A few notes before we begin.
Champions of the Force is the final installment in Kevin Anderson’s Jedi Academy series. In terms of timeline it is the 18th book post Return of the Jedi. It has been 11 years since the destruction of the first Death Star and 7 years since the destruction of the second. In publishing order this was the 8th book sold in what would become known as the Expanded Universe.
This book is all about cleaning up the mess of the first two books in this series. As much as I want to blame that on the writer I really think that Lucasfilm forced these terrible story lines into this book to make it tie into comics and other products that were already on the market. The entire Admiral Ackbar story is exactly that and is pretty pointless to the rest of the narrative being explained. Since that story arc seems like corporate tomfoolery let’s put it aside for now. I wrote in my review of Dark Apprentice that I was hoping for a good payoff to this arc…it never did come.
So what we do get here is yet another clash with yet another Death Star. In this timeline this makes it three times that our heroes have had to grapple with a Death Star. The problem with that once they overcome such a huge weapon more than once it becomes commonplace. For example…the first moon landing was one of the most watched events on TV in the 20th Century. By Apollo 13, two moon missions later, no one gave a hairy rat fuck. That’s kind of how I feel about our third battle with a Death Star. Even though I think battling the prototype is fairly creative twist the fact remains if there is anyone in this Universe that knows how to defeat a Death Star it is these collected heroes.
It really is too bad this is not the last time we see a Death Star in the EU. And it is even more of a shame that Disney launched their timeline with yet another battle with a Death Star (simply by another name). Enough with the Death Stars. They are not scary, they are fairly easily defeated and there is no way anyone can justify the cost to the galactic military budget.
With all of that being said there are some good parts to this series. This is the first series (in publication order) that goes out of its way to introduce us to new characters. I speak of course of the new Jedi being trained by Luke Skywalker on Yavin 4. These most significant of these is Kyp Durron. This entire trilogy is about the discovery of one of the most powerful Jedi of this new generation and how it deals with the temptations of the dark side and how to harness his incredible power. I found his arc through this trilogy very entertaining and from a business side these early books should have done a lot more work flushing out new characters and heroes.
Which brings me to Natasi Daala. Admiral Daala does become one of my favorite characters in the EU, but she really spent three books, her debut, getting her ass kicked by everyone. When we are introduced to a new bad guy…they need to be built up. They need to win a few to establish them as a legit threat. Daala gets her ass kicked by everyone from Han Solo to Akbar. It’s completely ridiculous. When we first meet her she has four Imperial Star Destroyers…and the backing of the long dead Grand Moff Tarkin. Before we even really know her she has lost one of those Star Destroyers and is little more than someone who kept Tarkin’s bed warm. It is hard to fathom how lame her debut in the EU really is.
Since I love to draw parallels between the old EU and the new Disney timeline I think Daala’s role in the new timeline is being given to Admiral Sloane. And while she does not rack up many wins in her debut…she isn’t portrayed as completely useless military tactician either. I really like both of these characters but damn was I disappointed with the way Daala debuts in the EU.
Another thing this book got right was they actually gave Chewbacca something to do. Something independent of Han and the rest of our heroes. This is another thing the EU has a really hard time doing…finding something for Chewie to do beyond being a side kick. He becomes so useless to the plot that they….(spoilers).
In the end these are simply not very good Star Wars books. To be blunt they are not even very good books. There are many messy story lines gobbled together with little thought to how they all fit into the overall narrative. These books should have been used to introduce and begin to build up new characters both evil and good. However it seems like all of the arcs are rushed through and we really do not get a satisfying conclusion to any of them beyond young Kyp. We do get the introduction of the Jedi Healer Clighal and with a few other Jedi who become more important as the EU continues.
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Champions of the Force (Star Wars: The Jedi Academy Trilogy, Vol. 3)
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