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A novel by Rebecca Moesta (1997, Berkeley Science Fiction)
Book 5 in the Junior Jedi Knights
22 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

The junior Jedi follow Tionne to a castle where Ben Kenobi's lightsaber may reside.



2 stars

Read May 10th to 11th, 2001  
    Nowhere near as good as the previous books, as clichés and contrived circumstances abound. There were, however, many nice moments, enough to make this installment in the Junior Jedi Knights interesting enough. And, as can be noticed by any of my Star Wars reviews, I love any mention of previous books, even if it's only name-dropping for its own sake. 

I am surprised that I find Uldir to be a capable friend, even if he gets annoying at times with his constant arrogance and lack of respect. If he had any Force sensitivity, it would make him a prime candidate for the Dark Side. 

When Tionne arrives at the Academy very excited, the Junior Jedi cannot wait to hear the news. She has come across the location of Ben Kenobi's lightsaber, the one that was lost in A New Hope when Vader killed his master. Apparently, Vader kept the weapon as a prize, and brought it to his fortress on Vjun. This is the fortress seen in Dark Empire II and Empire's End, where one of the Dark Jedi has a Vader fixation. Although I cannot find a reference to the planet's name, I also wonder if this is the planet where Luke was almost killed in the comics of The Rebel Storm (where an actor impersonated Kenobi to bring Luke to Vader's stronghold). 

Luke sends Tionne, Anakin, Tahiri, Uldir, R2D2 and Ikrit on the hunt for the lightsaber. They make a dangerous landing on the tumultuous planet, and battle rain and sleet on the way up hundreds of stairs to get to the tower's back entrance. 

Dodging lasers (pretty impressive, since lasers travel at light-speed), and reflecting them back to their own sources with a mirror (why the laser destroys its own source and not the mirror is beyond me -why use them as a defense unless Vader wanted to blind his attackers?), they gain entrance, and find Vader's toppled statue (this happened in Empire's End). 

What surprised me after this is that the group decides to search the tower in a responsible and orderly fashion! Who would have thought! Tahiri and Uldir find a holographic hallway designed as a trap, and quickly find the room where the lightsaber is hidden. 

But the entire story goes downhill from here. A "mage" steals the saber and disappears in a cloud of smoke. Tionne and Ikrit are sent down a trapdoor chute, so as to separate them from the young Jedi. Tahiri and Anakin find Vader's personal quarters, and a picture of Luke sitting near the bed (oops, by the rest chamber). They conclude that Vader was conflicted by the Light Side of the Force because of his love for his son, but I think the picture existed because Vader was still searching for Luke. 

Uldir and R2 find the Mage, hiding out in the shuttle bay. If he had a map of the facility, then why did he have to hide out? Didn't he know where the stuff he wanted was? He makes an appeal to Uldir's ego and desire for power, and pretty much succeeds, I think. I wouldn't be surprised if these two met again in the last book of the series. But then we would be way off track from the story of Anakin, wouldn't we?

For now, the Junior Jedi get the lightsaber back, and discover that Vader had a holocron! They retrieve it from Vader's quarters, but it gets stolen by the mage. With help from a damaged R2D2, they recover it, and the mage disappears into another chute. Without a doubt (since they mention it in the text), we haven't seen the last of him. Too bad. I don't like the way magic is used in the Star Wars universe, but I still hope that there will be a non-magical explanation for this.

On the up side, I always wondered how the holocron reappeared at the Jedi Academy. It was first found in Dark Empire, and subsequently destroyed by Exar Kun in Dark Apprentice. But it is used again in subsequent books. Now we have an explanation. I also see the resolution to Ikrit's mystery. He reveals that he has hidden demons. From the last book, we learned that Yoda trained him. Here, we learn that he has never wielded a lightsaber since Yoda reprimanded him for lifting the weapon against a friend. He retrieves a ship of his own from Vader's fortress, and names it Sunrider, after the famous Jedi from the Tales of the Jedi, and who tried her best not to use a lightsaber ever in Knights of the Old Republic. I foresee that Ikrit will use his ship in the next book to leave on some eternal quest of his own, leaving the Academy without yet another potential Master (especially after Callista left). 

This book was decent, but I didn't like a bunch of the things that is introduced, among them laser dodging, lots of Uldir-centered stuff, magic, and a seeming lack of focus. The last trilogy didn't need lasers flying everywhere at them.  It was a story about Anakin and Tahiri, their doubts and the successes.  This is more a blow-things-up tale.  It hardly seems to be about the two Jedi, and rarely do they actually use the Force.  Still, there was some other interesting stuff introduced as well, so I was not bored for most of the time. A pass, but not by too much.

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