Lit The 181st Imperial Discussion Group: Champions of the Force!

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Grey1, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    I bid you Dark Greetings, fellow champions [cue Freddie]. It's back to school for us for a final month of Jedi Academy and a final month of Exar Kun. Kevin J. Anderson should be pretty bored of us reiterating that he could have given us better books, but here we are still reading Champions of the Force.

    Let's start with all the stuff everyone wanted to bring to the table since we began with Jedi Search.

    And for those of us who didn't hold back the first two times around, what do you think of the actual titular Champions of the Force? The trilogy has them "mature into proper knights", conceptually at least, in less than a year and with a hell of a trial by fire. What do you think about this conceptual take on Jedi maturity and ability? Seeing how Jedi training was a bit of solo lightsaber training, running through a swamp, and listening to some pieces of good advice back then, is it even that remarkable that the First Class is done in one year?


    Everyone remember, 28 days later than now we'll celebrate our Halloween hangover by talking about what the Death Troopers did last summer.
  2. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    I think KJA laid the groundwork for having all the important stuff occur off-page that is so prevalent in the EU now.
  3. Revanfan1 Force Ghost

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    This is without a doubt my favorite in the series. Especially the Exar Kun encounter and 3-year-old Jacen fighting the giant animals with Luke's lightsaber. For the life of me I can't remember the Han part of the plot, but isn't this the one where Lando and Mara raided Kessel and Moruth Doole died? That's one saving grace, at least. :p

    I will also say that except for the relationship with Lando, I quite enjoyed Mara in this trilogy.
  4. Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost

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    Over the past two months, everyone has mentioned how Stackpole's take on this trilogy was a vast improvement over KJA's. One aspect of I, Jedi, however, that really irked me, was the retcon that it was actually Corran who came up with the idea of how to defeat Exar Kun. In Champions of the Force, the Jedi students all put their heads together and figure out how to defeat Kun without Luke's help. As poorly as the trilogy did overall in depicting Jedi training, the students' defeat of Kun was, at least conceptually, a nice moment of trilogy's-end-growth for them. For I, Jedi to retcon it into nothing more than ten clueless students executing an idea hatched by their brilliant, shining-star classmate... ugh.
  5. Robimus Force Ghost

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    Thats because Corran is always the best in Stackpole's eyes.

    I'll see if I can read through some of this book for the first time in a long time and contribute something more. :)
  6. JackG Force Ghost

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    That's really a thing? I wouldn't know; I couldn't for the life of me get through I, Jedi. That is petty as Zahn's dismissal of Dark Empire in the HoT duology.
    But I agree with Revanfan - the scene where the Jedi overcame the spirit of Kun was quite well done.
    [IMG]

    This was my first EU novel, so I think I will try and participate some here.
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  7. Robimus Force Ghost

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    Also, not everyone said that. :p

    Count me as someone who doesn't think highly of I Jedi.
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  8. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    It's amusing that Stackpole is only able to make his take so much "better" due to the more recent material done by KJA for the Illustrated Star Wars Universe that delved more deeply into the history of Yavin!
  9. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    And here I thought I, Jedi discussion had been back in April... ;)

    I feel like this sentence deserves some elaboration.
  10. Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost

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    It isn't well-done at all.The Jedi trainees all close their eyes and think happy thoughts, and then Kirana Ti and Streen hit an incorporeal Force ghost with their corporeal lightsabers and it somehow kills a Sith Lord who's managed to survive for four thousand years. It's a classic example of KJA writing nothing more complex than "They all felt the Force!" and believing that an explanation as weak as that can make sense of the nonsensical.

    Champions of the Force is the weakest of an already weak trilogy. Exar Kun's death contributes to the climax of its awfulness --- his death in the first act of the book, coupled with the unrelated deaths of Furgan and Moruth Doole, paves the way for the trilogy's-end-big-bad-villain to be... Tol Sivron. The bumbling comic relief paperwork guy.

    Seriously, the pacing is just awful. With so many villains left, KJA could have teamed them up to create something resembling a halfway decent climax. Instead, he kept them all within their own separate plotlines, killed most of them off individually, and then ended up with the weakest one left to carry the climax. Sure, Daala came back during the fight, but she didn't do so as the primary villain --- she was really just a wrench that got tossed into the middle of the works.

    The trilogy has plenty of villains, but none of them are memorable. Yes, I mean that --- think of what happens within the actual pages of these books, and not what was later established in wider EU lore. If Daala had never returned after Champions of the Force, she would have gone down in history as nothing more than a minor Imperial Warlord who took three books to accomplish nothing --- it wasn't until Darksaber that she actually did anything memorable. Similarly, Exar Kun is presented here as a pretty generic ancient evil ghost who needed Tales of the Jedi to come off as more than a one-dimensional character. Furgan, Doole, and Sivron? Don't make me laugh. In a trilogy set just after the New Republic has finally vanquished the Empire from the galaxy, how the hell are these two-bit badguys supposed to be credible threats? I'm imagining KJA as Rita Repulsa, churning out these generic and expendable clay badguys on a conveyor belt to go fight the Power Rangers in a battle that will soon be forgotten. Kyp is the only decent villain in this trilogy, but the fact that his fall to the dark side was based on Kun possessing him rather than him making his own choices severely diminishes that, too.
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  11. blackmyron Force Ghost

