backs up her motherly discipline or decisions, as well as taking her advice on how he should deal with Ezra. Her piloting skills are just below Han’s as far as I can tell. Hera is the first member of the Ghost’s crew to take a real shine to Ezra.

Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios: A former Lasat honor guard from Lasan, Zeb is one of the few Lasats left in the galaxy, since the Empire forcibly “cleared” his homeworld for colonization. Gruff and grumpy, but a loyal friend once you earn his respect, Zeb is the team’s muscle. He is not your average heavy-hitter; he thinks when he gets into a fight and can come up with lots of clever maneuvers in battle. He hates the Empire for killing most of his people and forcing the survivors off Lasan. On a lighter note, though, Zeb also enjoys beating up Stormtroopers. Every chance he gets, Zeb smacks their heads together. He says something about the feel of their helmets just makes it more fun.

 

Sabine Wren: A sixteen year old girl from Mandalore, Sabine has some serious fighting skills for her age. She also enjoys blowing things up. Just how she joined up with the rebels we do not yet know, but apparently she went to the Imperial Academy on Mandalore and “it was a nightmare.”

Sabine seems to fill the daughter role in the crew, as both Hera and Kanan treat her more gently than they do Zeb and Ezra. Zeb usually partners with her in a fight, acting in an older brotherly-fashion toward her and making her safety his priority. Ezra has a crush on her. (Don’t laugh; it worked for Anakin and Padmé!) Sabine is also an artist. She is especially good at graffiti. She regularly spray paints Imperial hardware, and the phoenix symbol the rebels occasionally leave behind after a mission is her specialty. Her Mandalorian armor and even her blasters are painted as well.

Chopper: Chopper is Hera’s cranky C1-10P astromech droid. Cantankerous and a grumbler, Chopper is willing to pull pranks on every male member of the crew. Kanan is rarely the butt of his mischief; for the most part, that is directed toward Zeb and Ezra. Chopper is almost always in a bad mood; he only lowers his grumbling for Hera and Sabine. The guys get it with force, enthusiasm and, when the situation calls for it, volume. Chopper is not the friendliest astromech you are ever going to meet; the creators have apparently said that, “If R2- D2 is your favorite dog, then Chopper’s a cat.” He’s the grumpy grandpa of the gang. Where you can make a fuss over R2, Chopper would probably zap you for almost no reason at all.

 –

Okay, with the character list out of the way, we can get to the really important stuff. Initially, I was not sure I was going to like Rebels. I had skipped out on the Clone Wars series because I could not stand the prequel Star Wars films. Plus, I thought the animation for the series stank. Besides, it was not as if the Clone Wars cartoon actually tied into the bigger Star Wars saga, right?

Eh, wrong, as I have discovered. Turns out the Clone Wars series IS part of the larger Star Wars story’s history. Star Wars Rebels is like the Clone Wars in that vein, being set in the five years prior to A New Hope. In fact, both animated series are so far the only tie-in stories for the new Star Wars timeline coming out with Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. All the previous books and stories from the past thirty years no longer relate to the films’ timeline, according to Lucasfilm. For us Mara Jade Skywalker, Solo children, and all-around Expanded Universe fans, that is a very lousy turn of events. I am not happy that thirty years of stories, especially the great ones written before this year, just got erased.

But what can you do, other than go on living? Maybe the writers will keep Mara and the Solo kids in the Star Wars epic after all. It is a big maybe, but unless they want a full-fledged riot on their hands, doing that seems more sensible than outright nullifying everything fans have had time to enjoy between the original Star Wars trilogy and the less-than-satisfactory prequel trilogy. Oh, well, c’est la vie!

Back to the topic at hand. Despite my initial misgivings, I can say I fully enjoyed Rebels’ first season. Mostly, this is due to the fact that we finally get to meet a Jedi in the same era as Luke and the gang! As you may have guessed, this was the part of the first season which really impressed me. The prequels had Jedi all over the place, I know, but hardly any of them got introduced to the audience in a meaningful way. Mace Windu, Ki Adi Mundi, Luminara Unduli – we hardly got to know any of them in the films or The Clone Wars TV series. They showed up for an episode or two and then they left.

Oh, yeah, and in Revenge of the Sith most of them were murdered by the clone troopers on the Emperor’s command. There is not much point introducing the audience to expendable characters, now is there?

