REVIEW: Young Jedi Knights 1: Heirs of the Force

One of my favourite characters when it comes to the old Star Wars canon was always Jacen Solo, so what I’ve been doing is slowly collecting the now out-of-print Young Jedi Knights series that was published for the middle grade/young adult market to get more of Jacen and Jaina while also learning a little bit more about Luke’s Jedi Academy on Yavin 4.

Heirs of the Force, the first book in the Young Jedi Knights series, follows Jacen and Jaina Solo as they train at Luke’s Jedi Academy. Right away we get to know that the twins are incredibly close and that Jacen has a knack for animals while Jaina takes after her father (and grandfather, Anakin, in my opinion) with her talent for mechanics and technology. We also get to meet their friend, Tenel Ka, who is a total badass from Dathomir. The trio quickly becomes firm friends with Chewie’s nephew, Lowbacca, who has been gifted an old speeder to put together. With the help of his new friends, Lowie completes the speeder and goes off on something of an adventure…where he finds the remains of a TIE Fighter from the first Battle of the Death Star. When their curiosity winds them up in under fire from the long-abandoned pilot, things take a nasty turn.

This book was a quick read but was honestly so much fun. It requires very little knowledge of the original extended universe of Star Wars (which I know can be an intimidating run of content) and makes sure to fill in a lot of gaps newer or less-intense fans to Legends might have in their knowledge. Jacen and Jaina are so lovely and wonderful, with the original hopeful and kind quality that made Luke such a sweetheart in the original films. I loved getting to know the newer characters as well like Tenel Ka – who is so cool I wish I had read these when I was younger – and Lowie – who is basically an awkward version of his uncle.

The tension and the pacing of the story is so well done, it reaffirms that Kevin J. Anderson is incredible and has definitely put Rebecca Moesta on my radar. And seriously, what’s not to love about a rogue TIE pilot stranded for years trying to single-handedly overthrow a school full of Jedi?

Heirs of the Force is clearly meant for a younger audience but that doesn’t take away from the writing at all. If anything it makes it an even better jumping in point because it’s not as technical as Star Wars books can be. Since the series – to my knowledge – has never been re-released as formal Legends titles, they’re difficult to get ahold of these days, but if you’re willing to search I’d definitely say this first book is worth it.

REVIEW: Star Wars: Children of the Jedi

I love Star Wars. It is a series that has been with me for most of my life and the entirety of the universe just makes me happy. Not to mention, that I am from a time where the original Extended Universe (often referred to as the Star Wars EU) was alive and thriving.

I am aware that the long history of Star Wars novels can be confusing for fans, especially ones that were brought into the series through the newer films and the Clone Wars tv series. Because of this, I am going to try my best to keep this review worded in a way that will help give those fans an idea of where this story would sit in the canon, but I also recommend that those unfamiliar with the EU do a little bit of research into it before picking up this book.

The Story

Children of the Jedi tells two stories of discovery based around the the last battle of the Clone Wars that resulted in the genocide of the Jedi knights and their padawans.

One of the story lines is the adventure Leia and Han Solo go on after an old smuggling buddy of Hans’ crashes a diplomatic event, screaming nonsense and death threats. The other is Luke and his students, trapped on a death trap of an automated ship with a bunch of other life forms that do not belong in Stormtrooper indoctrination centres.

Leia and Hans’ mission focuses primarily on what happened to the Jedi before they were put through a mass genocide – note that this book was written well before the prequels existed – and the slow investigation into a conspiracy against the New Republic that involves a mystery around the now-dead Emperor.

Meanwhile, Luke, Nichos, and Cray have been taken aboard a deactivated Imperial destroyer that has been restarted for the first time in thirty years. Their mission not only involves finding out what in the stars the ship is but also fighting against the inoculation they have undergone to convince them and the other captives of the ship that they are all stormtroopers on a mission decades out of date.

The Characters [spoilers]

I love the EU, but there is so much I don’t know about the whole world that existed before the prequels even came out. The new characters in this novel were Cray, Nichos, and Callista, and I enjoyed knowing them.

Cray exists in stories prior to this novel, as she is a brilliant engineer who is sensitive to the force and sought out Luke to train her in the ways of the Jedi along with her friend-turned-lover, Nichos. As brilliant as Cray is, she is also a perfectionist and an overachiever in the sense that if something is out of her grasp, she will put her own health at risk to find the answers she needs to continue. Before this instalment in the universe, Nichos fell pray to a ALS-like disease that was going to bring him to a quick death. However, Cray spent 99% of her time studying and constructing robotics so she could transfer his consciousness into another form and continue their lives together.

Cray’s realization of her “selfishness” in wanting to keep her lover around is a huge moment in her character and even Nichos coming to a deeper sense of how he isn’t a “real person” was one of the most heartbreaking moments in the novel and made me love them both even if I am not entirely familiar with who they are before this story.

Then there is Callista. Callista is a lost Jedi who speaks to Luke through the systems that run the Eye of Palpatine. She is another tragic case that befell so many Jedi in the times of the Clone Wars and even though her conversations with Luke were non-verbal or through the computer screens, she has so much depth that it makes me love her a lot. The only thing I found weird about her was that I’ve become to accustomed to Luke being married to Mara Jade, it was strange to see him awkwardly flirting with this woman through the Force.

Finally we also have our villains: the Emperor’s concubine, Roganda Ismaren, and her son Irek. Both are horrifying, Force-sensitive monsters of people, hell bent on the destruction of innocent people in order to restore the Empire while being the new overlords. Leia being somewhat familiar with Roganda was an interesting insight to Leia’s days in the Senate as well as provided more information about Leia prior to the strong days of the Rebellion.

The Issues [spoilers]

I found this book moved rather slowly. It started out strong and exciting but as the story changed back and forth between Luke’s mission and Leia’s, the pacing also changed back and forth rather rapidly. It was jarring at times and with so many species and character names to remember, it got a little confusing (especially when not all of these species have appeared in the films or tv series).

Conclusion: ★★★★☆

At the end of the day, this book helped me realize just how much I miss the original extended universe. Leia and Han’s marriage is so sweet to see and Luke in the early days of being a teacher is also such a great thing when the films never really got the chance to show that (I have not yet seen The Last Jedi so I don’t know anything about Luke being a mentor in that). Sure the story got a little complicated with all the different characters and species, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this story. When I finished reading it, I was incredibly pleased to hear that it’s part of a trilogy and I am very excited to get my hands on the next instalments of this story.

555313Published: May 1995
Bantam Spectra

Summary: Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca set out on a mission vital to the survival of the fragile New Republic. They are searching for the long-lost children of the Jedi, a quest that takes them to the once vibrant stronghold of Belsavis—a nearly forgotten frozen world. Leia has heard tales of a Jedi exodus from the dark crypts below the planet’s surface. She has also heard that since the time of the exodus no one entering the crypts has returned alive.

Halfway across the galaxy, Luke Skywalker has undertaken an equally dangerous expedition that, if it fails, could have fatal consequences for Leia, Han, and Chewbacca. Haunted by ominous dreams and guided by a force he cannot identify, Luke journeys to a remote asteroid field over the planet Pzob. There he discovers the automated Dreadnaught, the Eye of Palpatine, from the days of all-out war.