Lit A Cynical Walk Through the NJO

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

  1. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2013
    star 4
    Chapter 3 and 4: I’ll roll my thoughts for these chapters together, since I’ve caught up to the topic of @DigitalMessiah’s idea post. Jacen, Luke and the new rulers of the New Republic, as well as discussing the philosophy of the Jedi, are all covered in chapter three, while chapter four brings the character dynamics more into focus as we get to know the older Sky-Solo clan, Nom Anor and the politics of the New Republic.

    There seems to be a concerted effort to make the EU turn a corner. Chapter 3 describes the New Republic as having “solidified”; they don’t want the Jedi to have to babysit it anymore. Despite this, though, things clearly aren’t at any better than they were in Bantam’s era. Half of the politicians on the council are so blatantly antagonistic that they’d be right at home on Saturday morning cartoons.

    It’s interesting how self-aware this book becomes in the third and fourth chapters. You have the councilors spouting blatantly anti-Jedi, ignorant and antagonistic rhetoric in the former, then Nom Anor starts up with the same thing to Leia in the next chapter directed toward those very beings. Yet, he admits in his inner monologue that he’s just venting steam, he really doesn’t care about the planet he represents, he just hates the New Republic in general. We’re supposed to root against both of them, but Nom Anor comes off better than the councilors because he’s 1: self aware and 2: charismatic. The councilors are such corrupt politician stereotypes that Tammany Hall wouldn’t trust them, and have all the personality of a black hole.

    We’re introduced to most of the Sky-Solo clan in these chapters and my reaction is a resounding “not bad.” Han’s hard to write badly (which makes GoDV that much worse, really) but his characterization progression in this book can be summed up with one word: “Teenagers”. Jacen is introspective and questioning his lot and the lot of the Jedi as a whole. Anakin’s a thrill-seeker trying to live up to his parents and siblings. Luke is… Luke, though a bit more concerned with politics than previous characterizations I can recall. Really, no one’s out of character, and I like seeing Anakin and Chewie bounce off each other, they’re like 3PO and R2 in reverse.

    The big point of these chapters is the discussion of the Jedi in chapter 3, since this is the title of the entire series. Just like the New Republic itself, they clearly wanted to move the Order past just being a Jedi nursery. At this point, the only Jedi Order that existed was the one in The Phantom Menace, and I like that the authors are willing to question whether that Order had all of the right ideas. One of the tenants of the Prequels that people forget a lot of the time is that the Old Jedi Order was flawed, both in outlook and philosophy. Without knowing what the other Prequels would bring, the authors openly question whether the Jedi should be organized at all, and we work our way up from there.

    Jacen’s self searching is the main way we explore this idea, which fits his character as the soul-searching sixteen year old wondering what his place in the universe is. It’s interesting in that, even though he and Luke are at loggerheads about this, as we’re constantly being told, they’re still civil, and Luke’s open to the idea that his vision for the Jedi might not be the best one. It’d be interesting to see what solution they might have wound up reaching without the galaxy-shattering crisis on the horizon.

    This is where the self-awareness of the book really comes into play. Luke and Jacen's discussion is pretty blatantly along the lines of what was probably an authorial meeting behind the scenes, pondering the true purpose of the Jedi in general, asking why they even need permission from the NR, etc. It's a pretty good scene, even if it does make Jacen come off as a bit arrogant. I'll give him a pass, though, he's his mother's son, and it's about time someone in the Skywalker family line came off as intelligent more than just overconfident.
    More later.
    Last edited by Cynical_Ben, Aug 19, 2013
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  2. Auditor Dredd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 8, 2005
    star 4

    common sense is noticeably absent in the picture o_O
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  3. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    The irony of Jacen questioning Luke on his beliefs come into play in the future.
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  4. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    MS86, common sense ain't common.
  5. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    Vector Prime is the book where the Jedi's arguing over philosophy and soul-searching made sense; Luke is trying to rebuild the Jedi Order and is figuring out exactly how to do that. The politician squabbling was too much like we see on C-SPAN, which is both a good and bad thing, good in that the portrayal is realistic, and bad in that...well, the portrayal is realistic.

    By the time I got to Balance Point or so, I was over all the philosophizing. Ain't nobody got time for that, how many planets have the Vong taken while you people are staring at either the stars or your belly buttons? But in this book it worked well.
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  6. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    The image you should have used for your second para:

    [IMG]
  7. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    Isn't this the attitude which Luke took when he left Dagobah for Bespin? Luke's actual instruction in using the Force had been finished, as evidenced by Yoda telling him he required no further training in Return of the Jedi. The problem was his failure in the cave.

    The cave wasn't in Luke's Yavin 4 academy curriculum.
  8. Force Smuggler Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    Jacen's position on the debate about a Council being needed never made sense to me.
    There have been many Jedi like Wurth Skidder, Kyp and Miko running somewhat amok so wouldn't it be in everyone's best interest to have a Council? Jedi Knights can have latitude to do what they need to do if they need to do something but they do need some firm guidelines and need something to hold them accountable.
  9. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    Jacen thinks there's more to being a Jedi than being a bureaucratic special police force.
  10. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    And that apparently it's either-or. :rolleyes:
  11. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    He's a minority of one. And he gets crap heaped on him by fans for doing it by himself in Balance Point. I think he's justified in arguing his position.
  12. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    He annoyed the living piss out of me in Balance Point. He hasn't bothered me in other novels so far; I'm just starting Dark Journey.
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  13. Force Smuggler Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    Jacen can argue his position. I'm cool with that. Different opinions are needed but that position seems illogical to me. If the rogue Jedi caused too much trouble wouldn't Rodan and the others lead the charge to disband the order? Oe cause other problems? The Jedi shouldn't be puppets of the New Republic (wow that feels weird to type.....) but they do need to do something to make sure that the New Republic can't come down on them.
  14. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    "Any formalities concerning the Jedi, from the academy to any new councils, seem to [Jacen] to be layers of bureaucracy added to something spiritual and personal, something that should not be governed. In Jacen's idealistic sixteen-year-old eyes, the individual Jedi Knights, by their mere acceptance of the philosophy necessary to sustain their Force powers, should be self-governing. A properly trained Jedi Knight, who had been taught to avoid the dark side, who proved he could resist the temptations associated with power, needed no bureaucrats to guide his actions, and putting that governing layer there, he feared, would steal the mystery."

