Lit Timothy Zahn making Darth Vader look a fool ! (spoilers for both books)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by fett 4, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. Trip Force Ghost

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    Dec 7, 2003
    star 4
    hah, one of my chief problems with Zahn is i feel like his characters are all dull and blandly written, at best; when it comes to preexisting ones often they're badly characterized to boot. Either that, or he takes them in directions that are less than ideal development-wise. so yeah, i guess it's a matter of personal taste, here.

    but yeah Zahn's take on the Force is actually what i was chiefly getting at when i said he doesn't get the mythos on a fundamental level, because yeah, i agree that the Force is a source of guidance and enhancement to a person's abilities, and an advisor and a tool to build on character-- but the thing is it's also magic, and God, and puppetmaster of the galaxy. not to get all Stover here, but it's all those things, and more, yknow? and my problem is Zahn seems to prefer treating the Force as a power source for a set of mild psionic abilities while all but ignoring the magical or spiritual aspects. and when he does try to address the Force on a spiritual level it comes off as him coming up with an excuse to power down Luke significantly because he seems uncomfortable with the Force being used for anything aside from ESP and small-scale TK.
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  2. Iron_lord Force Ghost

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    Exactly how strong was the "puppetmaster of the galaxy" theme to the Force, when Zahn started writing?
  3. fett 4 Chosen One

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    Actually I have this issue with his HoT duology rather than with TTT (as the first real EU books out referencing the OT was gonna happen) as in that it WAS 10 years later from the TTT, but everything was the same, whether it was Pelleon back on the Chimera, or Mara back working for Karrade and pretty much everyone referencing the events in the TTT like it had been the day before!
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  4. fett 4 Chosen One

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    You mention Zahns take on the Force but is it really as bad as the idea of Midichlorians ?
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  5. kataja Force Ghost

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    I think, when we critizise the works of the authors, that we should keep in mind that whatever mistakes they do, whatever faults they have or stupid stuff they want us to swallow - it's small fry compared to what George Lucas served us in those films - what were they called... ? Star Wars? ...or something... ;)
  6. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    Problem is, if you start a new series of SW books, set a few years later on from the films and then make reference to all sorts of stuff that went on inbetween, the conclusion people will draw is that there's books they must have missed! When HTTE came out those books did not exist, so yeah, HTTE opens in general fashion - it's as much a strategic as creative choice. One that the EU went on to fix with the X-Wing series.

    The other thing - which has been much debated over the years - is the balance of new stuff with familiar old stuff that harks back to the films, both Zahn and KJA do this. I don't see any way for them to not have done. It's only by the time you get to 1999 that something more daring is wanted. Up until then? I don't think the fanbase was anywhere near ready for that. People forget that, in one sense, the point of the EU is to continue the films and that places a limit on exactly how far they can be departed from. (You want A Song Of Fire And Ice-style politics and skulduggery? You're probably better off reading that than wanting SW to become that.)
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  7. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    Stover's idea of the Force may not be identical to Lucas'.
  8. Trip Force Ghost

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    There's nothing wrong with midichlorians.

    it's not that it doesn't make direct references to events of the past five years, it's that it doesn't give you an feeling that anything happened at all, especially in terms of character development. it doesn't necessarily take overtly dropping mentions of offscreen adventures to do this (although that doesn't hurt).

    Remember how ESB opens with Luke now a seasoned rebel, commander of his own squadron? Or how RotJ introduces us to a Luke far grimmer and more centered than when we last saw him? Contrast that with HttE opening on Luke Skywalker moping about an apartment, wearing a bathrobe, feeling sad because Obi-Wan won't tell him what to do next.

    cool...?
    Last edited by Trip, Dec 7, 2012
  9. Esg Jedi Grand Master

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    Sep 2, 2012
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    Didn't Empires End have Han shooting Sidious?

    And R2 Lando, Kam and Chewie destroying the Eclipse
    Last edited by Esg, Dec 7, 2012
  10. RC-1991 Force Ghost

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    R2-D2: the galaxy's greatest unprosecuted mass murderer.
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  11. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Hold up there. At the start of HTTE, the Rebellion has established a New Republic for some time, which has conquered most of the galaxy and taken Coruscant as its capital. Luke has been training Leia and searching for a way to re-found the Jedi Knights. Leia has taken up the position of New Republic Minister of State, essentially second-in-command. Han has resigned his generalship, sure (which I agree was a mistake), but he's married Leia and they're expecting children, and he's moved into a position as a sort of advisor to Leia. He's still in the same fundamental mode of responsibility and leadership ROTJ put him in, just without the formal title. Lando I'll give you as a disappointing regression. But all the characters have moved, most of them forward. They're doing different things, they've made progress, they're part of a wholly new status quo that gets challenged.

