Category Archives: FotJ

Talking Tahiri Veila

Being raised by Tuskan Raiders and being shaped by the Yuuzhan Vong should make for a compelling character. Unfortunately, for Tahiri Veila, she’s cast into role of the pining lover, moldable apprentice and slave to her desires. As likeable as Tahiri is, the unfitting uses of her character threaten her position on the list of female heroes in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

Tahiri began her role in the EU as friend to a reluctant Anakin Solo. Orphaned and raised by Tusken Raiders, she has a vastly different background than her best friend. Tahiri and Anakin during the Junior Jedi Knights books act as children their ages often do as they go through their many adventures. She’s bright, bubbly and intelligent.

Tahiri pops up again during the New Jedi Order first in James Luceno’s Agents of Chaos II: Eclipse in a minor role. When the Yuuzhan Vong attack Yavin IV during Edge of Victory: Conquest by Greg Keyes, Tahiri doesn’t accompany most of the other students. Naïve about how the Vong truly are and feeling stifled by her age, Tahiri stays behind to fight alongside Anakin. Instead of the glorious adventure she envisions, she ends up captured by Shapers.

The shaping of Tahiri is one of the most horrifying and interesting events in the EU. The Vong Shapers have no qualms with eradicating Tahiri by replacing her with memories of another. They treat her as a science experiment, a game. The extent of the damage Master Shaper Mezhan Kwaad and Nen Yim inflict on Tahiri when they inserted the Riina Kwaad identity into the young Jedi trainee’s mind comes forth the strongest during the Force Heretic trilogy. While readers saw some of the effects before those, it’s only then does she have to fight the conflicting parts of her mind.

Tahiri and Anakin’s relationship turns from friendship to love during this time. It was short-lived, however, when Anakin died on Myrkr. Tahiri refused to kiss Anakin, telling him that he needed to return to receive it. It’s a common request seen in movies and books that the hero often fulfils, yet in this case, it adds another layer to the tragedy of Anakin’s death for Tahiri.

Tahiri appears to be recovering somewhat during her mission to Coruscant with Luke, Mara and several others including former Wraith Kell Tainer. Though subdued, Tahiri successfully contributed to the mission, especially when dealing with Lord Nyax. In addition, “Aunt Tahiri” and Kell’s interactions provide much-needed comic relief.

When Riina’s personality attempts to take control of Tahiri, she is forced to retreat into her mind to battle to deal with her two parts. She eventually merges the two and becomes a new mix of Riina and Tahiri. She’s harder, rougher, yet still maintains some of Tahiri’s brightness. It’s somewhat off-putting at first, but it makes sense with what has happened to her. During The Final Prophecy, Tahiri’s characterization continues to strengthen.

When the Killik crisis occurred, Tahiri became a Joiner. Despite that she suffered from depression from the loss of Anakin and that the Yuuzhan Vong part of her was known for blind devotion, Tahiri as a Joiner didn’t make much sense. Here was a woman who’d undergone a transformation into a more mentally sound person. She’d had her mind invaded once. It’d be logical for her to create some type of metal barriers against that happening again and be alert to it. This change would take time to become comfortable with, but it wasn’t as if Tahiri spent those five years on Zonoma Sekot in constant combat. She’d have time to recover. A world so rich in life and the Force seems like ideal healing grounds.

Moving past the Joiner kerfuffle, Tahiri’s characterization takes a major hit when she joins Jacen. Jacen manipulates Tahiri’s remaining feelings for Anakin to draw her into his trap. When it comes to dabbling in the Dark Side, Tahiri lacks the finesse of other Sith. While her fall to the dark side can be understood given the history, it’s the revelation during her trial for the murder of Gilad Pellaeon in Fate of the Jedi Allies by Christie Golden that Tahiri and Jacen were physically “involved” that does more damage to her—and her Sith Master. Tahiri pining after Anakin and then sleeping with his older brother is simply uncomfortable. It takes Star Wars to a place that it doesn’t turn to. In addition, it adds nothing to the story but sputtering by fans. The final verdict in her trial would have been the same without that particular development.

