Lit The 181st Imperial Discussion Group: Dark Apprentice!

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Grey1, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost

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    Kyp's fall is as rushed as Ulic's was. Ulic had an overabundance of pride, but instead he fell to the dark side because KJA ran out of pages and made him swallow a Sith worm. Kyp has vigor and brashness but instead falls because he gets possessed by Exar Kun. In the next book, he's released from the grip of the dark side not because of his own choices --- but because his fellow students defeat Kun and vanquish Kun's spirit. It's not a tale of a fall and redemption, at all. It's a tale of rushed sloppiness and of actions beyond the character's control.
  2. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    Well, the one aspect I like about it is that he's doing what he wants to do, not what Exar Kun wants to do, or what the "dark side devil" wants to do. He has agency and free will and he's following his own desires, which is to destroy the Empire.

    It annoys me when a character "falls to the dark side" and suddenly they're a different person and they're villains for the sake of the plot and their motivations are completely irrational. Yeah, they'll do stuff in a fit of rage, like Anakin choking Padme or Ulic striking down Cay, but when they're lucid and not in a frenzy of rage, they're choosing to do "evil" because they want to do it. Kyp wants to destroy the Empire for making him a slave and conscripting his brother. Jacen supposedly doesn't want galactic war, but then he instigates the whole damn thing. The idea arises out of this erroneous belief that if Luke strikes down Vader in anger in Return of the Jedi, he'll suddenly decide Palpatine is a swell guy and he's going to be his apprentice. It's dumb.

    And in Champions of the Force, KJA at least doesn't screw up the Dagobah cave sequences that occurs in the Massassi temple with Kyp. I'm not sure that he understands it, but he gets out of the way and just replicates it. I can't really speak to Kyp's redemption because I haven't re-read that part from Champions of the Force. I only specifically sought out the Massassi temple sequence to see how KJA wrote it.
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Sep 4, 2013
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  3. Dr. Steve Brule Force Ghost

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    I'd agree that most Bantam-era sources don't really delve all that deeply into an exploration of the Force or what it means to be a Jedi, but I don't think it was entirely absent, either. I think some of the Luke stuff from BFC and Vision of the Future challenge traditional views of Jedi being Space Supermen and there not being a problem with just using massive Force powers to blow baddies away. I don't think every Bantam source was like that by a long shot, but that sort of examination did pop up at least here and there.
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  4. Revanfan1 Chosen One

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    Jun 3, 2013
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    Well, that's basically what happened in the TFU alternate dark side ending, isn't it? :p
  5. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    I think both dark side endings to the TFU games shouldn't be taken seriously (THAT'S RIGHT ULICUS I REMAIN UNCONVINCED). But in TFU1, I view it as Starkiller being put in the same situation as Vader. Fundamentally, Vader and Starkiller want to live. In fact, this is made clear in the TFU2 novel:

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  6. Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost

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    I think the ending of this book needs to be discussed. Specifically, Kyp using the Sun Crusher to wipe out the remainder of the Maw Fleet.

    I think it was a terrible decision on KJA's part. While initially reading it, you might think that taking Daala out of the picture at the end of Book 2 is a cool and effective way to promote Exar Kun as the trilogy's big bad Book 3 villain --- but then Kun gets defeated in the first act of Book 3, leaving the trilogy's-end-big-bad villain as... Tol Sivron.

    ... What?

    Before Kyp arrives, Daala is sitting there, ruing the fact that her grand plans to wreak havoc on the galaxy have been thwarted, and with only two Star Destroyers left, she has no choice left but to destroy Coruscant. Call me a conspiracy nut, but I can't help but suspect that this was KJA realizing what a ridiculous premise he had set up in Jedi Search. "I have four --- wait, three --- Star Destroyers, and I'm going to be a menacing villain for this entire trilogy! Gya ha ha ha!!!" I'm sure KJA thought it was a good idea at the time, but after he wrote the Battle of Mon Calamari in Dark Apprentice, he must have realized that there was no way Daala could be taken seriously anymore, hence her desperate Coruscant plan and subsequent destruction at the hands of Dark Kyp --- get her out of the way so that KJA can focus on Kun rather than straw-graspingly trying to maintain Daala's credibility. But then he brought her back for a random cameo during the climax of Book 3 because he realized that he had run out of villains.