    DE may have been originally conceived as only a year after ROTJ, but even for that, it does pathetically little to advance the characters. Luke is still in the same dark-mopey mood as ROTJ, wandering around trying to get captured by the Emperor again. Han and Leia are running around being random Rebels who do random things and maybe get chased by Boba Fett because Veitch doesn't know what to actually do with them in the story. Lando's still a general who does things with Wedge. The Rebellion is a rebellion that runs around hoping the Empire doesn't squish it. Like every single other thing in DE, it's just the status quo in ROTJ, repeated. The sole, single bit of advancement, the fact that Leia is now Jedi-trained, exists in HTTE, too. You can't realistically hold DE, of all things, up as a model for the post-ROTJ EU, and then complain that TTT's problem is that it didn't advance the universe or characters enough.
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  12. GrandMasterKatarn Force Ghost

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    I disagree. Jar Jar Binks, good sir, single handedly started the Clone Wars when he gave Palpatine emergency powers
  13. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    While this does happen, it is, by any reasonable critical view, one of the worst moments in Dark Empire and indeed the EU as a whole. The entire sequence Eclipse II is hijacked - Eclipse II smashes Galaxy Gun - errant missile blows up Byss and takes the fleet with it is a pathetic series of ridiculous coincidences that allow the New Republic to win by accident. One tiny rebel strike team has no business taking control of and sabotaging a giant dreadnaught for hours on end, and the accidental misile firing destroys the heart of imperial power (including the Eclipse II which is not seriously damaged by smashing through the Galaxy Gun) in such a fashion that both requires no effort by the New Republic and totally absolves them of responsibility for killing billions of people. It is a gigantic cop-out.

    Dark Empire gave the Empire too many toys, couldn't figure out how to take them all away, and simply cheated deus ex machina (literally even, given R2-D2 takes credit) to resolve the problem. While that was probably better than the alternative - a resurregent imperial navy rallying around an nigh-invincible ship with a superlaser - it was still bitterly weak.

    Look, Star Wars loves deus ex machina moments, that is the whole storytelling purpose of the Force: it allows Luke to make a statistically impossible shot, it causes Palpatine to be blinded by hubris and ignore ten thousand angry teddy bears. R2's little stunt with the Eclipse II doesn't involve the Force though and it's staged as an afterthought to the real climax of Han shooting the Emperor. It totally misses the point.
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  14. kataja Force Ghost

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    OMG I started to laugh so hard at this! Not that Havac doesn't have some great counterpoints, not that TTT isn't a good trilogy still, but there is still so much truth in this! Zahn brings out some really good sides of Luke - and not least, he managed to create the perfect partner to him - but he still writes him overly subdued. Zahn's forte is that in this paler palette, he manages to bring out many good subtleties - and I guess that's why it didn't bother me in TTT, THT or even that much Allegiance. But when I came to CoO I nearly choked in how callow, spiritless and dependent on other he was portrayed! And ever since, I see the same traits in his other books, though not nearly so exaggurated. Also, I've started to get see other traits that I don't much care for in his writing. I can't approach Zahn's books with the same joy anymore - a thing no one regerts more than me...:(

    To be fair to TTT and DE, it could seem this is Luke's general Bantam-era mood. Consider JAT, Chrystal Star, BFCT, Callista Trilogy....:p Even Stover has to put him in that mood in MIndor - but his achievement is that he makes Luke able to function inside this mood.
    Last edited by kataja, Dec 8, 2012
  15. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    Jul 19, 1999
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    I may have gone through a similar mode of thinking after reading Allegiance, might be able to help on the other traits problem if you're willing to give details?
  16. Ulicus Lit'ari

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    Y'know, I only read HoT once but, off the top of my head, I'd disagree here. What I remember from that book was Zahn (via Mara) criticising Luke for treating the Force as nothing more than a power source, and failing to understand it was also, as you say, "magic, and God, and puppetmaster of the galaxy".

    That's still a problem insofar as it means Zahn decided Luke's an idiot well into his "Masterhood", despite supposedly having had all this crap explained to him at length by Yoda, but I think the criticism that Zahn doesn't "get" the Force is unfair. And I wouldn't agree his take is incompatible with anything Stover ever wrote, either.

