Lit The 181st Imperial Discussion Group: Young Jedi Knights, Books 12 - 14! While we still can!

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Grey1, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Hello everyone and welcome back to the 181st. I guess all of us have stuff on our minds right now, and everyone is knee-deep in discussion of certain things that came up recently... but coincidentally, I think this month's discussion has quite some relevance regarding the Sequel Trilogy situation.

    The time is, well, twenty years after Return of the Jedi. Han and Leia have had three wonderful kids, all of whom are studying to rightfully call themselves Jedi Knights (but they're calling themselves that all the time anyway). And now, Han is about to... Return To Ord Mantell!

    - This time around, the opening concentrates on Zekk as he tries to become a proper Jedi again. How is that for an intro? Seeing how Zekk has probably had the most dynamic career of all the YJK characters, do you like where Anderson and Moesta are taking him here?

    - This is the final YJK arc. Back then, we didn't know that the next thing the timeline would hold for our young up-and-coming heroes would be some more comet racing, then intergalactic invasion by a ruthless and brutal force. Havac once pointed out, in the discussion of the fourth YJK book, IIRC, that Jacen and Jaina are relatively blank slates as characters that the audience can use as stand-ins for themselves. Has that changed? Do we have a clearer idea of who Jacen and Jaina are, or are they still bundles of virtues and a positive outlook on life?

    - KJA is notorious for namechecking bits from SW continuity; he's been kind of a proto-Luceno. I think it's important to notice that he doesn't really just do this to throw in advertisements for his own stuff - one could think so with all the TOTJ tidbits that he keeps bringing up or the Leviathan plug-in in this very book; and on the other hand, he's not really subtle about weaving old stuff into his stories. What do you think about the way old continuity is brought into play here? We have both the Han Solo adventures (with important details on the Lost Legacy novel) and some Marvel comics checked in here. Speaking about the Marvel comics, does anyone know if those were reprinted around that time so that the hardcore audience would find out about those stories without having to dig up expensive antiques? It's really interesting to think back to this time when SW was really expanding, and you had to make the connections yourself, digging up odd novels and reference books in comic book stores... not just check the Wook for the details...

    - Okay, so let's go to what is probably the most important element in here. Anja Gallandro. Comes with a past, and with an antique lightsaber that she can wield successfully because of drugs. Because of the drugs, she's addicted and dependent on criminals. Also, even with their girls around, Zekk and Jacen seem a bit... fascinated, as is to be expected in 15-year olds. However, wouldn't you agree that the way Anja is written, and how she's thrown in as the child of a rival of the Solo kids' father, that we'd normally expect her to be about their age? The wook has her as about 26 here, though, and I'm actually surprised that Lost Legacy is placed as late as it is, I placed Anja at around 30 (has Lost Legacy's date been changed in recent years?). How does that work, having her "play with the kids" even though she's older than Luke ever was in the movies? Is it helped by her ways which could be described either as vengeful, petty, or immature? Because I don't think this works the other way round with the Solo kids seeming more mature than they are.

    - Finally, Anakin is with his siblings. Back when I read these, I immediately noticed that we had a new dynamic by having him in there, even if he's still only doing support. YJK had already moved away from a very focused Scooby Doo-like cast to include Zekk and Raynar Longbottom on the team, with even more characters like Lusa stepping into the support slots. But what about having the hero of the JJK books on the team, as well?

    - We can talk about outlaw racing events and classic two-tribes-at-war stories... but the thought I'd like to bring into this is the role of the Jedi. Kyp and Streen point out that Jedi don't have a lot of free time because they always have to check if they are needed somewhere. This theme has the kids accidentally resolving a bitter (and bloody) conflict even though they were out to have a quick vacation with Daddy. It also shows Han as an envoy of the New Republic who's not stepping back from applying diplomatics and turbolasers if he's given a reason. But then again, we have the Rock Dragon snatch away the grand prize at the outlaw race. OK, force sensitives should be allowed to participate because it's only natural, and some species have advantages over others anyway, but having a team of Jedi move in to do something like that - isn't that a bit political? Could we imagine future peace brigade fanatics sitting in the stands at the Ord Mantell race?


    We'll continue with Trouble On Cloud City next week, and Crisis at Crystal Reef the week after that. But I think there's one discussion that might come up anyway, so we can keep that going for the entire month: How do you think does the entire YJK fit into the SW saga? Not just "it's there so it's canon", but do you think it really is a good and logical concept that could and should form the backbone of any Episode 7 Lucas could come up with?

    Next month, Lando Calrissian will invite us over to [speaking as smooth as I can] the Starcave of ThonBoka...
  2. JediAlly Force Ghost

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    I like how the opening concentrated on Zekk. It shows us that while Zekk has begun to make peace with his past, he still has a way to go. Too often it seems that we have a Jedi go dark, then “click” Jedi returns to the light and everyone’s happy again. The only other Jedi whom we’ve seen struggle, make peace with past decisions, and earn redemption are Kyp (a story in Tales of the New Republic) and Jaina during the latter half of the NJO. Luke also goes through this in Dark Empire II and Empire’s End, but he really doesn’t take the time to sit back and reflect, so as to speak, until Vision of the Future.






