Elaine Cunningham’s Dark Journey is the tenth volume in long Star Wars series The New Jedi Order. It focuses mainly on Jaina who — after the tragic events at the end of Star by Star — is full of hatred and lust for revenge. She and the remainder of the Jedi strike team barely manage to reach Hapes, Tenel Ka’s home world, with their captured and damaged Yuuzhang Vong ship. While the team dissolves and Jaina tries to learn as much as possible about the foreign biotechnology, the Queen Mother’s predecessor spins a plot that includes both Jaina and a coup.
Jaina threatens to slide more and more to the Dark Side, planing and executing vengeful tricks to take out as many Vong as she can without any regard for human lives. Her friends are at a loss as to what to do with her and back out, leaving only Lowbacca and Kyp Durron at Jaina’s side. In this mess stumbles Chiss-raised fighter pilot and commander Jag Fel who develops a crush on the increasingly cold Jaina. Together, the three Jedi and Fel hurt the Vong quite a bit; Jaina even openly challenges warmaster Tsavong Lah to a battle of minds.
Dark Journey marks yet another weak volume in this series. While Cunningham has a number of interesting ideas she does not use them too well. For one, I do not believe the characters. Most strike team members vanish as suddenly as they showed up in Star by Star. Jaina is supposed to go Dark but buries her emotions instead of using them on one hand but on the other hand lashes out at her friends instead of manipulating them; that does not fit together. That all males around fall to her charms anyway is another thing I don’t buy. Futhermore, I felt not sucked in or thrilled. The tale is just told, not spun; fast pace replaces suspense what is obviously no good idea. I hope the next books, written by veteran Star Wars author Aaron Allston, are more enjoyable.