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A novel by graphic novel by Kevin J. Anderson and Chris Gossett (2001, Dark Horse Comics)
Book 7 of Tales of the Jedi
3986 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

The Jedi who survived the Sith War come to grips with their grief and hatred through forgiveness.



5 stars

Read on February 6th, 2005 for the second time  
    I liked this book even more the second time around! It's strange how tastes change, even in only a few years. As soon as I started, I was in awe of the artwork in the first part of the book, which looked like the artists allowed the pencil sketches to show through the inkwork and colors. It looked to me like there were two sets of artists, though, because other sections of the book were very cartoonish. Strange. Still, because so many sections had little or no dialog, but vast panels, the artwork had to hold its own, and for the most part, it did.

As mentioned below, the main character of Vima Sunrider was drawn in a few different ways. My first reaction when seeing her (again) was that she looked so much like Princess Leia. In some scenes she was shown as a sexy young woman, and at other times, she looked like a small nine or ten year old. Given that she's about fourteen, I suppose she's a mix of those.

The story was a simple one, but I think it makes for great closure for the characters. I'm just surprised it is set ten years after The Sith War. Obviously, Vima had to be old enough to run away like she did, but it seems like a long time for Sylvar to fume, while not giving into the Dark Side, and not returning home. Incidentally, Sylvar didn't look very cat-like in this volume.

This book is definitely a keeper, and a grand conclusion to the Tales of the Jedi graphic series. Now, as I understand it, a novel series will be set in this era, which I think is a great idea. I can't wait!



4 stars

Read on October 20th, 2001  
    This was a passionate story filled with characters who require much healing after suffering such great loss.  The art varied between good and not-so-good, but on the whole, it was likable.

This graphic story picks up ten years after The Sith War ended, with Exar Kun banished to the temples on Yavin 4, and Ulic Qel-Droma stripped of his Force awareness by Nomi Sunrider, his love.  

Ulic wants to get away from everything, so he hires a freighter captain to take him to an isolated spot where he can die in peace.  He has imprisoned himself for his evil deeds as a Sith master.  But the past haunts him.  The freighter captain is a big fan of the Jedi, and finds Yavin 4 a great place for Ulic to retire (because he doesn't know this man is the one behind the Sith War) .  The shades to the past that form to Ulic's mind were a great summary of what happened in the past.  We see Exar Kun, and the Massassi, as well as shadows of the people he killed here, and of the space battle that took place.  It was a great reminder of what went on here.  

But it is too much for Ulic.  He has the freighter captain take him to a more distant place, the ice world of Rhen Var, where he will live out the rest of his days in the ancient fortresses of the civilization that used to reside here, before the glaciers came.  Ulic falls into a crevice, but refuses to die after he has a vision of his master, Arca. He realizes that he has betrayed everything and everybody, so he must remain alive to atone for that.  But how he is atone for it is beyond his knowledge!

Whenever we see Ulic, the art becomes shady, very unfocused and it looks unfinished.  I was not fond of the artwork here, but it was effective in some places.  Whenever Ulic sees visions of his past, whether it is on Yavin 4 or on Rhen Var, they are haunting because they look unfinished.  Unfortunately, on an ice world, there are only various shades of grey and white to play with, so the colors can't help the artists out.  

Back on Exis Station, which is where I believe Nomi Sunrider lost her husband in a bandit attack, and where she decided to become a Jedi herself (thought I can't confirm this), Nomi has called for a gathering of the Jedi.  They are still restless, and have need of direction.  Nomi has become powerful, both as a Jedi, and as a stateswoman.  Unfortunately, it has been at the cost of her relationship with her daughter, Vima.  

Vima has grown into a beautiful young woman, with bright red hair and fiery eyes.  Because she has grown up in her mother's shadow, and because her mother is so busy, she resents her life (and her mother).  Vima is shown as sprightly, with a twist to her features that make her look a little like Han Solo!  Sometimes, though, she looks far more like Princess Leia.  She wasn't drawn very consistently, though.  From afar, sometimes she has long, stringy legs that make her look like an awkward young teen, and at other times, she is made to look like a young child, short and squat, with no feminine curves.  But when drawn in her elegant dress, she is more properly proportioned.  But that doesn't draw away from her personality, which is as strong as any of the other young characters we've met over the years.  She has that youthful impatience of Luke and Anakin, the desire to be her own woman, like Tenel Ka, but she also has a playfulness that hasn't really been explored successfully in others.

