Lit The 181st Imperial Story Group: Junior Jedi Knights!

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Grey1, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Welcome, everyone, to another discussion in the 181st Imperial... well, seriously, hands up. Who of you actually has the Junior Jedi Knight books available for a thorough re-read and a proper discussin'? The six-volume-author-changing-mid-series-to-a-non-surprising-name series? The actual reason that Tahiri exists? Probably the second best source if you want to find out about Anakin Solo?

    Since there might be even less people around here who can make a statement about the series than during the Young Jedi Knights series 3 discussion (meaning... one instead of two), we'll follow @Jeff_Ferguson's suggestion and turn this discussion group into one of those "guy reads books, tries to give wizard summaries" thing.

    So, Rachel and Thomas, snuggle yourself tight into your blankets and pillows, since I'll now tell you the story of... Anakin Solo!

    "Will there be a fuzzy rabbity thing?"

    Yes, Rachel, there will be. But don't be afraid, it won't be called Max.


    The Golden Globe

    First of all, we have a Puzzling Prologue, which is always great. especially in the EU, since we can retcon the hell out of this. Is it truly a prologue, a vision Anakin has of Tahiri before they even meet, just like the dreams we'll see later on, but one that Anakin forgets about? Is it meant to be an actual scene later on, once the Globe mystery is about to be solved? Is it - gasp - even a scene set during the NJO, when Anakin finally acknowledges that he's in love with Tahiri? Or even later, shortly before Anakin dies, with him taking in life much more clearly? Stay tuned to find out.

    In the first chapter, we find out pretty usual stuff about Our Eleven Year Old Hero and his life at home with the Dursleys Solos, which is hell pretty standard stuff. Okay, it's a bit weird that he has Luke's eyes, but let's not get into theories like that please. This does, however, set him up perfectly as "Luke Skywalker 2.0" who'll follow Luke's role model instead of becoming the philosopher. Despite of his previous journeys through the galaxy, Anakin is so fond of Coruscant that he immediately points out the differences between Coruscant and that other planet he's now about to see - Yavin 4! Home to the marvellous training adventures of that Corran Horn guy you loved hearing about so much!

    "Corran Horn was so cool! All the stuff he did and knew. Will he train Anakin instead of Luke Skywalker?"

    No, he won't. But if you're good little Junior Jedi Knights, maybe he'll have an adventure with Anakin soon, and even train one of his friends. But lights out for now!
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  2. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    I seem to recall the timeline being messed up, insofar as that based on Anakin's age this series occurred before YJK, but it is stated that Jacen and Jaina are returning from Yavin 4 and Anakin is going now.
  3. Revanfan1 Chosen One

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    I can forgive this series of anything, anything, because it introduced Tahiri and Ikrit. I love Ikrit. Don't judge me. [face_cowboy]
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  4. Havac Former Moderator

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    I think they had been to Yavin 4 before and it just wasn't a book series. That must have been the school year when they had actual lessons instead of going on vacation and running into villains all the time.
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  5. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    That's what I thought, and I have zero recollection of Heirs to the Force but does that imply they've been there before? I suspect it implies it is their first time.
  6. Dr. Steve Brule Force Ghost

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    I read a few of the JJK books a long time ago, and I have trouble remembering what exactly took place in them versus what happened in YJK. I guess that's my contribution to this thread. I do like that the JJK books continue the YJK trend of tying it in to the wider EU at large, and I think that the core JJK trio (Ikrit, Anakin, and Tahiri) were criminally treated in NJO and beyond.

    I do wonder why KJA basically established that Tionne ran the Praxeum in JJK/YJK. I guess it's because she was the 'historian Jedi' in JAT. It also sets up the interesting split that the main Jedi himself (Luke) was no longer personally involved in training all the new Jedi, or that it was even his primary job any more.

