Children of the Jedi
by Barbara Hambly
Published by Bantam Publishing
Scott's Rating: 3.5 out of 4
Darins's Rating: 4 out of 4
With an ominous warning about some lost children of the Jedi ("They hid the children down the well... Kill you all!") Han, Leia, Chewie, and Artoo head across the Galaxy to the planet Belsavis to investigate. Meanwhile Luke is drawn to an asteroid cluster in a gas cloud by a dark premonition. He is accompanied by his students Cray (a gorgeous leggy blonde who is also a leading expert on Artificial Intelligence) and her fiance Nichos (another student of Luke's, who because of a fatal disease now has a droid body--designed by Cray), as well as Threepio. While Leia and company discover the ruins of a Jedi society and uncover deadly plots, Luke and his cohorts get captured by a battlemoon (a large battleship, bigger than a Super-Stardestroyer but smaller than a Death Star) and discover not only a sinister evil with the desire to complete a thirty-year old mission, but the soul of a female Jedi named Callista living in the computer core. Luke falls in love with Callista (ain't that how it always works--you finally find a good woman and you have to settle for communicating with her through a computer terminal). Anyway, the good guys come out on top--but there are surprises.
I thought this story was pretty good, too. I thought it was intersting to see a story that is connected to events that occurred before Star Wars - A New Hope. The idea of the Jedi hiding their children was very interesting, kind of reminiscent of the Diary of Anne Frank. The Eye of Palpatine was a very good element, as well. It was good to see a story that did not involve the Imperials trying to make a comeback. The toys of the Jedi children were also pretty clever. I liked the side story of Cray and her man trapped in a droids body. I, like Darin, also liked to see old favorites like the Gamorreans, the Jawas, and the Sand People. It was good to learn a little bit more about Gamorrean society. I also really like the new character Callista. She was very well done.
I really liked this book. That must be evidenced by the fact that I bought it at about 3:10 pm yesterday, and finished reading it at 1:30 pm today (even with a good nights sleep!) Either that or I'm a fast reader (it's 345 pages). There is a good set of sub-plots, mingling nicely to form a great master plot. And you discover pieces as you go along--not really figuring out the whole plot until you are at least half-way through the book (at which point, you have to read the rest to see how the author wrote it all out). That's really better than some of the Star Wars novels I've read (though I have only been seriously disappointed with a select few). There's quite a bit of action, and lot's of old friends from the films (Jawas, Sand People, Gammoreans, and Talz) as well as an appearance by an old favorite of mine, Mara Jade (I'm a sucker for the babe-ish, once totally evil, smuggler, now of neutral loyalty type of women--that probably explains a few experiences of my life I'd rather forget). All the characters seem to be pretty much "in-character" so to speak, although Luke seemed a bit weaker than he has in other, chronologically earlier books.
So Darin, what did you really think about it? :) I thought the action was OK, but not really as pulse pounding as it could have been. The ending could have packed some more punch, but the final suprise made up for it. Also, I would have liked to learn more about the Jedi children. Yes, we learned some, but it was really next to nothing. I would have liked to learn more about Cray and her man and their history, though. I would have also liked to have learned more about Callista's life before she was trapped on the Eye of Palpatine. I still liked the book.
There were some annoying things in this book though, namely: After about the twelfth time it's mentioned in two pages how much Luke's leg hurts and is disturbing his focus on the Force, I think I get the point--no need in bulking the book up 30 pages because he got his leg hurt, OK? Though I like to read these books--this is padding plain and simple. The name Cray for a computer genius? Maybe it's a coincidence, but I'll be real suspicious if in her next book there is a computer guru named SGI (or Indy, or Indigo, or Indigo2, or IRIS, or Challenge, or Power Challenge, or Onyx, ...), or VAX, or Amdahl, ... you get the picture. If there's a space station named "Reality Station 2" I'll scream.
#define __SOAPBOX _MODE_
OK--please Barbara, if you read this take it as constructive criticism--here goes: Why do authors insist on trying to "alienize" common things for us? For example, in this book it's topatoes rather than potatoes and pittens instead of kittens. The name Irek rather than Erik. Come on...we can all spot that a mile away. Switching a couple of letters around to make something look different but still convey the same meaning is pointless. It gets in the way of a good story. I'm not one of these people who insist that there should be no reference to earthly things in the novels--that's neccessary to convey meaning to all of us who have to live on this rock. I suggest one of two methods--either equally acceptable to me (and, I think, probably most others out there):
- The easy way (and that means probably the best way): If an author wants to make an earthly-familiar object (such as a potatoe) distinguishable from the common (earthly) variety, use an adjective. "Sullustan potatoes," or "Dathomirian potatoes" would suffice. After all, we have different varieties of similar vegetables (and animals) on Earth that carry different adjectives in front of a common name. ("Russet Potatoes," "Sweet Potatoes;" "Tabby kitten," "Siamese kitten," etc.)
- The hard way: Show some true imagination and make up something totally unique. Then define it in the text. Example: "... Han impatiently poked his fork in and out of his Xeplenophor cake--a small pastry with a delicately sweet taste." (from my as-yet-unreleased super-novel-to-end-all-novels) This can be taken to extremes. I haven't read Timothy Zahn's "Conqueror's Pride", but have heard that it gets very hard to read because Zahn does this to everything throughout the novel. The net result is that with so many new things to remember, a person gets lost and can't figure out if a small pastry is a Xeplenophor cake or a Supplexian Rtaff.
I must agree with Darin on this one. You can't get much uglier than them.
There wasn't much ugly here except the Gammorean sows with six huge breasts. Uggh. Did I really have to know that?