After an ill-fated thrill ride, Vima stows away in the freighter that took Ulic to Rhen Var.  She goes looking for him to train her to be a Jedi, because he was the greatest, even if he did turn to the dark side.  Ulic rejects her at first, but saves her from a freezing snow storm.  Even though he has no access to the Force, he finally agrees to teach her about it anyway.  He shows her how to levitate objects, how to build her own lightsaber, and they spar together.  We see Vima's playfulness after Ulic gets serious with her, warning her against overconfidence.  She throws snowballs at him, and he gets into the spirit of the event, too.  After he finds that there is nothing more he can teach her, they work on a sculpture together.  Vima sculpts her father, whom she only knew in hologram form, and Ulic carves Master Arca.  The sculptures are huge, and are truly works of art, though they begin to melt in the sunshine.  

The only problem that I have with this part of the book is that I didn't get a sense of time passing.  It seems that Vima was only with Ulic for days, yet they accomplished so much.  The external reference points should have reflected a much longer period. 

For Nomi, of course, is worried about her daughter.  Vima sends word about her training with Ulic, which gets Nomi very upset.  After some soul searching, Nomi decides that Ulic could be a good teacher for her daughter, but eventually decides to go rescue Vima from the potential Dark Side teachings.  She doesn't know where they are, but I suppose she uses the Force to find him, which is an incredible feat.  But I guess she is bonded in a way to Ulic, and can perhaps sense him even across the galaxy.  

In any case, they meet, and I'm not sure Nomi can bring herself to take Vima away, after she sees all the good that has come from the teachings, especially in the sculpture of her husband of so many years ago.  

The final person who needs healing is Sylvar, a lion-like woman who lost a mate when he joined Exar Kun's Sith Empire.  She blames Kun and Ulic, and believes that Ulic has not paid the fair price for all the damage he caused.  He still roams free, which is inexcusable.  What she really grieves for is her lost love.  And she has let her hate smolder for ten years...  she is on the verge of the Dark Side.  She nearly incites the people of her friend Tott Doneeta's village on Ryloth to seek retribution from their enemies.  Doneeta rectifies the situation with negotiations, but this is a catalyst for Sylvar to recognize the path she is on.  

The go back to Sylvar's homeworld and she goes on a blood hunt, which does nothing to sate her anger and her hunger.  She eventually meets up with the freighter captain who brought Vima and Ulic to Rhen Var, and ends up with a lightsaber to Ulic's throat.  At the last instant, in a terrific scene that was charged with emotions, Ulic refuses to fight.  It is a scene reminiscent of Luke's refusal to fight the Emperor in Return of the Jedi, but with much more power.  For Sylvar forgives him, realizing that her mate chose the dark path for himself, and that she was near to choosing that path herself.

But in that instant of forgiveness, when Ulic has been forgiven by both Sylvar and Nomi, and has earned the respect of his student Vima, the freighter captain shoots Ulic, and he dies.  Incredibly, he disappears, like Ben and Yoda.  This means he has become one with the Force, because, as Vima points out, he understood the Force better than anyone, and so in death, he was reconnected to it.  

All the scenes on Ryloth and Cathar, the home planets of Tott Doneeta and Sylvar, were exceptionally well drawn.  Sylvar's blood hunt, which resulted in a massacre of the insect-like monsters, and the firestorm on the day side of Ryloth, showed so much wonder and excitement in such short spans of pages.  The characters were able to grow, even they were only supporting ones, and that is what I read these books for.

I don't know why Ulic has such a goofy face on the cover of this collection.  It seems that he is at peace, which he only achieved in death.  But he also looks like he would stand up and say "duh?" at any time.  

In any case, I liked the way the characters sought peace in their own ways, and finally ended up forgiving each other.  This could not have been achieved without Vima, who was not old enough to know the violence of Ulic during the Sith War, and she was just rebellious enough, and just impatient enough, to seek her own self-centered solutions.  She went from being self-centered (or maybe just rebelling against the perfect daughter she was supposed to be) to truly caring about others and their way of life.  

I wish we could have had a greater sense of the time that Vima's training took, but that is a very minor point.  She becomes a very young Jedi, which is an indication of how strong she could become, like her mother.  Sylvar reaches a turning point in her life by learning how to forgive, and Nomi learns what it is like to love again, both her daughter and Ulic, whom she then loses again, forever.  

The book was full of passionate characters doing what they have to do to come to grips with the events of ten years past.  I like the passion of them all.  The art was hit and miss, as some parts seemed very rough, and others were bright and very sharp.  If only all the stories could be this passionate and so insightful.


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