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A novel by Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta (1998, Berkley Science Fiction)
Book 2 of Young Jedi Knights: Under Black Sun
24 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

The gang travels to Cloud City to investigate Lando's new entertainment complex, and end up being the target of assassins.



2 stars

Read March 1st to 2nd, 2000  
    The story was actually done quite well, but two things bring it way down.  One is telegraphing.  It is way too obvious when the things that are going to save the young Jedi and Lando later are introduced early in the book.  Second is Anja.  I can't stand her.  As has been often said, it is one thing to have an annoying character who is well written.  It is quite another to have a character annoyingly written.  Anja is the latter.

  One of the problems that I had was Lando still able to use his old Administrator codes to access high level functions.  Does that mean that anyone involved in the high administration, such as Lobot, can still access these things?  I believe new security measures and codes would have been created in the last twenty five years.

  The method used to get the characters to Cloud City isn't forced, for once.  Lando wants them to try out a new entertainment complex that he and an associate are setting up there.  Unfortunately, when they get to Cloud City, they find out that Lando's associate had fallen off a balcony into the clouds. 

  Still, they try out some of the rides, and get a lead about a band that witnessed something.  The band is none other than Fingrin D'an and the Modal Nodes, the same band that played at the Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars

  So the group splits up.  Lando, Jaina and Zek go to the Bith homeworld, where they find the hiding band and quiz them.  They learn that the criminal organization Black Sun is rising in power again.  Black Sun has been squeezing into places like Cloud City and other gambling and smuggling establishments.  And they are going to grab power soon. 

  It is the other group that gets into the fun.  Anja was insulted that her "friends" think she is addicted to spice (which she is), so she spends the time on her own. 

  Jacen, Lowie and Tenel Ka, however, follow an Ugnaught down to the lowest levels of the City.  There, they are caught in an ambush.  Black Sun has put a price on their heads.  They get ejected out a shaft like the one Luke fell through in Empire, and Lowie and Tenel Ka manage to hang onto an antenna, like Luke.  But Jacen doesn't!  That was a shocker, but I wasn't worried for him.  His savior had been telegraphed way in advance. 

  But Lowie and Tenel Ka don't know this.  Thanks to Em Teedee, they get back inside.  When they give the news to Anja, she is very distraught, even though she tries not to show it.  Lowie howls, and Tenel Ka finally realizes that Jacen means more to her than just a friend.  She sheds tears!  Tenel Ka is definitely my favourite character. 

  Jacen is saved by a member of an aerial troop that flies the creatures from Bespin's atmosphere.  First, though, he plummets.  I had a complaint at first that he should suffocate to death because of the low concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere of a gas giant planet.  But I realized that this planet is special.  Luke was obviously able to breathe in Empire, and the arial performers had no trouble either. 

  Jacen has a nice chat with his savior, who reveals that Lando's associate was pushed off the balcony by Czethros himself, the former bounty hunter from Ord Mantell.  He tells of Black Sun trying to take profits from all performers and gamblers, too. 

  On their way back to Cloud City, they avoid the predatory Velkers, who could tear a small spacecraft apart.  (This is important later.)  These creatures seem to gain energy from lightning in the frequent storms on Bespin.

  Everybody meets back in the docking bay, where Lando's ship is about to berth.  In an uncharacteristic, but wonderful display of affection, Tenel Ka nearly tackles Jacen in a hug when she discovers that he is alive.  I just wish she had kissed him. 

  Lando starts to press charges, but gets pulled away by a report of a riot on the construction site of his entertainment complex.  It's a trap, of course.  Several security men from Cloud City are under Black Sun influence.  It is a given that one of the rides that they tried earlier is going to save him and the Jedi who go with him.

  Meanwhile, while filing the complaint, Lowie, Jacen and Tenel Ka walk into a trap, as well.  They are forced to commandeer a couple of speeders out of the city, and are followed by the security people who trapped them.  Lowie, alone, gets the attention of the troupe riders, who unbalance the enemy car, and lasso the bad guys.  He then parks his car, which is out of fuel, and races back into the city. 

  Jacen and Tenel Ka are in another cloud car.  They are not lucky enough to get help from the performers.  So Jacen has to fly through a storm cloud and find some Velkers to do it for them.  He uses his affinity with animals to distract the predators away from their car, while focusing on the enemy car. 

  Lando manages to get the security forces who are not allied with Black Sun to arrest the would-be assassins.  So it appears that everything is alright.  The New Republic is looking for Czethros, who is in hiding now.  They head back for Yavin 4. 

  But Anja knows that everything is not alright.  She knows that Czethros was behind the assassination attempts, and she is confused about her emotions.  She is not sure she wants to harm the Solo twins anymore, just to get to Han.  She begins to suspect that she is addicted to spice, as well, and her only source is in hiding.

  The adventure was pretty standard, with lots of action.  Running from place to place, being chased, falling into the sky.  Even a car chase was added, though these cars can fly.  There really wasn't much to make this more than a standard adventure.  The characters basically just reacted to events around them, and fell into many traps.  It was nice to see that they couldn't predict everything that was going to happen!

  But Anja was annoying and depressing to read.  I just didn't enjoy her.  It was nice to see that Jacen was becoming disillusioned a bit with her, and going back to Tenel Ka for attention.  I'm not sure about Zek yet.  He's paying a lot of attention to Jaina, but about the same amount as with Anja. 

  We'll just have to see about that. Once again, it appears that the galaxy is in danger, and only the Young Jedi Knights can save it.


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