    The twins have begun to establish themselves within the Jedi order and the galaxy at large due to their accomplishments. And while they’re not as bright-eyed and innocent, for lack of better terms, as they were at the beginning of the series, the harshness of reality doesn’t really set in unfortunately until Vector Prime.






    I recognize references to KJA’s comics, and the Han Solo Adventures, but the Marvel comicscomics? I have the Marvel comics bundled up in seven collections, but I have yet had a chance to read them. I do believe that they have been reprinted within the past few years. While bringing in the Corbos incident wasn’t really necessary, Han’s past served as a key ingredient in setting the backstory for the main villain and the new OC.






    Anja definitely had a chip on her shoulder, to say the least. She also had a serious grudge towards Han, and in some ways it’s justified. It’s akin to Boba Fett’s grudge towards Mace in the Clone Wars TV show. It didn’t matter what his father did, he still looked up to him and was devastated when he saw Mace kill his father. I admit I never considered the age issue. Sure I figured Jacen was 15 and starting to get close to 16, and Zekk was two years older than the twins. As for Anja, at first I thought she’d be in her early 20’s – 21 or 22. Making her slightly older might change things a little now, but not much. I have never considered what Anja did was “playing with the kids”. Like I said, she had a lot of issues, which was understandable, and I’m not talking about the andris. As for the Solo twins being more mature than they are, first off you have to consider their heritage, so they have a lot to shoulder. Secondly, Jacen has his moments when he shows he takes after his father at being a laserbrain.






    Anakin being part of the team wasn’t really that much of a shock because this was a family outing of sorts. Now had they brought Tahiri and Ikrit in this book, then I would have agreed with you more. I won’t say anything more right now.






    I don’t know about the political angle. Zekk was a good pilot, and Luke encouraged him to apply the Force in what he does best. As for future Peace Brigade fanatics – that’s an unrealistic stretch in my opinion. Competitors and bettors being bitter that they lost, I can see. But becoming Peace Brigade because of that…






    It fits into the SW saga because even thought the Heroes of Yavin and Endor play major roles in the post YJK years, the burden of responsibility for watching over the galaxy will eventually shift to the younger generations. The Solo twins and their friends are part of that generation, and the YJK helped to establish the foundations of whom they will be at the onset of the NJO. As far as the news for Episode VII-IX, until I have a better of idea of the timeframe of when they’ll be occurring, I’ll reserve any comments. The Clone Wars timeline is a mess as it is. If the sequel trilogy were to take place post FOTJ and pre Legacy comics, then a great number of concerns will be dismissed for the moment.
  3. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

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    I always found it amusing because Han DIDN'T kill Gallandro.

    In contradiction of all Westerns everywhere, Han LOST their gunfight.

    Gallandro was killed by Xim the Despot's anti-intruder defenses.
  4. JediAlly Force Ghost

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    I know that, but he did have a role in the chain of events that led to Gallandro's death. So Han feeling guilty is somewhat justified. It was Czethros who really twisted the truth.
  5. JediAlly Force Ghost

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    I think it's time to begin talking about the second part of the final arc of the YJK.
  6. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    And so it is... well, since it's just the two of us apparently (everyone else is welcome to join the party), I'd like you to point out what's the most important themes and elements in this second book for you. What's your focus on the Trouble On Cloud City?


    Well, I didn't mean that this is the single event driving them to sign up with the Peace Brigade. I'd rather like to point out that with all the good the Jedi are obviously doing, they also always have a PR deficit, partly because of their elite status. They are, after all, superior to "normal people" in certain regards. Some may dislike their greater physical powers and other streghths that stretch into "magic" like telekinesis (or hyper-awareness that allows them to move effectively through asteroid fields). Some may dislike their moral high ground (people on the moral low or middle ground always do that).

    Basically, I feel like the Rock Dragon rushing in to win the prize is a PR disaster for the Jedi Order. Inside the confines of a children's book, it can of course be no other way; the heroes always need to have great moments and win everything. But if we see it from farther out, we have an event that's supposedly a very special event for the "scum and villainy" part of the SW galaxy, a traditional race that's for the best smugglers and bounty hunters out there. In comes a bunch of Jedi kids that dwarf everyone else in the competition. Events like this might pile up as anti-Jedi-sentiment and make people open to stuff like Peace Brigade.


    BTW, when I said Anja "plays with the kids", I meant to point out that this is still a kid's adventure of a bunch of kids, and it seems as if she joins them on their level, instead of being a character like Han that we already know belongs into a different age group and therefore has a different authority.
    Last edited by Grey1, Nov 13, 2012
  7. JediAlly Force Ghost

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    I understand now what you meant about the impact of the Rock Dragon. PR has always been a problem for the Jedi, and it was a topic of the discussion Mon Mothma had with Luke in Ambush at Corellia. Most likely she was drawing on what she had witnessed during the end of the Republic. Sadly, that conversation ended up in limbo.

    As for Anja, it was part of her plan towards getting revenge on Han - hurt Han through his kids.

    As for topics to discuss, here are a few:

    Anja's plans for revenge and how they seem to be falling apart, given how she reacted to Jacen's apparent death.

    Anja's addiction to andris and how she was starting to struggle against withdrawal.