    I guess in line with me often confusing JJK and YJK, I'll say that there's a major timeline discrepancy in YJK. The last two-thirds of YJK take place in 24 ABY - but they still have Leia as the President, despite her supposedly having left office in 23 ABY. Granted, I think it was the Essential Chronology where that continuity boo-boo got established, but that was also made with KJA as co-author, so you'd think he would have caught that. I also think it's odd in this age of blog posts coming up with retcons for every single background character of Glove of Darth Vader, that this issue has (to my knowledge) never been brought up in any official work.
  7. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    HTTF heavily implies that it's their first time on Yavin. But it doesn't have really conclusive stuff, like saying they are "looking at unfamiliar surroundings" or something. The first chapter opens with Jacen musing it's been a month since they arrived, and later on it's said that Leia and Han sent them to the praxeum with Anakin supposed to follow them shortly. Jacen mentions teachers on Coruscant. Easily retconnable stuff, especially since JJK calls Anakin's lessons the "Junior Jedi Academy", which makes it sound like some kind of computer camp for gifted children. Not so easy since YJK does have some of the pretty basic things in the twins' training, otherwise I'd say there's some preliminary class to gauge talent, and then roughly a year later actual knight training starts. In this age of prequilitis they could even had the "Coruscant teachers" be some kind of off-world Jedi school to support the praxeum, a bit like the Corellia school shown in Betrayal, instead of "ugh maths & literature, boring" teachers.

    But it would be interesting to find out if these authors simply didn't cross check what the others had done, or if it was designed to match but got the dates wrong either by accident or, probably more likely, because someone late in the game wanted to have a clearer distinction between the protagonists - having an elementary school series and a teen series instead of two sets of characters that are of similar age. And if you think about it, Anakin should have entered the praxeum either together with his siblings or, if we're doing a classic age equals class thing (torpedoed by Tahiri being more than a year apart again), two years later at the age that the YJKs start their training.

    What does it tell us that Jedi Training for young people always gets slaved to western civilization's concept of school, since these books always aim at western civilization school kids? With something like Harry Potter it's still a stretch, but it works since it's set in the "real" world. With SW, JJK and YJK always have to reach kids of the respective age, which has led to many people not reading the formative years of the next generation characters (saying that, I'm suddenly a bit less surprised that those characters never got a chance for a good torch-passing). So there's parallels like school-like classes and age groups. Jedi Apprentice was a bit worse, then, in that it invented the age 13 threshold which can hardly be applied to all kinds of lifeforms - I mean, in YJK, even Lowbacca has to be of a similar age even though that would mean a totally different thing for Wookiees. But it's understandable for kids. Ben Skywalker, on the other hand, is a character for grown-up novels, so he doesn't really have to go to the academy to become a proper Jedi; he just goes there to be hit on by an older girl, err, to find another plot point. Other than that, he's putting the vacations the YJK took to shame and essentially proves his worth as a Jedi by helping space nazis under the command of a Sith Lord burn a planet and prepare for asassinations. Essential Jedi stuff if you try to show one of them pesky kids learn the ropes but don't want to bore adult audiences with school. Apparently.
  8. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    The Golden Globe (cont.)

    In the second chapter, Anakin will get to know quite a lot of new stuff. He arrives at the Praxeum, gets the guided tour by Luke (and in the process reminds the reader about that rebel alliance thing that must have been in some previous book or film), meets his instructors (plural) of which only Tionne is important enough to have a name, gets stalked by Artoo, and finally meets Hermione Tahiri, the girl that can't stop talking. Tahiri expositions the hell out of her background right away, telling us she's grown up with the sandpeople on Tatooine but isn't actually one, having been found by Luke and Tionne (apparently you need to pay royalties to use other characters' names) only a week before. Tatooine really is the main source for force users in the galaxy. Oh, she's nine and doesn't wear shoes, which would probably fit well with the sandpeople story if it weren't so unlikely that the living mummies ran barefoot over the hot sands. "Then it's settled - we're best friends now."

