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Lit A Cynical Walk Through the NJO

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

  1. Arawn_Fenn

    Arawn_Fenn Force Ghost star 7

    Jul 2, 2004
    When? All that stuff is still in continuity.
  2. Cynical_Ben

    Cynical_Ben Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 12, 2013
    So, for those who have read to this point in the series (18 books in), how's about we make a list of how we'd rank them? You can drop off the Force Heretic books if you want, since those are probably going to be the bottom three on just about every list, but if you want to include them feel free. Likewise, Traitor is going to be on the top of most lists, so, feel free to include or disclude it depending on your feelings and how much you want to hash out the rest of the series.

    Here's now this'll work: List the books in the series thus far, all eighteen (or fifteen, or fourteen) in order of most favorite to least favorite, Not which ones you think are the best to worst. Which books did you enjoy most, and which did you not enjoy as much? You can write up a one sentence summary of why, as well, that should keep the thread from bloating out too much. I'll chime in with my thoughts later on.
  3. DigitalMessiah

    DigitalMessiah Chosen One star 6

    Feb 17, 2004
    1A) Remnant
    1B) Refugee
    1C) Reunion
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  4. Cynical_Ben

    Cynical_Ben Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 12, 2013
  5. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    I just started it in March and don't care how irrelevant it is.

    Some people make their own luck. I make my own canon.
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  6. Zeta1127

    Zeta1127 Jedi Master star 5

    Sep 2, 2012
    I can ignore what they did all I want, but that doesn't change the fact that they did it and have shown no interest in fixing it.
  7. Cynical_Ben

    Cynical_Ben Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 12, 2013
    I have been enjoying the NJO immensely, despite the fact that it's been largely rendered irrelevant by the series I had the misfortune of reading first and which shall not be named. I enjoy a lot of works for what they are and for the stories they tell, not because of the impact or lack thereof they have on the larger canon. Traitor most of all, unfortunately enough, but even the "lesser" changes the series made, things like Coruscant becoming Yuuzhan'tar, the Empire and New Republic allying under a new banner, the formation of the Insiders, the destruction of worlds like Duro, Ithor and Bastion.

    I realize now why I was able to read the LotF series before having read the NJO: because it was written to stand apart from it. LotF was purposely written so as to avoid continuity lockout on behalf of new readers, a la Marvel Now! or the New 52 from DC, but in the process created more continuity problems with the overall mythos than they cared to explain or try to fix. And because they had Troy Denning taking the lead, someone very opinionated on the role of the Jedi and the centrality of the Jedi to the story, instead of James Luceno or someone like him who was more willing to let the characters define their own roles in the story, square pegs got smashed into round holes, and it's ignited a downward spiral that hopefully, I'm praying ends with Crucible.

    To continue with my comic comparison, imagine the NJO being something like the franchise that had spanned so far and embraced so much was forever and irreparably changed. LotF and FotJ tried to be the Infinite Crisis and 52, following up that story with stories of their own to try and clean up some of the debris their predecessor left behind while elevating a new generation of heroes to take the place of the old ones. But, again, the execution of that concept was lacking; instead of building off of the original story, they both tried to pretend as if it didn't happen, avoiding overwhelming continuity walls by ignoring them if they didn't fit the story, and trying to ape the Prequels in an attempt to drive up sales. It's not a perfect analogy, but it's the closest one I can think of.

    I'm reading the NJO now, almost finished it in fact, and despite the fact that the stories are likely to be wiped out in the onset of the Sequel Trilogy, I don't really care. I enjoy the books for what they are and what they bring to the table, both individually and as a whole. It's a terrific series, one of the best written and most daring overall stories in the entire EU, and well worth diving into even today because of its overall quality and because some of the books it gave us are so terrific, not because it's the giant game changer it was heralded as at the time, since that footprint has been largely erased.
  8. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Sep 2, 2012
    I would not mind seeing Stover write the conclusion for the Big 3 story post NJO.
    The Unifying Force is the Big 3 ending point for me but I want to see how Stover would wrap everything up.
  9. CT-867-5309

    CT-867-5309 Force Ghost star 6

    Jan 5, 2011
    As for the destruction of Ithor, I would have liked to see more of the Ithorians' reaction, or rather a much more dramatic reaction.

