by Michael Stackpole
Published by Bantam Publishing
Steve's Rating: 4 out of 4
Scott's Rating: 3.5 out of 4
Josh Radke's Rating: 4 out of 4
The first half of this novel occurs concurrently with Kevin Anderson's Jedi Academy Trilogy. Corran Horn, from Stackpole's X-Wing novels returns from a mission to find that his wife, Mirax, is in terrible danger. During his absence, she left on a mission for the New Republic to track down ex-Moff Leonia Tavira (from the X-Wing comics) and the band of pirates known as the Invids. Government bureaucracy prevents Corran from discovering her last known whereabouts and he must search for her himself. He has no proof, but his latent Jedi abilities alert him she's in a grave situation.
Wedge and Luke help him realize that the best course of action would be join Luke's recently established Jedi Academy on Yavin IV and learn the necessary skills that can aid his search. Through Corran's eyes, the story of the Academy trilogy is told, with previously unknown twists and more focus on the students' studies.
But Corran is displeased with Luke's methods and decides he should be using the skills more familiar to him, the detective ones learned from his years as a CorSec agent. He attempts to infiltrate the ranks of the Invid pirates and ultimately get close enough to Leonia Tavira to learn the location of his wife. But getting close to Tavira may be more dangerous than Corran suspects and the seductions of the Dark Side might actually be the means to getting what he so desperately desires.
This book sets two important precedents: it's the first Star Wars novel told in first person and it's also the longest to date. Stackpole does an amazing job here and shows that the Star Warriors from the films aren't the only ones who can carry a story. Many questions left from the X-Wing series are answered here, and a character I thought was developed extremely well in those novels becomes even more fleshed out, and is my favorite non-film character by far.
Stackpole also demonstrates that multiple storylines can work effectively in one novel. From now on, this novel should be the referenced when "the powers that be" decide whether a storyline really deserves a trilogy of books to tell it. Some that have been published so far suffered from what was essentially "filler."
I couldn't put this book down. Instead of writing more, all that needs to be said is read the book! (and cross your fingers that Ballantine is drafting up contracts to get Stackpole to write future novels).
As Steve mentioned, this is the first Star Wars novel to be told from first person. It's an effective and interesting way to tell this particular story. A nice change of pace. It also has all the elements I've come to expect and enjoy from a Stackpole novel: good action, well placed humor, and a fun plot. The plot, while breaking new ground, is still very much rooted in the Star Wars films: rescue the damsel in distress from overwhelming odds. He is still able to give us an idea about pre-ANH history without breaking into the ground the prequels will cover. Stackpole also gives new perspective on the Jedi Academy and their training. It's nice to see that all from another point of view besides the Anderson's (though they are still very good, IMO). It's also good to see that someone else besides me thinks Jedi shouldn't just be a bunch of robe wearing hippies floating rocks in the rain forest. :) I think Corran Horn and I have the same point of view. I also loved the additional Jedi Stackpole introduced and the new perspective on Jedi powers and capabilities. Corran is not as adept at lifting rocks as his fellow students. Such limitations have not been given much attention up till now in the novels. Good to see not all Jedi are invincible.
I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed this novel since I'm not into Jedi stuff all that much. It probably had something to do with the fact that Michael Stackpole knows how to write Star Wars, and this book shows that he doesn't need a squadron of X-wings to make a great story.
What I really found refreshing about I, Jedi, is that the book focused on a small group of characters (Corran Horn, Luke, and the Jedi) on one side of the galaxy and one plot, instead of a whole cast scattered from the Outer Rim to the Core with one plot and several subplots.
I said at the top that I really didn't like Jedi stuff all that much. I think that's because Jedi stories tend to be very complex and focus on how the Jedi overcome their personal obstacles and stuff like that when I'm more interested in lightsaber duels and dogfights. But in this novel, Stackpole really delves into some really neat powers that Jedi have and does an awesome job giving the reader an insight into how they work and what they look like from a Jedi's point of view.
My two favorite parts are:
- When Corran first arrives on Yavin, Luke ushers him to his room and shows him an inscription written by Biggs, Wedge, and Jek before the Battle of Yavin. This was a nice touch.
- Corran vs. Exar Kun.
I also enjoyed the "tour" of Yavin that I was given as I read the book. Yavin is one of my favorite Star Wars planets and Stackpole has only increased my curiosity as to this planet's mysterious past history.
Finally, when Corran decides to infiltrate the Invids with his good ol' CorSec training it was kind of like a Bond movie. I like Bond movies, a lot.
Well, maybe Corran got accepted into the Invids too quickly, but I'm really stretching here. The real disappointment here is seeing how much more effective the Jedi Academy trilogy could have been if Stackpole had written it!
There's only one reason I didn't give this novel a perfect score. Most of the first 200 pages are simply a retelling of the Jedi Academy Trilogy from another point of view. There are really no surprises there if you've read Anderson's books. I understand that Stackpole had to effectively and convincingly fill in Corran's Jedi training, but the whole time I felt I could have skipped pages 66 to 230 and not missed much. Luckily, the rest of the book makes you forget that and you're still left with a great story.
As stated above, the rehashing of a previous trilogy.
As it should be, our hero suffers some wincing injuries throughout the course of the novel!
I'd have to say the ugly award must go to one of two lines in the book. I'll let you decide which is uglier:
"You blonds always cause so much trouble. Everyone assumes you are stupid, but that's because they cannot fathom the complexity of your thoughts. Perhaps even you cannot."
[Talking about a diamond that went bad]"Synthetic?" I nodded. "Kubaz xurkonia."
I'll let you decide what's uglier, the pun or the blond joke. :)
I had a tie here between Corran's "reaction" to the deaths created by Kyp Durron and what ended up being a very broken Corran when he faced a very angry Dark Jedi spirit.