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A graphic novel by Tom Veitch, Chris Gossett, Mike Barreiro, Janine Johnston, and David Roach (1994, Dark Horse Comics)
Book 3 of the Tales of the Jedi
4000 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Ulic and Cay Qel-Droma attempt to end a civil war on Onderon, while Nomi Sunrider and her master fend off a Hutt attack.



3+ stars+

Read June 6th to 7th, 2002  
    I have always thought of this book as the best of the Tales of the Jedi, and I always remembered Nomi Sunrider's part to be the better half of this tale. But upon reading it for the second time, I have to reverse my ideas. This may be the best of the tales so far -reading them in "chronological" order- but Ulic and Cay's part is much better.

Ulic's trial is very passionate. I like him, even if he is headstrong and reckless- modeled on Luke or (one would think) Anakin, I'm guessing. He's convinced that he knows everything. When asked to lead his brother and Tott Doneeta into a peace mission, he readily agrees. When the Queen of Iziz asks him to defend her city, he agrees without even asking his colleagues, without even hearing the other side to the story. His brother pays with his arm for that. He is impulsive, which will get him into trouble later on in this series.

The other two Jedi don't get much to do, except to show off that Cay has a talent for mechanical things, like Jaina Solo will, and Tott has a talent for creatures, like Jacen Solo. Ulic has neither of these, but the power to lead people, and to control them. While I am not a fan of single-talent people, this was done well, as we didn't dwell on it. But Master Arca has to intervene by the end, because Ulic went in head-first, and didn't pause to feel the Dark Side at work. Cay and Tott felt something amiss, but being the younger and less experienced ones, they couldn't place it. Master Arca displays the technique of Battle Meditation, where focusing on the desired result can turn the tide of a battle, as described in Golden Age of the Sith, and The Fall of the Sith Empire.

Ulic and his Jedi follow attacking raiders into the wilderness, and find the kidnapped Princess Galia. But because they didn't stop to hear the warlords' point of view, they now realize that they have made a mistake -Galia wants to stay with her love, a leader of the warlords named Oron Kira. She knows that her mother and father have fallen under the spell of the Dark Side, and wishes to escape it.

By the time they return, the Queen has gathered her Sith magic, and refuses to even hear of a possible marriage between the two peoples. In an all-out battle, the beast-riders have the advantage, but the spirit of Freedon Nadd, an ancient Sith Lord, turns the tide of the battle. Fortunately, the arrival of Master Arca turns the tide once more, and the forces of the Queen are defeated. The last battle takes place on the plane of the mind as Arca defeats Nadd's spirit.

The art was very impressive in this section as well. I liked the beasts, which didn't seem to have head or tail -how did the riders know which way to mount them! The planet of Onderon, the city of Iziz, and the wilderness, were very impressive. And the characters were drawn in a manner that portrayed their characters, as well -somehow, Ulic even looked impatient. And there was one scene, where the Jedi storm the feast before the wedding, where Galia was drawn to perfection, so beautiful.

If this section was the entire graphic tale, except for its short length, the marks would be higher for this installation. But I found that the section dealing with Nomi Sunrider was a little slow. I understand the trials that Nomi had to go through, and it is not the waiting that bothered me.

I found that watching the dealings of Bogga the Hutt and his pirates rather tedious -and I wanted to get back to the planet of Master Thon. Bogga wants the adegan crystals that Nomi is taking to Thon, so he kills her husband (the real Jedi), and stages two raids on her and Master Thon. Those were fine, but I didn't think we really needed to see the interaction and blackmail of the pirates. I understand that Finhead was stealing from a Hutt, and that he really didn't want to try and kill a Jedi, and it develops his character to see the circumstances in which he found he had to comply. But I just didn't find it interesting -perhaps if he had some dealings like Jabba did in his graphic story.

But I did enjoy the interlude that Nomi has, trying to get over her grief at losing her Jedi husband, and taking on the mantle that he left behind. And Thon doesn't rush her. He lets her grieve, until he sees forces at work beyond his control, after which he tries to start her training.

I can see that the authors were trying to make Thon sort of Yoda-like in that he didn't reveal his presence to Nomi right away. I liked that, but found that it went on for a little too long. He reveals that he is a beast only after his abode is attacked for the first time. His apprentice, Oss Willem, who is wonderfully drawn, is a species that I don't recognize, but I liked him right away.

Nomi uses Battle Meditation as well, only she doesn't know how to control it. She turns dark-side crocodile creatures against each other, thus saving her daughter, Vima. And she does the same thing to save Thon at the end when the pirates attack in greater force. I like the way the battle meditation is not used to win a fight, but to turn the creatures, and then the pirates, against each other -use their fears, not force.

Nomi's character development comes in the form of realizing that she killed people with a lightsaber. Not having killed before, she is appalled, and terrified that she might have to do it again. So she refuses to take up a lightsaber again, even with Thon in danger. But she finally realizes that she must, for her own sake, for Thon's, for Vima's, and for the sake of the memory of her dead husband.

They have a long road ahead of them, and it will be painful. But at least Nomi will help keep the light side of the Force in the lead.

The art in this chapter was hit and miss. The first section of it looks like it was done by a different artist. Nomi and Andur, and everybody else, look like they have been through a slave driver. Their hair is stringy and thin, and they just look run-down. But after that, when Nomi arrives at Thon's place, things look better. Her hair gets rich and thick, Vima starts to grow up, and Thon and Willem were magnificent. I always enjoy the way the flashbacks, in this case of Nomi's old life with her husband, are dealt with in a diffuse color, black and white or a sepia. Here, I liked seeing her loneliness, and the colors reflected that.

The stories in this installment were more localized, which is why I'm sure I liked them better than the past two stories. They didn't deal with overwhelming odds or galaxy-spanning conflicts. We had two sets of Padawans trying to pass the tests that their masters put before them. Some pass, others failed. Both sets grew up in a hurry, and learned some interesting lessons. And that character development is what makes these stories so interesting to so many fans. But the war is just beginning...



4 stars

Also read August 23rd to 25th, 1995  

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