Discussion in 'Literature' started by Trip, May 25, 2008.
Thanks for the laughs!
Part XV: Ambush at Corellia
In which our hero waits for everyone else to get on with it
The Solos are taking a vacation! Exciting! This sounds like one of those happy family gathering books we all want! Star Peace!
But before they do that, we have to get some exposition out the way. Wait, we need to get a lot of exposition out of the way. A godawful lot of exposition. Is it OK if we don't actually get to Corellia until halfway through the book?
Jacen and Jaina and Anakin are building a droid to help them out! With no grown-ups! Oh, those rascals!
They're apparently building it right in the Palace. But they'll keep their parents from finding out. Because, you see, young Jacen is really an anarchist who wants to fight the Man.
So far as Jacen and Jaina were concerned, "they" and "them" meant the grown-ups, the opposing team. It was the grown-ups' job to stop Jacen and Jaina, and the twins' job to outwit the grown-ups. Jacen was enough of a strategist to know that sometimes you had to lose a battle in order to win the war. If they revealed Anakin's abilities, that might protect them for the moment, but the grown-ups would he sure to do something about Anakin, and then where would the twins be?
Yeah, he still wants to fool those grown-ups . . . even though he freely admits that it's impossible to lie to his mom or Uncle Luke. Perhaps because of this, he is a wise Jedi moralist as well. Go figure.
"Aren't you being kind of easy on yourself?"
"What do you mean?"
"You didn't mean it, so it doesn't count. It's not what you mean to do that matters. It's what you actually do."
There's a moral he'll never forget; it's that Jaina I worry about with her slick excuses and easy justifications. But Jacen's going to keep her in line. I don't know what Leia's all worried about.
Nor was it ever far from her mind that the children of powerful or prominent families often found themselves as players -- or worse, pawns -- in complicated power struggles. Even if her children were not going to inherit her office or her powers, they were still the next generation of what came close to being the Republic's royal family. Like it or not, intended or not, her children were, in effect, the second generation of a dynasty. It did not take much imagination to see the dangers in that. The temptations of power and wealth could be strong. Suppose that, somehow, they proved stronger than family ties? Suppose, twenty years from now, Anakin were plotting to gain some advantage over Jacen? Suppose some untrustworthy adviser urged Jacen to push his brother and sister out of the way of some glittering prize? It seemed impossible -- but history was littered with such tales. But there was more, and worse. That her children were strong in the Force was, beyond doubt, a great gift. But it was also a great danger. It was never far from Leia's mind that Darth Vader, her father, her children's grandfather, had likewise been strong in the Force-and had been destroyed by the dark side. The day would dawn, no doubt, when each of her children would have to face the dark side. The very idea terrified Leia. It made her fear that they might someday bicker with each other over money or power seem utterly trivial. Every little outburst of childhood surliness, every momentary black mood, every childish temptation to tell an obvious fib, scared her to death. It was illogical, irrational, but she could never stop herself from wondering if this bit of childish naughtiness or that bit of youthful bad judgment was ally a child succumbing to some temptation of the dark side of the Force.
So then we basically spend the entire rest of this half of the book watching Han and Leia deal with departure paperwork, and Lando's Woman/Money Search (it really should have been a reality show -- he's an entrepreneur, what was he thinking?), and Mon Mothma having a mildly interesting but completely unrelated to the plot chapter-length discussion with Luke, and Belindi Kalenda's epic chapter-long crash landing, and earlier stuff like Han and Chewie's Probot Adventure, and other assorted filler and fluff. It's nice to see some quieter moments and give the characters and action some time to breathe, right? So it's even better if we have a whole book of them, right? Driving the plot forward . . . eh, that can wait for the next two books.
Now Han has a fascinating ( ) expositional discussion with the children about Corellia and the planets in it. Because he felt the need to drag a quick Core hop down a major hyperlane to like two days. Well, I guess road trips aren't so bad when your ship is bigger than a car . . . and even bigger inside than outside.
