Boy, oh boy.
Darksaber sees the return of Kevin J. Anderson, the author of the ‘Jedi Academy Trilogy’ but the book falls short of the quality that I had expected after those great books.
Set not long after ‘Children of the Jedi’, the book follows a number of storylines that eventually tie together at the end, in a climactic battle that almost makes up for the lacklustre first and second acts.
Luke and Callista are trying to find a way for the latter to regain her connection to the Force. After Luke and Han go on a failed mission to Tatooine where Luke visits Obi-Wan’s old home and visit Jabba’s Palace where they learn that Durga the Hutt has been searching through Jabba’s computers, stealing information on The Empire.
Luke then takes Callista to a Comet which is part Mining Colony part Tourist Resort but soon leave when Callista gets frustrated when the relaxation Luke was hoping would help bring back her Force connection doesn’t work and they instead go on a tour of the places that Luke felt strong connections to the Force, taking them first to Dagobah where the two of them fight off the native wildlife and then Hoth where they end up joining a group of Wampa Hunters who end up under attack by a pack of the beasts, led by the one Luke encountered and dismembered in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. When they manage to get back to their ship and fight off the Wampa’s, Luke and one of the Hunters repair the ship enough to limp away from the planet into the nearby Asteroid Field.
Meanwhile, Leia, Han, Chewie, R2 and 3PO are on their own mission, investigating Durga the Hutt and his allegiance with some known Imperial scientists who worked on the two Death Stars. Durga has them building a new version of the Death Star which is a bare bones mobile version of the planet destroying Super Weapon, which is being built in… the Hoth Asteroid Field. The New Republic fleet, with the help of Han’s team on the Falcon work to destroy the Super Weapon, named The Darksaber. After a sabotage mission led by Crix Madine fails, the New Republic Admiral is killed by Durga before the weapon is destroyed. The Falcon picks up the shuttle with Luke and Callista on board, Callista in an environment suit whilst Luke is in a deep Jedi trance, both near death. After they recuperate they decide that it’s time to go back to Yavin IV, Han, Leia, Chewie and the Droids take them in the Millennium Falcon.
Kyp Durron and Dorsk 81 are on their own mission, trying to locate Imperial Warlords and bring their reigns of terror to an end. What they find however is much worse than they could have imagined. Numerous Imperial united under the rule of Admiral Daala. Her plan, to vanquish The New Republic once they have enough forces, but at the time their forces are too small but an alternative target is chosen, the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV. Kyp and Dorsk 81 race against time to warn the Jedi at the Academy.
On Yavin IV, after Kyp and Dorsk 81 warn the Jedi students, the attack begins. Luckily the Students had been working at one of the other Massassi Temples and manage to wipe out a number of TIE Fighters and other Imperial Forces on the planet and, working together, use the Force to throw the majority of Daala’s attack fleet to the edges of the Yavin system and disable their hyper drives but Dorsk 81 is killed in the process.
The Millennium Falcon arrives in the midst of the battle and lands at the Jedi Temple, joining the fight on the planet, with Kyp joining Han and the crew on the Falcon and they take the fight to Daala’s Super Star Destroyer until Admiral Ackbar’s reinforcements arrive.
On the planet, Callista, after finally tapping into the Force, but only through the Dark Side, feels like her and Luke’s relationship is doomed to fail unless she reconnects to the Force on her own path, takes a downed TIE Bomber to the Super Star Destroyer. Once on board she sabotages a hanger full of TIE Bombers which causes a chain reaction that severely damages the ships hyperdrive. Callista confronts Daala and the two escape the doomed ship.
Luke, believing Callista is dead, is shocked when he receives a message from her, telling him she loves him but has to sort her Dorce issues out herself. Meanwhile, Dalla’s escape pod is found by Pellaeon. Daala relinquishes her command, promoting Pellaeon to Admiral, and the leader of the Imperial Remnant.
When I was younger I read this, again it was one I only read the once because I didn’t remember the majority of the events. After doing the Audiobook I remember why I only read it the one time.
What could have been a really enjoyable duology, what we get here is a single book crammed full to the brim with too many plot lines that really needed time to breathe and they get somewhat lost in the Audiobook version. The abridgement really makes a choppy book even choppier.
Had this been made into a Duology, the Darksaber project could have taken up one part and the second part could focus on Admiral Daala’s push to reform the Empire and the final conflict at Yavin. I would have liked to get more about Kyp and Dorsk 81’s quest to hunt down the Imperial Warlords. There was so much promise for that storyline but it just didn’t get enough attention.
The Luke/Callista storyline ends up being a greatest hits tour of Luke’s Force hotspots, and the Hoth section and the Wampa battle, with the one armed Wampa leading the battle is far too coincidental for my liking. And the fact that, even on Dagobah, Luke and Callista have to fight for their lives against giant bugs. Seriously, couldn’t that have just gone and not had a life and death confrontation?
The saving grace is the final confrontation at Yavin IV. The Jedi Students really get to shine although their working together is incredibly overpowered, and probably part of the reason that fans were expecting an overpowered Luke in ‘The Last Jedi’, seeing as a group of students manage to hurl a fleet of Star Destroyers through space… I mean, come on, as if… but it makes cool reading.
A disappointing listen to be honest. Far too much going on for the short runtime. So far the ‘Callista Trilogy’ hasn’t been as enjoyable as I had hoped, especially after the good run I of good – great Audiobooks I’ve reviewed so far this year.
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