    I mean, these people went to insane extremes to preserve their world, to the point of never even stepping foot on it. Some of their world had never even been explored. Their "Law of Life" said that for every life (plant or animal) that was destroyed, two lives must be created to replace it. Then the Vong come and just completely kill all life on the planet at once. It's all gone just like that and they can never get it back. How does this not cause a species wide blue screen of death? How do they (at least a significant percentage of them) not turn to the dark side, so to speak? All that wasted effort, those Ithorians who will literally never step foot on their home planet, how do they not completely lose it? I COULD HAVE BEEN FROLICKING AND HAVING PICNICS!

    Could you imagine if we cleaned up Earth and were all harmonious and **** and then some aliens came along and completely destroyed all life on the planet?


    I have a BSOD when someone knocks over my dominoes, or when someone wrecks my sand castle (not really, I never made sand castles), or when my video game crashes/shuts off and I lose hours of gameplay.

    You can try to hand-wave it by saying the Ithorians have infinite patience and forgiveness and are immovable pacifists, but............lame.
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  10. Darth_Garak

    Darth_Garak Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 28, 2005
    Exploring how the ithorians coped with the exterminatus of their planet would have been a cool thing.
  11. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Sep 2, 2012
    I was engaged in the DNT when Han and Leia were doing that stuff but bummed when it wasn't brought up later on.
  12. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    I'm going to do this but I read a lot slower than the rest of you. :p

    As far as Ithor, I agree that it would have been cool to see their reactions, which are far more important and probably would have a greater impact on the reader than how Corran reacted.
  13. Cynical_Ben

    Cynical_Ben Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 12, 2013
    I wholeheartedly agree, and that was the one part of Ruin that I thought really fell flat. The entire reaction to Ithor's destruction was focused on Corran, and, if I recall correctly, there has not been a single named Ithorian in any book between Ruin and The Final Prophecy. It really speaks to how favored Corran is by Stackpole when his situation has emotional precedence over the population of a planet that was just effectively destroyed, especially considering how much of the early part of the book was taken up with showing Ithorian culture.

    af1983, don't feel bad about not being as fast. I doubt many of us are as busy on a daily basis as you, either. :D
  14. DigitalMessiah

    DigitalMessiah Chosen One star 6

    Feb 17, 2004
    Don't worry, Luke being upset over Obi-Wan was more important than Leia reacting to the destruction of her home world. There's precedence!
  15. CT-867-5309

    CT-867-5309 Force Ghost star 6

    Jan 5, 2011

    THE EVIL CLIFFIE Jedi Master star 2

    Jul 11, 2008

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  17. LightsaberAccident

    LightsaberAccident Jedi Padawan star 1

    Aug 26, 2013

    1.) The Unifying Force - It was epic, pivotal, and ended the story on a high note.
    2.) Traitor - A close second. I thought it represented a turning point, maybe not just in the war but the Jedi view of the Force itself.
    4.) Final Prophecy - Wedge commanding a fleet, Bilbringi and a specter from a dead Grand Admiral's campaign, the Jedi and Vong cooperating, etc...
    3.) Those two Allston books
    4.) Destiny's Way
    5.) The Force Heretic books
    5.) Edge of Victory: Conquest
    6.) Dark Journey
    7.) Dark Tide II: Ruin
    8.) Star by Star
    9.) Balance Point

    I didn't read much of the pre-Dark Journey NJO because I didn't enjoy the series up to that point.

    [edit]how in the name of why the freak did i when did that happen i used "spectre" instead of "specter" but i live in north america HOW
  18. GrandMasterKatarn