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    And yet, in the recent get-together of the early authors, it turns out that Stackpole and KJA are actually pretty friendly to each other and knew each other beforehand. Stackpole apparently consulted with KJA over having Corran one of the unnamed students, and KJA told him it was no problem.
  12. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    What if Exar Kun was the villain that returned instead of Daala? The Jedi need a containment unit for all these Sith ghosts.
    [IMG]
    (I'm sure the next retcon is that Exar Kun was possessing Jacen all along.)
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Oct 5, 2013
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  13. fett 4 Force Ghost

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    Poor KJA he got dumped so Stackpole could go hang around with Zahn who was the new cool kid on the block:p

    To be fair to KJA (and does stretch it saying that) but the idea of the students using what they have learned to overcome the evil foe without there teacher was not a bad idea in itself.
    It also has greater dramatic potential rather than Luke simply arriving and saving the day and is a stable of Storytelling.

    Lord of the Rings has it with the Hobbits overcoming Saruman/Sharky without Gandalf, Starwars has it with Luke overcoming Darth Vader and the Emperor without either Luke or Yoda.

    With KJA the main problem he had (among other things) was that his execution in telling his ideas was to be frank awful.
    Last edited by fett 4, Oct 6, 2013
  14. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Conceptually, Exar Kun is pretty wizard. We have to remember that this is the third big pillar of the EU following the movies - Thrawn trilogy and Dark Empire being the other two. DE shows us how the story can continue keeping the movie mindset, and concentrating on the Skywalker twins fighting Palpatine. Thrawn shows us how interesting a story can get when you still use the Emperor's underlings - for all they achieved (and all they were developed into later on), Thrawn is still just a subordinate of Palpatine, and C'baoth is still just a clone from Palpatine's toybox. Exar Kun is something different, opening up the idea that there had been other threats like Palpatine before, that Vader and the Emperor are actually just two iterations of a long line of threats to be put into stories. Opening up other eras. So, good third concept there: Not reviving the movie stories, not taking a magnifying glass to a facet of the Rebellion/Empire conflict, but expanding the universe (just like the Han and Lando books had branched out before).

    In addition, while Luke's journey in these books is to learn to move beyond his movie personality (becoming the teacher/the Yoda) while DE and TTT had him pretty close to what we saw onscreen, there is another journey of new characters proving their worth and branching out. HTTE does have Mara's story, and while it's the biggest development, it's still kind of a sidestory. Here, you have the First Class proving their worth to be potential protagonists - we have the Leviathan comic as a direct spinoff - as well as Kyp having a pretty big story arc (I know, I know - conceptually). Slave boy being Jedi High Potential seduced to the dark side but realizing his mistakes - that's Vader's story in a nutshell before the prequels were even written. And with that, we have the idea of other characters living through hero journeys in the SW EU. After the JAT, you could have lots of spinoffs, and lots of characters the publisher could forget about, only getting them out as decoration whenever needed.

    I'd also say that Champions of the Force is necessarily about removing the last Imperial that hasn't been dealt with; it's more about Kyp turning around, showing us that he's really pretty sorry, and tell us what will become of him. I know, there's not much suspense in the execution, and neither is there any execution at all, which doesn't go down well with quite a few readers; but conceptually, this should be the hook for the audience.
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  15. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    I think I'd like to elaborate on this before it gets misunderstood... ;)

    Basically, Mara and Kyp feel pretty similar in their respective books regarding their involvement with the story and their importance. And Dev Sibwarra from TaB is pretty similar, albeit not available for further books. Thinking about the similarities between Mara and Kyp, it strikes me how Mara was easily absorbed into the main character family, while Kyp - something like Han's adopted nephew - was nothing more than a strong Jedi until Dark Journey worked with him and his relationship to the Solos - and that was the end of the line for him. And it's not like Mara was Mrs. Skywalker from the beginning; until the marriage actually happened (or, rather, Zahn wrote another book), she was an accessory for the stories. We need a strong force user helping out? Mara's the character of choice. Could this be because she's female, while Kyp is too close to the models already given by Luke and Han, and later on too close to the Solo kids? Too close to the basic SW story of a hero going his own way (compare this to Kyle Katarn who was pretty hard to include into the novel world despite his videogame fame)? Just like Kam and Kenth and finally even Corran could never do anything but play second fiddle in the Jedi Order?