    The conflict of interest Anja experienced - aware of Black Sun being active on Cloud City, yet choosing to remain quiet.

    Lando - his business and adrministrative acumen being more evident here than earlier in the series. His infamous charm towards ladies and how it should have been tempered by now.

    Nods to the original trilogy - the Bith band Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes. Jacen and Tenel Ka going through the storm cloud like Han and Leia went through the asteroid field to escape pursuit.

    Let me know if these are good topics, and then I'll make my own comments.
  8. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

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    I can't even remember how far I got in YJK, because all I read is adult novels these days.
  9. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    The 181st believes in second chances... ;)

    Yes, good ideas. I'll comment on them when I have a bit more time - but I'd like to start with Lando right away, since this topic is somewhat relevant to the Lando books, obviously. I pointed out last month how Smith doesn't write any romance for Lando, only human-droid-relations. KJA/RM do it the other way round and choose to put the clichés we know to the front, no matter whether Lando's marriage might have dulled his playboy sensibilities, or whether he probably has other sides to him than just "businessman who hits on Leia". It's similar to books using movie-timeframe cover images all the time (even if that has a much more practical side to it).

    And I think it's also a reason why some authors forget about Lando (instead of having him on the frontlines like ROTJ), and why Han and Leia had such a hard time aging in grace in the EU. Especially since Han has built-in baggage with the Falcon - imagine if they'd given him a new ship after, say, Jedi Search - outrage! Just like exchanging X-Wings for E-Wings. I think about the only way this would have worked would have been if Zahn had set this up, showing a Han that's exchanged the old truck for a family van worthy of a senator and her husband.
    Last edited by Grey1, Nov 14, 2012
  10. JediAlly Force Ghost

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    I agree that Lando still has his ladies-man charm about him. In terms of the publication of the books, the YJK were written before the Hand of Thrawn, in which we learned that Lando and Tendra were in a serious relationship. They didn't get married until after the peace treaty was signed. So here we have a married man seemingly flirting with other ladies. Under other circumstances, Lando should be in the doghouse. How Tendra puts up with this, I don't know.

    I have to admit Anja's reaction to meeting Lando and his flirting was quite amusing. She was right - he was too smooth for his own good. And the way she rebuffed his compliments, I think Lando took it as "playing hard to get". There was one thing about the entire series that I didn't like - it's almost obvious that Lando gave Tenel Ka a similar greeting, but we never saw it, nor did we see how she reacted to it. I wonder how Jacen would have reacted if Lando managed to fluster Tenel Ka the same way he flustered Anja. Jealousy? Asking him for tips?
  11. Havac Former Moderator

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    I think it's a missed opportunity that we never really saw Lando being Uncle Lando to the kids when they were kids. I can definitely imagine seeing Jacen running around with Tenel Ka and giving him advice, or trying to teach Anakin which brand of chronometer to get, or telling Jaina how to recognize and avoid pick-up techniques.

    And Tendra puts up with it because he's Lando.
  12. RK_Striker_JK_5 Force Ghost

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    Lando can't turn off the charm. He's the sole Master of the Smooth Side of the Force. :D

    Ah... halcyon days. I liked Anja, actually. And yeah, Zekk actually having to struggle with the Dark Side. These days, so full of promise and hope for our young protagonists...
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  13. JediAlly Force Ghost

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    I'll continue with Anja now. Like I said in a previous post, she has a lot of anger towards Han because she believed he was responsible for her father's death. And as I said before, her anger was similar to Boba Fett's anger towards Mace. Both didn't care about what their fathers did. Their fathers were an important part of their lives, and someone had taken their fathers from them. They were in pain and wanted the guilty party, perceived in Anja's case and actual in Boba's, to feel the pain as well.

    However, Anja has begun to like the young Jedi, with particular emphasis on Jacen and Zekk, though she vehemently lied to herself. It was only after Jacen's apparent death that she realized that she was lying to herself and started to doubt what she really wanted.

    She was also lying to herself in believing she was in control of her addiction, but it was becoming more and more apparent towards the end that she realized that the addiction was controlling her.

    And finally, being associated with Black Sun, she was able to see the signs. But she remained quiet partly because of loyalty towards Czethros and partly in part of her plan for revenge against Han. The only reason she helped them in the end was survival.
  14. Kyris Cavisek Jedi Grand Master