    Next, Tahiri is in a moderately tense conflict with Tionne, who points out that there are rules at the Jedi Academy. As a sandperson, Tahiri just did what she wanted; living in a desert really is what you call an "alternative lifestyle". Wizard Jedi school is as reglemented as a british boarding school, though, and she has to go to sleep (actually, the sandperson thing would have been a great way to make her active at night since that is when the suns don't burn you to a crisp). And behold, she has a recurring prophetic dream: she's on a river and about to drown, which is quite some imagery for someone only having seen desert up to now. Well, drowning is the #1 way of dying in deserts as far as I know, and since this is SW, she might have been born next to a river, taking in that impression right at birth. But the really important thing here is that her dream changes and Anakin goes in all Inception-like, trying to save her.

    Which leads to a really great piece of dialogue, including "Look, I don't like to talk in the morning" - "You don't like to talk period", and after Anakin has expositioned the hell out of his background and Tahiri has given us a bit more sandpeople info, she tells Anakin that he's been in her dream last night.

    Anakin was silent. So this was what his brother Jacen was always talking about. I guess girls do get crushed on boys and say things that make no sense, he thought.
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  9. Revanfan1 Chosen One

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    [face_laugh]

    The Anakin/Tahiri dialogue is almost Jedi Prince-worthy. Almost. Of course this series is in a whole league of its own, but it just can't quite reach Jedi Prince levels. Because for starters, people like Anakin. And for another, whoever the villain is in this series has a stupid blue hat, and is not as good as Trioculus. :p
  10. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Actually, I like the dialogue in here. Being low-standard kiddie books, people talk too much exposition that people wouldn't normally talk, of course, but I think some of the banter is quite cool. 11-year old Anakin trying to stay a grumpy loner and Tahiri having none of that. Last time I checked, Jedi Prince didn't really have dialogue that made sense for more than seven consecutive words.

    Also, if any mod happens to stumble over this thread: Jacen did of course talk about "crushes" and not someone being "crushed", but I can't edit that anymore. The proof-reader responsible was sacked and replaced with a llama.

    The Golden Globe (cont.)

    Lots to do in the next chapter, as well: it's the first lesson of the Junior Jedi Academy, and Luke basically walks in, compresses all the Jedi wisdom KJA extracted from the movies into one single ball of catchphrases and that's it. He also talks about the Vader/father thing to explain the dark side (good that we've done that already). Tahiri gets ideas about destiny, which make her think about having an adventure against academy regulations, while Anakin gets the "will I be as evil as grandpa Anakin" vibe going. We end on Anakin dreaming Tahiri's dream, in which he is unable to save her from drowning. Good news, since the next day, Tahiri was ready to give up since she didn't have the dream anymore. Can't uncle Luke solve this one? Nope, something (the Force/the plot) tells Anakin that only them kids can do this. But before we do something rash like sneaking out and taking a raft as well as Artoo along for the ride, it's an actual lesson to be witnessed: rock lifting 101. In which Anakin and Tahiri make their plans, as kids in generic school stories always do (ever tried talking during class in real life?), and don't concentrate. When Tionne comes looking, they do concentrate, resulting in the rock smashing into the ceiling. Someone should keep an eye on these two.

    Anyway, why would they take Artoo along? Anakin has another dream that says so. So he asks Artoo to show him around, and when the kids go for the raft, their "personal bodyguard" (no quote from the book) comes along. Cue tropical storm, which was foreshadowed really sneakily when Luke gave his Yavin welcome speech, cue dream sequence. Artoo saves the day, and surprise, Tahiri doesn't drown. I hope there's enough story left for her in the coming years.
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  11. Revanfan1 Chosen One

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    I actually haven't read past this point in the books. I read the first chapter or so one night while I was bored and waiting for my brother to turn out the lights so I could go to bed, and I never continued after that. The dialogue does at least make sense, as opposed to Jedi Prince, but Jedi Prince's was just too blasted funny. Also, yeah, the talking-in-class thing is totally unrealistic and it always annoys me when it happens on TV shows or movies...at least here it's young kids and not teenagers, as if that makes any difference.
  12. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    The Golden Globe (cont.)

    OK, I'll make this quick. They get to the Palace of the Woolamander, where Anakin gives the 101 on Sith history. Most notably is this: "the exiled Sith magicians - whom nobody knows much about except that they're feared and that Darth Vader was one - [came to Yavin and married the natives to create the Massassi] [...] evil Jedi Knight named Exar Kun [enslaved the Massassi] [...] Kun, who called himself the Dark Lord of the Sith."

