Here we go – Champions of the Force; the conclusion to Kevin J. Anderson’s extremely fun and exciting Jedi Academy trilogy.
So, Luke is lying in state at the Jedi Academy following his fight with Kyp Durron. He’s in a kind of force induced coma but we still get to see some of his point of view as he mooches around in his dreamlike state and tries to reach out to the Jedi twins for help. In the meantime, Kyp is still rampaging around the galaxy in the Suncrusher trying to destroy Admiral Daala and generally creating the kind of mayhem that only a force sensitive kid in a super weapon can do. It’s down to Han to see if he can reach out to Kyp and bring him back to the light.
In the meantime Leia, having assisted Mon Calamari in Daala’s brutal attack now faces a personal crisis of her own as she finds out that the sinister allies of the Empire have discovered the secret location of Anakin and are heading there to kidnap him. (In case I haven’t mentioned it before, Anakin Solo is the third child of Han and Leia – he’s only a baby in this trilogy so didn’t get on my nerves like Jacen and Jaina CONSTANTLY do). This is the start of many, many kidnap attempts on the Solo children in their lives. Yawn.
Leia once again gets a cracking storyline. KJA more than makes up for her slightly weak start in this trilogy by giving her heaps of adventure and excitement in books 2 and 3. Although you never really doubt that she will fail in her mission it was still a really exciting and vivid scene as those awful MT-ATs (Mountain Terrain Armoured Transport) crawled up the side of the mountain where Anakin was being hidden. Winter and Leia get some kiss ass action here and KJA slightly makes up for Winter’s Mary Poppins role in this trilogy with these scenes.
Luke was freed from his stasis by his students who all worked together using their combined force abilities. It was a nice air-punch kind of scene and showed how far Luke’s students had come under his teachings.
The prototype death star, whilst seemingly overkill in this series (I mean, how many super weapons does one story need?!) did provide some entertainment in the form of the useless Maw scientists and their inability to do anything that isn’t in the standard Imperial emergency procedures. Their floundering was extremely amusing to read. KJA always gets the balance between fast pacing and a good sprinkling of humour throughout his books which makes them great fun to read.
I still loved Kyp in this book. He gets some powerful scenes on his journy from light to dark and back again. I think he is a great creation and I hope he sticks around in the rest of the Expanded Universe! I’m also not convinced this is the last we have seen of Daala. KJA writes her in such a way I think he really like her as a character and I’m sure he will
bring her back later on (I know he has written at least one other book in the New Republic era so I’m sure she will come along there). Once again she is extremely entertaining in this book, even if she is not particularly successful!
This book ties up all the storylines from Han and Kyp, Luke and Exar Kun together with Leia, Ackbar and even Mon Mothma. There is also a great climax at the end with Daala, Kessel and the prototype death star and, although it’s not as dramatic as the conclusion to the Thrawn trilogy, it is satisfying nonetheless.
Whilst I do love Admiral Daala as a character, her lack of competence can be quite frustrating to read . I mean, it’s not like I’m rooting for the bad guys to win or anything but I do still want them to put up a strong and believable fight! I think Daala’s only successful campaign came from her carpet bombing Mon Calamari in Dark Apprentice and I think that was it. Given all the weapons she had in her arsenal – the prototype death star, the Suncrusher, the Star Destroyers etc she put up a surprisingly poor fight and I didn’t think it rang true given what a prodigal young officer she was supposed to be when she was running all those battle simulations as a fake bloke. Or maybe I’m wrong, maybe she wasn’t all that great and actually did sleep her way to the top?! Hmmm.
Also, I’ll say it one more time just because he means do darn much to me – Luke. I still wasn’t happy with Luke’s portrayal in this book. He was slightly better in his word sparring with Exar Kun but just generally he is not the Luke that I knew and loved from the original trilogy and he wasn’t ever handled as well as Zahn does. I know everyone grows up, getting older and hopefully a little wiser but he was just a little bit too naff for me and didn’t have that all important feeling that I am looking for with the portrayals of the Big Three in Star Wars books. The big however of course is that KJA writes a very good Han and a hard as nails Leia so 2/3 is not too shabby at all!
Overall: for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, Champions of the Force is not as strong as the first two books in the trilogy (focusing a little too much on wrapping up every storyline rather than a good, exciting plot) but it still provides a satisfying conclusion to what was an extremely fun trilogy.
Rating 3 1/2 Death Stars – not as strong as the first two in the trilogy but still a cracking read 🙂