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    I haven't read the one with Anja, but I read the majority of YJK and JJK in my preteen years. I have the Jedi Twilight and Jedi Sunrise reprints in my personal collection. It was seeing the dramatis personea in one of the NJO books that started me down the the abyss of Star Wars novels beyond the YJK and JJK. The beautiful thing about star wars novels is they are never out of date. Granted there won't be references to Tano or anything else, readers that age may be aware of within the Star Wars galaxy, but chances are sales with soar following the movies not before them. That being said, with the reprints of YJK, it would lead me to believe the would be willing to rerelease with update covers for the current young generation to enjoy.
  15. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    The thing with Lando charming the girls in this book is that it's nothing serious. From a certain point of view it's not even flirting since he has no ulterior motive to charm Anja (and Jaina, who receives the initial compliment in this scene) into a sexual affair or something. Also, regarding life as a married man, it would be as astonishingly liberal for SW literature to retcon Lando's marriage into a kind of open relationship in which "Tendra puts up with it because he's Lando" (but not as astonishing today as it would have been 1998 in a young readers series) as it would be over the top. The way I see it is much simpler: Lando's flirting because that's the narrowest confines of the ESB character. KJA/RM have a style that accurately predicts Wikipedia and its naive hypertextuality that leads to surface knowledge (I actually have an interesting point to make of this later on, but not in this post). IU, this means that he's flirting, no context attached. we create this context based on what makes sense for the character: Is it some kind of facade he puts on? Does he do it to cheer women up, to put everyone around in a good mood? Does he do it because he's constantly chasing skirts, so he can't even switch it off when he's talking to Jaina who's definitely off-limits? Does flirting with Jaina mean that she probably isn't even off-limits for him? The context I see here, he's playing his role he's chosen for himself to be a "strong extroverted, likeable person". Even if incidents like these are portrayed by the authors as having Lando over the top, we should not forget that a less cyncial character than Anja probably might like the attention and courtesy very much.

    Coming to think of it, Anja doesn't strike me as a relationship kind of person. She didn't have "her true love" or highschool sweetheart equivalent waiting back at her home planet; she's not hooking up with a YJK character (all taken; besides, I guess the authors were aware that she wasn't in the correct age segment for a pairing, only for "turning heads" and making 15 year-old Jacen and 17 year-old Zekk (about right, isn't it?) feel a bit, well, you know, she does look attractive, and, err... you know.

    Finally, about Jacen and Lando - Jacen is embarrassed around Lando's smooth talk; I guess mostly to show that he's a 15 year-old with some puberty traits like being embarrassed when a man is around that's clearly so much better at being interesting for women (even when he's sailing steady with Tenel at this point) - he must feel like Anja thinks of him as a little boy when a man like Lando is around, or he thinks that Lando's extroverted ways are too obviously attached to sexual stuff which he wouldn't address so openly in Anja's company. Also, let's not forget that this is made for a young mainstream US audience, so even tame flirting might come across as red ear-worthy. Yeah, being 15 again...

    I'm actually not quite sure what to make of Anja's fixation on her father's death - she sees it mostly as the keystone to not having a better life. And had her father truly been a great man and successful treasure hunter who hadn't put himself into situations where people like Han or automated defense systems could kill him, she would have had a truly fantastic childhood with all the material riches a child could wish for. I can't really see her having daddy issues beyond that, especially since the third book will have such an easy time of turning her away from the revenge idea. It only became a symbol for her hatred towards unfairness in her life. "That wouldn't have happened if Daddy had raised me in better circumstances."

    What I find most interesting about Anja's development in this book - her relatively shallow hatred, her superficial "let's annoy them so they'll show their true colours" act, but also her sudden realization that her dabbling with Black Sun and her double/triple agent act put lives of people she surprisingly cares about in danger - apparently killing Jacen in the process - works towards my initial thought that Anja could be around the YJK's age. Readers in puberty should identify well enough with these mood swings. Funnily enough, Jacen and Jaina are much more controlled than regular teens would be - they do not snap at Anja, for instance. Tenel is a bit more down-to-earth (and a bit less raised-to-be-a-Jedi) in the beginning of the book. Prideful of her superiority to Jaina, resentful of Anja's superiority and Jacen's apparent fixation on the other "girl" (who really is a woman in her thirties). Also, having Anja join the fun ride extravaganza never makes it look as if she's just invited because she's got no other place to be, but rather because it makes sense to have her in this focus group experiment. I stand by my opinion, she's written as if she's meant to be a teenager as well.

    Which, of course, raises interesting "problems" with the addiction, but nothing a "serious" young reader book aould shy away from. In the end, of course she could be a case of a really immature person that stumbled into her addiction in a very immature way, not really realizing how she's the most immature when in a room with five teenagers almost half her age.
    Last edited by Grey1, Nov 18, 2012
  16. Havac Former Moderator

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    Anja would probably be more like twenty-five than thirty-five -- she's still fundamentally an adult hanging around with teenagers, but she's at an age where it's a little more expected that she'd be immature. In any case, though, I agree that she's written as a teenager, and it's never quite clear whether that's because KJA is deliberately writing her down to the surrounding cast's level to help the character fit in and be relatable to a teenage audience, or if he's just being oblivious and not really paying attention to the hard numbers because he's just assuming that a kid of one of Han's peers would be peers with Han's kids.

    And I didn't mean to suggest anything serious with the Lando remark -- just making a Lando joke. In all seriousness, Lando seems to put on a persona of the smooth, charming guy, part of which is sweet-talking the ladies, especially in such a way as to be appealingly flattering and charming but also non-threateningly obviously putting on an act. It's not really meant seriously, and everyone knows it.
  17. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    I agree on the Lando persona. We have about two movie scenes in which he's charming Leia, and we have him as a very sober guy being unable or trying to save his friend from Vader's appearance onwards, including ROTJ. So sober that he's arguably leading the attack on the Death Star because he wants to atone for his weakness/betrayal (and didn't Lucas actually mean to kill off Lando in an act of sacrifice?). Based on that, I'm definitely seeing Lando as a character that's charming his way around not because of his shallowness, but because of a deeper intent to make life worth living.
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  18. JediAlly Force Ghost

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    Should have upped this a few days ago.

