A few notes before we begin.
Dark Apprentice, the middle part of Kevin Anderson’s Jedi Academy trilogy, was the 7th book published in what would come to be known as the Expanded Universe. For me the EU means all the books that take place chronologically after Return of the Jedi. That universe would expand to include prequel era stories. In terms of chronology this is the 17th book post ROTJ. Dark Apprentice was originally published in July of 1994.
This book was a really tough read. My first time reading the EU, some twenty years ago, this trilogy was among my favorites. This time through some of these books are just bad. So much so that two story lines from this book I thought were parts of other books I didn’t enjoy reading at the time. I’m old now I forget stuff. Yet I cannot explain why the younger version of me liked these stories a whole lot more than the more adult version of me. Maybe this is a simpler story and after decades of fandom I am just a more sophisticated reader. Maybe this story was meant for a more pre-adult audience…or maybe it just isn’t very good.
Generally speaking the second book of a trilogy is all about the set up. Which means this book really should be about Kyp Durron falling to the dark side. To be fair it does deal with that for large chunks of the story. However, we also spend a lot of time on two storylines that don’t seem to really fit in the overall narrative of this trilogy. The more major one is the Admiral Ackbar arc that this book opens with. The other is the constant gambling between Han Solo and Lando Calrissian over ownership of the Millennium Falcon.
For me I am always drawing parallels between what they did the first time and what Disney is doing with its timeline now. With the news that Rouge One is going through extensive re-shoots this for me becomes an argument over tone. Disney is afraid Rogue One was too dark in tone; I think Kevin Anderson didn’t go dark enough in this book. I don’t think Star Wars fans at large care about dark tones. In fact they may in fact relish in them. I think without a doubt The Empire Strikes Back is the most beloved movies and it is much darker than any of the other six.
Instead of going dark and really exploring Kyp’s motivations and fall to the dark side we spend a little bit of time on it and instead go through this Ackbar arc that seems misplaced. I really though it was part of a different book…and it really does not seem to fit in this story at all. That might change as we get to book three but it’s not a thought that will leave my mind.
The Han and Lando arc fits a lot better but maybe needed to be explained out a bit more. I think what is going on here is Han, now married with three children, is having doubts about his choices in life. He spends the first part of the book hanging out with the younger version of himself in Kyp, nad maybe that makes him long for the time when he was the care free rogue. He then spends the last half of the book with Lando who has not found the level of legitimacy that Han has. Eventually he will but Lando is still very much the guy we see in ESB. That is good B story but I don’t think Anderson developed it enough. I would take more of that arc and way less of the Ackbar arc any day of the week. Since I have never been a comic reader I think the Ackbar arc is only there to link this story to a comic book arc…that is not very creative but I can understand why it is in there…and why it feels so off.
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