Guest Review: Children of the Jedi (Star Wars) by Barbara Hambly

April 6, 2013

Book Review Children of the Jedi (Star Wars) by Barbara Hambly

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1/5 Rancors – Barbara Hambly’sChildren of the Jedikicks off a sequence of stories unofficially known as the “Callista Trilogy.” First published in the spring of 1995, this novel is representative of a period of time when Bantam Spectra was struggling to find its footing with its successful Star Wars license. Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogyhad met with massive success and acclaim, and subsequently Kevin J. Anderson’sJedi Academy Trilogyalso saw significant sales, although less fan acceptance. These two trilogies set out many key elements of the Expanded Universe that would ripple through all the stories to come, including Han and Leia’s children, Luke’s attempts to revive the Jedi Order, the shape of the New Republic, and more.

One element common to more than a few of the Bantam novels was something Anderson picked up from the Death Stars in the films, and that is superweapons. Hambly keys in on this plot device and introduces a new one of her own: the immense Dreadnaught Eye of Palpatine, an automated ship built in secret and designed to wipe out an enclave of Jedi on the planet Belsavis. Why Palpatine would need such a gigantic ship to destroy these Jedi is never made entirely clear, nor is the convoluted plan to pick up hidden caches of troops and supplies secured at remote locations across the galaxy. The ship is controlled by an artificial intelligence simply known as the Will, and Luke must deal with the Will’s machinations and find a way to save Belsavis, where coincidentally enough Han and Leia are researching a related mystery.

The good news for Luke is that decades earlier, a Jedi Knight named Callista managed to transfer her consciousness into the Eye of Palpatine’s computer and has lived there as an intangible presence battling the Will ever since. As they interact and try to stop the ship in its horrible mission, they quickly fall deeply in love. This romance storyline is shallow and impossible to buy in to. There is no believable reason given that the relationship between Luke and this voice he’s hearing would progress so fast – we’re simply told that it has and that’s that. There’s no spark between these two, and not helping is the fact that every other page dwells on how weak and sick Luke is. It simply is tedious watching him painfully claw his way through the story and having to simultaneously suffer through these ridiculous “romantic” sequences. Not to spoil the ending, but since this is the Callista Trilogy, you can infer that Callista becomes more than a voice in a machine. The means by which this happens is even harder to accept than the initial premise, as is Luke’s casual brushing aside of the extremely weird method by which he gets to physically be with Callista.

The novel rotates between Luke’s adventures on the Eye of Palpatineand Han and Leia’s investigations of strange occurrences on Belsavis. The planet itself is a welcome addition to the huge roster of Star Wars locations, an interesting mix of a verdant tropical zone in a covered rift valley surrounding by an inhospitable glacial wasteland. The mystery of Plett’s Well is engaging at first as well, but starts to be dragged down by the large amounts of exposition wedged between any significant story points. I did find Hambly’s vision of Leia’s upbringing as a member of Alderaan’s royalty interesting and something most authors seem to ignore.

At its core,Children of the Jedisimply doesn’t have a solid enough story to justify its length. Luke and Callista is a relationship I don’t buy into, and I’m very thankful that eventually the far more interesting Mara Jade re-entered the EU picture. The events of this tale don’t warrant its length, and I found myself putting the book down frequently and growing increasingly reluctant to return to it.

Buy this Star Wars Book inpaperorelec­troniccopy*

Orig­i­nally pub­lished at:

1/5 Rancors – I tried to like this book. I really did, but I did not succeed. I did not think that Ms Hambly did a good job. The plot is convoluted. Her descriptions are too lengthy and flowery. There are too many characters I had never even heard of, and I got extremely tired of reading about how banged-up Luke was. I can’t wait for a book in the series that might have the audacity to show Luke as a truly powerful Jedi Master brimming with confidence.

Many of our old friends have main roles in this tale – Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, R2, Threepio. As always, they can still be fun to read about. Leia, Han, and Chewie are searching for the long-lost children of the Jedi on the frozen world of Belsavis. Luke has discovered a previously unknown enemy dreadnought Eye of Palpatine and he must find a means of destroying the ship before it can complete a mission programmed into its artificial intelligence. The two missions take place separately until the end of the book when they come together.
Luke receives unexpected help in his mission when he discovers the spirit of Callista still living on the Eye of Palpatine purely as a form of consciousness. Callista managed years earlier to stop the dreadnought’s original mission, and now she helps Luke in his effort to stop the ship’s current mission. This is all well and good except that, in a plot twist that simply never holds together, Luke and Callista’s spirit fall in love. So now we get to read about Luke not only limping and just barely being able to function but also mooning for Callista during every spare moment. It is just not believable.I kept waiting for the author to simply get on with it. She spends entirely too much time filling space.
Buy this Star Wars Book inpaperorelec­troniccopy*
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