Lit A Cynical Walk Through the NJO

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Cynical_Ben, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. Solent Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2001
    star 2
    So? Good things happened to Zayne from time to time. Legacy wouldn´t have been so dark if Cade had decided to grow up after refusing to learn of whatever he went through time and again. Superman´s only issue with his life prenu52 was that kryptonians couldn´t reproduce with humans (so wrong, you don´t overwrite Alan Moore). Now all big 2´s are just masoquists. There comes a point when if you keep going it just means you´ve grown apathic towards what happens. That´s not heroism. But it´s what´s been presented as heroism today. I really doubt Han and Leia can go round after losing one child, and having the other go DS and killed by his twin. But instead they joke about being into bondage while discussing the best way to kill him. And so on.

    Also this http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DarknessInducedAudienceApathy
  2. aleja2 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2005
    star 2

    Oh please, the Vong started as a caricature in Vector Prime, what with Nom Anor dressing like Dark Vader (yes, I know that was in the comic, but dude has only one outfit?!?!) and exulting in his sheer evilness.


    Look out, y'all, evil villain is EVIL. Even bumbling accomplice thinks so.




    All he's missing is a mustache to twirl, and his transformation into Snidely Whiplash would be complete.




    Ooooh, evil villain takes out his own eye with a burning stick to show his devotion. So pain and torture as necessities for success in the YV was set up from the start of the first book.

    Later, with Yomin Carr, we learn: "The Yuuzhan Vong warrior stood perfectly still, reveling in the exquisite tingles of agony as the masquer pulled away fully"

    Sounds to me he likes pain, too...

    Later, when they capture Danni and put in some creature goo, they tell her the pain is an honor.

    And even later, they revel in the torture of Miko, which is "a common procedure used against captured enemies."

    And there's the fact they are portrayed as, well, a lesser cousin of the Klingons. The Vong warriors are described as having maimed bodies with multiple scars - indicating they engage in a high level of physical violence. And we are told "to die in battle is among the highest honor a YV warrior could achieve." The Prefect: "'All glory to you,'" he mumbled reverently, the appropriate farewell to one killed gloriously in battle."

    Finally, the cartoon image is sealed with this: "'The Praetorite Vong will walk across the galaxy, one system at a time,'" Danni added, and as she was the expert on their enemies, those words rang ominously indeed."

    Yeah, because Danni Sue is just that smart, she got all that off one encounter.

    Now, granted, a lot of this is due to Salvatore's overblown writing, but still: this is the first time we see the Vong. And we're really supposed to think they are anything but a cartoon retread of villains from other well-known SF/F franchises?!

    kubricklynch likes this.
  3. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    Yeah we already did Vector Prime. But I guess that book is so bad it ruins 18 others.
    HWK-290 likes this.
  4. HWK-290 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 29, 2013
    star 2
    I write it down 100% to Salvatore. Nom Anor, at the very least, develops into something worth reading.
  5. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    Vader's redemption was ruined for me in ROTJ because he's so one dimensionally evil in Episode IV.
    Gorefiend likes this.
  6. aleja2 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2005
    star 2
    Don't know what film you watched....

    At least Vader had motivation for his actions, and for being in the story. He wanted to put down the Rebellion, he obviously had a backstory with Kenobi, and he had a tie to Luke's father.

    The YV motivation and reason for being in the story:
    "Gee, Nom Anor, what do you want to do tonight?"
    "The same thing we do every night, Yomin Carr - try to take over the galaxy."





    You asked why people thought the YV were cartoon villains. Don't hate the messenger.
    And it does ruin the others when it is the kick off book for that series, and is trying to persuade readers to stick around. Or I guess TV series should never be cancelled, and every single pilot ever made should be ordered to full series because, gee, maybe it gets better.
    Last edited by aleja2, Sep 10, 2013
  7. Revanfan1 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2013
    star 5
    He was being sarcastic with the Vader comment. The YV came off just fine; why do the villains have to have a super-duper motivation besides wanting to conquer the galaxy due to religious beliefs?