And there's a space battle! Random action in the middle of no real plot development! That'll keep me reading! But the kids pretty much just sit through it, so I'll take advantage of this space to tell you that Jacen is RMA's POV character for dealing with the kids. For some reason, when dealing with the kids in a novel, authors seem to fixate on one twin as their POV character. MacIntyre chose Jaina; sex identification? Too bad (or perhaps it's a good thing) no one else wrote any novels with the kids in them, so our sample size is a little too small.
They're getting a tutor! Who will teach them exciting Corellian things! Isn't Leia such a conscientious mom? She picks their tutor Ebrihim because he comes in and basically gives the finger to her while Leia is so overawed by how dignified he is. Surprisingly, Ebrihim manages not to be a jackass for the entire rest of the book, so we're left wondering what's up with this scene.
"We're the leaders of tomorrow, or something, whether we like it or not. You think Mom and Dad would give up a chance this big to teach us stuff we might need to help run the galaxy?"
Wow! I can't wait to see Jacen running the galaxy! That would be so exciting!
So then they go to an archaeological dig! Corellia has never had an archaeological dig before! Never! Not even though the book explicitly points out that it has 25,000-plus years of history! Man, I just love how everything happens first 25,000 years into galactic history.
Huh. I kinda wonder what they did for the first twenty-five thousand years, then.
Anyway, a bunch of brownshirts are digging up ruins searching for artifacts of hidden power. Han feels the need to oppose them. I feel a very vague sense of deja vu. Did something like this maybe happen in one of those Marvel comics or something?
You know, it kinda actually did.
Sadly, the author will not take advantage of this situation to make hilarious and possibly gratuitous Indiana Jones references because OMG SAME ACTOR.
Anyway, they're at this dig thing, and Anakin activates his Special Mysterious Force Machine Powers That He Actually Had Before His Granddad Take That Lucas and finds a power conduit. Because if there's one thing that you would not do if you were the Human League and trying to find a control chamber, it would be checking for live power. So Anakin runs off, and the twins just kind of run off with him, and they find a special magic chamber. Jacen decides to keep this secret, because otherwise General Not Appearing On Wookieepedia might find it.
He then promptly tells mommy and daddy about it offscreen. Well, there goes his cred with the Screw-Authority Council. And it's really too bad, because I was hoping for another chapter of expositional conversation.
And then more filler happens, and the kids just kind of lurk in the background, and then a Secret Special Message comes and Mara Jade goes up to the room. The kids, of course, are not sleeping. They believe in screwing authority, and so they are playing board games. They are playing them quietly. Clearly they got the Rebel genes from their parents.
My first thought on seeing him notice Mara totally was not "Holy @#$% he's nine and he kills her." Because how would I know that?
At any rate, they go and listen to this Exciting Adult Business, because Inquiring Minds Want to Know. And they are rebels! And they learn that bad people threaten to blow things up. This is very frightening.
And then, later that morning, people start shooting rockets at the building. Damn, Corellia knows how to do race riots right. They're cut off from Han and Leia, but Han gets on the comlink and talks to Jacen, passing the baton of Solo leadership on to him while simultaneously telling him to listen to Chewie. He didn't have time to mention eating his vegetables. So after this final message from father to son which might actually be tear-jerking if we weren't completely certain they're both going to live through this, Chewie takes them away in the Falcon, and the hyperdrive gets shot up.
This turns out to have been a largely superfluous authorial move, as a giant interdiction field goes up shortly thereafter. But apparently they're all too busy working on the hyperdrive to tune into the Big Announcement from the Secretive And Malevolent Villain, who turns out to be . . . Han Solo's evil twin.
Tune in for our next book, when Jacen and friends get assaulted by Selonians! But not in the same way as Corran.
Havac, I just wheezed with laughter at that. Please, please, please don't do that again to me.
Part XVI: Assault at Selonia
In which our hero relates the events of the last book
Hey, you know how I was hoping the lack of plot development in the last book would be made up for in this one? Well, Showdown at Centerpoint must be jam-packed with plot!
Jacen, Jaina, Anakin, Chewie, Ebrihim, and Q9 are all in the Falcon. And Jacen and Jaina are taking turns controlling Anakin. Because they're the only ones who can. Seriously, they need to just hit that kid with a tranquilizer dart or something. Jacen does give him a lesson on being sneaky, however.
