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A novel by Michael Stackpole (1998, Bantam Spectra)
11 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Corran Horn joins the Jedi Academy, helps battle Exar Kun, then hunts down an Imperial whom he believes has kidnapped his wife.



Read June 3rd to 21st, 2013, in hardcover for the second time  
    This author knows how to write starship battles and lightsaber fights. His main character, written from the first person in the only Star Wars book to do so thus far, is well-known from the Rogue Squadron series, and finds himself in the position of reinventing himself, first through Luke's academy, then in an undercover mission. The author manages to do the second part better than the first. While I usually like to see events I've already known about from a different point of view, this one was lacking, and gives the main character way more relevance than he should have, given the events in the original Jedi Academy Trilogy. The second half of the book was quite engaging and a lot of fun.

Spoiler review:

Normally I like seeing things from different points of view. Corran Horn's visit to the Jedi Academy, spanning the events of Jedi Search through Champions of the Force, showed a different aspect to that series, and takes place really in parallel, duplicating only a small portion of that story. The author was skilled at keeping Corran out of the main action, which effectively prevents us from asking why he wouldn't have been mentioned in the original trilogy as he was so prominent. It's interesting to see that Brakiss, the one who turns to the dark side in The New Rebellion, was at the Academy at this point, as well. Kam Solusar, of course, was picked up as one of the Reborn Emperor's Force-sensitive minions in Dark Empire II.

Corran here is a much different character than the one who shows up in various stories later. Here, he doesn't hesitate to do what is necessary to get the job done, as he did in CorSec before, and in the Rogue Squadron books. He even tells Luke to his face that he's a horrible teacher. He doesn't understand that Luke is not training people to be warriors, but to find the Force. I think by the end of the book, he realizes this. I also want to know what happened to this rare Jedi trait that Corran has, the ability to absorb energy, even the energy of a lightsaber, and use it to power other Force-skills, or to project images into other peoples' minds. It is nowhere to be seen in the Fate of the Jedi series, when his two children were taken from him. In fact, by then, he is reduced to a whimpering parent-figure who is paralyzed by the thought of his kids being harmed. Where is the Corran we see here, who lets his wife remain in stasis for two months or more as he goes undercover to get close to her? I suppose in the later series he waited and did nothing, too, so maybe that's consistent, after all...

I found Corran's characterization to be a little forced, but then again, I haven't read the Rogue Squadron novels in a long time. Here, he decides to become a Jedi, and he becomes obsessed with that goal, instead of trying to let the Force come to guide him. As Luke says later, the Jedi need people like him, and the Academy isn't really the place to create police-Jedi, yet I still think he could benefit.

After Corran leaves the Academy, he goes undercover among pirates who support the Invids, the Star Destroyer commanded by Leonia Tavira. He knows she has his wife, so he impresses his way up the Invid ladder pretty quickly. It's probably not hard given the lower quality of the pirates, and as he says to himself, he could have ended up here, if it wasn't for Rogue Squadron.

But his integration into the team seemed way, way too easy. He had the typical nemesis, which went about as expected, at least until Corran embarrasses the man, and Tavira is forced to kill him. I found the author's sexual tension to be uncomfortable at best, boring and exasperating at worst. He went on for pages about how he was attracted to Tavira, analyzing his sexual desires and psychological needs. It should have taken much less time, or maybe would have been more interesting if he discussed it with somebody, rather than internalizing it.

We also meet Elegos A'kla, the Camassi who shows up every now and then in the various novels. Corran saved his life, so like so many species, he feels indebted enough to leave his world and follow his savior for years, maybe. It was neat when Chewbacca did it. But then Jar Jar did it, and the Noghri, and now the Camassi, too? It's too much, even in a universe filled with thousands of different species.

Finally, we get the Jensaari, the group of Force-users who split off from the Jedi because they found Sith teachings, and were being used by Tavira to hide her ship. The story was actually plausible, which is more than I can say about many of the other Force-sensitive groups we've met. Corran and Luke defeat them easily, so Corran can wake Mirax. I was happy to see that Luke wasn't overly challenged by them. They actually kidnapped Mirax because they had a vision that Corran would destroy them, so they tried to lure him to their world to have the battle on their terms. Of course, Corran and Luke did effectively destroy what they were...

This book was pretty much on the same level as the Rogue Squadron novels, from what little I recall. That it was written from the first person point of view made it very different, and allowed a lot of internalizing of the emotions and opinions. It also allowed only one character point of view, so the story couldn't split into parallel paths. It was a good read, but much of it fell short in one way or another. The Jedi Academy was a little dull, the infiltration of the Invids seemed too easy, and the Jedi tricks to get the Jensaari to show up were fun; though they got strange, they were probably the best part of the novel.



5 stars

Read January 25th to February 5th, 1999, in softcover  
    Great story involving two stories, actually. The first part deals completely with the events of the Jedi Academy Trilogy, and for the most part, does a better job than Kevin Anderson did. It was really neat seeing events happen from another point of view. The author even avoided mention of some of the events I thought were unnecessary. Great job there. However, I thought the character could have been put more in the thick of the action and been witness to more, but I guess that borders on copyright infringement. I also think the character could have been less "mighty" in that he was the one to confront the bad guys, and he was responsible for Kun's flight into the trap...

The second half of the story was exceptionally well done, too. Surprises abounded. Though I could have done without the genetic encyclopedia, the visit to Corellia was really well done.  I even remembered tidbits from the Corellian Trilogy. The daily routines in the smugglers hideouts and star destroyers worked really well.  Tavira was especially well written. There was sexual tension with that woman!

Once again, I could have done without the reference to a new group of unknown Force-users. Though I have to admit that this one was much more plausible than most of the others, being an offshoot of the Sith, but not knowing exactly what that meant. 

It was nice to see Luke get into the act, even though he was involved in the Jedi Academy at the time. The lightsaber duels between Corran Horn and Luke and the dark warriors was impressive. 


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