    Hell, one could actually draw some comparisons between Vergere's whole "what you call the dark side is the Force, unleashed" stuff and Mara/Luke's conclusion that the path to the dark side isn't solely about negative emotions, but also drawing too heavily, and unneccessarily, on the Force's power. And then both are backed up in the tenth episode of TCW, in which the Mon Cal Jedi serves to demonstrate the same point:

    "Look, there's all this power, I can tear up magna-guards with a thought, why aren't you silly masters doing the same thing? You're holding us back from our true -- oh, crap, I was so self-absorbed and busy making a splash I just got gutted like a... well, y'know."

    I mean, when Obi-Wan fully immerses himself in the Force in the RotS novel, he's a perfect example of the kind of Jedi that Zahn!Mara is lauding: he is supremely powerful in those moments because he's utterly still, quiet and in alignment with the Force.

    I also like how HoT Luke talks about "power, out there to use", but for Obi-Wan we see that there's no distinction between the "out there" and the "in here". Everything around him IS him.
    Last edited by Ulicus, Dec 8, 2012
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  17. Iron_lord Force Ghost

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    Yup. A case could be made that it was Dark Empire that started it with Luke bringing an AT-AT crashing to the ground with the Force.

    Mara wasn't the only person hinting at the problem of overuse of Force leading to Dark Side, either- the Diamala were as well right at the beginning of Specter of the Past.
  18. Ulicus Lit'ari

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    *twitch* Dude, there is no "Dark Side". Lower case that stuff this instant! :p

    Anyway, yeah, I should quickly point out that I don't think the "don't make too much noise" interpretation should ever rule out impressive "Force feats". If the Dark Empire AT-AT is a problem, it's a problem because how Luke accomplished it (drawing too heavily on the Force, making too much noise, yada yada), rather than the fact that he accomplished it.

    There's that anecdote in Jedi vs Sith: Guide to the Force (or whatever the title is) where Dooku is taken out back by Yoda to TK a bunch of super heavy stuff that looks light, and he manages it easily, because he didn't go in with any "this is heavy, I need more power" pre-conceptions. Same principle applies. A Jedi who can TK down an AT-AT with the same "amount" of disturbance/noise as it would take to lift a pebble isn't treading dangerous ground.

    Well, probably not, anyway.
    Last edited by Ulicus, Dec 8, 2012
  19. Iron_lord Force Ghost

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    In The Jedi Path (a continuation of Jedi vs Sith) we're told that the Jedi have a set of big rocks, that they use to test telekinetic skill, and that Master Fae Coven could lift all 6 (after entering deep mediation) and Yoda's annotation is along the lines of "Impressive. Only five can I lift since I passed 500".
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  20. fett 4 Chosen One

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    I think at the time of HoT (1998) that was Zahn critcising some of the other EU authors ( he all but says KJA's name) for making Luke and Jedi too powerful.
    Its funny cause we talk about Dark Empire and Zahn has Mara dismiss DE pretty easily. Which I saw as a good thing.

    My own issue with HoT which I see as Zahns RTJ were more story related rather than the above, where you have A clone of Thrawn, another guy pretending to be Thrawn with another guy with some of Thrawns mind in him while other guys are waiting for Thrawn and the rest of the galaxy tearing itself part in talking about Thrawn!
    Last edited by fett 4, Dec 8, 2012
  21. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    Zahn's casual crapping over other works via Mara in HoT was a very poor move and did him a great deal of damage in my eyes, it's not professional. That the SW EU lacks a real sense of collaboration and team ethos is to its great detriment.
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  22. Robimus Force Ghost

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    I was somewhat surprised that Zahn adopted "Gilad" for Choices of One. Zahn may have had that down as Pellaeon's first name all along but I don't recall him ever using it before.
  23. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    [face_laugh]
    Last edited by Arawn_Fenn, Dec 8, 2012
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  24. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    Oho? Did someone else come up with it whose name wasn't Stackpole?
  25. fett 4 Chosen One

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    You want crapping, have you read IJedi? Stackpole spends the first half of his story talking about the JAT trilogy when it has no relevance or issue to the main plot, which was weak enough as it was. At least Zahn does not spend half a book talking about another book!

    I think the early Bantam run did have an editor but that was KJA and he was pretty usless at it. Which was why so many authors basically had a the same plot, Imp Warlord or a super wepoan. Which in KJA's case he managed to do both.
    Last edited by fett 4, Dec 8, 2012