    Now we're at the grand finale. And we have four main themes to cover.

    First, we have Anja finally acknowledging that she's addicted to andris and needs help.

    Tied into this is the journey she, Jacen, Tenel Ka, Zekk, and Cilghal took to destroy the stash of andris on Dac/Mon Calamari.

    We also have Czethros making his move to take over the galaxy, but Jaina, Lowie, and M-TD throw a wrench in his plan. At times, their efforts yielded humorous results.

    Finally, we had Luke reflect on the past at one point and saw the future was filled with potential. Boy did that go wrong.

    I liked the way this came to an end with cameos from ll the friends and families on Yavin IV to celebrate the YJK's graduation. There were two things I wished I had seen at the end. First, Luke and Leia sparring against each other. As I recall, they last did that in Ambush at Corellia, and Leia won by making a surprise move. That victory impressed the Solo kids. Had they dueled, I wonder how it would have ended and whether or not the other YJK would be similarly impressed. The other thing was Mara meeting the other YJK's, Isolder, Teneniel Djo, the Thuls, etc.
  19. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Thanks for starting with the third book, as I didn't have the time for it before glorious sunday. Still, I think five days is a good time frame for discussion, and as we proved with Dark Forces - if there's more to say, there's no need to bury the thread. ;)

    You had made a point of movie connections with the second book (the chute scene that ends with Lowie and Tenel on the weather vane, flying through the clouds as if it were the asteroid field, the Modal Nodes...). I find this more forgiveable in young reader books than in the regular novels, I must say. In the regular books, it's fan service that doesn't help you "grow" with the source material. It's an endless parade of quoting that cult movie. With young readers, I can accept that they might still be working on that fantasy thing, reminding the kids of great things from the movies, and of evoking the same feelings. But I'm not sure if I should feel that way, since young readers should really be those who learn to use their fantasy, and kids have a lot of fantasy at that. Limiting them to imagining the same stuff over and over again doesn't sound good. Then again, I think the mix of both might be good: having the story grounded in the film universe, then offer new scenery and new characters that kids wouldn't know about, only avid source book readers (btw, I remember Figrin D'an having the "gambler" keyword on the CCG card, even before I read the Tales from Mos Eisley, I think - both referring back to WEG source material).

    In that vain, it's weird to have Nien Nunb come back the way he does. Going to Kessel makes sense when you're dealing with Spice addiction, of course. And the whole mouse-underground-connection makes sense. I would have expected this to be some WEG idea, as well, but checking Wookieepedia, it seems to me as if Nunb's Kessel career was invented in this novel. I can see the connection - Lando's co-pilot being an administrator himself - still, it's a bit weird to have him pop up here.

    What I did like was the idea that Kessel had changed since the JAT books. It would have been easy to just fall back on the baseline of the Kessel concept for the book (even if they already had done a very similar setting with the Ryloth mines), just like Thrackan's hold on Corellia gets revisited in similar fashion again and again. And, well, the Carbonite death in the beginning really continues the tradition of gruesome "that guy deserved it" deaths in YJK.

    Reflecting upon the topics of the novel, it's weird, though, that Han is vaguely referring to bad things he did in his early days when talking about Gallandro but fails to mention that he was a spice smuggler. But it's a complicated topic, I'll give them that: Han dealing with the fact that a friend of his children was a junkie of the drug he once earned money with is a pretty adult topic, something that could have been a B-plot in one of the adult novels (but would probably have ended up as a cringeworthy morality play there). All in all, Jacen and Jaina reflecting about the connection between Anja's addiction and their father's early career would have made for a better conflict than Jacen vaguely thinking bad about Han just because that "hot chick" claims Han killed her father and he doesn't entirely trust him because of teenage hormones or something.


    The Mon Calamari journey... it was a nice way to integrate Clighal into the story, even if it probably was the other way round - first having the Jedi healer, then her home planet as an interesting setting. Funny because I just watched the TCW episodes about Mon Calamari (full disclosure: I never understood where that Dac name came from), but I don't feel like one of the two media had any impact on the other. I didn't see the TCW scenery when I read the book, and I didn't think of the book when watcing the episodes.


    I think storywise this book is the best of the three, since the kids don't just stumble into the main plot but everything comes from Anja stealing the ship because of her need to get a fix. Having her meet the gun runner again to find out about Czethros' double play from book one is nice, much better than the alternative of having had that thread resolved in the first book (no need for Anja to remain undecided between good and bad) or having it resolved by someone (maybe Czethros himself) confronting Anja with the information during the showdown. It works to have the YJK as a good influence on Anja over the course of the books. She observes them, finds out about their "moral higher ground" stance on dealing with conflict and helping those in need, and in the end she accepts that they do not just appear good, but really do good. Therefore she can take them as an example instead of taking another shot of spice.


    Luke's chapter... well, I know why it's in there. I think it's good that they have him giving a kind of epilogue on the series (it would make sense if they added the chapter late in the game just because they found out it would be their last book, but I doubt it happened that way). I think the placement is off, though. It would be a good introduction ot a good closure, but interrupting the two main story threads in progress for this? A bit off.