    That was sarcasm again. I, personally, had zero problems with Vector Prime. A bit stiff at times, I admit, but it was overall a good book. IMHO, anyways. You're very cynical, aren't you?
  8. Solent Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2001
    star 2
    Cause, you know, it´s not as if they had other alternatives. Of course, if you want to be spoonfed from the very first page instead of throught the story, I guess nothing can be done.
  9. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    One book does not a series make. The Yuuzhan Vong were better written as the series went on, and even if they were one dimensional to start the series that doesn't detract from how they were written later.
    Revanfan1 likes this.
  10. aleja2 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2005
    star 2
    Spoon-feed is what Vector Prime did by hitting the reader over the head with a big red mallet that says "LOOK! EVIL BAD GUYS ARE EVIL!!!!!"

    But silly me, I forgot it was just too hard and difficult to try to create a smart, well-motivated villain instead of ripping off Klingons and Skeletor.
    Last edited by aleja2, Sep 10, 2013
  11. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    This is like complaining about the evil Galactic Empire in Episode IV. They have no motivation to be evil except they want to rule the galaxy. Look, they blow up defenseless planets, even after the princess ostensibly gives them what they want!
  12. Robimus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    As opposed to how A New Hope introduced the villains in 1977?
  13. Draconarius Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2005
    star 4
    Silly us, we didn't realise that you have to explain the villains in their entirety in the first entry of a 20-book series.

    Seriously, mate. Learn some patience.
    Gorefiend, Revanfan1, Robimus and 2 others like this.
  14. _Catherine_ Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2007
    star 4
    Vector Prime actually is pretty bad. I don't really care though.

    Srsly, can't blame anyone who gave up on the NJO after that morass. Seems p. silly to have an opinion on the series as a whole without reading the whole series tho. I mean season 1 of Seinfeld is pretty blah but wow look where that went.
  15. aleja2 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2005
    star 2

    A) A film is not a book. And vice versa. See, books allow for introspection and inner thought, which aren't possible in films (well, there's voice over, but that's can be very clumsy). Therefore, the ability to reveal motivation is quite different, and it's a rather fallacious analogy to compare the two.

    B) With that said, Vader does have motivation and ties to the other characters.

    And the Empire is also set up with a suitable motivation:
    and
    So it's obvious the Empire is consolidating power by stripping the last vestiges of democracy (no more Senate) and will be using fear of the Death Star to keep systems in line. Therefore, it is vital to crush the rebellion, the one remaining outlier that stands in their way. Boom! Motivation for the Empire. Here are the stakes, neatly laid out. That's all the audience needs to know.

    Contrast that to: Why do the Yuuzhan Vong want to take over the galaxy in Vector Prime? Because it's there.:rolleyes:

    What are the stakes? What will they gain? Why is so vital that they invade NOW (other than Del Rey wants to make some money)? We know why it is vital for the Rebellion to get the Death Star plans, and why the Empire wants to crush the Rebellion.

    Again:



    So basically, the Vong are depicted as liking to stir up crap just for the sake of stirring up crap.

    In fact, Nom Anor's stirring up isn't even all the necessary, by his own account:





    So I'm wasting pages watching a villain go through machinations that, in his own POV, isn't even all that critical to the overall plan. :eek:

    C) Del Rey wants me to shell out over $200 in the hopes that the story "gets better?" Shyeah, right. Y'all may stick around to see if the TV series gets better; I flip the channel. Life is too short and there are far better things to do with my time than to stick around and see if Skele-Anor and His Villainous Friends develop layers that are not even hinted at in the first book. It's not called patience; it's called being smart with my money and my time.

    D) The operative word is "hint." I never said I wanted an explanation in its entirety for the villains. But there is not one hint in Vector Prime that the YV are anything but cheap Klingon rip-offs who are invading because gee, why not. And it's not like there wasn't room in the book - there was pages upon pages of description of Anor, Carr, the torture of Danni and Miko, a description of their gods, etc. Yay! that the later writers decided to add some depth (and IMO pretty much retcon Nom Anor from book to book) but it. just. wasn't there in the beginning.

    And again, the question was asked why people thought the YV were cartoons. And here's an answer. Bully for people who stuck with the series and got rewarded, but having been there at the time, the cartoon villainy was definitely one of the big criticisms of Vector Prime and why the series received such a mixed reaction when it launched.
  16. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    Vector Prime is poor, but it compares favorably to more recent entries IMO, if only because the Solo children feel like real characters and not chess pieces maneuvered through the plot. And I'm not crediting sata- I mean R. A. Salvatore for that because the planning decided their arcs, but just the fact that they were smart enough to make Anakin and Jacen foils for one another is light-years better than putting Luke and Ben on a snoozefest journey to see the Baran Do or the Aing Tii where nothing happens.