Tahiri returns to her role as a hero in Troy Denning’s Fate of the Jedi Apocalypse. She fought one of Abeloth’s forms with the help of Boba Fett. The alliance, if it can be called such, between such vastly different characters worked well. Tahiri also fights alongside the Jedi in the Temple towards the end of the book. In both cases, she shows the Tahiri unseen for years. She’s an assertive, decisive woman capable of holding her own in most situations.

Tahiri is yet another female character in the Expanded Universe whose potential is repeatedly misused. She’s stuffed into the box of the lost love and self-pity. While she received closure during Allies, I’m not convinced that the Anakin card won’t play again in her future. No one wants to see a depressed, wallowing Tahiri.

Tahiri’s destiny links with Anakin long after his death. Rather than force her to stay tied down to a ghost, let her move forward. She can still have fond memories of him without them dragging down her spirit. The relationship is a part of her, but shouldn’t define her entire life. Aaron Allston sent her in the right direction during Conviction and Troy Denning pushed it farther along with the events of Apocalypse. It’d be a terrible loss if Tahiri faded into the background.


Filed under Allston, Anakin Solo, Expanded Universe, Fate of the Jedi, female characters, FotJ, Jacen Solo, NJO, Star Wars, SWEU, Tahiri, Troy Denning

Family Trumps Distance: How Excluding the Fels from Apocalypse Goes Against Star Wars’s Use of Family

Note: Also posted at FanGirl Blog.

It’s impossible to include every character in each Star Wars book. That said, Fate of the Jedi Apocalypse left out the most logical inclusion in the final scene.

The Fels.

At the wedding of Jaina Solo and Jagged Fel it would make sense for Jag’s family to attend and yet they are nowhere in sight. There’s mention of others, like Kyp Durron and Lando, but not the parents and siblings of the groom.

The argument that loyalty to the Chiss would stop the Fels from attending their son’s wedding or even maintaining some type of relationship with him is ludicrous. Soontir shows loyalty to a government that he can believe in. The changing dealings of the Empire turned him to the New Republic, and then later Thrawn convinced him that the Empire of Hand was the way to go. Family played a role in both decisions. It’s hard to believe that Soontir turned into a narrow-minded man whose only loyalty is to the Chiss no matter what they do. In addition, there’s the appearance of the Empire of Hand in Ascension. If that’s not a clear indicator that Jag is in contact with the rest of the Fels, then nothing is.

Syal and Soontir lost children. What parent wouldn’t try to maintain a relationship with their surviving loved ones?

Given the scene Troy Denning wrote, it would have been easy to add in a sentence stating their presence. An actual conversation would have been even better, but that wasn’t going to happen. Wedge and his family weren’t even there. Wedge had a relationship with both of them and was friends with most of the guests. He’s a shoo-in for an invite.

Troy Denning stated in his interview with Suvudu that the wedding was planned from the start, yet the idea that Jag’s family attend the event was either ignored or cast aside.

Fans know very little about the Fels. No one knows exactly how Davin, Cherith and Chak died. Facts allude to the Yuuzhan Vong regarding Davin and Cherith, but we don’t know for sure that’s what happened. For being tied to one of the main characters, there’s not much information about Jag’s life and upbringing.

It’s not as if the books show that there is some type of family division or feud occurring. There’s no evidence to support this theory. The cost of Jag guaranteeing Lowbacca’s parole is nothing compared to family bonds. Money, land, its all possessions. Never have the Fels given off the impression that material items or status matter more than family. Even if Syal or Soontir had some type of grudge against Jaina, would they truly cast their son aside? No. Soontir proved early on how easy it is to accept someone who may not hold the same ideals or perform the same actions as himself just because someone he cares for loves that person. He and Wedge were on opposite sides, yet that didn’t stand in the way of Soontir and Syal’s happiness. Their son would have to same consideration.