    And about the final ceremony, I have to agree that given KJA's tendency to namedrop every character he can get his hands on, it's really weird that they didn't pull out all the stops and had the entire JAT cast plus the entire YJK cast there, with everyone else they could possibly get to Yavin in time (almost makes me believe again they didn't know it was the final book when they wrote it). This is also weird since the first book did such a good job of including Anakin in the cast, as I mentioned above. We can, however, be thankful that Mara wasn't there, I guess - I suppose her appearance, if it hadn't been just a namedrop (but possibly even then - why is she standing with all the other Jedi, not with her husband?), would have raised controversy about her relationship to Luke (I can vividly imagine it: "Were they divorced for a year, only to marry again? It would be in Mara's character to act like a hot head!"). ;)
  20. JediAlly Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2000
    star 4
    Lando/Kessel. I don't know if the idea popped up in the JAT, but he came up with a smart plan. Hiring people who would feel comfortable working in the mines - those who live in cold climates, those who work in the dark or are blind...

    Han's past - You're referring to how Jacen believed that his dad was responsible for Anja's dad's death. There might have been some stories that were kept hidden, but the kids already knew about the smuggling days. I think it's more a case of a teenage boy falling to the sad story and eyes of a lovely girl. By the end of the novel, Jacen got his head cleared. It's a shame it didn't stay cleared over the next decade or so.

    Mon Calamari - I can understand why you wouldn't see in the novel the scenery you saw on TCW. Then again, they were on the surface and in an iceberg for most of the time. When they were underwater, they were under an iceberg.

    Mara would have stayed with her husband. And though she didn't appear in the novel, she did appear towards the end of the ceremony or afterwards in that short story The Crystal.
  21. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Nov 21, 2000
    star 4
    I had thought briefly of The Crystal today, since it was meant to bridge YJK to the NJO situation; but only now that you mention it I think we should probably dig that up to give YJK a proper send off. I won't have it before next weekend, though, since I've got it at my family's place...

    And yes, I know Mara's story is meant to show her as Luke's faithful wife all the time. However, EU tends to take every single not-so-well-thought-out mistake and try to cram it into continuity, so I'm just saying nobody had any ideas about that situation.

    Thinking about Jacen's future in-universe, we have to keep in mind that Vector Prime wasn't exactly trying to keep continuity with Bantam beyond the broad strokes, and then the Jacen/Anakin character switch came on top of that. In that regard, while I'm not a fan of this semi-drama regarding his trust in Han, it sets a precedence for Jacen putting everything he knows in question. At the same time, it sets a precedence for Jacen making a bad call when putting stuff into question. Add those two, and you might arrive at a young guy who's putting himself in question - are his decisions proper for a Jedi? Can he trust his own judgment on stuff like using lethal force and taking sides in conflict when he can't even take the correct side in the Han/Anja situation?

    Another fun character continuity element in this is that while Jacen feels pretty safe and self-assured around Tenel (I think Denning kept him like that all through DN and LOTF), he's getting red ears around older women that attract him - Anja being kind of a precursor for Danni Quee, who's got Jacen a bit aware when they're flying stuffed into a ship in VP, and who manages to make him blush and get embarrassed years later during FH (which is after Jacen's radical enlightenment that might have shown him that there's worse stuff than having romantic/erotic moments with women). Danni is, checking my facts, about five years older than Jacen (making them 21/16 when they meet in that ship and 24/19 when they hook up).


    Another thought based on that: Where do we leave the romantic entanglements in this book? Tenel kissing Jacen was the big surprise at the end of "season 2", following up after their soul mate moment freezing to death on Ryloth. Once Anja is "out of the way" and Jacen's got his head clear again, there's a lot of chivalry going on - helping into diving suits, for example - ending in him giving her the necklace. Which is still a very codified way of having them as a romantic couple - he only receives an embrace. Are we to believe that this is due to her royal upbringing? Later books seem to go with that theory: When Tenel feels Jacen's "death" in DJ, she's devastated because she never took the final step of being romanticly involved with him. Does that mean that while Tenel was reserved, Jacen saw her as too much of a friend/"colleague" to really feel the final spark? Seeing her reserve as disinterest, therefore not forcing a relationship once they got seperated by the new model of Padawan training, eventually more or less growing apart from her and falling in love with the next "older girl" he meets? It's interesting that Han's children aren't very self-assured when it comes to persuing relationships. The "Solo brats" do not have a cocky brat among them.

    Maybe Jaina is the most cocky of them all (thinking about it, Anakin and Tahiri's relationship "just happened" because they had been the only ones close to another anyway). But while she flirts with Zekk in a way that Jacen never flirts with Tenel, it's still up to the older boy to "get the girl". And once she's entering Padawan training, apparently she doesn't have the time to pursue the relationship, and she's open to find another boyfriend in Jag a year later. Actually, this makes for a somewhat realistic romance, if you ask me - they start as friends, become closer, have a normal, healthy, flirting relationship that ends up in proper snogging, and survives to become this friendship in which Zekk still cares enough about her to not wanting to kill her if necessary. Very romantic, seeing how you'd probably put more effort into helping a loved one deal with loss and extraordinarily hard times. So while Zekk/Jaina seems to progress more steadily than Tenel/Jacen, I think it's not that healthy in that no-one repressing their feeling about pursuing the relationship or moving on.
  22. JediAlly Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2000
    star 4
    I really can't make any comments on the relationships. I think Jacen/Tenel Ka could have proceeded at a normal pace and on a normal path. All along, I thought Tenel Ka would have preferred the path of a Jedi Knight rather than royalty. The Yuuzhan Vong War changed everything. I'm certain of one thing - the kept the love they had for each other close to their hearts and probably were waiting for a chance to pick up where they had left off.I don't believe for one moment that they forgot the love they had for each other.

