Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > Champions of the Force

Champions of the Force by Kevin J. Anderson
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Jumbled plot lines abruptly end, making this book feel like a messy Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

We open the final book in the Jedi Academy Trilogy with many open plot threads. Kyp Durron is on the run with the Sun Crusher, Han in pursuit to try to reel the boy back in. Chewbacca and Wedge head off to the Maw Cluster to take it over. Leia is appointed Chief of State, and the Jedi students must find a way to bring Luke back from his Force induced coma and defeat Dark Lord Exar Kun.
NOTE: Again, I listened to the audiobook, but have read the book in the past, though too long ago for me to remember perfectly.

I Liked:
First mention goes to Chewbacca, who actually has a job in this book besides standing by Han and moaning incomprehensibly! Kudos to Anderson to putting our Wookiee friend in charge of his own commandos! At first, it seemed an odd move, but ultimately, I liked how he was used (not sure why C-3PO had to be sent also, unless it was to translate) and showed that he could be used in more versatile roles.
Second place goes to Kyp Durron, whose Dark Side arc continues to be interesting. I enjoyed seeing his rise and fall, to see his thought process and how he wants to destroy the Empire (but ends up destroying the one he loved instead!).
Also, while it does go overboard, Tol Sivron and his cohorts on the Maw Installation made for amusing reading.

I Didn't Like:
There are so many aggravating, annoying things about this book! I almost don't know where to begin.
The characters haven't changed from Jedi Search and Dark Apprentice. Luke is still completely stupid. Ackbar is still whiny. Leia doesn't do much more than dump her kids on other people and run around the galaxy doing Mon Mothma's job. Wedge and Qui make me want to yell at them to get a room (thank God that relationship was retconned). Admiral Daala continuously proves that she should never have been given command of a turtle, much less several Star Destroyers. At least Han and Lando aren't gambling the Falcon every other sentence. I just wish Lando's feelings for Mara weren't so obvious and gag worthy. And that the characters didn't constantly quote themselves. Every other word out of their mouths was "I have a bad feeling about this", "This deal is gettin' worse" and "Don't tell me the odds".
Most of the problems I have with this book are in relation to the plots and how they are wrapped up.
For instance, the Jedi Academy faces off with Exar Kun. This is an interesting idea...but quickly, I start seeing problems.
Number One: Luke is only be able to communicate with his two year old niece and nephew. Why can he only communicate to toddlers who have absolutely no Jedi training? Why couldn't he communicate with Streen or Kirana Ti or Kam, whom he has been training for some weeks/months? Why would he try to communicate with two kids who can barely talk themselves?
Number Two: Jacen, the two year old son of Han and Leia, wields a lightsaber against a two headed beast. I thought that people tended to protect children, but obviously, I'm wrong. Also, I would think that a toddler would be unable to handle the forces of the blade regardless of Luke's helping him (Han certainly had a hard time), but again, I must be wrong. And what idiot caretaker thought it would be acceptable to put a child in such a compromising position? Han and Leia need to sue Luke, Cilghal, and all those Jedi when they return. Of course, if Han and Leia hadn't been irresponsible and out of character they wouldn't have dumped their twins on Yavin 4 with Luke (who was in a coma) in the first place. I can tell Han and Leia are shapening up to be wonderful parents. Not.
Number Three: Cilghal, the newest arrival to the Praxeum, becomes the de facto leader. I would have placed bets that Kam or Streen would have risen to lead in Luke's absence.
Number Four: The whole Exar Kun plot line was way too quickly and too easily wrapped up. The Jedi just circle around him, say they won't back down, and POOF! Exar Kun is destroyed! Wow, that was easy! So much for that Super Powered, Really Scary Sith Lord that killed one Jedi student and turned another into a genocidal Dark Sider.
And what's worse than HOW it was wrapped up was HOW QUICKLY it was wrapped up. The end of the Exar Kun plot was about 1/4th of the way through the book! We had a climax, and a denouement...and then, let's move on to our next plot thread to wrap up! And people blame Return of the King for having too many denouements!
The whole Anoth plot bugged the heck out of me. Anakin and the twins were placed there, a place only three people knew about (Winter, Luke, and ACKBAR???), to keep themselves from the Dark Side? This just sounds crazy! Who built the compound? Did Ackbar bring them in then kill them like the Empire would have? Lastly, this plot just put a spotlight on Han and Leia that I hated: that they would drop their kids on anyone (Winter, nanny droid, Jedi students they barely know) at the drop of a hat to go off and doing something "more exciting" and "important". Again, so much for being parents, if any of their kids keep from heading down the Dark Side, it would be a miracle.
Kyp Durron returns to the Light Side...just because he has to. He had a really great story going, and then Anderson went, "Shoot, I have to wrap this up fast!" and just wrote a pell-mell ending for Kyp. That has to be the only reason why Kyp was allowed to go scot-free with the murder of an entire system (the Carida system) and several other planets. Either that, or the New Republic is more corrupt than the Old Republic.
After these THREE threads are over, we STILL have to wrap up the Maw Installation, Moruth Doole, and the Daala threads! Good heavens, this book has more endings than The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King (Platinum Series Special Extended Edition). At least in that movie, they had a reason to end that way (it was like the book), and it all happened in the last half hour. Here, we wade through nearly a whole book of endings. I had that "done" feeling and then had to read more endings. It was tiring and hard to maintain momentum.
I love how this New Republic works too. Mon Mothma can just pass down her office to Leia. No vote, no line of succession, nothing. Why did was the New Republic created again? To give people freedom, right? So why can't the people vote on their Chief of State? Heck, when Obama was elected, they had a whole special election for the Senator of Illinois! Another questionable aspect of the New Republic: Leia at one point "reasons, cajoles, and shames" people into letting Luke deal with Kyp. And how is the New Republic different than the Empire? Oh, right, the Republic is freedom--freedom for the Skywalkers and Solos, that is. Must be why Kyp Durron can murder an entire world and get a slap on the wrist.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Tame to none.
Ditto.
Big space battle explosions, people die, it's Star Wars.

Overall:
Anderson had some amazing ideas. The Jedi Academy. The Maw Installation. Heck, trying to create a female Imperial who DOESN'T turn to the New Republic at the first sight of a man...I mean, drop of a helmet. But ultimately, I think he failed in one big way: in tying all these ends together in a cohesive story. This book felt like one long ending after another. Finish if you must, but I don't think it's all that critical.
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