"If you're going to tell a fib, at least think up the whole thing before you start. No one believes you when you stop halfway through like that. And besides, the bookchip is a really bad excuse. You can barely read yet."
Apparently dealing with Anakin and the whole parents-trapped-in-rocket-attacked-building thing and OMG LAUNDRY makes Jaina and Jacen grow up a lot. I'm so glad to see this character development. I'm sure it will be reflected in the future.
So they go to hang out with Ebrihim's aunt. As good a plan as any, I guess. Except for the part where his aunt shoots at them with a giant blaster rifle. And then, after having thing explained, reproves Ebrihim for landing on her flower garden. Oh, wow, the rich aunt is a tough old bird who loves flowers? Wow, I never would have seen that amazing, stereotype-breaking characterization coming!
Once we get that sorted out, introductions are happily made. Marcha is not familiar with the Solos in the least. Now, there's living under a rock, and there's living under five miles of bedrock. Guess which one this is.
That's right. We get a whole scene of introductions and exposition of the situation on Drall.
Six whole chapters later, in which Han has broken out of prison, Leia has broken out of prison, Luke has asked for a fleet, and exactly nothing else has happened, we return to the kids. What development do we have in this fast-moving plot? The kids explain the events of the last book to Marcha. And to the reader, but the reader should have just read the last damn book.
Then Jaina goes ahead and spills the beans on the secret message from the bad people from (you guessed it) last book. Jacen is upset that this super-secret information is actually being given to people who might do some good with it.
In a rare moment in which the opportunity for exposition is not used, Marcha declines to be told who Mara Jade is. She knows her. Random smuggler? Check. Chief of State of the New Republic? Who the hell is that?
So now that all the exposition is out the way, it's time for exciting doings!
The kids get sent away. Marcha and Ebrihim talk. They basically figure out the entire bad-guy plot. Way to go.
Rather than doing anything much with this insight, they decide to take a road trip to see the Drallish archaeological dig that looks like the Corellian one. We get a whole scene of them just sitting in the car. Seriously.
They break in, and find it, and Anakin makes things go around. And Marcha manages to figure out that it's a giant planetary repulsor. She's on an exposition roll.
So Marcha figures the best thing to do with a planetary repulsor is live in it. They do.
Apparently this means they will learn exciting repulsor secrets. It's hard to tell, because this is the entirety of their plot in this book. Land, talk, see repulsor.
Now I'm sure you're thinking, "Certainly this must mean that the rest of the book is jam-packed with action and development in different plots!"
You are wrong.
Han talks with Thrackan, talks with Dracmus, escapes from prison with a total lack of actual activity, and crawls through tunnels for several scenes. Then he gets in a spaceship and flies around for a scene or two before it breaks down and he meets up with Leia. This takes way more scenes than it sounds like it should.
Leia and Mara sit in prison for a while, then escape, then catch up with Han. Their escape comprises approximately ninety percent of the book. I may be exaggerating.
Luke stands around on Coruscant a bit, then talks with Gaeriel Captison and has awkward romantic moments, and then gets a fleet and goes to Corellia. There is a battle. This comprises the titular assault on Selonia, and doing the predecessor novel one better, this does not happen until the very end of the book. No one is ever actually on Selonia, or even particularly close to it.
Stay tuned for the next novel, when please God something happens.
I'm loving all the "cute" lying and manipulating Jacen is doing.
This is funny stuff - thanks!
I only just realized how Jacen and Jaina were made out to be kind of whiny and elitist before New Jedi Order.
I figured they were just writing them to be typical kids, but it makes things a lot more interesting now.
Dude... I feel sorry for you. I didn't even make it all the way through Assault on Selonia.
Part XVII: Showdown at Centerpoint
In which our hero is nearly killed by his sibling. Nearly.
Let's see what Jacen's up to! Oh, wait, there's forty pages of Han crashing a ship. I'll get back to you in an hour.
Oh, Lando and Kalenda and Luke and Ossilege and Gary need to stand around and talk for a chapter. I'll get back to you in another thirty minutes.
Here we go. So, they're all happily living in the planetary repulsor! What could go wrong?