    GrandMasterKatarn Jedi Knight star 4

    Feb 8, 2008
    1.) The Unifying Force - the epic battles and the struggle to end the war with a race of suicidal maniacs
    2.) Traitor - The best story of Jacen Solo that captures him perfectly
    3.) Destiny's Way - The book that has the line: ACKBAR IS BACK! and is what makes it worthwhile
    4.) Dark Tide I: Onslaught - The War with the Vong takes a new turn as things look grim
    5.) Agents of Chaos: Hero's Trial - A great book to showcasehow Han got over Chewie's death and the introduction of the next, and sorely missed, co-pilot Droma
    6.) Dark Journey - Jaina's great story about her almost fall to the dark side and how quicklyshe overcame that
    7.) Dark Tide II: Ruin - How the pacifistic Ithorian homeworld gets trashed by supposed lovers of organic lifeforms
    8.) Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse - the war takes a heavy turn with more dead
    9.) Vector Prime - A wonderful opening that took a new and brave turn
    10.) Edge of Victory I: Conquest - is a semi-decent look at Anakin Solo, if Anakin Solo were the offspring of Kyle Katarn
    11.) Edge of Victory II: Rebirth - Anakin and Tahiri kiss, just too bad this will be forgotten for years
    12.) The Final Prophecy - A decent build up to the epic finale
    13.) Balance Point - A great look at how the characters react to the invasion of Duro
    These at the end are placed in order of terrible to god-awful:
    14.) Star by Star
    15.) Force Heretic I: Remnant
    16.) Force Heretic III: Reunion
    17.) Force Heretic II: Refugee
    18.) Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
    19.) Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand
  19. LightsaberAccident

    LightsaberAccident Jedi Padawan star 1

    Aug 26, 2013
    I just realized I didn't actually read Edge of Victory: Conquest. Replace that entry with the book where Fondor gets 'pointed (Agents of Chaos II?) and it would be more accurate. Probably the only pre-Balance Point book I really got into.
  20. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Conquest was one of my favorites.
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  21. Cynical_Ben

    Cynical_Ben Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 12, 2013
    Conquest is one of the top three books in the series, IMO, definitely worth a read even independent of the rest of the series. Much like Traitor after it, it stands on its own as a character study perfectly well, exploring the ins and outs of the meaning of heroism and morality, and also giving us our first real solid glimpse into the Yuuzhan Vong culture.
  22. CT-867-5309

    CT-867-5309 Force Ghost star 6

    Jan 5, 2011
    I'll start by saying I don't really like making favorites lists, I don't really care for determining my favorite anything. I like so many things it's just too hard, too ambiguous to actually make a list of any satisfaction. The thing is, I actually do liking making lists, I really enjoy it actually, but only when I can feel confident about my rankings. It's that lack of certainty that kills my enjoyment of favorites lists, I can't get that satisfaction of having my feelings organized by numerical value. I like making lists enough to make lists without any kind of ranking or organization, just gathering things under a certain heading is satisfying.

    Well, I finished my run of the NJO over a year ago, so there's no way I can remember my feelings well enough to rank 19 books with any confidence, which makes me hesitant to make this list. But I'm going to anyway, just to participate. So here's the list with a short comment for each.

    1) Traitor - Beautiful, and just way ahead of the pack. Very easy decision.
    2) Conquest - I needed a hero and I got one.
    3) Vector Prime - BELIEVE IT! Such a great opening to the series. Who's the best pilot, an ax murderer, Luke almost dying...
    4) The Unifying Force - I don't like it as much as others, but I still like it a lot.

    The top 4 were easy to choose (though 2-4 hard to rank) and stand apart from the rest, imo. Five through eight were also very difficult for me to rank, very close to each other.

    5) Onslaught - Just classic Stackpole.
    6) Star by Star - What can I say? I thought they'd never escape and I cried sad tears that they did without Anakin.
    7) The Final Prophecy - Thrilling. Really solid and interesting character work. Got me so excited heading into TUF.
    8) Hero's Trial - Han's grieving and budding friendship with Droma.

    A small gap before the next group, but not nearly as big as the gap from 4 to 5. Felt easy to rank.

    9) Ruin - Unfortunately, also classic Stackpole, the darker side.
    10) Rebel Dream - I'm not as big on Allston's duology as others. The set up is better than the pay off, imo.
    11) Rebirth - Not as good as Conquest, but nice character work.
    12) Rebel Stand - Thought what actually went down and the execution was pretty awful. Still entertaining enough because of action.

    Another small gap. Very small. Hard to rank, none are actually good.