We’re a family. Family does for family.“- Soontir to his father, Rogue Squadron 25: The Making of Baron Fel by Michael Stackpole

Family plays a vital role in the Star Wars universe. The loss of his mother Shmi led to Anakin Skywalker’s first major step towards the Dark Side. The death of Anakin Solo had a similar affect on Jaina. Jacen rationalizes that he must turn Sith to create a safe galaxy for his daughter Allana. The Antilles family found members on both sides of the Second Galactic Civil War and yet their bonds weren’t broken. Sacrificing a life for a sibling or child is something we all can understand. Jacen’s fall to the Dark Side seemed more difficult to grasp because who he was betraying. When he killed Mara, he killed a family member, not some stranger. It was a more powerful death (and not only because it was Mara Jade). With these bonds, it’s harder for viewers or readers to grasp onto what the characters are going through. While we can appreciate the need for saving a planet, saving one’s family seems more tangible.

The absence of the Fels also supports the remark about Jaina that Denning mentioned in the post-Apocalypse Suvudu interview:

“Now, some of the fans know that I was a Jaina/Zekk shipper early on, and everybody thinks that that was because I like Zekk better. It was really because I didn’t want to see Jaina go off to live in what early on would have been the Chiss Empire and then later would have been the Imperial Remnant. I didn’t want to lose Jaina for the main storylines. She’s an important Jedi, and we’ve known for a long time that she’s going to become more and more important to the core of the Jedi, so did we really want to have to go through plot hoops and come up with plot devices to bring her back into the main story every time we wanted to use her? Or did we want to risk losing her from the main story all the time? Once we came to terms with the need to use Jaina and decided to find a way to bring Jag back into the main story for a few years (so that Jaina could be in the main story too), that pretty much solved the problem.”

The Unknown Regions aren’t in another galaxy. There isn’t an electromagnetic band that forbids transmission or a lack of hyperspace routes leading in and out that prohibit travel. Even Star Wars The Old Republic uses the Unknown Regions. There’s not much there now, just Illum, space combat missions and class quest stops, but players can still travel there. Holograms and the holonet make it possible to converse with someone lightyears away. That idea is solidified into the base level of Star Wars canon in the prequels. The Jedi Council held meetings with half the members absent. Their projections were so good that the Masters appeared to be sitting perfectly in the chairs.

In addition, this is Star Wars. Very rarely do events in a book only occur on one planet. Location is no excuse to avoid using a character. Regarding Jaina, Denning’s concern is based solely on that Jaina could only join Jag, not the other way around.

It’s hard to believe that the Fels couldn’t find a way to communicate with Jag after his exile. How would the Chiss have learned of the death of Alema Rar for one? It’s not as someone sent out a mass transmission stating, “It’s okay, Alema Rar, a Twi’Lek you’ve probably never heard of, is dead. Go back to your drinks.” The only logical conclusion is that Jag filed some type of report to make the Chiss and his family aware of her demise. And what about the Empire of the Hand? There’s no way Soontir didn’t have something to do with their arrival.

We simply don’t know what the Fels are doing. Wyn could be a high-ranking member of the Chiss military or sent to some low level job after the events the Killik war. Cem’s status as a shadow child provides even less information. The entire family is a question mark.

Without knowing all the details of his exile, it’s difficult to discern the state of the Fels lives. Perhaps they would be so broke that leaving is a better alternative. They must have had some funds given that they hired rescue parties to find Jag. Any family that works so hard to find their lost child isn’t going to disown him for lost credits.

The exclusion of the Fels isn’t just a disservice to fans; it’s an illogical decision. The Chiss were the ones that cast off Jag, not Syal and Soontir. It fights their character to hop aboard the Starflare to fly to their son’s wedding. To deny them that is absurd.

And yet, that’s exactly what happened.


Filed under Expanded Universe, Fate of the Jedi, FotJ, Jagged Fel, Jaina Solo, Star Wars, Troy Denning, Uncategorized

Poorly crafted villains result in a lackluster tale

ImageThe way a villain is crafted can make or break a story. A villain
that’s incomprehensible or flimsy will not only damage the story, but
also hurt the rest of the cast.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this is Abeloth in the Fate of the
Jedi series. She started as an eerie entity by warping the minds of
the Shelter Jedi, though readers didn’t know the cause at first. She
quickly morphed into an annoyance with her constant meltdowns that
resemble the temper tantrum of a three-year-old.

The mask of mystery around Abeloth isn’t the problem. More stories
than imaginable bring the villain’s details to attention at the very
end of the book or series. As destructive as Abeloth was, her
potential for intimidation crashed with the association with the Lost
Tribe of the Sith. Whether she would have been successful or not
without them, we’ll never know.

