I first read the back cover synopsis for I, Jedi over a year ago, a story about an elite X-Wing pilot named Corran Horn who must embrace his heritage to become a Jedi Knight in order to save his kidnapped wife. Told from the first-person perspective of Horn, a Corellian, it presents a character potentially bonded with the roguish charisma and recklessness of a Han Solo and the skill and power of a Luke Skywalker -- a Star Wars fan’s dream.
Even though I am a giant Star Wars fan, it took me a while to get into the notion of reading about that universe -- I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy any tales without the stunning visual effects and John Williams accompaniment. As I’ve found, this is not an unusual skepticism amongst the fans I’ve met, and even more pronounced in casual fans (I’ve heard the excuse that watching the movies is ‘cool’, but reading the books crosses the line into dorkdom).
Nevertheless, a few years back, I took the plunge and read Timothy Zahn’s landmark Thrawn trilogy, a riveting, intricately plotted Star Wars galaxy tale, set seven years after the conclusion of Return of the Jedi. What surprised me was how Timothy Zahn was able to capture the spirit of all the original characters, while introducing no less than five vivid, enthralling new characters that have captured the imaginations of readers worldwide. There was such a clamoring for the return of the characters (that and some mishandling of the series by some rather inept authors), years later Zahn produced an excellent follow-up duology (same link as above, scroll down).
My glee was rudely interrupted by the end of Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy trilogy. Anderson’s new ‘super weapon’ plot (the Sun Crusher) is a tactic that really should be buried by this point (I think there have been three or four in the Star Wars universe -- even Lucas had to go back to the old formula in ROTJ, admittedly, but ROTJ isn’t my favorite). Worse, his evil Grand Admiral Daala is about as threatening as Scalius Crumb, in that in every single battle or even encounter with the heroes she loses an Imperial Star Destroyer while gaining absolutely nothing. What a tool. Finally, the newest, super-powerful Jedi recruit is named ‘Kip’. Kip. Master Kip. I just want to giggle when I say that. Okay, maybe I’m being a little too harsh --the books aren’t all that bad, but unfortunately, since they follow Zahn’s superb trilogy, they are going to take a beating.
After reading Anderson, I was once again skeptical about the potential characters in another Star Wars (i.e., a non-Zahn one) book, so I decided to hold off on reading it and get some other tomes under my belt.
When I came back to the Star Wars series about a year later, I decided to try and read some of the New Jedi Order series, set about 20 years after ROTJ (in case you are curious, this is how Star Wars universe gauges time) and introducing a really cool new species of villain, the Yuuzhan Vong. R. A. Salvatore painted such a vivid picture in the introduction novel, Vector Prime, I was hooked.
Under the hand of Stackpole, the series continued with the Dark Tide duology, Onslaught and Ruin, which returns to the character of Corran Horn some 15 years later (no he DOESN’T die at the end of his own book! And that's the only "spoiler" I'll mention). Horn is one of many main characters (with a now fully established Jedi Corps -- as Mr. Burns would say, "Ex-cellent") in the excellent tale, but his was the character I was most intrigued by. After finishing the series, I thought it was time to finally going back and seeing what this character had to say in "I, Jedi".
On one hand, I wish that the books were not so interrelated and sequential in the New Jedi Order Series, because I'd like to skip some and get to a few I think sound superior. However, I have to admit that so far, I haven't been disappointed by any.
Now that I've said all that, I'll leave the book review of "I, Jedi" for later -- hopefully tomorrow. Right now I want to eat.