(Originally posted on Amazon 8/23/2003)
The Jedi Academy Trilogy was one of the first set of novels to appear after Lucas gave his blessing to a new series of original books in the Star Wars universe, and unfortunately it shows.
The story is basically about the efforts to establish a new order of Jedi Knights, to replace the old order that was wiped out by the Empire. While Luke Skywalker searches the galaxy for potentials, Han and Chewie stumble upon a very powerful candidate while stuck on the mining world of Kessel, Leia is up to her neck in politics and trying to be a good mother for her twin children, and Lando tries to schmooze his way to the next Big Deal. Added to this mix are a hidden Imperial weapons research facility, a very dedicated female Imperial Admiral, and a petty Imperial loyalist with delusions of grandeur, and what you end up with is a hefty assortment of plot lines and potential entanglements for our heroes, all inter-spaced with the usual dollop of gun play, space battles, and a light saber or two.
The story moves at a rapid pace, almost as if KJ Anderson were trying to stuff about ten episodes of a television series into one book. The general effect of this is that the novel tends to be more episodic than a smoothly flowing tale, and some of the sub-stories feel so irrelevant to the main plot that they come across almost like filler, as if Anderson were trying to pad his page count just a little. Because of this characterization suffers; the regulars (Han, Luke, Leia, etc.) all come across as a little flat, and the new characters (Kyp Durron, Admiral Daala) feel a little rushed and cardboard. But the ending is pretty good space opera, although a little improbable on the coincidence side, and enough interesting threads remain hanging to draw you to the next book.
Sadly, the biggest problem with Jedi Search, and indeed the series as a whole, is that the books have become incredibly dated since the advent of the First Trilogy. We know a lot more about the original Jedi and their practices now, and quite frankly the image as depicted in the books doesn’t quite mesh with what we’ve seen in the movies. Yeah, I know, the Star Wars authors have attempted to get around this by saying that all knowledge of Jedi training was lost with the purge, but logically you’d think that even the public knowledge (like, that Jedi didn’t marry and were discouraged from fraternizing) would have filtered down to Luke’s time — it’s only 20-30 years later, after all, not hundreds or thousands of years! You’ll have to put all of this down to the fact that the authors were pretty much making things up without being privy to Lucas’s thoughts on the matter, and the end result is the distinct impression that you’re reading something that is taking place in a slightly alternate universe to the movies.
Anyway, rant aside, Jedi Search is adequate for most Star Wars fans. I don’t think I’d give it anyone who wasn’t interested in the SW universe, though, but if you’re looking for a Star Wars Classic fix, it’s worth an afternoon or two.
3 Stars out of 5 Stars