Star Wars

Star Wars
Property of George Lucas, LucasFilms Ltd.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Oh ... come on, really?

I'm pretty sure Ro and I are on the same page at this point when it comes to the Jedi Academy Trilogy so
"I've Sithed my pants. My diaper's gone over to the
Dark Side. I've got pages of these, I could go on..."
I'm gonna go ahead and explore the "oh, dear" that is Kevin J. Anderson's series.

As Ro put it when she texted me last week, this series is compulsively readable. It's terrible but you just have to know how it ends. For me, it's like really bad chocolate. I know it's bad, I know I'll get a tummy ache, but I can't stop eating it!

To begin with, there's the totally ambiguous narrator. Throughout the series, Anderson's own voice is all over the narration, divulging information that the character whose POV it's supposed to be has no way of knowing. The fluidity of POV makes the author's voice that much more jarring. The easiest place to see this bleed is any time we're supposedly getting Jacen and Jaina's POV. The kids are two - they're not going to know that an evil Sith spirit has hurt their uncle; they're not going to know that they're in the city's lower levels; and they'r certainly not going to know that a ragged bunch of lower-city dwellers are actually Old Republic political exiles. But during the narration, all these facts are shared with the reader. I find this completely shakes me out of the story because I'm so busy thinking, "There's a mysterious god-like voice telling me things. It doesn't fit into the story anywhere. Why can't I get some POV from an actual character?" I never got to be deeply involved with a character because there was so much authorial voice interfering with my immersion in the story.

Another problem I had with the series was that I never really bought into the scenarios so they lacked impact. I mean, Admiral Daala goes nuts and destroys things. I get that she's emotionally scarred but she was also clever enough to get the attention of Grand Moff Tarkin. Someone that clever should have a much better idea of the importance of strategy. And she's been sitting around the Maw tirelessly maintaining her forces for eleven years - someone that patient should, logically, be more cautious with her forces. She's just ... kind of pointless.

Also ... Ro, did you notice how Admiral Daala bears a striking resemblance to Mara Jade? Red hair, green eyes, fiery traumatized-by-the-Empire spirit ... could we have been a bit more creative with physical features? This time around, I also noticed that Tionne, with her "silver-white hair," "willowy form," and memory for historical events seems an awful like like, oh, I don't know, Winter? Now I realize that TZahn is a tough act to follow but it's not that hard to come up with dramatic physical features that don't mimic his characters. Couldn't Daala have had - oh, to pick some features at random - raven-black hair and violet eyes? Tionne could have been non-human.

I want to say something - anything! - positive about this series. To be honest, though, I ended up skim-reading a lot of it. Given that I was still able to follow the plot without a problem, I clearly didn't miss much in doing so.

Very ready to move on. Give me hope, "I, Jedi" ....


  1. Yes. To everything you wrote. I agree wholeheartedly. And also, what's with changing Mara's appearance? She was no longer a red head, but an auburn-haired beauty. The HECK KJAnderson? And trying to force Lando on her?! The books did have some good portions, like Terpfen, and Anoth, and the Sun Crusher. But all of these things were quite small in the grand scheme of the books, characters, and plots. Yes, please, let's move on! Maybe I, Jedi will be good... One can only hope!

  2. I remember there being a lot of extreme irritation in fandom over Mara's continually changing appearance. Depending on the author, she looked a certain way. KJA started it with his whole "reddish brown hair" thing, I think.

    I did think the Terpfen and Qui backstories were interesting, that's true. Sort puts the Evil back in Empire, which I appreciate because TZahn's Empire is a little too scarily convincing. He rides the gray area line in terms of good and evil, whereas KJA says, "No, no, the Empire really is evil. Let me show you how by TORTURING WOOKIEES." AH, yes. This is the Empire I despise ^_^

    I realized as I was reading this that something else that really made me mad was how crap Han and Leia were painted as parents. They're constantly ignoring their kids, only ever seem to acknowledge them for windows of about a minute. No wonder they're so troubled as teenagers!

  3. Oh my god yeah, that totally bothered me too!!! I hated how the twins were just shunted to the side. I suppose KJA tried to cover his hiney with having Leia constantly feel guilty about it, but still! She didn't actually take any steps to change her schedule or make improvements. She just angsted about it for the whole trilogy. I suppose this is a good example of how even the "good guys" can have family problems. Which I actually like, because if the Solo family was completely perfect, I would have even bigger issues with this series.

    I also agree that KJA did a good job reinforcing that the Empire is Evil. With a capital E. But I prefer TZahn's version more than Lucas' and all subsequent follow ups to the Evil Empire. As you said, TZahn paints the Empire with shades of gray instead of saying they're just straight up bad guys. I think this makes it more believable. All real-world governments are that way. Though I don't think the American government has tortured any Wookies recently... Surely, Obama would put a quick stop to that! ^_^

  4. One thing i'd forgotten that makes me crazy too is all the giggling the twins do. I've worked with many children and see them and work with them almost daily now. No child giggles that much - and if they do, you know something's very very wrong and it's time for a check-in with a pediatrition, stat.

    Agreed re: Zahn. That's what's fantastic about all the Thrawn backstory because it gives a really good sense of what Thrawn's ruthless approach is all about. He's got a HUGE big picture in mind as he's forming his Empire - so much so that he's exiled from his own people.

    I agree, Obama would definitely not enslave Wookiees or Calamarians. Also, I'm pretty sure he isn't secretly the darkest Dark Jedi ever.....