The Lost Tribe, the other villain of the series, was far too archaic
to take over a galactic government. Even with Abeloth’s assistance, it
wasn’t believable. The Tribe probably picked up quite a bit during
their journey, but there’s no way they understood the nuances of
everyday life in the Galactic Alliance. Even ruling with an iron fist
requires the ability to use the holonet without asking an aide how to
input a frequency. In addition, the Lost Tribe fell into the dreaded
“grey” category of villains.

I’m not a fan of the grey villain in Star Wars. The movies are good
versus evil, not good versus the is-he-isn’t-he-evil. It’s not as if
the entire Tribe would be redeemed by the end. Trying cast them as
good beings who used the Dark Side pulls the series away from what is
Star Wars. Darth Vader isn’t grey at all and he was redeemed in end.
SWTOR brought to my attention the term “grey” regarding a character’s

The difference in that medium is that it is a numbers game.
The Dark and Light options can even each other, giving the character a
neutral alignment. It’s clear in the game who the villain is on the
side played. For the Republic, it’s, of course, the Sith Empire. For
the Sith, the Republic cause problems but there’s so much Sith
treachery that villains pop up all over the place. While there are
some characters that could fall under the villain tag on the Republic
side, it’s not nearly as abundant.

The serious lack of good villains harmed the heroes. Each time Luke,
Ben, Jaina and the other Jedi fought against the Abeloth and the Sith,
they’re efforts seemed almost in vain. Take out Abeloth and the Sith
and the many fights of the Jedi seem much more exciting. Complete beat
downs rarely make for good reading.

The fight of good versus evil empowers us. The idea that we can
overcome any obstacle, no matter how evil, creates confidence and
hope. That didn’t happen in FotJ. Abeloth’s defeat was more of a “meh,
it’s over” moment than the triumphed victory of the fall of Palpatine.

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Filed under Fate of the Jedi, FotJ

Review: Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse by Troy Denning

Contains spoilers.

Upon hearing the title of the last book in the Fate of the Jedi series, I cringed. Apocalypse is a word we’ve heard far too much in the past two years. The infamous Mayan 2012 prediction creeps into all media at random intervals to annoy us. Apocalypse seems as if it’s an overly dramatic title for a Star Wars book. The galaxy facing certain destruction is old news. Troy Denning closed out the FotJ with a plethora of action, just as he did Legacy of the Force.

On the surface, Abeloth sounds like a terrifying being. She can’t die. She can be in multiple places at the same time. She has no limitations. After finding out exactly what Abeloth is supposed to be, I felt highly skeptical. The history the Killiks gave bothers me to no end.

I don’t like the idea that everyone’s path is predestined. That takes away the responsibility of choice. The Killiks made it sound as if Abeloth would come no matter what anyone did. There was nothing Luke or anyone else could do about it and that’s an idea that I’m not comfortable with in literature or life. Anakin Skywalker chose to kill Mace Windu and pledge himself to Palpatine. Jacen chose to listen to Lumiya. The drunk driver chooses to climb behind the wheel of his car. The woman acts to cheat on her husband. Personal choice is necessary to avoid chaos. Regardless of how logical the Killiks argument may sound, taking it for face value even coupled with some story Yoda told Luke, is far too trusting for a group of strong Jedi. That the Force has a being that causes massive amounts of destruction for the sake of it doesn’t sound like the Force we all know.

Right from the start, Denning pulls readers into a rich, action-packed infiltration of Coruscant. It sets the idea that the Jedi are there to take the situation into their own hands. Those who prefer a more philosophical or mystical battle for the Jedi may find the book a little frustration at times. It’s gorier than most Star Wars books, what with the way the Sith die, Saba’s fight in the Jedi Temple and Abeloth’s use of her tentacles (think Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean). The pace slows down in the middle a bit, but picks up towards the end. There’s some repetition towards the end that can bog down readers and at times, it’s hard to picture a location.