    "That story gives me the chills", Tahiri said. "Especially the part about Darth Vader being part of the Sith."

    Anakin is angsting again and again about his heritage, especially when the two are threatened by disembodied voices; Tahiri is smart enough to get that the voices would have attacked them already if they could do more than threaten; they find a huge door that is like a puzzle to open, and while Tahiri isn't good at puzzles, Anakin is very good at them; they teamwork their way through the door and find the titular golden globe, which seems to be a supernatural prison for children (probably Massassi children, since we saw a skeleton of one before); they also find a furry white thing that jumps around excitedly and makes a noise that's written down as "Ikrit", which Tahiri laughingly takes as the creature telling Anakin its name. Cute animal! If only Jacen were here. Six hours having passed, the kids return home expecting to get kicked out of the school, with Tahiri developing a selfless "I'll say it's my fault" plan that gets shot down by Anakin "Teamplayer" Solo right away. They won't tell Luke about what they found, though, since they have the feeling that "all will be lost" if they involve other people in this mystery. At the Praxeum, Luke promises "deep trouble" but finally doesn't want to ruin their careers because of one foolish action. He, too, is aware of Anakin's Vader angst and even muses whether Leia should have given him that name (earlier in the book, there's a memory flashback in which Leia explains why that name is actually a great choice). It's off to bed early - that will surely stop them once they start falling to the dark side, too - and Anakin gets a final visit by the Ikrit creature. Who turns out to be able to read thoughts, talk in basic, and basically be an ancient Jedi who patiently waited for centuries for the right people to break the curse of the Golden Globe. When Anakin wants more intel, Ikrit's getting impatient. Harsh mentor! If only Jacen were here. By the way, why would a Jedi Master jump around and yell his name like an animal's noise? Okay, we'll blame it on solitude.

    Anakin obviously accepts the challenge which prompts Ikrit to raise the stakes by promising that the boy's chosen "a difficult path"...


    So, yeah. Anyone want to discuss anything about this?
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  13. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    omg JJK is ruining canon
  14. Gamiel Force Ghost

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    What are you referring to?
    Last edited by Gamiel, Feb 8, 2014
  15. Revanfan1 Chosen One

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    Ikrit is obviously supposed to be the humorous Yoda-character, and I think it works...except the "Ikrit" thing comes off a bit too Gollum-y, which makes me worried that he's going to start calling the Golden Globe "My precious" and cursing "the Soloses." Of course those fears are unfounded, and I am actually a massive Ikrit fan to tell the truth, especially in the few moments he appeared in NJO. Maybe I should actually finish the series just to read more about him. :p
  16. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    "According to Dr'uun," Anakin continued, "over five thousand years ago the exiled Sith magicians -- whom nobody knows much about except that they're feared and that Darth Vader was one -- settled on Yavin 4. The magicians married the natives to create the race of Massassi."

    I'm just going to note that I was being tongue-in-cheek here, but this is precisely the sort of thing that would cause a fifty page addition to the Clone Wars thread if TCW did it.

    I wish the EU would do more to differentiate between the Sith magicians and the Banite Sith. THERE'S TOO MUCH SITH.
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Feb 8, 2014
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  17. Gamiel Force Ghost

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    And how/when did JJK retcon it?
  18. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    It actually didn't retcon anything -- Golden Age of the Sith changed what was already the story established by Dark Lords of the Sith. I'm still not sure if Naga Sadow was a renegade priest of the native Sith or the Dark Lord with the most Dark Jedi blood or what I'm so confused!

    JJK actually precedes Golden Age and Fall, so they retconned the existing backstory. Evidently the Massassi were originally intended to be inhabitants of Yavin 4 produced through intermarriage with the Sith magicians, which is amusingly what later became the backstory for the Sith Empire, replacing the Massassi with the Sith species and replacing Yavin 4 with Korriban. It might have been more consistent and less confusing for us now if the Massassi were the original species all along and the Sith name was distinct from the species, with Yavin 4 being their home world (Morriband? pfeh).