Anakin could fire it off, that's what! Oh, that lovable kid and his endearing disconnect from reality and his adorably scampish lack of self-control in regards to playing with weapons. I told you they should have tranqued him.
During the earthquake resulting from the firing, Chewbacca has to make the decision to save everyone else . . . by abandoning Anakin. I hope the little guy gets him back for that someday.
So, after Jacen gets over nearly being killed, he coaxes Anakin back to all the other people he nearly slaughtered.
No one cares about the fact that Q9 is dead. Seriously, they're all utterly indifferent. What a bunch of asses.
Oh, geez, is Centerpoint's obligatory action scene still going on?
So Anakin's giant flare of a repulsor shot bring Cousin Thrackan running. They are captured due to the presence of people underneath the ship's shields, which is pretty ridiculous, since all Chewie has to do is pop out the getaway blaster and they're good.
Now Jacen gets a nice personal visit from Cousin Thrackan.
"You ruin the future, Thrackan."
Oh, wait, sorry. Lines crossed. So Thrackan makes a nice "I have your children" recording and broadcasts it.
Chewie being the colossal badass that he is, he's got a comlink. No one frisks a Wookiee. They talk to Q9, who has been fixed, not that it really bothered anyone when he was dead. Jerks. They get Q9 to save them, because he was hidden, except he doesn't actually save them, because he can't turn off the force field and the kids just end up walking through it anyway. Yeah, that's right. The use the Force to walk through a force field. Bet Obi-Wan wished he knew that one.
They can't free the adults, but they're actually fine with that, since they want to kids to die.
Seriously. Ebrihim tells the kids to take the Falcon out, expecting that they'll crash and die. At least that way Thrackan can't control them.
What a jerk. Good job, tutor/guardian.
Jacen flies the ship, because dad would want it that way. So would mom. This totally lines up with Han's first thought of the Falcon's next owner being Jacen in the BFC. I'm so excited when they develop this kind of good continuity. I hope to see Jacen's affinity with his father and piloting skills developed in the ongoing story.
Jaina decides they should shoot at the bad guys before they go. Makes sense. She makes a great pinpoint shot at the force field generator, but utterly fails at shooting the much larger assault boat, because doing that wouldn't allow a ship chase.
Hey, we get a ship chase. What do you know? Jacen flies around drunkenly, in what appears to be an extremely bad idea, until he flips around and drops in behind Thrackan, where Jaina shoots Thrackan down.
They get tractored in by the Bakurans, with whom Lando is hanging around, so at least they have a family friend to greet them. Then Han and Leia come from Selonia, where they were sitting on their asses, raging about doing nothing, and ignoring the possibility of going to Drall to save their children.
Then the kids get sent back to Drall to play with superweapons.
They have to fire the repulsor to disrupt Centerpoint and save millions of lives! Oooh, this is tense!
But it's not tense enough! Anakin wanders off an hour before they have to fire because he's upset when Jaina calls him on being a colossal liar jackass child. Then Jacen makes him come back. Thankfully, for once something happens offscreen and we're not subjected to their conversation. Then the aim is all wrong! OMG! They have to reaim it! But THERE ISN'T TIME! EVERYONE WILL DIE! OH NO!
Then Anakin shoots it by the Force, because Jacen tells him to and believes in him. And he saves everyone. This is clearly touching.
Later, in the Happy Conclusion Scene, they run around on some dirt.
I'm certain you are all asking yourselves, "Does Showdown at Centerpoint really contain all the plot detail he said it must? Is there actually a showdown at Centerpoint? Does Centerpoint even manage to appear in this book?"
Let's indulge your curiosity!
Leia and Han and Mara sit on their butts the entire book, talking with Selonians while it is quite explicitly pointed out that absolutely nothing is happening. Ossilege sneaks up on Drall. Luke and Lando and assorted other people are nearly killed by the Glowpoint in yet another Epic-Length Action Scene That Doesn't Really Move The Plot Forward And Is Just Kind Of Thrown In There To Keep You Awake. Luke goes to Selonia and frees the Solos and Mara from the Selonians by buzzing their villa. This seems to be a particularly weak form of imprisonment. Lando goes to hang out with Ossilege. Ossilege takes the repulsor after the kids do all the work for him. People sit around and talk. Then they talk some more. Then they get into a fight with a fleet from the real bad guys, and Gary dies, and then Ackbar shows up and does the actual plot-relevant ass-kicking offscreen. All is well.