The strongest part of the Apocalypse isn’t the plot; it’s the characters. As this is a Denning book, Han Solo dances from the pages with sarcastic humor. Master Saba Sebatyne comes across somewhat tamer than she has before (in behavior, not physical combat). Unlike previous Denning-penned books, I found myself pleasantly surprised at the portrayals of Jagged Fel and Jaina Solo. Even Tahiri became much more appealing, a first in this series. She’s wallowed in grief and self-loathing far too long.

Probably the biggest change in characterization was Luke Skywalker. It’s clear by the end Apocalypse that Luke’s growing away from his role as Grand Master. Near the end, Ben mentions that eventually the burden will fall to Jaina’s generation. Throughout the series, Luke still acts as a competent fighter, but he’s physically weaker. While Luke’s power isn’t fading, it actually feels as if a shift is occurring with the Jedi Order. It feels like a natural change.

These revelations came clearest through the conversations between Luke and Jaina. Gone were the rash decisions, the constant back and forth her character constantly suffers. She’s the one who acts as the voice of reason. This is a Jaina that needs to stay. Denning created a balance between the fighter, the Jedi and the woman. Her decisions were logical and sound. There were no questions about her and Jag’s relationship. Even though they didn’t appear in the same place until the very end, the little actions of her calling during a lull in battle and his concern for her during his own crisis spoke volumes more than a conversation about the relationship.

The end of Apocalypse left me with mixed feelings, excluding the last chapter that better fits the term epilogue. Had Abeloth been a more impressive or conceivable villain, the defeat would seem impressive. The elements were there, but the problems lie in the Abeloth character, not the actual confrontations. The end leaves a plethora of questions. What happened to the Dark Man? Is Vestara the next threat or will she disappear? Where do the Jedi go from here? How will the whole future of the Empire play out regarding to Jag?

Some of these will surely come up in whatever Del Rey produces next. As Denning mentioned, the possibilities are endless. The book truly felt like a turning point in the Expanded Universe, something it desperately needs.

And the wedding? It’s about damn time.

Score: 7/10


Filed under Expanded Universe, Fate of the Jedi, FotJ, Jaina Solo, Luke Skywalker, Review, Troy Denning

Troy Denning talks the Jacen Solo era, writing and more on Apocalypse book tour

Fate of the Jedi Apocalypse is the end of the Jacen Solo era, according to Troy Denning.

I’d never thought of the books like that and still don’t. Denning said it started in the Dark Nest Trilogy, which he said was Jacen’s personal journey. Legacy of the Force was his social journey and Fate of the Jedi was Jacen’s spiritual journey. This coincides with how Denning writes his own books.

I’m still not sure what I think about this. I see the mechanics and the overall arc, but I don’t know. I’ll have to think on it some more.

I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the Barnes and Noble in Carmel, Ind. for the second stop on the Apocalypse book tour. Stormtroopers, Darth Vader, two Rogues (one man and one woman), a Sith cheerleader, Rebel officer and other types of troopers stood in the front of the store like some type of guard. I picked up my copy of the book, received a wristband and found a seat in the metal chairs by the magazines. The evening started with a chat by Denning and then a question and answer session. The questions spanned Denning’s work and writing.

When it comes time to write a series, the authors, editors, marking and continuity folks meet to discuss the details. Denning stated that each author has a list of plot points for the book he is to write. He used Star by Star as an example, as he was sure no one would be spoiled (he hates spoilers). Anakin Solo dies and Coruscant falls made the list.

Regarding the writing process for FotJ, Denning said, “We don’t share much in the process of writing.” It messes with the momentum. He did point out that they did share a little more of the Ben and Vestara scenes.

Denning pointed out something about the editorial staff and writers that I think captures the feelings of some fans. There’s a certain push for war stories.

“Ended [Apocalypse] in a way to open up a million different kinds of stories,” Denning stated. As for the title itself, he said it fits the current state of the EU. The old EU we all knew is evolving into something new.

And that’s a good thing.

A question arose about the Legacy comics and if Denning and the others felt pressure from the events. While there’s a good chance that the books will eventual lead to that point, Denning stated that the authors and editorial staff are “trying to make the journey of how we get there interesting.”

He used the example of Jagged Fel, whom the Legacy comics revealed to be an emperor. There are things they want Jag to do before that happens.

