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A novel by Rebecca Moesta (1997, Berkeley Science Fiction)
Book 4 in the Junior Jedi Knights
22 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Anakin and his friends go to Dagobah in search of his destiny



3 stars

Read May 9th, 2001  
    The novel lives up to its name, as the main characters pursue a true quest. Although I quite enjoyed it, there was too much retelling of the events from the last book, and I'm not sure about the addition of yet another main character.

I said the same thing about Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson's Under Black Sun trilogy of the Young Jedi Knights. By the end of this first book of the new trilogy, I'm not sure what purpose he served. I hope Uldir does not play heavily into the next two books, which would indicate that the author has already lost interest in the two main characters, those being Anakin and Tahiri. 

Uldir is full of impatience, seeking adventure and excitement; the words feel lifted directly out of Yoda's mouth. In fact, there are several phrases that seem to lifted directly out of either Yoda's or somebody else's mouth. Can the author not find inspiring words of her own? Or did her husband (Kevin J. Anderson) teach her how to do it... (enough of this rant -I could get really carried away about how much I hate Anderson's writing style, but I'll save that for whenever I reread the Jedi Academy Trilogy.)

Back to Uldir, he has no sensitivity to the Force, but he has ambition and spirit, so Luke allows him to stay and practice, in the hopes that something will awaken within him. If this guy ends up being a Jedi, even a weak one, I will be very disappointed. But this serves as a precedent, I guess, because Luke will later allow Anja to stay at the Academy in the Black Sun trilogy.

Anakin, however, is very interesting in this book. He is back from a break in his training, and he is full of doubts. He has heard the story of what happened in the Dark Empire comics, where Palpatine touched Leia's womb and "claimed" her unborn son Anakin as his own. I've often wondered if any authors would pick up on that thread when he was older, perhaps even turning him into another Emperor. That would be too much, I think, so I will definitely settle for an identity crisis. 

Anakin convinces Luke to let him go to the cave on Dagobah where Luke failed his first Dark Side test with Yoda. Tahiri accompanies him, of course, as well as R2D2 and the small and furry Jedi Master from the last trilogy, Ikrit. Peckhum flies them there, and Uldir stows away in the cargo compartment.

Once on Dagobah, a lot of time is spent before they get to the cave, which is fine with me. I wasn't sure what would happen when they got there, as Luke's vision only lasted a few moments. They battle a large spider-like creature, chase away herbivores, and learn lots about the living Force as they each take turns guiding the group. This was all extremely well done, and I loved the learning they all did. Anakin and Tahiri work best when they are working together. Alone, they are somewhat powerful, but together, they could rule the galaxy (hmmm... better not dwell on those thoughts). 

Uldir gets what should be a lesson on humility and respect, but I'm not sure he learned any of that. He seemed just as arrogant at the end of the book as he was at the beginning. I wonder where this is leading.

When they reach the cave, the visions they receive are nicely cryptic, just as Luke's vision in Empire. Uldir senses nothing except a slight sense of the universe closing in on him. A nice touch, and possibly foreshadowing. Tahiri sees her past, and I'm not really sure what is meant by that. Anakin sees two sides of his possible future: one with him as a Darth Vader-like dark entity, who battles with a brown-robed Light Jedi. The struggle for his identity will continue, but he now knows that he will not be dominated by either side -the choice is his.

Ikrit does much better in this book than the short time he received in the last trilogy, but I wonder why he and Luke (or Tionne) have not had large discussions and even training sessions, and if they ever will. 

I liked the fact that the young Jedi were accompanied by an adult at all times (even if it was a small furry one). In the Golden Globe trilogy, they did just about everything by themselves. Here the adults are present, but they did not get in the way of the story. They acted simply as guides, not masters.

Many of the paragraphs, especially at the beginning, drifted into long expository segments about what happened in the last few books. I thought this could have been done in a better way.  Tahiri's constant talking, however, was just as well done here as in the last trilogy.  I hope it keeps up.

So this book was in some ways better, and in some ways not as good as the previous trilogy. Moesta did good work, but not as good as Richardson in telling the tales. We'll see what the next book has to offer.

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