    But yeah it sucks. Might as well just start with Onslaught because you really don't miss anything, except maybe some heavy handed exposition where Jacen's worldview is dictated to us and he gives Anakin a wet willie and a wedgie over their disagreement because he's obligated as the know-it-all to do so.

    So... Balance Point. Stand firm. Jacen, stand firm.
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Sep 10, 2013
  17. _Catherine_ Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2007
    star 4
    I mean like, here's the thing: the NJO really isn't some great masterwork of literature or anything. VP and FH are pretty dire, and my feelings toward BP, SBS, DJ, and DW are generally pretty lukewarm (seriously why does everyone love Destiny's Way, apart from the Ackbar stuff). The series is full of characterization issues (ok guys word from the top is we can't use Anakin as the hero so instead of doing some minor plot revisions to be more faithful to established characterization let's just run a find and replace command for Anakin's and Jacen's names), plotting issues (Nom Anor discovering the Shamed One rebellion in FH when he had already just discovered it in DW, Nom Anor being left to his death at the end of Traitor and then being fine at the beginning of DW, the entire plot of Star by Star), and of course writing issues. (Certain books also went overboard on the torture fetish thing but it was mostly just in VP, DT, and SBS; I think most of the authors were a lot more restrained with it.)

    But I mean the entire Bantam era was full of problems like that as well, even more so; they seem kind of endemic to the nature of tie-in writing. There's also something to be said for the NJO having like a third of the consistency issues of LOTF and FOTJ despite being over twice as long and having four times as many writers. As a cohesive series I'm not sure how successful it was (well actually I guess it was a complete failure since everything it created was immediately ignored and overwritten). Going by the individual books though I'd put at least two thirds of it up there with the best of anything that came out under Bantam. Basically I totes get the NJO not being your thing but it seems laughable to decry it as the death of Star Wars when it started the same year that The Phantom Menace came out. Wait what was Palpatine's motivation again?
    Rew, Draconarius and Cynical_Ben like this.
  18. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    Commercially the NJO was more successful than what followed, both per capita and overall (if we combine LOTF and FOTJ into a series of nearly equal length).

    I think the general attempt to undo everything, e.g. Jedi are same as prequels, Coruscant is fine, Anakin resurrection Denning tried to pull, Jacen is EVIL, Vergere is Sith, Yuuzhan Vong under rug, is more due to Troy Denning and/or the editors (Rostoni and Shapiro) disliking the series than because it was commercially unsuccessful.

    I think it's on Troy Denning though, he basically explained that he wanted to do all those things except the Coruscant one and the Yuuzhan Vong one in that blog he did for Crucible, and the editors rejected the Anakin resurrection in his outline.
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Sep 10, 2013
    Zeta1127 likes this.
  19. _Catherine_ Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2007
    star 4
    Yeah wasn't seriously suggesting it's the NJO's fault no one capitalized on it. Some of that could have been due to fan backlash against the NJO, but I only see that applying to the YV themselves, since other frequent complaints like unnecessary character deaths, doom-and-gloom tone, a corrupt and antagonistic central government, and an atypically long series carried over to or were even exacerbated in the following books. Ruining Jacen can go to Denning, but I feel like a lot of the other NJO-negation was just Del Rey misapplying synergy to try to capitalize on the prequels.

    Tbh I wasn't considering commercial success at all. I guess it's somewhat vindicating to know the NJO sold better but it would still be a superior series either way.
  20. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    Ah, I misunderstood you in suggesting that it was a complete failure due to what followed purposely ignoring it, as I don't think of success in terms of continuity. That very thing broke the legitimacy of SW continuity in my eyes.