    As to the mess we're at now -- keep in mind that the Dark Jedi exiles originated from the First Great Schism initially, which is why they didn't have lightsabers and they were relatively distinct from the Jedi as "magicians" in their use of the Force. They spent about twenty thousand years in isolation, after splitting from the Jedi after the order only existed for 500 years. This was changed to the Second Great Schism because of Tulak Hord, unless there's a better explanation?

    In any case, the original intent was that the Sith magicians were still distinct from "Banite Sith," because Vader isn't a magician. The change occurred with Exar Kun merging the Jedi tradition with the Sith tradition. But SWTOR and I suppose LTOTS and FOTJ altered that, instead giving the Sith lightsabers before the Great Hyperspace War and merging their traditions as evidently Jedi turned coat during that war such as Saes, thus giving the True Sith Empire of SWTOR the similar Banite Sith aesthetic insofar as that they're Dark Jedi that call themselves Sith.
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Feb 8, 2014
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  19. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    If all else fails, two kids talking about this sort of stuff is the textbook definition of "unreliable source". I highlighted the Vader part of the paragraph because it's funny to have Vader as a Sith, but Kun as a Dark Jedi who was kind of above the Sith. And then connecting Vader (who's not related to as a former Jedi, even though Anakin would obviously know that bit) to the Sith. The kids will probably agree with you, Digital, once it's time for end-of-year exams:
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  20. vadimk Jedi Grand Master

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    I read the series couple years ago, and with the help of the summaries I'm starting to remember it. I have to say that I really liked it. Of course you have to keep in mind that it's a junior readers book, so the prose is very simplistic, as are the plots, but overall it's quite enjoyable. In fact, when KJA writes in simple prose right away, and doesn't try something more complex and fail, it comes out natural and readable.

    I like the characterization of Anakin and Tahiri, and it's actually consistent with their portrayals before getting ruined by Denning in the first part of NJO. Much better than one-dimentional characters of YJK.

    Of course there is a usual problem of a Jedi Academy where kids never actually get to study (I'm still waiting for someone to write a proper book about the actual studies in Jedi Academy - I know it can be done). But the adventures are fun and enjoyable.

    Overall, definitely a much better series than YJK.
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  21. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    It is noteworthy that Luke is supposed to be married to Mara Jade at this point but I guess she lives on Coruscant while Luke is on Yavin 4 or she's always in the other room or something.
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  22. Gamiel Force Ghost

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    Luke has the teacher roll in JJK and the teacher's life is uninteresting in this kind of books. How much do we know about the teachers in Harry Potter, who do the parents of the Famous Five spend their free time with, etc., etc.
  23. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    [IMG]
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  24. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    But what do Indy's students do? I guess they're always in the other temple or something.
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  25. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    I'm not quite sure if the 181st would ever get enough interest to warrant spending a lot of time I don't have on these readthroughs, especially since we're on a schedule leading up to The Mandalorian Armor next month. So maybe I'll boil it down a bit...

    Lyric's World

    This book actually is a good one for speeding through since we got most of the setup out of the way anyway; this time it's a string of interchangeable monster/action scenes, as foreshadowed by a "the monster's thoughts" prologue.

    So, Anakin and Tahiri notice a lonely girl student who they had noticed before but not enough to really notice. During classes, which have all the other kids train their abilities to visit memories in detail (which prodigy Anakin already can do, more or less; a bit of homeschooling must have been inevitable seeing the circumstances), the three of them don't actually train the memory bit but exchange stories to find out more about lonely girl. She's called Lyric, and she's a... wait for it... Melodie. Melodies live on Yavin 8 in an ecosystem that has them very vulnerable to natural predators. The kids come out of eggs, and once they're about eleven years old, they need to go to a certain pool to morph into, well, mermaids. There's giant birds and giant snakes and giant spiders and whatever that can trim the Melodie gene pool at any given stage. Being most human-like, the kids are obviously the guardians of everything (I bet there's a hippie song called "Let the children guard the mermaid transformation process against giant spiders". No, actually I'm pretty sure that's a Bowie song). Now, when Luke and Tionne noticed that there was a potential Force user among the Melodie children, they thought it was a great idea to give her six months of Jedi training so she can start a process of protecting the Melodie population, identifying more Force-sensitive kids, battling them giant monsters, whatever is needed to unbalance the eco system in favour of the sentient species.

