Dark Apprentice by Kevin J. Anderson Audiobook Review

As Luke’s Jedi Academy grows, so does a Dark evil, threatening to destroy the fledgling Jedi Order before it had even begun, meanwhile, Princess Leia has to contend with an ailing Mon Mothma and the sudden depart of Admiral Ackbar after piloting error caused the Mon Calamari to crash his ship into a historic monument on the planet Vortex. Meanwhile, Admiral Daala begins her attack on the New Republic, intent on avenging the fall of the Empire.

Oddly enough, I seemed to remember a lot more from this book than I did Jedi Search in terms of the story but I couldn’t tell you what was missing in the Abridged version of the Audiobook.

The story follows on about a month after ‘Jedi Search’, Luke’s Academy has grown, with more students having been recruited, numbering at 12. His lessons consist of learning from a Jedi Holocron and independent study. However one student, Gantoris, has far exceeded the skills of his peers. However, his power comes not from Luke’s teachings, but from the spirit of Exar Kun, an ancient Sith Lord. Kun shows Gantoris how to build a lightsaber and once the weapon is completed he challenges Luke to a duel, Luke bests Gantoris who is later found dead, immolated by Exar Kun.

Meanwhile, Leia and Ackbar narrowly avoid death when Ackbar’s modified B-Wing Fighter crash lands killing thousands, Ackbar resigns his command as a result. It turns out to be a Ship Technician who tampered with the Admiral’s fighter under the influence of Imperal brain implants. The Tech leaves Coruscant and turns out to be working for the Overseer of the Carida Training Facility, Furgan and gives the Imperial leader the location of Han and Leia’s third child, Anakin.

Han and Kyp, are taking time to get Kyp acquainted with normal life, but Han is pulled away, leaving Kyp to help dispose of the Sun Crusher in the Gas Planet of Yavin before he joins Luke’s Academy.

Han and Lando play a game of Sabacc for the Millennium Falcon which Han loses.

Leia learns that Mon Mothma is dying, and an attempt to maintain normality in the New Republic she goes to Mon Cala, and with the help of a Force Sensitive Mon Cala, Cilghal, she finds Ackbar.

Admiral Daala makes her way across the Galaxy. After losing one of her four Star Destroyers in The Maw, she takes what is left of her forces and attacks a settlement on Dantooine, wiping out the population. Her attention then turns to Mon Cala.

As Kyp begins his training, he is targeted by Exar Kun. Kyp begins to act out against Luke and his teachings. When Mara Jade arrives to do some training, Kyp steals her Z-95 Headhunter and finds Qui Xux who is with Wedge on Ithor. As the two become romantically linked, the happiness is cut short when Wedge finds her in tears with little memories left aft Kyp attacked her and stole her memories of how to operate the Sun Crusher.

Daala’s forces arrive at Mo Cala. Leia, Cilghal and Ackbar work furiously to fend off their attackers. Han also gets word of the attack and attenpts to commandeer the Falcon from Lando. On the way, they play another Sabacc game and Han wins back the ship.

The Battle of Mon Cala is devastating for the people of the planet, but Ackbar manages to turn the tide by remote piloting a Mon Cal ship and crashing it into one of Daala’s Star Destroyers. The battle is lost for the Empire and they retreat to The Cauldron Nebula.

Kyp returns to Yavin IV, and with the help of Exar Kun, retrieves the Sun Crusher from the planet Yavin before facing Luke and rips Luke’s soul from his body,l leaving his body in a coma-like state before taking the Sun Crusher to The Cauldron Nebula and wiping out Daala and her remaining forces.

The ante is certainly upped across the board from ‘Jedi Search’. Gantoris prophecy of his end coming at the hands of the Dark Man comes to pass is a more sinister way than I could have imagined (as a kid). The reveal of Exar Kun and the way he is described as almost oozing out of the wall is creepy.

The fall of Kyp Durron was easily predicted. In ‘Jedi Search’ we see him tapping into the Dark Side because the only way he could control the Force was by tapping into his anger. However, the Audiobook makes the transition go faster than Anakin in ‘Revenge of the Sith’, of course this is all down the to abridgement and Kyp’s descent to the Dark Side takes a bit longer. Once he’s gone Dark, his power is seemingly limitless with the assistance of Exar Kun. His mind manipulation of Qui Xux is horrifying and of course it comes at the worst time ever, just as her romance with Wedge is blossoming. Followed by his ability to pull the Sun Crusher from the heat of Yavin AND rip Luke’s souls from his body, it’s easy to say that Kyp is incredibly over-powered. It’s easy to say that someone can be incredibly strong with the Force, but even Luke has limits, which are noticeable even in ‘The New Jedi Order’ when he becomes exhausted after using the Force too much (and hey, just look at ‘The Last Jedi’ when he Force Projected which led to his death).

The Audiobook sidelines Han considerably. He gets a handful of moments, but they are reduced somewhat. Whilst Han gets a back seat here, it was Leia who got a back seat in the ‘Jedi Search’ Audiobook, so really, given the abridgement whittles the book down to its most important plot lines, and a second Sabacc game would have taken too much time away from the rest of the story at Mon Cala.

The introduction of Luke’s other new students, Dorsk 81, Tionne, Kirana Ti and Kam Soulsar get sidelined for the most part, except for Tionne who gets one moment with Kyp, but mainly the students who get most of the attention are Gantoris and Kyp. Again understandable but I do feel that this book has a lot of content that was skipped.

Overall I did enjoy the story as it was told but I did want more and I feel the need to pick up the whole trilogy for a proper revisit.

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