Book Two of the Jedi Academy Trilogy. First up, Kevin J. Anderson rectified The Leia Problem from the last book by giving her a decent, exciting and meaty story line. Thank the maker!
I know that Admiral Daala is quite a divisive character across the fandom but I think I quite like her. She is a bit of a loose canon – aggressive, passionate and ruthless. I know I’ve said this before but I really like the back story which KJA gave her – spoiler alert – I’m not bothered that she was having a relationship with Tarkin. I know some people find it a bit ick, given the age gap and the fact that Tarkin was her superior but as we all know, this stuff goes on A LOT. In real life. Where you are left scratching your head over why some pretty young woman would be interested in a much older man. This stuff happens. Of course it would happen in the Empire. It added an interesting dimension to Tarkin and I no longer think he was a robot sent from the future to destroy Alderaan. I also don’t think this was the only reason that Daala gained the rank that she did. She was passing all the Imperial tests and simulatons (using a male pseudonym of course) until she came to Tarkin’s notice. I thought this was a really cool back story and gave her interesting layers to her personality. Another onion!
It’s also nice to see an Imperial officer who, although high up in the Empire, had little to do with the Emperor. Where Mara-Jade looked up to and respected the Emperor, Tarkin was Daala’s inspiration and a source of great professional admiration for her. Shame of course she has his track record of having everything go spectacularly wrong! He taught her well I guess!
Enough of Daala. I like her. End of. Turning to The Leia Problem – fixed! Daala is taking her Star Destroyers on a rampage across the galaxy, conducting guerrilla raids on planets, hell bent on causing as much death and wanton destruction to the New Republic as possible. Her next target: Mon Calamari – the watery homeworld of Admiral Ackbar and an essential
New Republic shipyard. Leia has travelled to Mon Calamari in an attempt to bring Admiral Ackbar back to service. He has been in a period of self-exile following an accident which he blames himself. Leia meets Cigyl (a force sensitive Calamari) and together they track down Ackbar just before the planet is attacked by Daala. This was an exciting story line for Leia and KJA chucked her right in the middle of the action which was great fun. I also liked the way Leia and Cigyl worked together – actually KJA has a knack for writing the Mon Calamari well and maintains this throughout the series.
The final thing I liked, no loved about this book was Kyp. Ah Kyp. He didn’t just go bad, he went full on attack-your-teacher-steal-a-super-weapon (aka the Suncrusher) -and-rampage-across-the-galaxy-in-said-super-weapon-hunting-down-your-enemies-in- the-hope-of-their-total-annihilation kind of bad! I mean, he really went all in! It also wasn’t sudden or surprising. I mean, the kid spent most of his life down in the pitch darkness of the spice mines, he was always bound to be harbouring some bad personality traits! He did try to study under Luke but was ultimately swayed to the dark side by the spirit of Exar Kun, a long dead Sith Lord whose spirit lingered on the powerful, force laden temple on Yavin 4. Exar Kun was an AWESOME character by the way and I loved the way he slowly manipulated first Gantoris, then Kyp to the dark side. When Kyp pulled the Suncrusher out from the gas giant Yavin, it had such a cinematic feel to it, a really spectacular piece of plotting and writing by KJA and my favourite scene of the trilogy.
Again, a lot of my old criticisms stayed the same. I still don’t like Luke’s portrayal in this book. He seems so indecisive when it comes to Kyp and really quite weak. Although I get that he has only Yoda and Obi-Wan’s teachings to go by, Luke really doesn’t have much of his own qualities or ideas in this series so far. Luke was always slightly rash and headstrong, and I feel his character has lost his way a bit in these books.
I also don’t really remember what Han was doing in these books. Not a good sign and means he probably wasn’t up to much. Or maybe his story just got over shadowed by Leia’s awesome one?!
Finally, the twins suck. They always suck and continue to be, in my mind, some of the most irritating characters in this series at the moment. Yes, even more irritating than Threepio. Well done twins, well done. Urgh. (I know, I know, this gets better later in the EU – can they not be older already?!) Ok grumbling over.
Overall: a cracking book, fast paced and exciting. No middle-book syndrome here!
Rating: 4 out of 5 Death Stars – solely for Leia and Kyp’s story lines – they get two Death Stars each!