Kevin J. Anderson launches his Jedi Academy trilogy this week as I travel back to 1994, and the original Star Wars Expanded Universe. I’m exploring each book by publication date, and there were a couple of things I loved right off the bat, which I either didn’t notice the first time I read it (I don’t recall when I first read the Dark Empire comics) or didn’t really take into account when I was reading it, and once again, Rise of Skywalker doesn’t really have to apologise for bringing back the Emperor, because they did it in the Dark Empire comics, and that was canon, until it wasn’t.
Not only are the events of Dark Empire and the Thrawn trilogy alluded to, but so is the next book that was published, and the next one on my list, The Courtship of Princess Leia, which will take our heroes to Dathomir…
This novel picks up two years after the events of The Last Command, the Solo twins, Jacen and Jaina are now two, young baby Anakin has been born, and the twins are coming home to Coruscant from the hidden planet Anoth, where they have been hidden for the past two years.
Before they can arrive home, Han Solo and Chewbacca head to Kessel to open diplomatic relations, but are shot down by the prisoners who have taken over the planet, and all evidence of their arrival (and crash) are covered up. While Leia fumes back on Coruscant (honestly, she gets the short end of the stick in this story, she has to play diplomat while learning to be a mother – not the usual fare for Leia).
Luke Skywalker with some help from Lando Calrissian and R2-D2 head out into the galaxy to find possible apprentices for Luke’s proposed Jedi Academy, they find a couple of recruits but when they learn that Han and Chewie are missing they head off to Kessel to find out what happened.
Han isn’t one to wait around for help though, and with the help of a young man named Kyp Durron, he and Chewie break out of the Kessel spice mines and race towards the Maw (a cluster of black holes) to escape the prisoners turned spicers.
Kyp navigates them through the cluster, and deep within it, they find a hidden Imperial weapons development installation run by Admiral Daala, where they have a prototype of the Death Star as well as a new weapon referred to as a Sun Crusher.
Escapes are made and you can hear the swell of John Williams score throughout as Anderson moves the story along, setting up things for the rest of the new trilogy, as well as introducing some new characters that will no doubt come to play important roles in the subsequent Jedi Academy installations.
Sure some of it is predictable, but I honestly think it was done to set up things that will happen in the next couple of novels, the story has to move fast, but the characters have to be seen to grow (and they do, while still honouring where they have come from), it’s a tough balancing act, and Anderson, I feel was up to the task.
It’s amazing, I hadn’t read this one since it first came out, and I was pleasantly swept up in it again, and delighted in events I didn’t even remember – I knew Kyp had to come along, I remembered Daala and the Sun Crusher, but I couldn’t make them fit into my recollection of the story – and now I get to live it all again, for the first time.
Until next time, may the Force be with you…