    As for Zekk/Jaina, that was a romance I thought should have continued. I still wonder what prompted the writers to have Jaina go from Zekk to Jagged.
  23. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    I think the editorial side of NJO is clearly responsible for cutting these relationships short, and I highly suppose that was in order to leave any baggage introduced by other publishers behind. Notice how the Solo kids arrive in the main novels without any friends for support - from the top of my head I'd guess Tahiri is the first "junior" character to resurface in the second year, and the YJK characters don't matter at all until Denning comes around. OK, Lusa is a Pecae Brigade death, in EoV as well... but let me check. OK, AoC had Tenel Ka and Lowie in a cameo - well, Luceno always checked all the boxes, didn't he... But all in all, except for Tahiri as "damsel in distress" and Anakin's companion, the junior characters don't really factor into the first two years.

    On Jacen and Tenel - I think it's quite interesting to have their relationship pretty asymmetrical, with Tenel Ka being too reserved to give in to her feelings and Jacen not really lingering on the crush (but still caring for her, obviously). I think in that case, Jacen would be pretty non-possessive when it comes to love, not being too attached. Tenel, on the other side, always shows these little faults - pride (as in the opening of the Cloud City book), attachment... projecting this forward into canon, we see her giving in to the fact that she can't do both what she wants to do (being a Jedi) and what her heritage/responsibility tells her to do (being a queen). On the heels of supposedly losing Jacen. Now, the child issue is really complicated... Denning never wrote the circumstances around Allana's conception as if a destined couple finally finds itself; Jacen asks Tenel for military support, she's having a quite indecent offer for him, and while I have all sorts of problems with Denning's work, I think I remember he did a good job in showing Tenel as a woman desperately grasping for the most valued part of her lost life. Later on, Jacen obviously sees Tenel as his Padmé in order to make the LOTF plot work, but in DN, an argument can be made that Jacen is simply doing what needs to be done to get the galaxy sorted out. And seeing how Allana remains his motivation after Tenel is nothing but a traitor to him, it's obvious that he's mostly obsessed with the child that's partly his creation, his contribution to the Force, while Tenel is "just" a person he's not really attached to.

    Jaina and Zekk - it's obvious that DR wanted to establish romantic interests without being bogged down by old continuity. Danni really embodies this and really doesn't work properly (she's not really a romantic interest until Jacen returns from Traitor). Jag - well, I think it's weird that they throw out most of the old stuff in book one and then bring in an established writer to do the next two (planned: three) books. It can be seen as a move to ensure support by the old readers, or maybe they just wanted a fast and reliable author (while DR was new, LFL of course still knew the old writers). In the end, the weird thing is: Jaina's love interest is an entirely new character that has a whole chunk of Rogue Squadron/Zahn-Stackpole-verse backstory. In that regard, he's perfect for the franchise, knitting everything together; on the other hand, it's weird to have Stackpole's creations enter the big SkySolo family through this loophole of a new character marrying his way in.

    But back to Zekk. While I agree that there was mileage in the Jaina/Zekk relationship when we left them in YJK, I think the authors should have accepted their split and made that into something realistic. Not everyone stays with their highschool sweetheart or even playground love forever. The fairytale characters in the SW movies do that, but EU obviously took another route. And once impersonal editorial neccessity drove a wedge between Jaina and Zekk, everyone involved should have accepted that this thing was over and they remained friends. But who knows, maybe they really thought the love triangle would work the way the Twilight books worked.
  24. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    With the "don't dive into continuity" basically completely abandoned by the second book of the NJO, and Luceno and Stackpole heavily involved in the initial plotting, and even VP including a lot of stuff they didn't initially intend to because it seemed to work out for them, I'm thinking that it didn't really survive the planning process. If I had to guess, I would suspect that it ended up being more about letting Salvatore ease his way into the universe without having to stress over reading all the prior material, rather than a big principle for the entire run that they just shrugged and gave up on. They wanted it to work self-contained, and for Salvatore to be able to kick things off in a vacuum, but they didn't care if other people were bringing stuff in, which nearly every single other writer promptly did en masse. In that sense, I don't think it was a conscious move to cut off the YJK books as much as it was a decision to not force Salvatore to go through them and feel pressured to match everything up -- and the absence was then prolonged by slowness to add more kid characters to the cast and soak up space in the narrative that was oriented around the adults and these specific kids coming of age. Stackpole makes a stab at setting each twin up with a romantic interest that you don't need backstory for, that can work within the NJO alone, but neither of those setups went anywhere initially. I sort of suspect Danni was never intended to lead anywhere -- she's too old for him, as Stackpole notes, and she's just more about giving him a sort of outlet for his feelings to focus on, more than creating a relationship. Jag is the real relationship-potential character, and I strongly suspect that his romance with Jaina was deliberately delayed because editorial didn't want to get Jaina into a serious relationship at the age of sixteen, because they didn't want to imply or depict a minor in a sexual relationship, especially not with a guy who was (just barely) not a minor.