    13) Refugee - Library isn't that bad, Ssi-Ru plot is strangely amusing even if out of place, Nom Anor's plot is good fun.
    14) Destiny's Way - I wanted to put it lower, the characterization is just so bad, especially after Traitor. Ackbar's back and Ebaq 9 prevent it from slipping further.
    15) Jedi Eclipse - Luceno just gets bogged down.
    16) Reunion - All that time spent on Tahiri pays off. Kinda. But not really. Not enough to warrant the time spent. Nom Anor's plot made me consider putting it higher.

    The trash. Little to no amusement to be had. Only from 4 to 5 is a bigger gap. Fairly confident about the order, though.

    17) Balance Point - Yawn. Just too much navel-gazing, too much Mara. Marakin not enough to place it higher.
    18) Remnant - Ugh. Tahiri's sections are just torture.
    19) Dark Journey - Has the dark side ever been so trivial? I've never seen a Star Wars book spend so much time setting up battles only to completely skip them. Just a fan fictional waste of time.
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  23. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    I usually do "top ten, in no particular order". :p Especially if I have to rank movies or songs; books aren't much easier.

    But among the NJO I've read I pretty much agree with your order, although I might end up putting Destiny's Way a little higher, just because of Vergere.

    I've been surprised to see Star by Star ranked low around here. That book left me a weepy mess. But different tastes I suppose.
  24. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    The thing about The Final Prophecy, to get away from lists for just a moment, is that I don't think it really does a good job with its actual job as the penultimate novel of the series. It's quite entertaining as a little adventure, but especially when FH has been so weak beforehand, it doesn't really pick the big picture back up or push us forward. The fact that Nen Yim has her epiphany -- but we can't find out what because it's not the last book yet! -- is a good example of the book really just marking time until the finale. Aside from the Holonet going down, what else happens of significance? The trip to Zonama Sekot is especially disappointing as it's basically doing in a hundred pages what Luke and company just did in four hundred. We just spent three giant books getting everyone out to Zonama, but wait, now we've got to spend the last book before the finale getting a new group there! And the mission to Bilbringi is fun, but doesn't have the sense of great resonance in pushing the big picture forward. It helps set the NR up for the final push, but it's such a narrow focus that the big picture doesn't really come through. If you'd had more scenes with Cal and Kenth and shown Garm taking Fondor, that would have really helped. But when you look at how much heavy lifting TUF has to do just to get its finale in place, it becomes apparent just how little lifting its predecessors were doing for it.

    You look at these four books between DW and TUF, and you really think how much better it would have been if Nom had set up his cult in the first book or two, and then everyone -- Nen Yim, Nom, Harrar, Corran, Tahiri -- were with Luke and company for an Unknown Regions expedition in books three and four, while the balance of the books could make time for Bakura or Koornacht here and there, but also follow the big picture of the military pushing back against the Vong, follow Jaina and Wedge and such on campaign, and give us a real focus on the Remnant's entry into the war and the GA.

    And now, I did say we'd be getting away from lists for only a moment:

