by Kevin J. Anderson
Published by Bantam Publishing
Scott's Rating: 4 out of 4
This is the first book in the Jedi Academy Trilogy and is tied in with the comic "Tales of the Jedi".
Han Solo and Chewy are on a routine mission to Kessel when they are jumped, they crash, and are thrown into the Spice Mines of Kessel. NOT a nice place. There they meet a young boy, named Kyp Durron, who helps them survive in the mines till help comes...if it comes.
Meanwhile, Luke decides that it is time for him to begin training the next generation of Jedi Knights and begin the Jedi Academy. He stumbles across ancient devices used by the Emperor to identify individuals with Force potential. He also finds a way by probing the mind of an person to indicate their abilities. Using these things, he begins to assemble a motley crew of individuals who will become the new Jedi Knights.
Luke establishes the academy on Yavin, where the Death Star battle took place. Unfortunately, the ancient temples they use as a classroom is the living room of the ghost of a Dark Lord of the Sith, Exar Kun. Kun then proceeds to teach the new students the ways of the Dark Side!
Finally, near Kessel, Han and the Gang escape from the mines into the Maw, a collection of black holes, where an isolated Imperial weapons lab is housed. There, they face Admiral Dalla, former babe of Grand Moff Tarkin, and they discover the prototype of the original Death Star. Those nasty weapons scientist have also created a badder weapon, the Sun Crusher, which destroys entire solar systems. What's a rebel to do?
This book was fun all the way around. It was fast paced, it had a lot of action, and it created a new cast of interesting characters. I particularly liked visiting old locations from the films such as Bespin and Yavin. I was also glad to see a book dealing with the Return of the Jedi. After all, that WAS what the last movie was called. Wedge was also given a lot of action here, which he was due. I also really liked the ghost of the Dark Lord of the Sith, Exar Kun. I was really glad to see the books finally be tied into the comics. I also thought it was a nice touch to have the hidden Imperial weapons facility. After all, do you think the Emperor would develop weapons in downtown Coruscant? And do you really think he would stop with just one? This was a lot of fun.
I thought Admiral Dalla turned out to be a lot of hot air. She wasn't near as bad as I expected her to be. Also, I can't understand why Luke didn't feel that something bad was lurking around Yavin and his Jedi Academy like he did on Dagobah with Yoda. I also think that it is debatable that the Sun Crusher took away from the awe and power that made the Death Star so cool. I also felt that having a 'device' that could detect Force ability took away from the mystery and wonder of the Force. I do see, though, that Luke could use some help when it came to hunting down students, so the device may have been a necessary plot element. I still loved the book.
Critters that live in the spice mines of Kessel. Dontcha just hate big spiders?