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The Jedi Academy Trilogy is a set of books in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The three books, Jedi Search, Dark Apprentice and Champions of the Force, were written by Kevin J. Anderson starting in 1994; in 1998, Michael Stackpole of X Wing Series fame wrote I, Jedi, but we'll get to that in a bit. It should also be noted that in 1995 Anderson wrote Darksaber, a semi-sequel to the Jedi Academy Trilogy, which we talk about over here.
The Jedi Academy Trilogy deals with Luke Skywalker and a couple of quasi-Jedi, with training even more incomplete than his, setting up a Jedi Academy on Yavin IV, seeking to train a selection of Force-Sensitives including, most promisingly, a prideful leader from a dying world, who ranted about a "dark man", attacked Luke, was not reprimanded, and then was found burned to death in his room.
Meanwhile, Han and Chewbacca got sent to the prison world Kessel, where they picked up a lucky, prideful young man named Kyp Durron, escaped with him, and found their way to the Maw, a secret Imperial installation where superweapons were designed and made. There they stole the Sun Crusher, a tiny indestructible ship that can blow up stars, and broke out, in the mean time cluing in the Maw's carefully isolated defensive armadas to the fact that the Rebellion had won. The leader of the Maw's forces was Natasi Daala, characterized by being a rare woman in the Imperial military, by being prideful, by getting as far as she did by being Tarkin's lover, and by being wildly incompetent.
While Daala waged war, Kyp was brought to Yavin to pitch the Sun Crusher into a gas giant, and it turned out he was Force-Sensitive. Extremely so, in fact. The dark man started training him. Turns out the dark man is the long-dead spirit of Exar Kun, Dark Lord of the Sith, who'd been trapped on Yavin for four thousand years. After snapping at a student who was filking about one of Exar Kun's Jedi opponents and generally being a jerk, Kyp waited until Mara Jade swung by, stole her ship, yanked the Sun Crusher out of its gas giant, and flew away in it, supposedly to fight Daala, destroying entire systems in the process. At some point Luke was put into a sort of coma, able to astral-project but not able to speak to anyone.
Kyp, looking for his brother, swung by the Imperial training academy, a world with twenty-five million inhabitants, and made its star go supernova when they didn't immediately give in to his demand. Turns out his brother was still alive, was being the operative word. Oops.
Han Solo tracked Kyp down and Kyp threatened him while Exar Kun moved openly, influencing one of the students to try to kill Luke. The other students stopped him, then apparently destroyed Exar Kun. Kyp surrendered to Han, then they went to the Maw and pitched the Sun Crusher into a black hole where it really couldn't be retrieved. Then Kyp was shuttled back to the Jedi Academy to continue his training.
That's an abbreviated summary, of course. There were other plots in there, like a traitorous ambassador, Mon Mothma's illness, and Daala's various failures. All in all, while it has its defenders, the Jedi Academy trilogy is not exactly held up as the shining example of what the Expanded Universe should be.
I, Jedi, as a novel, had a lot of firsts. First novel to be entirely written in first-person perspective. First novel to have as its hero a character who was never featured or even mentioned in the films. First novel to directly retcon events in a previously written book. I, Jedi starts just before the beginning of the Academy Trilogy, encompasses the events of the Jedi Academy Trilogy, and extends a bit beyond.
Corran Horn, Rogue Nine, found himself with a psychic wound when his wife vanished while up against the Invids, an Imperial sect that includes Force-Sensitives. Luke coaxed him into being part of the new Jedi Academy, and Corran accepted after disguising himself, since as Corran he's mildly famous and doesn't want extra attention. At the Academy, he was dismayed by a number of things, including the very lax discipline, Luke's refusal to tell anyone if what they were doing was wrong, his commanding officer falling for the scientist who designed the Death Star, and his own inability to move things with his mind, though as it turns out he could make people think things had moved (and he's so good at it that he could probably persuade the thing itself it's moved). He was further dismayed by Kyp, and Luke's focus on his new most promising student. The destruction of Carida was made into something horrifying and traumatic, Exar Kun's actual demise was drawn out and given a bit of thought, and Corran left in disgust when Kyp was welcomed back.
Then Corran went to his homeworld, Corellia, talked things over with his grandfather, and infiltrated some of the pirates who associated with the Invids, in the meantime picking up a Camaasi who was able to straighten out his morals. Eventually he chased all of the pirates off a planet with a campaign of intimidation, faced down the Sith-influenced Jedi sect called the Jensaari alongside Luke, and saved Mirax.
These books provide examples of:
- A Father to His Men: Luke
- A Million Is a Statistic: Kyp Durron used the Sun Crusher to kill a lot of people. But one of those was his brother, he felt bad about that, Han talked him out of being evil, and he almost died sticking the Sun Crusher into a black hole, so... let's bring him back to the Jedi Academy and work on that temper! In I, Jedi, this is what finally drives Corran Horn to quit. Pretty much every other book in the EU to have Kyp has his Karma Houdini brought up.