    I mean, there's no way that he could have actually planned such terrible pacing from the beginning. When he was developing Daala, Kun, and even Furgan in his story outlines, there's no way he could have decided that they would all get taken out early so that Tol Sivron's bad comic relief style of villainy could close out the trilogy. No, I strongly suspect that Daala's destruction at the end of Book 2 was a gametime decision that a) was born from KJA realizing that her tiny shreds of credibility were completely gone and b) was done in an effort to promote Kun as the badder badguy. But then it backfired when he took out Kun and realized there were no actual villains left.

    Yes, I'm making a lot of leaps in logic here, and drawing conclusions based on unsupported inferences, but when a trilogy's pacing is so ungodly bad, how else can you justify it?
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  7. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    Or, perhaps more appropriately... who?
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  8. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    I'm glad I'm not the only one asking this question...

    I think the Daala vs. a supernova scene could be seen to set up two things - one, obviously, having Kyp/Kun take over as the seriously dangerous villain, but also two, have your other villain go through a kind of mythical evolution. Conceptually, it's not a bad idea, and it's definitely one cheap 80s action movies would go for; the evil admiral, whose ressources as a general villain have been used up since there's not going to be a bigger masterplan, so she's going through a drastic situation that would kill others, but she can come out of the fires of hell as a kind of diabolical even-more-evil villain. Okay, we all know how that turned out, but conceptually, I don't think KJA necessarily wanted to off her. It's strange that he never delivered any kind of payoff for Daala's setup.

    Buuut... I think a retcon that someone needs to make is that Daala's reversals of fortune and continuing survival are tied to Abeloth's protection. Having her survive stuff because that force being was grooming her for getting control of the galaxy and taking over her body as well ever since they shared space in the Maw. I'm not sure if any of this is plausible, but which part of the stories of Daala, and Abeloth respectively, is?


    We'll obviously look at the finale next month, but I think it's clear the third book had a lot of mopping up to do, not being a true third volume but rather the third part of one story. That would excuse the loss of true villains and the concentration on getting Kyp back and putting all the characters back into their places.
  9. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    I think your mistake is assuming that KJA was planning the story. The overwhelming impressing you get from the stories is that he's making it up literally as he goes along, and we're getting the rough draft as he spits it out.

    You're right that the lack of any kind of narratively satisfying arc or storyline for Daala is glaring. She comes out of nowhere and does some stuff, and pisses off Kyp, and then she drops out of the story and then randomly hops back in just to throw a wrench into the works and provide crappy bonus drama. Which is pretty much how she's always used.

    The whole villain situation is very muddled. It's like Spider-man 3, or some other overstuffed superhero movie. There are five villains running around, each doing a little thing here or there, but none of them ever even link up, and they're just sort of thrown at the heroes randomly to create an assortment of threats sufficient to string out the story to trilogy length. It's incredibly sloppy, bloated writing. Logically, you might foresee Daala linking up with Furgan . . . but no, Furgan exists to poison Daala, do nothing, survive the destruction of Carida, and then randomly try to kidnap Anakin so that we can stretch out the climax with a separate superfluous action plotline. It's just a really lousy attempt to write "epic" on the creative cheap. Rather than writing a big story, just write a bunch of small stories and throw them all together at the same time despite having no connection. KJA does the same thing again in Darksaber, when Durga and Daala both have completely unrelated villainous plots at the same time to pad the story out.
  10. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Oh yes, Durga. That one only works as an ironic comment on the story, doesn't it. And then that plot kills a movie-level character.

    So, is this a general weakness KJA has? Havac, I know you always rage about him using a dictaphone and nothing else to put his stories down. But is it really his general weakness as a writer, or could some of it be attributed to a theoretical rush on Bantam's side who wanted to have as many books, preferably trilogies, to cash in on the Thrawn trilogy's success? Beyond his SW stuff, I've only read his adaptation of Sky Captain, and these movie adaptation novels always fall a bit flat while shining when they include a nice half-page of new information, but in the end I can't remember if it was particularly good or bad anyway. And if a bad style benefitted the obvious b-movie/serial feel of that story.

    Serial - would Jedi Academy have been better as a series of ten or twenty pulpy pulp issues? As some kind of tongue-in-cheek in-joke referring to SW' roots?
  11. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    I haven't read his Dune books but they seem to be pretty unpopular.
  12. Force Smuggler Chosen One

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    Sep 2, 2012
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    I like KJA's Dune books.
  13. Dr. Steve Brule Force Ghost

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    I agree that his Dune books are terrible, and that's a generous appraisal of them. Heard bad things about his X-Files and StarCraft books, too, but I know some people who like his Saga of Seven Suns series, which I understand as basically being a more traditional long space opera serial.

