NOTE: For some reason, I seem to have skipped reposting this review when I was posting last night. Must have been more tired than I thought.
(Originally posted on Amazon 8/18/2003)
The climactic novel of Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy is probably the best of the series, but in the end it is something of a disappointment.
The book picks up where Dark Apprentice leaves off, namely with yet another super weapon on the loose, this time in the hands of a would-be Jedi with revenge on his mind, while Luke lays in a helpless trance on Yavin 4. Meanwhile, a plot is in motion to kidnap Leia and Han’s third child (Anakin Solo), the Republic finally gets around to moving against that hidden weapon’s research facility from Book #1, and Admiral Daala continues to fail miserably in her Honor Harrington imitation (why does anyone in their right minds follow her?). All of these plot lines lead to that perennial Big Climactic Space Battle, which are a trademark of the Star Wars series. On the plus side, the action works well, the characters are much more interesting, and there’s actually a good deal of humor (more so, IMHO, than in either of the previous two books). However, on the negative side…
To give Anderson credit, he does manage to tie in all the threads he began in the previous two books, which is in some ways a marvel. But the ending feels rushed, and the novel loses much of its steam because of it. Going into the end of such a series, there should be a feeling of tension and excitement, a build-up to the final confrontations about to take place. There is little of that here, just a feeling that we’re finally reaching a conclusion. Anderson does achieve his primary task of re-establishing the Jedi order, but once he has them back he doesn’t really have much for them to do — which is a shame, because that was supposedly the point of the series in the first place. At least he sets things up adequately for subsequent novels.
If you’ve managed to get through the first two books of the Jedi Academy Trilogy, Champions of the Force is an adequate ending. Even if you were wavering on reading the third book because Dark Apprentice was not quite up to snuff, going on to the last will at least satisfy your curiosity about how things turn out. But once you’re finished, don’t expect to want to ever go back to the books again. This isn’t the kind of series that’s likely to occupy a permanent place on your shelves unless you are a Star Wars completest.
Three Stars out of 5 Stars