- Colleen McMillan
Colleen’s Book Corner: NJO: Dark Journey
Author: Elaine Cunningham
Published February 2002
Set 27 ABY
First and only warning: DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU HAVEN’T READ STAR BY STAR.
Where Do We Go After Tragedy?
This book was an interesting follow-up to Star By Star, the previous heart-wrenching novel in this series. Focusing on Jaina Solo and her reactions to the Myrkr mission’s tragedies, the novel is a very quick read, one of the shortest NJO books. And it easily could’ve been longer. My one gripe with the book was that the ending felt very rushed. We’d jump from one character to the next within a single chapter, but the character would be in an entirely different place, sometimes much farther along in the timeline than after the last section. Jaina and Kyp Durron would be on-planet one instant then in space in the middle of a battle the next. It was jarring and took me out of the story, since I had to reorient myself. If this had happened once, I’d be okay with it, but the last hundred pages read like a sprint with weird rest stops. I WANTED the book to be longer and wasn’t sure if a lot of material was cut in the editing process or if Cunnigham was told she needed to wrap things up.
Jaina Gets the Spotlight
Jaina as a character deserved her own novel; she deserved room to breathe. Not only was Anakin killed on their mission, but Jacen was taken captive. Jaina became the de facto leader of the operation, and she couldn’t fight the swelling darkness within. And she didn’t want to. There was so much excellent character work accomplished in the first 3/4s of the book that the ending really pissed me off. She needed way more time to grapple with her visions and dark side temptation. I loved where the author was taking Jaina and wanted more. Her cleverness when dealing with the Yuuzhan Vong was creative and earned more page time. I hope it comes up in the next novels. Watching her grapple with her “feelings” for Jagged Fel was also a treat. Get a room already, you two!
Long Live the Matriarchy!
I also wanted to spend more time with the Hapes contingent. “Queen Mother of Hapes Thorns” Ta’a Chume, her son Isolder, and Jedi knight Tenel Ka should also have their own book. The deadly courtly drama surrounding them was fascinating and dramatic, giving the book something different from the usual Star Wars. And it was a matriarchy! That was something we REALLY don’t see often in this galaxy. I’m sure we’ll see some of these characters again, and perhaps Hapes will be kinder to Jedi in the future. They could help turn the war’s tide.
Final Thoughts: 7/10 Lightsabers
And I see what you’re doing, NJO coordinators: stop trying to make me like Kyp! He’s still an arrogant dillhole who gets his people into trouble that only he can get out of because he’s a damn Jedi!
I really enjoyed Cunningham’s take on these characters. She did excellent work with the palace shenanigans and further developed Jaina’s role in the series. I just wish she had more room to let Jaina soar.