    I will say I liked his Captain Nemo and H.G. Wells books. There's definitely a pulp feel to them, although in addition to the source material they both have a big debt to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I actually think his Wells book directly references stuff from the League comics. His novelization of the League movie was...at least better than the movie itself, though that's damning with faint praise.
  14. Force Smuggler Chosen One

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    Saga of the Seven Suns was fun as well.
  15. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    So, what did KJA ever do for us?
  16. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    The Illustrated Guide to the Star Wars Universe

    And the Tales from/of books. He assembled them. He got The Last One Standing published as written!
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Sep 13, 2013
  17. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    All right, but apart from the Illustrated Guide and the Tales books, what has KJA ever done for us?

    And funnily enough, The Last One Standing is a good example of someone thinking up a concept for a movie character without lining it up with what came before. And even if people ignored Marvel back then, there was still Dark Empire 2 hinting at a portion of Fett's backstory.
  18. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    The Last One Standing actually references DE2 -- Jaster Mereel suggests he might join the stormtroopers after his exile.

    But yeah, Marvel was cast out even worse than what TCW has done.
  19. Parnesius Jedi Grand Master

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    Sep 8, 2012
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    The aqueduct?
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  20. Gorefiend Chosen One

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    He wrote the Essential Chronology together with Wallace.
  21. Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost

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    and the sanitation.
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  22. Robimus Force Ghost

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    Would you like me to point you towards a Kyp Durron Fan Club, or the hundreds upon hundreds of Kyp Durron fan fictions that people have written? He created that character, one that has proven to be one of the most popular EU characters of all time. In 2008 TF.N did a "top 100 EU characters of all time" poll from the users in Lit & the EUC. Kyp came in #6 overall.

    Short answer, KJA added to the Star Wars Universe. Both in good ways and bad ways. As someone pointed out earlier, he kinda even introduced novel readers to the idea of continuity with other novels and comics. Yes, I realize Zahn & WEG, yada, yada - but KJA took the Zahn stuff, took the Dark Empire stuff and solidified it in this series as being one story.
  23. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    So isn't it interesting that not only has KJA moved through three forms of fiction - novel, comic book, young reader book (which is a somewhat different form of medium than the novel for the EU) - but also did pretty well in the source book area, especially the "fictional in-universe source book" if I'm not mistaken - and thereby gave the EU continuity beyond shoutouts to other "products" released at the same time? Continuity constructing the EU as something to be marvelled as in source books and synopsises? Characters and concepts that are bigger than their printed appearance? While I know that WEG basically did the groundwork for the galaxy, isn't KJA the single force that gave us the need for a wookiepedia back in the nineties?

    Is this kind of an "I am your father" moment going on here?

    I think it's quite interesting that these books are really vulnerable to all kinds of criticism, but in the end they are somehow bigger than the sum of their parts.
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  24. RC-1991 Force Ghost

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    I think that, despite how utterly incompetent he is as a writer, KJA did manage to establish a lot of the basis for the EU as we know it- the New Jedi Order, the Imperial Remnant, Luke's NJO taking a lot of cues from the ancient Jedi rather than the Prequels (though if the prequels had been out, I guarantee you that Mr. I-Must-Compulsively-Reference-The-Movies-at-Every-Possible-Moment-and-a-Few-of-the-Impossible-Moments would have turned Luke's Order into a carbon copy of the OJO, complete with celibacy and a Chosen One prophecy), creating the KOTOR era as a viable period for telling stories complete with its own visual aesthetic and version of the Jedi (granted, Veitch helped and KOTOR 1 was massively underwhelming in terms of actually utilizing the visuals and themes of that era, for which I will always, ALWAYS take Bioware to task), and other story threads that I'm too mentally scattered ATM to recall. He's very much the EU's George Lucas- he has some great ideas, yet is absolutely terrible at putting them into action, and it requires the input from far more talented writers to actually turn his ideas into something workable, unique, and worth reading about.

    So KJA's works are an abysmal (yet entertaining, in the same watching-a-trainwreck manner as COTJ, Crystal Star or TNR) yet necessary part of the EU, and on the whole the concepts he contributed did accidentally add positively to the Expanded Universe.
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  25. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    Tom Veitch and Christian Gossett set the tone and style of TOTJ before KJA was involved.

    But KJA's interviews imply that continuity between the comics and novels would not have existed were it not for him. And it's not something he brags about, he simply states that he was completely ignorant of Dark Empire until Dark Horse asked him to write a foreword to the Dark Empire trade paperback -- and this was after he already wrote a draft of Jedi Search. Lucasfilm made no effort to maintain continuity between the two media.
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Sep 13, 2013