So while the prequel Star Wars films, books, and The Clone Wars TV series are swarming with Jedi, most of them have about the same amount of screen time as unimportant background scenery does. If they get more time on screen than that, it is a rather pointless exercise because most of them die in Revenge of the Sith. How are you supposed to get to know characters that expendable and underwritten?

But in Star Wars Rebels, we have Kanan Jarrus. True, he is not your conventional Jedi. His training is incomplete (he does not even understand Yoda’s dictum “Do, or do not. There is no try,” until the third episode of the series) and he is more into the whole “I’m-the-guy-who-makes-the-plans-and-wisecracks” role. But if anything, that is what makes Kanan interesting. He is not some cardboard copy of Obi-Wan Kenobi or Yoda. He is a character who stands on his own two feet and has his own style. It is really nice to have a “cowboy Jedi” who is willing to take risks, make minor mistakes, and crack wise for a change.

Yes, really important Jedi are and should be “one-with-the-Force-all-the-time.” But we had that with Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Mace Windu. If all Jedi were like that, then the audience would lose interest in them pretty fast. It is one of the reasons why I never liked the prequels; hardly any of the Jedi in those movies had personalities more interesting than brittle wood. Kanan may have a dry wit but he certainly does not have a dry personality (in this writer’s/viewer’s opinion, anyway).

The other great thing about Kanan is watching him connect with Ezra.   I always thought that Obi-Wan and Anakin never quite managed to jive properly with each other in the prequels. Jedi Knights or Masters are practically the only parents their apprentices ever know, but this did not work out with Obi-Wan and Anakin. Anakin already had a mother, and Qui-Gon Jinn seemed to be the only man he viewed as a father-figure. I always thought he was uncomfortable and aloof with Obi-Wan, while Obi-Wan got as attached to him as any older brother would get attached to a younger brother.

So it is fun for me to watch Ezra and Kanan learn to get along in Rebels. It takes a while, of course. Like Anakin, Ezra was born and raised outside the Jedi Order. He knew his parents until he was seven, when the Empire took the Bridger couple into custody and left Ezra to spend the next eight years of his life on the city streets. Kanan saw his Master, the closest thing he had to a mother, gunned down by clone troopers. The last thing either of them wants is to get attached to someone again. Both have been hurt emotionally, and neither of them wants to suffer through losing someone they care about again.

Despite that, Ezra’s better instincts (and maybe the Force) prod him to join the rebel crew, while Kanan feels the need to protect another Force-sensitive – and maybe set about making sure that the Jedi do not completely die out. Of course, the Force may have had something to do with that, too. 🙂

Slowly, the two work out a Master/apprentice friendship that is a somewhat brotherly friendship, part father-son relationship, and a sort of teacher/student partnership. This is one of the things which make the Jedi so darn fascinating. Lightsabers, telekinesis, mind manipulation – that is all secondary; those are frills. The way the Jedi mesh is the interesting part. And in a way, Kanan and Ezra’s friendship is what Obi-Wan and Anakin’s should have – and could have – been. I am very interested in seeing where these two Jedi go from here.

Random observations/questions from here on, readers: first and foremost, the tone of Rebels’ first season is very reminiscent of A New Hope. Do not expect it to last; the creators have warned that season two is more akin to The Empire Strikes Back than A New Hope. So it is probably safe to say that season two sees the Rebels going up against greater odds and getting into even more dangerous situations. “How typical!” to quote C-3PO.

Oh, and Ahsoka Tano fans…she’s baaack!!!  That is all I am telling you.

Also, season one ended with the BEST lightsaber duel I have seen since Return of the Jedi! (I know some of you like other lightsaber duels more than that one, but I am a nostalgic Star Wars fan. I really cannot stand the prequels even long enough to admire the lightsaber duels in them. Sorry.)

Now for the questions: we saw very little of Hera’s, Zeb’s, and Sabine’s back stories in season one. And even though we saw a lot of our two new Jedi, there are hints that we have yet to learn everything about them. The creators have lamented that fact as well, and they are eager to explore the Rebels further. In which case, here is what I want to know:

What happened to Sabine’s family and why was her experience at the Imperial Academy on Mandalore “a nightmare”? I know we are dealing with the Empire’s brutality here, but specifics would be nice. Does Sabine have any family she can whistle up to help the crew, or are they dead? If they are not dead, can she ask them for help for the rebel crew, or do they disapprove of her anti-Imperial activities? Does she have any contacts on Mandalore?

