A novel by Nancy Richardson
(1996, Berkeley JAM Books)
Book 2 in the Junior Jedi Knights
22 years after Star Wars: A New Hope
Anakin and Tahiri fend off vicious creatures to protect a friend at a
vulnerable time, while searching for clues about the golden globe.
Read on February 27th, 2001
Just as enjoyable as the first book, but the trouble spots I had flagged earlier grew more worrisome here. Very well written, though.
In the last book, I worried about Luke and the other Jedi not realizing what Anakin and Tahiri were doing, not even getting suspicious. Here, the problem got worse, as Luke simply looks on in frustration as the kids come back from their adventure all scratched and bruised, and a little bloody. Sure, he doesn't want to kick them out, as they are always afraid of. As Luke, I'd worry about half-trained Jedi on the loose, so logic says that he should never kick anybody out.
But so far, there have been no consequences to their two adventures. This gives out a dangerous message to kids reading these books, that nine and eleven year old children can go out, fight vicious predators without any supervision whatsoever! Their adventures are geared to the younger audience,
and the solo adventures must be a very romantic notion, but I'd like to see some consequences, instead of just a few stern looks. These two were nearly killed! They get to keep secrets from the adults, too, which I'm not so certain is such a good idea, because these are really big secrets.
We get to see Old Peckhum, from the Young Jedi Knights series, but he was pretty much wasted here, rushing off for medical supplies and leaving the young Jedi all alone, giving them a mild scolding later.
But the adventure was pretty well done, even with these complaints. Anakin and Tahiri meet a new friend at the Academy, namely Lyric, a young girl who will be maturing into a fish-like creature (sort of a mermaid, as far as I can tell). She looks young, but must be twenty years old, because she is leaving the next day to undergo the changing! How fortuitous! Anakin and Tahiri convince Luke that they could help protect Lyric from the predators of her world, as she is
defenseless during the changing. Luke reluctantly agrees to let them go.
Immediately upon arriving, Lyric is captured by a giant bird, and Anakin and Tahiri climb the mountains to rescue her. She has already started developing gills, so can't breathe very well. But they get her into the water in time. Several other predators attack during the changing -they've developed a sense of when these people gather together in an easy-to-attack spot, but with the help of Anakin and Tahiri, all are killed. This must be a first for these people, and several elders want to reward the two Jedi for their help.
One of the eldest has seen the symbols that Anakin and Tahiri copied from the temple with the golden globe, from the
last book, and which Lyric saw in the bird's nest. Though he can't remember what the symbols mean, he does remember what the message says, word for word. I always hate it when somebody remembers sentences exactly word-for-word, in the right order, especially when the message is 4000 years old! They want to use it as a translation support, so what if one word was mixed up, or the language changed a little tiny bit. Look at the problem Gandalf had in the
Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring) outside Moria. One little slip and they would get it all wrong!
But it was still a neat idea, and better than giving them a dictionary. Have them figure it out for themselves. Now that they have the message, they must find the symbols that fit with it. They travel deep into the mountains and find the symbols. They barely get a glimpse of it when they are attacked by the ferocious spider-like creature. It paralyses them, and carries them off to its web. They notice that a rat-like creature sticks to the web more the more it struggles, so they don't struggle at all, but use their one free appendage (Anakin's leg and Tahiri's arm) and the Force to wobble the web, and trap the spider! Tahiri uses her multitool to cut them free. Returning to the surface, Anakin manages to remember all the symbols! Terrific memory, even for a Jedi.
Peckhum is distraught, but they pick up another member of Lyric's race who is Force-sensitive, and return to the Academy. There, this new member helps them translate the symbols into a message.
I hope other young Jedi candidates get to follow their friends on adventures, and the Luke isn't playing favourites with his nephew! There might be some resentment among the others, if not.
The story was well told, and I did enjoy it. But the constant focus on "we're going to get kicked out" and disregard for their own safety did concern me. I enjoyed the way the Jedi used the Force to counter the creatures, but Anakin worried me when he killed the serpent by stopping its heart! Also, the spider was portrayed as a sentient being. It even knew that Lyric's people were called Melodies. So killing the spider amounts to murder, even if it was in self defense. The kids should feel some sort of remorse over that. At least, Anakin's brother, Jacen, should. Of course, I must remember that Anakin has helped to kill people before, over the course of the other Star Wars novels. I'm not sure what disturbs me more...
But the book was quite enjoyable, and I do recommend it. The adventure was fun, and I was cheering and laughing with them at the appropriate places. I'm still impressed with these adventures. I just hope Anakin and Tahiri don't turn into mini-adults by the end of the series. They need some repercussions to their actions.