    And based on the fact that Mara was constantly around and bumped up a notch by Zahn's marriage proposal, while Kyp was only saved from oblivion by the fact that VP needed a roguish Jedi with no questions asked about the actual character, it raises the question - for me, at least - if Mara had it 'easier' because she was made into nothing more than a part of the family, easily distinguished by her roles as wife and mother, and therefore being invited to do some of the heavy lifting in the Jedi story threads, and not really being allowed to take on the sole hero role outside if Zahn's Imperial era books, stories, and comics? By being more memorable with her red hair and snarky attitude than that one guy who blew up a planet? Came it all down to author preference, or to a default setting of TTT being the senior work? Of Kyp being affiliated with a whole bunch of Jedi when you only want to read up on one character to put into your story?
  16. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    I liked the namelessfaceless Jedi trainees vs Exar Kun scene only in the sense that it was something of an echo to the way Kun was originally defeated by the planet-destroying light side warriors of doom in TOTJ (continuity is fun, even if the thing being referenced is perhaps left forgotten), but yeah, I agree with @Jeff_Ferguson on the actual execution of that scene. Like so many of KJA's scenes, it's high concept, and could potentially be a great moment if it was only presented better (I feel the same way about the scene where Luke is able to fight through Jacen; what could have been a truly powerful moment comes off as very silly through KJA's prose), but in the end, the only satisfaction that can be gleamed from it is what the squinting reader fills the blanks in with.

    On I, Jedi, all I can say is that I'm looking forward to reading it soon and finding out what I think of this somewhat controversial book.
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  17. purplerain Force Ghost

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    I did find it cool that Exar is an anti-Imperial Sith. In fact, I like to joke that it was actually Exar, not Obi-Wan, who told Luke to use The Force during the Battle of Yavin.

    Keep in mind that back in 1994, the EU didn't consider Palpatine to be a Sith.
  18. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Maybe Kun's voice is similar to Obi-Wan's...? RC, you are our resident audio drama expert. What do we know about Kun's voice?

    As for Palpatine not being a Sith, do we know if there truly was a party line that everyone knew about? I know that they had the thing with Vader having a seat in Korriban's tomb queue, and nobody knew that Palpatine was a Darth back then, but on the other hand, Kun doesn't have a Darth title either, and Palpatine is obviously some dark side Force user. The mental leap from Kun/Kyp (or Kun/Ulic) to Palpatine/Vader isn't really that big. And Veitch himself opened up the TOTJ era as a companion piece to DE's Palpatine machinations leading to Luke's fall.
  19. blackmyron Force Ghost

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    The first time I recall seeing anything with the Sith in "modern" Star Wars was Mysteries of the Sith.
  20. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    I know that Vader's title as a Dark Lord of the Sith had been common knowledge for quite some time - it was in the CCG, which took its info straight from WEG. Other than that, TOTJ dealt with the Sith as soon as the JAT/TOTJ connection developed, and by the time of DE2, Palpatine was forbidden to join the Korriban Fun House of Sith that still waited patiently for Vader's evil ghost to drop by.

    Hey, since we steamroll over EU continuity anyway these days, could Caedus' ghost take Vader's free spot on Korriban since Vader turned light and Caedus had been setting out to be Vader 2.0?
  21. purplerain Force Ghost

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    In 1994, the EU defined "Sith" as someone who served the interests of the original Sith Empire and the Dark Lords of that era. Later on, the EU redefined "Sith" as "a selfish Force-user".
    I was actually suggesting that Kun used his powers to change his voice to that of Obi-Wan.
    Last edited by purplerain, Oct 6, 2013
  22. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Oh! Yes, he would do something like that, wouldn't he.

    Regarding the Sith name - yes, that was why they were the Dark Lords of the Sith. But it's interesting that Lucas essentially followed the same logic - making the evil guys just call themselves Sith. What's the most plausible thing Lucas said about his original intention for the Sith? Did the "masters of a slave race" thing really come from him, or is it plausible that he always thought of the Sith as an evil order of evil knights, and not some strange offscreen species that had been enslaved millennia before?
  23. purplerain Force Ghost

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    He sure would.
    the same logic as the 1994 EU or the same logic as the modern EU?
    The first draft of ANH has the "Knights of Sith", who are a described as "a sinister rival sect" of the "Jedi Bendu". Perhaps because GL felt that "knights" implies heroes, not villains, he changed "knights" to "Dark Lords" in later drafts. "Dark Lord" can mean a villain with magical powers (such as Sauron and Voldemort). I'd bet that GL told Veitch and KJA that the Dark Lords of the Sith are a lineage of darksiders that began with fallen Jedi thousands of years before the movies and that Veitch and KJA (possibly unaware of the fantasy meaning of "Dark Lord") created the Sith species to answer the question, "What are they lords of?"
  24. RC-1991 Force Ghost

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    Exar honestly sounds more like Luke than Ben Kenobi. Kind of a high-pitched, nasal, whiny voice.

    As an aside, "Freedon Nadd" sounds even more ridiculous when Master Vodo says it out loud.
  25. Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost

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    All concept and no substance is KJA in a nutshell. Kyp's fall and redemption is a rushed, uninteresting job that sees him fall not due to his own choices but due to possession by an evil spirit. When the evil spirit is defeated, it's a snap of the fingers and bam, Kyp's a good guy again. When he's brought before the New Republic to face judgment, he's told "Nah, we'll let the Jedi decide your fate." It's anticlimactic and just awful. His destruction of Carida is practically brushed aside. Its fallout, both emotionally on Kyp and on the rest of the galaxy, isn't even felt until later works by other authors.