- Being Evil Sucks
- Big Damn Heroes: Mara Jade interrupts Exar Kun's Mind Rape of Corran with an awesome Shut UP, Hannibal moment.
- Bodyguard Crush: Wedge Antilles was Qwi Xux's bodyguard. Yes, for some reason a general was the bodyguard of a high-ranking ex-Imperial scientist. In I, Jedi Corran was horrified to discover Wedge developing feelings for Qwi and Qwi returning them, since it was terribly unprofessional and he didn't think it would work out at all - actually, he shipped Wedge with his old partner Iella. Of course, when Kyp Durron decided to traumatically destroy Qwi's memories, Wedge wasn't able to stop him.
- Brick Joke: In I, Jedi, Luke and Corran muse that Mirax and Mara are very similar to each other. Corran jokingly suggests that they should make sure the two women never meet. Fast forward a few years, Mirax finally meets Mara during the latter's wedding. The two become friends fast and Mara ends up becoming Mirax's temporary flying partner, which explains her conspicuous absence at Luke's side in the Young Jedi Knights saga.
- Canon Dis Continuity: I, Jedi has two references to Tatooine being Obi-Wan Kenobi's homeworld. While this was a reasonable inference at the time, unfortunately for Stackpole The Phantom Menace was released only one year later and contradicted it.
- There's also the fact that the mission on which Corran's grandfather died is said to have been sent out by the Jedi shortly after the end of the Clone Wars. Of course, the prequel films released since then show that the Jedi were wiped out/driven into hiding just before the end of the Clone Wars.
- The romance between Mara and Lando in the Jedi Academy trilogy was retconned into being a cover story in Hand of Thrawn, and given the links between I, Jedi and that duology, it's unsurprising that there's a brief nod to this Retcon in I, Jedi.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Oddly, I, Jedi has the lightsabre colours backwards - the Dark Jedi use blue ones and the lightside Jedi seem to use any colour but blue.
- Part of that might be an example of continuity marching on: Until Episode I, the idea that all dark Jedi and Sith used exclusively red lightsabers was Word of Dante, and many fans (apparently including Stackpole) found the idea silly and arbitrary given the rainbow of colors used by light-side Jedi (and ironic considering that the Sith are treacherous and individualist, while the Jedi are so effective because of their ability to work together harmoniously).
- The tendency for a dark Force user to use a red lightsaber is due to the fact that certain red synthetic gems channel Dark Side energy well. That, and it created a blade that had an extremely rare chance of breaking another lightsaber's blade.
- That wasn't established until 2002, four years after I, Jedi was written.
- Continuity Nod: This exchange between Leia and Ackbar in Dark Apprentice.
[Following an order from Ackbar to leave the shipyards entirely undefended]
Leia: "Is that wise, Admiral?"
Ackbar: "No, it is a trap."
- Convection, Schmonvection: Luke walks through lava to get a prospective student to believe in his power. He's using the Force to direct the heat away from him, at least.
- Earthshattering Kaboom: The Empire's training academy world, Carida, gets blasted into its component atoms courtesy of a supernova induced by the Sun Crusher. The Death Star Prototype later tries to do this to Kessel, but its targeting system is so badly screwed up that it actually ends up destroying the planet's moon.
- Which doesn't explain why the subsequent gravity warping from the loss of its' moon didn't destroy Kessel anyway...
- Even Evil Has Standards: According to Mara Jade, even the Emperor wouldn't use will-breaking illusions.
- Since we're discussing about Palpatine though, this cannot be a reliable statement.
- Every Man Has His Price: Played with in I, Jedi, ultimately subverted.
- Lava Adds Awesome: Luke Skywalker spontaneously develops the ability to walk on lava in the first book.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: You know, when you title the last novel in your trilogy Champions of the Force, it tends to remove some of the suspense from the story.
- Fix Fic: Stackpole uses I, Jedi to make the Jedi Academy trilogy more palatable. Note that I, Jedi also has lots of crossover with the Hand of Thrawn books by Timothy Zahn, which are even more of a Fix Fic for the whole EU.
- For the Evulz: The reason Remart was blasting travelers.
- General Failure: Admiral Daala
- Between the brain damage and the fact that Daala's background indicates that in the academy she was a brilliant ground combat tactician, perhaps her incompetence in space combat is justified. Had Tarkin made her a general and put her in charge of a Stormtrooper legion, she probably would've done a good job. But Tarkin needed her in a position where she could be hidden from his wife, so he had to make her an admiral and station her at a secret facility.
- Good Cop, Bad Cop: Happens in I, Jedi, and the bad cop is Luke Skywalker himself.