    But best of all, Lyric recognizes the Massassi hieroglyph doodles that Anakin keeps drawing since having found the Golden Globe! There's more on Yavin 8. In lack of being able to get support from Luke and Tionne (and in apparent lack of a library), Anakin and Tahiri conclude that it's their best chance to accompany Lyric to Yavin 8 for her transformation which is due in 3... 2... 1...

    Luke, being a proper guardian of children, says it's too dangerous for the kids to go there; but being the pushover secondary character this series needs to get some action going, it takes only 43 seconds to convince him otherwise. Off they go with Old Peckhum in the Lightning Rod (Yay YJK continuity), musing about some lizard species living on yet another Yavin moon (we're actually deep in KJA continuity drop territory here), and arrive just in time for Lyric to already have trouble breathing. Everyone to the pool!

    But not so fast. First it's the giant bird action sequence. Tahiri throws a stone at the beast, therefore volunteering as victim. Lyric jumps in front of her and gets snatched by the bird. She probably would have been safer without Tahiri there to protect her, wouldn't she. What's important is that Anakin finds a way to save the girl by outsmarting the bird - infiltrating the nest and acting like a hungry young bird. The actual young birds join in, mother bird goes looking for food. Somehow not thinking of the Melodie she already has at claw. Anyway, it's a nice bit of non-aggressive conflict solution that would fit well with Jacen's love-for-animals. They also find first hieroglyphs in the bird's cave but have more pressing matters.

    Off to the pool! Lyric is wounded but goes in, slowly morphing into a mermaid. Anakin can visit her down in the pool by wearing a mask of oxygen-rich floating weed (let's call it gillyweed, shall we) while Tahiri is quite content to stay away from the water. Of course she can't swim yet, not after the last book proved it might be useful some day. Everything's fine down there, but action scene at the top of the lake! Giant snake. This time, Anakin saves the day in a... somewhat different way. He. Slows. The. Snake's. Heart. Down. With the Force. And kills it.

    Okay.

    What's really surprising is that the book doesn't work with the contrast of his two actions while it's never shy to return to his fear of becoming the next Vader under different circumstances. But yeah, Lyric finishes her transformation, and the kids tell a Melodie called Sannah about the Force, and why you shouldn't use it for aggression (if your answer is Vader, you passed the exam). Anakin and Tahiri get to meet the Melodie elder for their bravery, and they intend to ask him about the meaning of the hieroglyphs. With that excitement coming up, Tahiri isn't afraid of swimming anymore, letting herself be pulled along by Anakin and Lyric. The elder knows the stories that have been around for millennia... but his memory is shaky, as you'd expect. But wait! This book's lesson was concentrating on memories, so they get something out of the elder after all. The meaning of one distinct set of hieroglyphs - we can surely detuct the language from there. So off into another cave, besting a giant spider through patented Anakin-Tahiri-teamwork, committing the hieroglyphs to memory, and since she can fight really well, take Sannah to the Jedi Academy.

    Luke isn't happy that the kids return looking like the way they should look after all that swimming and battling and being trapped in spider webs, but hey, you know. Sannah will join them at the Academy for about two years (which is, let's be honest, more training than most Jedi of Luke's era receive), Anakin and Tahiri manage to break the Massassi code once Sannah tells them to read top to bottom instead of left to right (but if just one kid got interested enough in archeolinguistics to pursue a career, they'll find out how this stuff really works soon enough), we find out that the young heroes who'll save the day will have to step into the Globe and lead the Massassi kids out, and Ikrit returns for his ominous cliffhanger "will they succeed" musing in the last line. Which might become a thing in this series, we'll have to wait and see.
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