Also, what does she think of Boba Fett? And what would happen if the two crossed paths – perhaps in a fight? It would be very interesting to see Sabine go up against Boba Fett. He is Star Wars’ most dangerous bounty hunter, and she is still green in some respects. She is not Boba’s equal, but could she still find a way to duke it out with him? And where exactly is Ezra’s crush on her going to go? I think I see an Anakin/Padmé romance somewhere in this series’ future. We can hope it will be a less sappy romance, but I am pretty sure an Ezra/Sabine love story is in the pipes for Rebels somewhere down the line.

Has Zeb got any family left? The Empire killed most of the Lasats when they took their homeworld. Zeb is one of the very few who escaped Lasan. Does he know where the other Lasats are? Does he know any of them personally? How many of those surviving Lasats are in the rebellion – and how many are Imperial spies, lowlifes, and who knows what else? Heck – does Zeb have a girlfriend out there somewhere? That would certainly be an interesting future episode!

Where did Hera come from? How did she get involved with the rebellion? Where is her family? If you saw The Clone Wars series, then you probably recognized Hera’s last name: Syndulla. Yes, according to everything I have hunted up, she is Cham Syndulla’s daughter. But that means very nearly nothing to me since I did not watch the Clone Wars series. Of the entire crew, the member we know the least about is Hera. We have at least a sliver of back story on everyone except for her. If the creators could explore her history in the next season, I would be interested to see it play out.

Where are Ezra’s parents? It has been teased that they may not be dead. If they are not dead, then where are they? In hiding? In Imperial custody? With the rebellion? The fact that his parents could be alive has been hinted at, so there has to be an answer for these questions somewhere in future episodes.

What else has not yet been revealed about Kanan? So far his real name has only been revealed in the Rebels’ prequel book Star Wars: A New Dawn. Did he make any enemies as a Jedi apprentice? Did these enemies survive the Jedi Purge, maybe to join the Empire as Inquisitors? Will he meet/find other Jedi? Is he going to be able to keep Ezra from falling to the Dark Side of the Force – not to mention himself? He never finished his training; he is risking falling into darkness as much as Ezra is by trusting him for training. What will Kanan do when/if the crew finds/meets Ezra’s parents? That could be an awkward meeting, to say the least!

Also, does Kanan have a family he does not know about? Jedi are taken into the Order as infants. They almost never know their blood family. What if Kanan has family members in the rebellion – or the Empire? What will he do if he finds out he does have family in either – or both – factions? Those are some interesting possibilities to think about…

So Star Wars Rebels writers, please do not keep us waiting too long for the answers to these – and other – questions!!!

And, readers –

May the Force be with you!

The Mithril Guardian

References:

http://borg.com/2014/09/02/book-review-the-new-expanded-star-wars-universe-begins-today-with-a-new-dawn/

http://borg.com/2014/09/29/star-wars-rebels-and-big-hero-6-disneys-next-animated-sci-fi/

http://borg.com/2014/10/04/star-wars-rebels-premiere-lays-foundation-for-a-new-universe/

http://borg.com/2014/05/05/first-look-trailer-for-disneys-star-wars-rebels/

http://borg.com/2014/03/09/first-look-star-wars-in-the-hands-of-disney/

http://borg.com/tag/star-wars-a-new-dawn/

http://borg.com/2015/03/25/binge-watch-many-great-high-points-to-be-found-in-season-one-of-star-wars-rebels/

Star Wars: A Family Torn Apart

Han and Leia

Hello, Star Wars Writers!

I can hear the groans now.  I know.  First the Marvel Comics writers, then the Transformers writers, now you guys.  My interests are rather wide.  So it’s not hard for somebody, somewhere, to irritate me.

Reading my notes to the Marvel Comics writers, I’m sure you have some idea of what it’s like to tick me off.

You have landed on that list.  I am very upset by what you have been doing of late.

So.  Let’s get started, shall we?

A family torn apart.  What do I mean by that?  I mean the Solo clan, which has been all but shattered through the events of various novels.  We’ll start with Chewie’s death.  Yeah, I can see why the original characters would begin to die off; time passing and all that.  That doesn’t mean I have to like it, though.

So in this R. A. Salvatore and I agree: killing Chewbacca was wrong.

Killing young Anakin Solo, who was not yet out of his teens, was even worse.