For the record, Denning said that he didn’t know if he’d be involved or what was happening next in the EU.

As with most author talks, the subject turns to writing. The main piece of advice he had to give was, “It’s easier to fix it than do it right the first time.” It’s very true. Becoming bogged down in details and worrying if something is correct can ruin the stream of creativity. Yes, writers need to be aware of major details, but it’s not necessary to stop every few minutes to check previous pages.

Everyone needs an editor. Denning’s wife looks at his first drafts. He said that he finished Tatooine Ghost (the “chick book” he wouldn’t normally write) three weeks before the deadline, handed it to his wife and she told him to tell them he’d be late. One of the issues was an overuse of Chewbacca to the point where he was practically in Han and Leia’s bedroom. The reason for his constant appearance was that it was the first time Chewie’d appeared in a book after his death in Vector Prime.

Writer’s block is something we’ve all encountered. Countless writers offer various reason and ways to beat back the beast.

According to Denning, writer’s block occurs when a person is “really not prepared to write.” After he said it, I realized that there was some truth to that. While I don’t think it’s true all of the time (especially regarding news articles), the lack of inspiration or ideas is the root cause of many cases of writer’s block.

Overall, I’d consider the evening rather informative. His “chick book” remark was rather off-putting and a cause for concern. It was clear that he has a passion for Star Wars, especially Han and Leia.

Now to read Apocalypse to see how Denning’s latest entry into the EU is.

Check out the video of his talk here:

Huge thanks to my husband for recording it.

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Filed under Expanded Universe, Fate of the Jedi, FotJ, Jacen Solo, Star Wars, Troy Denning

Mercy Kill Excerpt (probably) in Apocalypse: Does it mean anything?

Erich Schoeneweiss of Del Rey announced on Twitter last night that the excerpt in Troy Denning’s Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse comes from Aaron Allston’s Mercy Kill. Back in the summer, we were told that we would see a preview of the next Star Wars series. Long before that, Del Rey stated that another long series wasn’t in the near future. Of course, this could change.

The inclusion of the first chapter of Mercy Kill at the end of Apocalypse can mean a multitude of things. While it’s possible that we’ll see an X-Wing trilogy, the idea of previewing the next series could have been easily abandoned. We simply don’t know what book deals and ideas are discussed or thrown out.

It’s not a surprise that Mercy Kill is the excerpt. It’s the next major—and only—release in this era of the EU. If it’s not the sign of a new series, then perhaps it leads into the next. It’s no secret that the fans desperately want this book. Building up as many sales as possible is vital.

Given that there has yet to be an announcement stating that Mercy Kill is the flagship book of a series or news of a new series in this era at all, I’m hesitant to believe it. It’d make sense, given the attitude of many EU fans, to publish a couple books that shy away from the Jedi v. Sith conflict. It adds a bit of variety, some breathing room. That said, I don’t want to wait years to find out what happens to the main players in FotJ.

No matter what it means, it great to hear that we will have a taste of Mercy Kill before August.

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Filed under Allston, FotJ, Mercy Kill

We’re more than ready for Zahn’s Han Solo book

As I mentioned earlier this week, Timothy Zahn will write a book featuring Han Solo. A late 2012/early 2013 release, character choice and classic-era timeframe will make for a much-desired tale.

The Fate of the Jedi series ends in the spring of 2012. In July, Aaron Allston’s Mercy Kill, featuring the Wraith Squadron, will hit shelves. Should Zahn’s Han Solo book see a late 2012 release date, then fans of the non-SWTOR novels will have quite a bit to cheer about next year.

Quite frankly, we need it. Fans who aren’t the fans of later books can enjoy a new title in the OT era. I can honestly say that I’ve never met or spoken to someone who didn’t like Han Solo. He’s a great pick for a non-Jedi lead. Given the character, this book has the potential to draw in fans from all eras of Star Wars.

The Han Solo book and Mercy Kill have the potential to be a fun, exciting trip to a galaxy far, far away. Knowing Allston and Zahn’s kills, I’m sure they will be more than worth the cost.

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Filed under Allston, Expanded Universe, FotJ, Han Solo, Star Wars, Zahn