More plot than the previous books. Less plot than your average book. I think that's the slogan on the back cover.
Stay tuned for our next installment, in which Jacen gets endangered by Villie's nephew.
I so want to know if they ever used that trick again.
Part XVIII: Specter of the Past
In which our hero annoys his mom
The Solos are on vacation! Star Peace! Yay!
So Han took off randomly to some negotiations, stranding his family on Wayland, so Leia didn't have to go and get all messed up with politics.
But, oh, look, it's a politics-like thing on Wayland! Someone's taken datacards from Mount Tantiss! Only Leia can solve this conundrum! Star Negotations! Yay!
This delay annoys Jacen. Like a good ten-year-old, he comes into the negotiations to start bugging his mom.
Mo-ommmmmmmmm! He's bored! Can they go now? Please? Please? Come on, mommmmmmmm! You said it wouldn't take too long! It's taking too long! Mo-ommmmmmmm!
Leia suggests he go learn leverage holds from the Noghri. Jacen does not like this suggestion, because he has the Force and does not need that silly training stuff. Man, I love this continuity business.
Then Lak Jit, the devious and untrustworthy Devaronian, escapes with a datacard by throwing a smoke bomb. Gee, I guess those Noghri aren't all so much if they're fooled by a smoke bomb.
Karrde and Mara save the day. Yay!
Galactic Crisis! OMG!
The novels so far have proved that there are two possible roles for the Solo kids in galactic crises: getting kidnapped and thereby becoming crucial in resolving them, or sitting around [insert safe planet] while Mommy and Daddy deal with it, and staying safely out of the way until it's all over.
Zahn chooses number two. The kids are going to be sitting this one out on Kashyyyk with Chewie. Protection by a cadre of Noghri and a whole planet of Wookiees FTW. Sitting Chewie out of the story FTL.
Tune in next time, when Jacen emerges from hiding just long enough to celebrate victory!
Sarcasm? Cuz I actually think it lines up nicely...
That's a rare instance of non-sarcasm. Whether Zahn intended to or not, it lines up remarkably well with BTS.
Still, that's nothing to the never-able-to-be-read-the-same-way-again repulsor firing scene.
Part XIX: Vision of the Future
In which our hero does absolutely nothing of relevance
Jacen is not really in this novel, except in the end where he runs around for a minute celebrating peace and joy and freedom, and boring the poor Noghri with stories about Kashyyyk.
Being Noghri, they are contractually obligated to listen to anything said by a descendant of Vader.
Tune in next week, when Jacen wears a tiny tuxedo, and people go "Awwwwww."
Part XX: Union
In which our hero ushers
Aww, a wedding. Awww.
So, Jacen is at the Jedi ceremony where Luke and Mara get "married". He waves around a green lightsaber, and Jaina waves around a purple one. Great continuity, right? Oh, wait, what do you mean we haven't seen Jacen make a lightsaber yet? That comes later? You mean they've been doing cheap, lip-service, name-dropping, detail-contradicting "continuity" for years and years now? Saddening.
Jacen does not like his tie. Oh, lol. I didn't see that one coming!
There are bad guys attacking the wedding. Well, there goes Star Peace.
The Rogue ushers mysteriously produce guns (what were they, usher-bouncers?) and run off to fight these bad guys. Apparently, the New Republic has no security whatsoever at this wedding.
The ceremony must go on, because apparently massive security threats are no big deal. Jacen and Threepio fill in as ushers. I'm guessing efficiency and enjoyability of usher performance goes steeply down here.
Some guy shows up and threatens to release a virus that will cripple the New Republic's communications system. Luke realizes that this guy probably actually got sold bootleg porn by a slicer who's still chuckling to himself, and just puts the Force mind-whammy on him. There's really no other explanation for the ridiculous ease with which this hateful ex-Imperial moff gets talked down into lovey-dovey embrace of the New Republic.
