A few notes before we begin.
Jedi Search, the first part of the Jedi Academy Trilogy, wast the fifth book in publishing order in what would become the Expanded Universe. In chronological order in it the 16th novel to take place after the events depicted in Return of the Jedi. This book was written by Kevin Anderson and originally published in March of 1994. It is the second of four trilogies published by Bantam. Del Rey would take over the publishing of new Star Wars novels beginning with the New Jedi Order series.
Since it is hard to talk about a trilogy after only reading the first part of it I want to take some time and talk about how Bantam went about building the first part of the EU. Of course the whole reason for doing this EU reread was to compare how that universe was constructed with how Disney is going about constructing its new Star Wars timeline. I didn’t know when I started that we were dealing with two different publishers…I think more research will have to be done to figure out why the publishing moved from Bantam to Del Rey half way through.
Bantam, instead of world building was bridge building. They needed to span some time from the end of Return of the Jedi to where their narrative was going to pick up. They skipped five years ahead and published the Thrawn Trilogy. They skipped another two years ahead with this trilogy. Then another five years with the Black Fleet crisis, and finally another two years with the Corellian trilogy. Along the way they would go back and use other series and stand alone works to fill in the overall narrative. Let’s admit one thing to ourselves about the oldEU…that the overall narrative became a real mess…so much so that Del Rey would make several attempts to go back and publish new stories to explain inconsistencies away.
Disney is doing much the same thing. They set the first way point of their timeline with The Force Awakens. Then started using books, comics, and standalone movies to fill in that span and also to cover a previously untouched part of Star Wars History (linking them into the timeline with the Rebels TV show, and a few books with rumors of more to come), the time between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy. Hate them or not, hate corporate influence on our fandom, but respect that really good job they have done telling those stories. There is not a bigger fan of the old EU than me, but in the end Disney and Del Rey are doing a pretty good job telling new higher quality Star Wars stories. Except for Aftermath…that book really bugs me for some reason. They are also telling a story using movies, TV, books, and comics. So far the continuity of those stories is far superior to what we got from Bantam and Dark Horse Comics and of course Del Rey who would go back and ret-con a good portion of the EU timeline that often simply didn’t work. Maybe Del Rey has learned from its missteps with the EU the first time around.
Now that I got all that out…the Jedi Academy trilogy is probably my second favorite series in the entirety of the EU. I have not read it in a very long time, and I was surprised to see how much hate it gets on good reads. Which of course leads to the question if every Star Wars fan should love the EU and nothing else (and there are militant fans out there several of who read this column)…why is there so much hate for these books? And these are even what I would consider the low points of the EU…trust me there is some pure garbage coming very soon in my reread quest.
This book is all about setting up the new trilogy and introducing new characters. In fact the new characters from the Thrawn trilogy are merely mentioned as Kevin Anderson uses this book to create new characters. We get Kyp Durron who becomes one of my favorite EU characters, even though he never really becomes a main character…his arc in this trilogy is very interesting.
Given how this book talks about Luke falling to the dark side, that took place in the comics between these two trilogies, I may at some point go back and read those comics…only because that story seems very compelling. With that story line it is no surprise that we get a very new Luke in this book…for the first time he is Master Luke Skywalker.
This book also introduces Admiral Daala who is perhaps my favorite villain from the EU, and the biggest loss we get moving to the Disney timeline. While we sort of get a new, updated version of her in Admiral Rae Sloane…There is nothing like the original Daala who really shakes things up again and again as this timeline plays out. Even though in the Disney timeline the first Death Star was built at Geonosis…there is still room for Daala in that story but after reading a few of the new timeline books I fully believe that Sloane will take her place in the mouse’s timeline.
I did not find any big flaws in this book…nothing that really rubbed me the wrong way. The first time I read it, 20 some years ago, it was among my favorite of the EU books and after reading it again it remains so.
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Jedi Search (Star Wars: The Jedi Academy Trilogy, Vol. 1)