    I still think as a series it's the best thing that the Expanded Universe has produced, or will produce. But my assessment of the individual novels is somewhat higher than yours, and perhaps it is partly fueled by nostalgia. It's hard to believe that just shy of ten years ago The Final Prophecy was published -- the beginning of titles not accurately conveying the content of their novel. The excitement that I felt purchasing and taking home The Unifying Force to read is not likely to be replicated by a SW novel in the near future, if at all.
    Force Smuggler likes this.
  21. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2013
    star 4
    @catherine, @DigitalMessiah et al, thank you for saying for me what I may have. Catherine especially, you said what I've been thinking through my reading. Thus far, I haven't come across a book in the NJO I'd put into my favorite books of all time, and the series as a whole might have problems, but compared to what's come later, this series is pretty darn good. The fact that the authors and editors were #1, willing to put together such a massive series to be published in such a short time and #2, willing to work together to tell one unified story rather than separate works in the same universe is astounding to me.

    NJO isn't everyone's cup of tea, I get that, I'm not going to force anyone to read it or say they're the greatest Star Wars books ever written. I haven't finished the series yet, so maybe there will be one of these books I put on that list of great books. But that's the thing. It's my list, it'd be my opinion. And there's no reason that my opinion should matter to anyone else here. I'm not a great scholar, I haven't been on these boards that long, and I haven't spent my life deciding what exactly makes good literature (like some of you seem to have).

    And that's fine. You know what, I'm not out to change anyone else's opinion. That's not what this thread is for. This thread is for people like me and @anakinfansince1983, who are experiencing these books for the first time, and DM, who has read them numerous times in the past (I assume), so we have a place where we can discuss the NJO book-by-book, how it fares compared to the books that have come later (and earlier), and whether or not we, as new readers, enjoy them.

    @aleja2, you don't like the Vong as villains. That's fine. I appreciate you being willing to come in and give us your opinion. It's created some good discussion. Don't feel unwelcome.
    Last edited by Cynical_Ben, Sep 10, 2013
    JechtShotMK9 and Jedi Ben like this.
  22. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    I'm reliving the nostalgia! I think the most exciting part of the series was back in early 2002 around the time Episode II was coming out, because we knew Jacen was alive and he was going to be showing up in Traitor by Matt Stover and that it was going to be important, but we didn't know what was going to happen and there were three books to go before then after Star by Star. And then they have these novels announced called Destiny's Way and then the Force Heretic trilogy, and I'm wondering well what is the "Force Heretic"? Jacen? Vergere? The New Essential Guide to Characters came out in April 2002, and had an entry for Vergere which said "Vergere's philosophy of the Force apparently goes far beyond the limited concept of good versus evil," but up to that point we didn't really know what Vergere was up to, besides that she was an Old Jedi from Rogue Planet. Then there was a novel titled The Final Prophecy and finally The Unifying Force, and the titles just had so much weight and gravity to them, it really made the build up awesome, at least for me.

    It's interesting to remember that the book titles weren't announced from the start, but they were announced enough in advance that it made speculation about what they meant really fun. We didn't know if Jacen was going to turn into a bad guy with the title Traitor.

    And then he did and it sucked but nevermind that!
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Sep 10, 2013
    Rew likes this.
  23. _Catherine_ Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2007
    star 4
    Not sure if I agree but that is a fair opinion. There are a few standalone works I would rate higher but as multi-book series go it's probably my favorite. It has its flaws but I think in retrospect most of them aren't that story-breaking.

    Re: individual novels, the only ones I don't like are VP and FH. SBS and DW are okay but tend to be overrated I think, and I can't remember strong feelings one way or the other on BP and DJ. Well I remember liking DJ but I don't remember why. DT, AOC, EOV, Traitor, EL, TFP, and TUF are all really good, that's like two-thirds of the series and that's satisfactory in my book. Conquest, Traitor, TFP, and TUF are especially easy contenders for any top ten EU list.

    Basically my point in this thread is that the NJO was "pretty good."
    Rew likes this.
  24. Gorefiend Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2004
    star 5

    Because they are slowly dying away and they believe it is what their gods want them to? o_O
    Solent and Revanfan1 like this.
  25. HWK-290 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 29, 2013
    star 2
    Guys we're dying out here in intergalactic space where there are no stars, planets, or materials, and consequently no renewable resources. Oh, and we're killing each other off. Our entire species, about to go kaput.

    ...what's that? A galaxy nearby? Invade?

    ...nah, we have absolutely no reason to do that, us, a warfaring race in dire straits, bent on survival. Onward! To oblivion!
    Last edited by HWK-290, Sep 11, 2013