The young adult Star Wars series, christened the Jedi Prince Saga, continues this week in a galaxy far, far away with book five, Queen of the Empire. Not quite as silly as some of the previous entries, this one still has its moments, as well as a bit of an environmental message as Han Solo and Princess Leia stop by a planet suffering from climate change precipitated by a greenhouse effect.
But that’s only a quick way-station as the pair, with the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 in tow, head to Hologram Fun World, a popular theme park, now run by Lando Calrissian after he lost Cloud City in a game of Sabacc to Jabba the Hutt’s father, Zorba. The pair plan to elope, but events are in motion to complicate the romantic getaway.
Zorba, upset that profits are down, takes a cadre of bounty hunters to Fun World to cause a ruckus and is shocked and infuriated to find Leia still alive, as he thought he had killed her in vengeance fo the murder of his son. He plans to kidnap her and feed her to the sarlacc on Tatooine.
Han, Lando, and the droids are joined by Luke Skywalker, Ken (the jedi prince), and a life replica droid of Leia, and race off in pursuit only to find that Zorba has been captured by the Imperials, who are having a gathering near the desert planet.
Once captured, it’s revealed that Zorba still has Trioculus the false Emperor encased in carbonite, (while Palpatine’s real son is in holding at a rebel base) and not destroyed by the Dark Side Prophets as the Imperial moffs feared. Releasing him, he’s delighted to be afforded the opportunity to kill Zorba, via the sarlacc (it doesn’t take), and convince Leia to marry him, and become the Queen of the Empire, and succumb to the dark side!
Can our heroes pull of a daring rescue and escape before it’s too late?
Happily, Ken isn’t given a lot to do in this story, he just pops up now and again, so that caps some of the silliness, the other silly side of it is… Han and Leia wanted to elope in a theme park? No matter how good it is, I couldn’t see that for those characters.
I get that these books are for young adults and tweens, and that perhaps even when they were being written they wouldn’t actually be considered canon in the Expanded Universe that was springing up around the Timothy Zahn novels but some of it seems a little too juvenile… not quite talking down to the reader, but not far off from it either.
The next book in the series will bring this particular saga to a close, and we’ll see what happens when Ken and our heroes confront the Prophets of the Dark Side! Until then, may the Force be with you…