- And it's HILARIOUS.
- Good Feels Good: There's a couple of moments in I, Jedi where characters describe The Force as feeling like every positive feeling they've ever experienced.
- Gundamjack: Kyp with the Sun Crusher, complete with dealing with its designer.
- Happily Married: Corran and Mirax
- Ho Yay: About half a page in Dark Apprentice is dedicated to a man-hug between Luke and Wedge. Also, drinking game: Shot of Wyren's Reserve whenever anyone, both men and women, mentions how handsome Kyp is.
- Hurl It Into the Sun: What the New Republic decides to do with the Sun Crusher, although they picked a gas giant instead of a sun. At the end of the trilogy, Kyp hurls it into a black hole, where it cannot be retrieved from.
- The fairly lame suggestion by the New Republic Council that a gas giant would be good enough seemed to be deliberately implying that at least some of them were hoping that someday they'd be able to retrieve the Sun Crusher and use it against the Empire once political opposition to using an Imperial superweapon died down.
- Informed Ability: Daala's supposedly magnificent military strategies that caught the eye of Tarkin in the past.
- Blame her head injury shortly before Tarkin's death.
- There's also the fact that her military strategies that caught Tarkin's eye were all related to ground combat (she was an Army officer). Tarkin then had the brilliant notion of moving her to the Navy and putting her in charge of a small flotilla of spaceships.
- Blame her head injury shortly before Tarkin's death.
- Karma Houdini: Kyp
- Lampshading: I Jedi is an ode to Lampshading.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Luke has about a dozen students. While the others will get characterization in future works, only about four or five actually have a personality right now. Some of them weren't even named in the trilogy.
- Mind Rape: Kyp does this to Qwi. She actually ends up liking it, because it erases her knowledge of superweapons like the Death Star, ensuring that she can never be forced to design another one.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Kyp, once confronted by Han.
- Never a Self-Made Woman: Often taken as the reason why Daala became Admiral.
- Kind of confirmed in Death Star, where she's Tarkin's lover and he privately believes that the boost he gave her career is just enough to get her past the difficulties female Imperials have in the military. She takes brain damage in that novel.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Exar Kun wasn't dormant, precisely, since he bred monsters, but an academy of semitrained Jedi was exactly what the pharmacist prescribed to get him back into intergalactic affairs.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Subverted: The Maw does have a prototype Death Star hanging around...
- Pride: You may have noticed that many of the characters introduced for the trilogy are prideful.
- Posthumous Character: Exar Kun's been dead for 4,000 years.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Exar Kun.
- Selective Squeamishness Suppression: Corran is fine with inspecting the burned corpse of Gantoris. Carida's destruction, though, shakes him up severely and makes him throw up. Granted, 25 million deaths is quite a bit worse than just one, but most people would have a more intense reaction to actually seeing the horrible death of someone they know that to finding out that many people they don't know have died.
- On the other hand, he started off as a cop who probably saw worse bodies. Having the death blow of a star system run though your soul, though...
- Smug Snake: Ambassador Furgan, Moruth Doole, Tol Sivron. Daala's one too, but the book insists on trying to foist her off on us as a Magnificent Bastard.
- Take That: Stackpole does this to Anderson. Repeatedly.
- The Obi Wrong: Luke.
- Villain Decay: Exar Kun was a more effective villain in the Tales of the Jedi comics. The fact that he was alive in those comics probably helped.
- We Will Not Use Stage Make-Up in the Future: Subverted. Disguising his identity, Corran grows a beard and uses hair dye. Hair dye which he initially misuses, making all of his hair green and forcing him to call his old partner for help.
- It gets better. The hair dye is actually a gel which is slathered on all over the body to get all the hair, such as eyebrows and the stuff on your arms. But Corran didn't do it in stages, and left it too long, and he turns his skin as well as his hair green.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Kyp plays this straight. He'll do anything to end the Imperial tyranny, including killing Luke and committing genocide. Exar Kun literally getting into his head and encouraging him to always take the course with the highest body count doesn't help.
- What Have I Become?: Corran wonders this after Kerilt. He knows he's not a monster, at least, but he doesn't know who he really is, what side of his heritage to follow.
- What You Are in the Dark: If Corran sleeps with Tavira, his ego(and other things) get stroked, she, the leader of the group he's infiltrating, won't be suspicious of him, and he can get closer to finding his wife. Ethically, it's just part of the deception; Mirax is the love of his life and he really would do anything to save her. Plus, Tavira really hates rejection and might well have him killed. But would he really be doing this out of a genuine desire to endure anything for Mirax, or would it be a matter of pride? Eventually Corran takes a third option.
- Who DARES?!: Exar Kun, the Star Wars equivalent of a Sith Dastardly Whiplash, says it word-for-word to a thoroughly unimpressed Mara Jade.
"More like who cares."