What was the purpose of that?  I don’t think Han and Leia ever earned that stab in the gut.  Anakin certainly hadn’t had time to earn it.  He was a very interesting character.  It would have been fun to watch him go gallivanting across the galaxy (preferably with Tahiri) being the Jedi his grandfather could have been.  The galaxy would not have been the only group of people cheering him throughout.

But that’s not going to happen now.

Next we come to Jacen Solo.  Jacen was supposed to be the gentlest of the three Solo children, the one most attuned to living things.  Well, that got turned on its head after Anakin died, didn’t it?  That must be why the youngest Solo child got the axe.  One, or more, of you wanted to see a descendant of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader “come full circle” and repeat his grandfather’s mistakes.

There was no way that fans were going to let you do that to Luke.  Even Lucas wouldn’t let you do that.  Anakin Solo was too obvious a choice; he had been named for his grandfather.  If you used him, it would be expected.  Yet another reason to “strike” him out of the expanded universe.  Any children Luke had would have to continue his legacy, not Vader’s.  That left Jacen.

To complete the “full circle” angle, a member of his family had to face off with Jacen and either turn him back to the light or kill him.  You opted for the latter.  Seriously?  But I guess you thought that your “circle” had to end differently than it began, didn’t you?  Luke turned his father.  It would be too cliché to have Jacen turned to the light the way Vader had been.

So you sent his older twin Jaina to take him out.  When she does Jacen “makes amends” by warning his girlfriend Tenel-Ka that she and their daughter, Alanna, are in danger from poison gas.  We’re never even told for sure which side of the Force Jacen joined in death.  You made it pretty clear which side he was on in life.

You never read any of the other writers’ stories before starting your own, do you?  Did Jaina even cry, at least in private, after killing her brother?  More to the point, the whole incident seems to put her in the territory of the Dark Side, but she doesn’t act like she’s turned away from the Jedi order.  Yet.  I’m sure that someone has a plan to change that soon; what with her starting a resistance movement against Galactic Alliance ruler Daala (did the galaxy get amnesia?  I don’t see them exactly jumping to elect her in a landslide considering how she nearly wrecked the New Republic).  Is Jaina even going to live long enough to have children of her own?  Aside from Alanna, it appears that the Solo line is pretty well sunk.

This is preposterous to me.  Killing Jacen and Anakin robs readers and fans of a lineage of heroes continued from their original favorites.  The Solo family had a great chance to grow and expand.  As for the stories that could have followed the extended family – talk about endless possibilities!!

But now that’s practically gone.

Han, Leia, and most importantly Luke (since he’s the one who taught all three Solo children how to be Jedi and Jacen repaid him by killing his wife) didn’t deserve this.  We, the readers and fans of the expanded universe, didn’t need this.

This was unnecessary, fellow writers.  Totally and completely unnecessary.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Deeply Disappointed Fan)

(L to R) Anakin, Jacen, and Jaina Solo

(L to R) Anakin, Jacen, and Jaina Solo

Book Review: A ‘Crystal’ Moment

CS 2

Hey, Murdock!

What did you do to make B.A. yell at you now?  I hope that a plane didn’t conk out on you guys again.

You were talking to your invisible dog again.  Murdock, sometimes I think you like making the big guy angry with you.  I know he kind of resembles Chewie, but you’re not Han Solo.  One of these days you might push him too far.

Well, yeah, you do have good flying skills, like Han’s.  But I still think you’re pushing it.

What did I want to talk about?  Well, I just gave you a hint, H.M.

Yeah, the subject is Star Wars, one of the books for it.  It’s called Star Wars: The Crystal Star, by Vonda N. McIntyre.  She doesn’t do bad work, at least not that I’ve read, and Crystal Star is no exception.

However, I must admit that I do have a few problems with it.  For starters, I kind of feel like – well, like she purposely made Luke, Leia, and Han a little too slow.  Not in physically keeping up with their enemies but in how they worked out their responses mentally; they just didn’t seem to move fast enough.  Essentially I feel like they were ‘dumbed’ down a few notches. 

For starters, we’ll look at Luke.  In The Crystal Star he falls under the spell of a strange alien being that seems to possess the ability to heal people.  I don’t buy Luke falling under its spell.  While the being does heal…there are strings attached.

Because when it’s hungry, it does just the opposite of healing.  Han is present for one of these ‘healing’ events and gets emotionally sick just from watching, and he has no Force abilities.  Han’s reaction upsets Luke and causes friction between them, friction that I don’t think was really necessary.  It’s not the only source of hostility between them, but it leads to other problems with their friendship that I really don’t think were needed. 