    To get back to the YJK, I think the fundamental problem with the romances is that KJA wasn't willing to really do anything with them. He doesn't seem comfortable with overt romance in a children's book, and when I think about the possibility of KJA writing romance, it's probably for the best. Tenel Ka is introduced right away, but she's presented as a friend rather than a crush object -- the emphasis is on describing her as fit and muscular, not pretty or attractive to Jacen. It takes a little bit until it sort of comes out that Jacen is interested in her -- which isn't necessarily a terrible thing, as it sets up the character on her own terms before making her a love interest, rather than reducing her to the role of love interest and that's it. But even once we get Jacen being interested, it's this very nebulous, grade-school sort of interest -- he likes her, maybe he like-likes her, but there's really no consideration of the possibility of romance or genuine intimacy, and certainly no sexuality. There are scenes where they get close to romantic territory, and there's tension, but then KJA undercuts it and makes sure nothing happens. The one stab at actual development in the relationship, the time Tenel Ka kisses Jacen, is basically totally ignored forever after, because KJA isn't willing to actually advance the relationship (in fact, he actively sabotages the relationship by introducing Anja as a wedge, which is just stupid from any direction). He's not interested in exploring that, or exploring those feelings. He wants it kept in safely neutered, grade-school territory, probably because he realizes that the kids most likely to be reading these are a little younger than the characters, and this is about in sync with their feelings. And I certainly have no problems with keeping kids' books from being racy or anything, but KJA doesn't even take it to chaste-kid-safe-romance levels, with the hero and heroine kissing and holding hands and, you know, expressing feelings for each other. It makes Disney movies look like Debbie Does Dallas. It's super-repressed, and it sort of kills the momentum of the couple.

    It's the same with Jaina, who gets even less time spent on her pairing with Zekk. It's the same thing -- we know they're in likishness, but they barely talk about it to themselves, they certainly don't talk about it to each other, and nothing is allowed to happen ever, upon penalty of death, to advance the relationship in any kind of direction. As far as the characters go, I think the interpretation is the simple one -- Jacen and Tenel Ka both like each other, and so do Jaina and Zekk, but they're too young and childish and unfamiliar with the whole thing to feel comfortable advancing things, especially when it can blow up the relationship. It's scary, and they'd rather go on pretending that everything's perfectly normal and hoping that somehow things will just happen and change, tomorrow they'll say something, in a year, when they're older, it'll just happen naturally, maybe she'll/he'll make the move and I won't have to. I don't think that Jacen's not lingering on the crush -- he totally does, and Anja is more about having someone new and unattainable he can safely crush on, and sort of take a mental break from the crush that he's despairing of ever having advance -- he's just young, and immature, and uncertain. He doesn't know what to do, so he makes jokes, acts like a friend, and hopes a relationship will just happen on its own, because Christ, trying to turn a friend into a girlfriend is scary.

    Sweet Jesus, though, did they need to give up on Zekk. It wasn't a bad relationship by YJK's standards, but it was also less important and got less attention than the Jacen/Tenel Ka relationship. And the NJO rightfully introduced new romantic interests, because everybody doesn't fall in love freshman year of high school and get married and only have interest, let alone a relationship, with one person ever. And the NJO got the call right with that, moving Jaina into a serious relationship with Jag, who was a more interesting partner than Zekk, and who had had the romance executed extremely well. Jacen's new romantic interest didn't amount to anything, and probably wasn't really intended to -- because everyone doesn't need to be partnered off by twenty, either -- so it was dropped. Denning had the right general idea, if terrible execution, in going back to the first relationship, which he'd resparked and gotten the NJO to give legitimate emphasis to as a possibility and an ongoing interest from both parties that didn't have time to really develop yet (the execution there was quite good), and seeing if that could work out, now that they were adults who could give an actual relationship an actual shot. The execution sucked, but the idea of giving that relationship a real try was sound. But holy crap, breaking up the NJO's successful romantic coupling -- with an original character -- to bring back the high-school like-interest, not even for romance, just for awkward intrusion into the existing romance and vague triangle possibilitizing . . . spectacularly, spectacularly awful decision, and Jaina's character has been paying the consequences for it ever since. It was never a serious relationship, just a high school crush, she moved on like a real person, and maybe he didn't, like some real people, but who cares? He'll eventually get over it, she's over it and on to a real relationship . . . there's nothing there, narratively, to break Jaina up over, and what little is there wasn't even used. World's worst triangle. Of all the dumb moves of the post-NJO, that's still got to go down as one of the dumbest. If Jaina can get over the YJK, and the audience has already, so can you, Denning.
    Last edited by Havac, Nov 26, 2012
    Zeta1127 likes this.
  25. JediAlly Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2000
    star 4
    I think there was more to Zekk's storyline than we know. Our best chance of finding that out was Blood Oath, which got axed. I'm still somewhat hopeful that they'll get back to it one day. Darth Plagueis got the axe back in 2008, but it came back last year or so.