Fate of the Jedi
Yes, Fate of the Jedi is finally over. Three years ago Aaron Allston sent us off in Outcast. With Apocalypse, Denning brought us back home. We have seen Luke Skywalker become an outlaw excommunicated from his Jedi Order. We have seen his son, Ben Skywalker, fall in love with a Sith girl named Vestara Khai. But most significantly, we have seen the terror that is Abeloth; a tentacled Force being capable of driving young Jedi insane, incorporating multiple bodies simultaneously, and literally changing the landscape of the worlds she inhabits.
To judge the series, one has to compare it to its counterparts. When it comes to series in the Expanded Universe, there are numerous ones to choose from, and many of them are trilogies. But it wouldn’t be fair to compare Fate of the Jedi to a trilogy written by one author. To be fair, there’s only one other Star Wars series that Fate of the Jedi can be compared to and that’s Legacy of the Force. Like Fate of the Jedi, Legacy of the Force created a central villain for the a series that caused turmoil for the entire Jedi Order and the galaxy at large. Both series were nine books long and done by three authors. They each had subplots, mystical Force elements, and a strong focus on Jedi, especially Ben Skywalker. Yet the differences between the two series is where Fate of the Jedi really shines.
One difference that I really enjoyed between the two was the stronger emphasis in FOTJ on the Jedi themselves. The authors devoted page time to almost every important Jedi Master and Jedi Knight. Fans of the NJO were rewarded with Raynar, Lowbacca, Tahiri and Tekli. The members of the Jedi Council were finally listed in full. Plus throughout the series, a new cadre of Jedi were introduced. While these new Jedi will need to be fleshed out further in future novels, the seed was certainly planted for a new era.
Of the new Jedi introduced, Bazel ‘Barv’ Warv was without a doubt the most fully developed. Unfortunately he also met his doom. Both the LOTF and FOTJ series dealt with character deaths. The most lamented deaths in LOTF included Gilead Pellaeon, Jacen Solo, and Mara Jade Skywalker. Many fans felt that those deaths were unnecessary and even damaged future novels by eliminating fan favorite characters. Jacen and Mara had been around for a long time. Their sudden absence from the EU created voids. It also changed the relationships of well established characters like Luke, Han, Leia, and Jaina. Without Mara, there could be no happy Skywalker family novel. The same could be argued with Jacen. Of even more importance the Jedi Order lost a very important and powerful Jedi, one who could have served, possibly even led, a future Jedi Council.
In contrast to those character deaths, Barv’s death in particular was very well done. His character was fully fleshed out in the series. Through nine books, readers had a chance to enjoy the character and get attached to him. That build up certainly made his death more poignant. His death also served a purpose. Rather than being another statistic for the kill counter, his death laid a new foundation in the development of Allana. Allana and Barv were very close friends, and his death happened right before her eyes. More than that, she fought along side him, and even on top of him, in his last moments. That final bond will be something that will always stick with her. Barv’s death provided a sense of depth to Allana’s character that was previously missing. It also gives future writers something to work with when writing Allana in new novels. While Barv could have gone on in new books as a fun Jedi to read about, his potential was limited. By killing him off, his potential was magnified vicariously.
Perhaps FOTJ’s strongest achievement is the new possibilities it has opened for the future. When LOTF ended, readers were left with a rather sad looking EU. Luke had lost his wife and his nephew. Jaina had to kill her own brother. Ben was without a mom. The galaxy was ravaged by another conflict and it’s recovery was now in the hands of a crazy ex-Imperial admiral. FOTJ, on the other hand, left things on a more positive note. Jaina is now getting married. The GA have a trustworthy leader. Ben and Luke have established a good father-son relationship. Furthermore the Jedi have some unfinished work before them. Someone needs to go rescue Raynar. There are the Ten Knights off in search of the Mortis Monument. Lastly, the Jedi have to clean up what remains of the Sith, be they on Coruscant, Kesh, or where ever the One Sith are hiding out.
The open ended resolutions also created some breathing room between the novels and the impending events of the Legacy comics. We know at some point Jag will probably become Emperor and that the Imperial Knights will be created. Yet by freeing Jag of those responsibilities for the moment, it allows the authors more freedom. Instead of being tied down as a leader, he now has the freedom to go off on adventures with Jaina. We also know the One Sith will be working toward their ultimate goal of galactic domination. However, Darth Krayt’s existence is no longer hands off. Luke knows he exists so the question is what will Luke do now and how will Krayt avoid capture and elimination. Rather than contradicting the path the Legacy comics have created or shackling itself too soon, FOTJ has broadened that road into something that offers the premise of excitement and possibility. As they say, sometimes the fun isn’t in the destination, but in how you get there.
In the end, I thought Fate of the Jedi was vastly superior to it’s predecessor. The authors kept a fairly consistent story going that gave plenty of attention to Jedi we hadn’t seen in action in quite sometime, sometimes ever. The series handled character deaths much better than Legacy of the Force, while laying down a new generation of Jedi Knights and Masters. It tied together with the comics and the The Clone Wars television show while simultaneously opening the doors for the future. While not perfect, Fate of the Jedi was still a fun ride and one of the better series in the EU, be it the Bantam or Del Rey era. Looking back, I’d say Fate of the Jedi was a gamble that paid off and well worth a four out of five metal bikinis.