As for Leia:  she, Chewie, twins Jaina and Jacen Solo, and three (and a half) year old Anakin Solo are all planet-jumping on another diplomatic mission.  They’ve stopped off on a backwater planet and suddenly, during the frilly diplomatic chatter, all three Solo children vanish from their nearby playground and Leia doesn’t even realize this has happened. 

For two hours (I’m afraid McIntyre doesn’t make this part totally clear) Leia is unaware of anything.  Then, from the children’s native guardian, she learns that Chewie is hurt and the children are gone.  Although she wants to chase after them immediately, the locals say she shouldn’t ascoupkidnappings are part of the local culture and she’ll shame the culprits (whom they believe are local but whom Leia is sure have Dark Side powers and came from off world) into hurting the one native being that disappeared with her children.

McIntyre, I must say, handles Leia’s shock and fear over this matter rather well.  Still, I doubt that Leia would just ignore R2-D2 if he seemed to want her to follow him.  She ought to have known the droid long enough to know when he had something important to tell her.  As for her fear, this isn’t the first time her children have been targeted in the books.  Considering this, Leia should have been better able to deal and act on her fear than she does in Crystal Star

This also points out a weak spot in McIntyre’s story: Leia’s personal honor guard protect her and her children.  Yet the Noghri of earlier stories aren’t even mentioned in Crystal Star; the only real security for the children here is Chewbacca.  Leia’s lightsaber, twin to Luke’s in color, is also never mentioned.

I’m lost on why these were left out, to be honest.  This is mostly continuity nit-picking on my part, but it still kind of rubs me the wrong way.

The part of the story that really hits the mark, though, is the part that focuses on the captured Solo children.  The viewpoint McIntyre chooses to use is that of Jaina Solo, the older Solo twin and, as such, the oldest Solo heir.  As mechanically savvy as her father and as sensitive as her mother, with the determination and stubbornness of both her parents (plus some from her rather bull-headed uncle, and I say that as a compliment), Jaina works hard to get her twin and younger brother to safety.

I can’t get into too much detail here, H.M.  Sorry, but I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who does have access to it.  Suffice it to say that while Jaina does get her twin back as well as rally other Force-sensitive children being held with them to fight against their captor, Hethrir, it takes her longer to rescue Anakin.  When she does reach him, he has already been rescued by her mother and father.  The one who needs rescuing now, more so than her mother and father, is her uncle.

Interestingly, all three children call their parents to come back from – well, we’ll call it the edge of temptation.  No, Murdock, I can’t be any more specific than that!

Han needs no real saving from this.   Jacen and Anakin easily awaken their mother to her danger, returning her to her senses.  But even Leia seems unable to bring Luke back from the cliff face of darkness.

That’s when Jaina calls, “Uncle Luke!”

Somehow, the voice of his five year old niece snaps Luke awake.  He, Leia, and Han escape.  But Luke, as the only trained Jedi, is still more than a little depleted from his battle, and Jaina and Jacen are set to watch over him as their family escapes the dying crystal star. 

At the end, of course, Luke pulls through – there wouldn’t be any more books if he didn’t!  What intrigues me about this story, though, is how adult Jaina behaves.  You have to remember while reading the book that she’s not eight or even ten; she’s five but thinks as though she’s older (though she admittedly has a ‘young child’ mentality or untainted view of the galaxy).

And the most interesting thing about the story, Murdock, is how it is her frightened call that summons her lost uncle back to his senses.  A feat her father, mother, and her brothers somehow didn’t accomplish, despite the fact that the latter three are all strong in the Force without any formal lessons in using it.  It is responsible, stubborn, courageous Jaina who finally, finally, awakens her Uncle Luke to his danger.

“And the children shall lead?”  I think so, Murdock.  But what connection is there between her and her uncle?  That’s something I’d like to know more about, frankly; more than I want to study her relationships with the rest of her family.  Five called to Luke, one received an answer: Jaina Solo.  It certainly is something to think about.  Or chew on.

Of course I’m making a funny!  You’re not being crazy now, Murdock, just absurd.

Okay, that’s more like it – you and your invisible dog.

Uh, H.M.?  B.A. is calling you and he doesn’t sound happy.  I think I’ll split now, while the splitting is good. 

            Later,

Mithril