    1. Traitor - Pure literary genius. The best book in the EU.
    2. Star by Star - Boy, how Denning has fallen. But however flawed his books are now, and even as much as those flaws are present here -- I just don't care. It's powerful, moving, packed with excitement and great plot development, and perfect at capturing the big picture and sense of epic tragedy of the events within, which were bold and overwhelming and fantastic.
    3. The Unifying Force - It's hard to rank this relative to Star by Star -- they're both the towering epic pillars of the NJO. And TUF delivers everything you could possibly want in an epic conclusion -- it's packed with great character moments, epic battles, appearances by everyone ever, incredible set-up for a new universe going forward. The reason I ended up pushing it to third is that Luceno does get a little bogged down at times in listism, and some bits of what the book is jam-packed with can get a little dull, plus Luceno kind of botches Vergere's and Jacen's philosophies, which is important. But oh my god, this is the absolute definition of epic, and it's such an extraordinary payoff.
    4. Conquest - It's the complete package. No real flaws. Glorious highs for Anakin, Karrde, Booster, Tahiri . . . pretty much everybody who appears. Vua Rapuung is greatness.
    5. Rebel Dream - Pretty much pure joy, as tons of heroes come together to kick Vong ass. Allston is the perfect breath of fresh air to inject we-can-win-this optimism and determination into a campaign storyline that highlights a great Vong character in Czulkang and then highlights all our favorite heroes even better. Brilliant ensemble joy.
    6. Rebel Stand - I'll put it just a step below Rebel Dream because Nyax is kind of silly. Otherwise, it's got all the same stuff going for it, plus more Wraiths.
    7. Destiny's Way - A brilliant book full of military and political detail that puts the NR on the road to victory credibly and delivers great battles and big-picture manipulations. It's a little slow to start and it can't follow up on Vergere as well as Traitor could, but it's fantastic overall.
    8. Ruin - The Garqi mission and Ithor are highlights. The use of Gavin, Wedge, Kre'fey, Jaina, etc. is great. The only real weakness is the Daeshara'cor plotline, which doesn't land, IMO.
    9. Onslaught - More consistent than Ruin; it doesn't have a dud plotline, and it has pretty much everything Ruin has. The highs just aren't quite as high, so I'll put it a little lower. They're practically tied, in effect.
    10. Hero's Trial - A great blast from the past. It's not as highlight-packed as the higher-ranked books, but Luceno creates a taut little spy thriller in the middle of a rambling scoundrel adventure. It's a great intro for him.
    11. Balance Point - Underrated. Solid character work with tight action. A fantastic change of pace for where it is that engages the refugee question and uses Han in a position of authority, engages Jacen's philosophy, and develops the characters in general.
    12. Vector Prime - To a large extent, it's an underrated book. The Belkadan horror sequence is pretty great. Chewie's death is incredibly moving. The Vong are introduced well and we get solid action out of it. The introduction of the new character positions, the philosophical themes, and the political themes are all handled extremely well. It's not a perfect novel, but it's solid.
    13. The Final Prophecy - Keyes always makes Tahiri and Corran incredibly fun, and their plotline is a highlight. The Bilbringi plotline, however, is far duller than it has any right to be, and overall it feels like a missed opportunity as the penultimate book in the series. You're holding your breath going in for something big and it never really gives you any release.
    14. Rebirth - It's kind of a muddled mess. Most of the plotlines don't really add up to anything, and it basically wastes its prime space on the timeline. What saves it is that Keyes is just so good at the individual scenes, at character and zippy dialogue and action and fun or moving scenarios. It's fun that doesn't add up to anything.
    15. Dark Journey - I find it underrated, but that doesn't make it great. It doesn't have the excitement or zip of the great NJO books, but it's also not dull -- it's got Jaina's emotional journey, political machinations, science and trickery and romance. It reintroduces Jag well, moves Jaina on to the very neat Trickster phase, and gives us a passably fun adventure despite its limitations.
    16. Jedi Eclipse - Not a bad book, but the dullest of the first half. Luceno's touch for the big picture hasn't quite been perfected yet, and he doesn't instill the political and military maneuvering with a lot of zip. Han's adventures don't really distinguish themselves from what he had previously. Luceno doesn't have a tight handle on the philosophical elements, which makes Jacen fall his flattest and undermines the Centerpoint plot. It's good enough, but it feels like it kind of fails to put together a really compelling story out of the solid pieces it has.
    17. Remnant - The best of the FH lot. The Imperial Remnant plot is generally enjoyable, though it's not all it could be, and Nom Anor is good as always. Overall, though, it's a dull slog.
    18. Refugee - Super-dull. I like Malinza and Soontir showing up and uh, that's about it. Plus Nom is always good.
    19. Reunion - I could maybe make a case for it being better than Refugee, but meh. It's bad, and it doesn't have Soontir Fel.
    xezene, darthjulian777 and Gorefiend like this.
  25. Jedi Ben

    Jedi Ben Chosen One star 7

    Jul 19, 1999
    See, to me, the various comments about how the story should have flowed between the hardbacks of SBS-DW and DW-TUF really make a case for a Tales of the NJO series.

    I think DR seriously underestimated just how much impact TUF would have on the series. (Plus the Vong flashback story in X-Wing: Mercy Kill read very well indeed.)

    Heh, if a story can't be good with Soontir Fel in it, something's gone seriously wrong. Similarly the Empire in Remnant, Stackpole used them very well in Ruin, so it should be great here, but not quite. Did give the EU a classic all-time great one-liner though.