    Jacen seems to be arguing that if the Jedi embody his ideal, then there wouldn't be vigilante Jedi that require a council to rein in. Luke's Jedi order was flawed from day one in his eyes by virtue of the fact that it began at the Yavin 4 praxeum.
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Aug 19, 2013
  15. AlyxDinas Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 12, 2010
    star 4
    One of Jacen's biggest struggles, and this is something that's pretty well stated in VP, is his fear that the Council, along with the academy, might start to homogenize the Jedi Order and de-emphasize the personal relationship of each Jedi with the Force. He's being overly idealistic, to be sure, and the nature of the Vong War make the need for a central Jedi authority necessary but he's not necessarily wrong about the importance of individual growth and experiences (since deeply personal experiences such as Traitor's are the very thing that let him connect directly to the Force in TUF).

    It's a mixed bag. In philosophical principle, Jacen's probably correct. But he's young, so he doesn't understand how little of the galaxy he's really seen, even with his tumultuous developmental years before this. Practically, Jacen's Jedi can't quite exist the way he envisions and the series is going make that clear. There's going to be some hierarchy added because it ends up being necessary. The biggest thing about NJO was, at the time, this hierarchy was meant to diverge from the PT Order. Thus, the Master's Council's political transparency in comparison to the Old Republic's Jedi Council. Jacen wouldn't be able to think of such a thing because he's got a major weakness working against him. Pride. He thinks Jedi can be above it all but the truth he'll come to learn is that they can still develop in deeply personal ways while still being in the thick of things. And that they can maintain a guarded, wise distance from things without being disinterested or removed from the people they serve.
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  16. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    Reading the New Jedi Order now is much more tragic than it was reading it a decade ago, in more ways than one.
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  17. Gamiel Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2012
    star 5
    As a fan of the Young Jedi Knights that has never read the New Jedi Order I have to ask: do Jacen and Jaina still have a thing for animals respective mechanics?
    Last edited by Gamiel, Aug 19, 2013
  18. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    Jacen's connection to animals is represented a few times and is somewhat important toward the end of the series. Jaina's fondness for starship mechanics is represented as well, as she spends most the series in Rogue Squadron and later her own squadron flying an X-Wing. She doesn't spend a lot of time working on starships.
  19. Force Smuggler Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    Getting a group of diverse Jedi to work together in complete harmony is insane. Its good Jacen is idealistic that the Jedi can work together but that's impractical. I don't want the Jedi council to be dictatorial in nature but a Council is still needed. Jedi aren't infallible so some form of control is needed. If a major crisis erupted what was there to bring the Jedi together to fight that threat?
    The Order did need to be more transparent so the galaxy could trust them. Anyone read A Destiny Altered on FFN by An Origami Fish? The Order becoming more transparent is a major plot point in that series.
  20. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    I don't think that anyone is arguing that Jacen is right. No one has the answers at the start of a huge story, and most definitely not Jacen.

    I think his stance is necessary. As one of the few Jedi that reject the status quo, he is ideally placed in a position to find a new status quo that works. He just hasn't found it yet.
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  21. Gamiel Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2012
    star 5
    but do he still have his own "zoo"
  22. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    Not sure. We'll have to find out on the re-read!

    And back to my earlier point, I think Luke is in a similar position to Jacen. The current status quo isn't working as demonstrated through the schism between Luke and the vigilante Jedi led by Kyp. The difference between Luke and Jacen is that Luke is seeking to fall back on the old status quo -- which didn't work either -- to resolve the situation, while Jacen is seeking a new one. Meanwhile, Anakin, Kyp, et al. are perfectly satisfied with the current one.
  23. AlyxDinas Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 12, 2010
    star 4
    He starts gardening.
    Last edited by AlyxDinas, Aug 19, 2013
  24. HWK-290 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 29, 2013
    star 2
    The contrast in their respective aptitudes is well-represented enough later on that you have a few occasions where Jaina accepts that she just doesn't get animals the way she gets machines and a few occasions where Jacen laments his lack of mechanical prowess.

    Show Spoiler
    I'm still completely bummed at how badly "Vongsense" was handled post-Traitor.
    Show Spoiler
    "Hey, Jacen's unique because his emphatic connection with life is actually him operating on a frequency of the Force that other Jedi can't sense!"
    "...no, wait, never mind, it's because implants. Let's give it a straightforward name! Tahiri can use it, too, despite spending little-to-no time learning how. Also this skill will see no use in the finale besides probing Sekot and convincing a living stereo system to move it because hey there are Jedi walking here."



    $#*% gets wrecked.
    Last edited by HWK-290, Aug 19, 2013
  25. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 5
    GETTING AHEAD, I think that was the intent all along though. Stover even reuses the idea with meltmassif.

    Jacen's animal empathy was still a unique talent in the Force. And Jacen was able to use both at the same time during the conclusion.