Sunday, July 31, 2011

Star Wars: I, Jedi (Stackpole, Michael A)

Rating: 2/5
Year: 1998
Genre: Sci-Fi / Star Wars
Read again? Nope.

This is the only first-person "Star Wars" book I've seen. It's told by Corran Horn, a fighter pilot with the legendary Rogue Squadron.

Horn's wife vanishes during a mission involving a notorious pirate organization--Horn feels feels her "vanishing" via the Force.

His chain of command won't tell him what they know about her mission, so he tries to go over their heads and straight to President Princess Leia by talking to the First Scoundrel, Han Solo. Solo promises to talk to her.

Horn goes to Luke Skywalker, who invites him to come along to be in the first class of his new Jedi School on Yavin 4 and learn the ways of the Force, because that might help him to find his wife.

Horn goes on a 10-week Jedi training course. His wife's gone missing, but he's apparently really cool about it now, so 10 weeks is nothing.

The ghost of an evil Dark Jedi inhabits one of the nearby temples. It possesses one student after another, killing one, putting Luke Skywalker into a coma, and sending another student off on a mission to blow up a star system or two.

Horn and the students cook up a trap...and the bad guy's suddenly gone--but we never see the trap or have a description of that part of things. We're basically told "It's done."

Apparently this is covered in one of the other books and we have to buy 'em all to find out.

That last student returns from blowing stuff up and killing billions of people and is welcomed back into the fold!

What? He's a mass-murderer? Oh, that's okay, he's gonna be a Jedi!!

Oh yeah--when President Princess Leia is notified that her twin brother has been knocked on his ass by an evil ghost and is lying in a coma, she is TOO BUSY to drop her job and come running.

Apparently there's no Family Leave Act in the New Republic.

She finally shows up after, oh, a week.

So the Jedi ghost is kacked, Luke is going to be okay, and it's been 10 freaking weeks since Horn started his training.

He gets a sudden sense of urgency, now that half the goddamn book has gone by without any real plot movement. Seriously--by this point, it felt like I'd been reading for 10 weeks.

So now Horn leaves, hitching a ride with his smuggler pop-in-law, then goes off to Corellia to see his grandfather, then goes undercover for several MORE MONTHS to infiltrate the bad guys....

This book and its protagonist aren't in a hurry; there's never much of a sense of danger, no suspense (he remembers that his wife's missing, but she'll still be missing a few months from now, so it's no big rush), and Stackpole's portrayal of Corran Horn is damn near Mary Sue material.

Wordy. Not in Mercedes Lackey's chatterbox/prissy manner or Brian Daley's raid-the-thesaurus-for-obscure-words or Alan Dean Foster's paid-by-the-syllables styles. Stackpole could easily lose a good bit of padding and tighten the book up a good bit, both in narrative and dialog. Better word choice would make a big difference.

Draggy. The story doesn't go very far very quickly. There aren't any big surprises or twists and when the plot's moving it's in a straight line.

Characterization is weak; none of the Big Name characters--Han Solo, Luke Skywalker--sound anything like themselves. Han comes across like a professor, a bit too formal even when claiming that formality's never been his strong suit. The supporting characters are cardboard cutouts, flat and uninteresting.

Dialog is very comic-bookish...and there's the Industry Standard "spacified" lexicon: Timothy Zahn's "slicer" (instead of "hacker"), "slipped your circuits" instead of "slipped your mind"; and "Nerf and Gumes" for "Pork and Beans," among others.

Stackpole's a good guy and it bugs me to bag on this book so heavily, but I've got to be honest. Give this one a miss.

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