All is well. Cue romantic dancing.
Stay tuned for Jacen's exciting academy adventures!
Wow you went on a roll today. Then again there doesn't seem to be much Jacen in these novels. YJK should be full of potential comedy.
I actually just think it lines up remarkably well with "JINO."
During the earthquake resulting from the firing, Chewbacca has to make the decision to save everyone else . . . by abandoning Anakin. I hope the little guy gets him back for that someday.
*simply dies of pain from laughing*
Part XXI: Heirs of the Force
In which our hero plays with his snake
Oh, wowee! Jacen is at the academy with his sister, learning Force things! Next generation, ahoy!
KJA actually makes the interesting decision of starting with Jacen and Jaina already having been at the academy for a month, instead of dropping them off right at the beginning of the training. This is probably for the best since, much like in the JAT, KJA shows a near-complete lack of interest in actually showing Jedi training. Seriously, the guy who's written the most material nominally about Jedi training . . . has shown almost nothing about what it's like to learn to use the Force. He also drops Anakin out of the picture, which is unusual as all previous material focused on all the Solo kids as a unit.
Jacen likes animals. He has a lot of them caged up in his room. I wonder when Jacen's animal-awareness will progress far enough that he goes all PETA on himself. He doesn't seem particularly bothered by the fact that his animals have a tendency to eat each other, which is either enlightened or sociopathic. I'm not sure which.
Uh-oh! Jacen's poisonous snake escaped! You know what, I realize Raynar is being set up as the jerk kid, but I'm totally going to have to go with him here. Jacen needs to get his critters the hell out of the building.
So the thing escaped, bit Raynar, and knocked him out. Good thing KJA designed Jacen's snake to just knock you out when it bites you. Jacen manages to sneak it away while we the readers laugh at the pompous rich kid who totally had that snake bite coming due to his pompous richness and lack of being friends with the main characters.
Then they go to a lecture by Luke. Apparently Luke gives these lectures a lot, but he seems to be stuck on a pretty one-note "do or do not, go out and be Jedi, learn, learn, blah blah blah" mode. I'm not sure what exactly they learn from this. Tenel Ka shows up by climbing in the window. Oh, she's so wacky! She's so fit! She's so huge and muscular! No, seriously, she's really, really muscular!
OK, KJA, when you're setting up a love interest, you want to emphasize how hot she is, not how big her biceps are and how she's way bigger and stronger than the guy. Apparently Jacen has a bodybuilder fetish or something.
Uh-oh! A commotion! Luke goes to deal with it, and the kids climb out the window, Tenel-style, to see what's going on! Oh, no! A giant, random plotbeast! Luke badasses the hell out of it by just walking up to it and convincing it to leave, rather than killing it. Apparently, he really doesn't care if giant vicious creatures lurk in the jungle where his kids run around all the time.
Then Papa Solo shows up. Yay! For fourteen-year-olds, Jacen and Jaina are ridiculously fond of their father, and squeeingly eager to ingratiate themselves with him. Though I suppose it's really kriffing tough not to like Han Freaking Solo. Really bad forced "humor" occurs.
Enter the new student, Lowbacca. Apparently, Jacen and Jaina, despite being raised by a Wookiee and capable of understanding him in previous works, can't understand Lowie. Retcon waiting to be made: Lowie spoke a non-Shyriiwook dialect.
So the kids are nice and friendly, and make friends with Lowie. And then they take him to see Tenel Ka at lunch, and she manages to be ridiculously flat and emotionless and still make friends. And they do some kind of cheesy friends-forever pledge thing.
And then Jacen's snake gets loose (no, no, the crystal snake) and tries to attack Raynar, and Jacen attacks Raynar and starts messing with his lap to get the snake, and it starts a food fight. Luke looks in and chuckles.
Chewie gets Lowie a car for his birthday . . . uhh, a skyhopper for his Jedi training. Jaina and Jacen help put it together, though Jacen ends up being pretty much useless for all the A-Teamesque assembly scenes, which is kind of sad, I gu
Havac, you win Star Wars.
Gold Havac, Gold