Star Wars: The New Jedi Order

Compilation of covers [wiki]

So I am through now. What about the series as a whole? Nineteen books plus some shorter stories by about a dozen authors make up the longest story arc in the Extended Universe so far. I do not think it works. There are some books that are better than others, a few are quite good and a few are rather bad. On average, the narrative’s quality is mediocre. But this is not the major dealbreaker for me, it is continuity. Every author has its own darlings that tend to appear and vanish in an ad-hoc fasion. In one book, some Jedi turn up to play their part, only to be not even mentioned in the next one. I can not put a finger on it, but I am pretty sure mistakes happened, too.

Maybe it has to be this way. We have a huge universe with dozens of charakters that have been important in some novel or trilogy. How can you write a series about a galaxy-spanning conflict without touching them all in some way or risking to disappoint readers? How can you keep focus with hundreds of hotspots? Maybe it cannot be done at all. Some authors seem to have realised that instinctively and chose to remove a small set from the big action and let them have a small adventure that fits somewhere in the big picture. Maybe that would have been the better model? I honestly do not know.

Furthermore, plot design was too timid. I understand that this was new territory for Star Wars writers. Yes, they killed off two major and some minor characters. Yes, a number of planets are erased. But considering that the Alliance almost lost the war, the price was too low, that is in terms of reader emotion. That a natural death of an old character marks the emotional climax of the last third speaks volumes. Also, I was disappointed by the Yuuzhan Vong. They are for the most part Orcs: cannon fodder, to kill without restraint or remorse. The moral discussion inside the Jedi Order can not really take off because of that. Only at the very end does the image move a bit, but too late. I would have like a more complex foe. The title “New Jedi Order” is exaggerated: the Jedi do not change much, as a whole. Their inner conflict is reduced to fighting versus not fighting, only rarely are the means really questioned. They should have been put in a situation where going Dark was really the only chance for survival.

Another problem is technology. At the beginning, Vong biotechnology is far superior. The Republic does rarely stand a chance until suddenly an unheard of Barabel squadron appears and introduces new tactics and techniques, turning the tables. This is also a prime example for deus ex machina problem solving often seen in the series. After that, not much changes for the remainder of the series. That the Vong do not react until the very end is motivated by their culture, but cheap nonetheless. In four years of war, we should have seen a big arms race; but then, technological advance was never strong in Star Wars.

All in all, I am disappointed literary-wise. As a Star Wars fan and reader of Extended Universe books, the series is mandatory, though. The galaxy far, far away and its inhabitants are certainly irrevocably changed. I am kind of excited what later books do with this change, but I need a break from Star Wars now.

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