Luke Skywalker and Han Solo return to desert planet Tatooine so Callista can regain the Force and her link and love for Luke. Trio join Leia, Chewbacca, Artoo, Threepio, and new knights. Durga Hutt, galaxy warlord, rebuilds Death Star superweapon as Darksaber. Lovely Admiral Daala and Pellaeon, second to Thrawn, marshal Imperial forces against Jedi.
Yes, I have a lot of books, and if this is your first visit to my amazon author page, it can be a little overwhelming. If you are new to my work, let me recommend a few titles as good places to start. I love my Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. series, humorous horror/mysteries, which begin with DEATH WARMED OVER. My steampunk fantasy adventures, CLOCKWORK ANGELS and CLOCKWORK LIVES, written with Neil Peart, legendary drummer from Rush, are two of my very favorite novels ever. And my magnum opus, the science fiction epic The Saga of Seven Suns, begins with HIDDEN EMPIRE. After you've tried those, I hope you'll check out some of my other series.
I have written spin-off novels for Star Wars, StarCraft, Titan A.E., and The X-Files, and I'm the co-author of the Dune prequels. My original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series and the Nebula Award-nominated Assemblers of Infinity. I have also written several comic books including the Dark Horse Star Wars collection Tales of the Jedi written in collaboration with Tom Veitch, Predator titles (also for Dark Horse), and X-Files titles for Topps.
I serve as a judge in the Writers of the Future contest.
My wife is author Rebecca Moesta. We currently reside near Monument, Colorado.
Okay, so it's fairly obvious (to those who have been keeping track of my recent reading list) that I've been on a Star Wars reading kick. My goal (unrealistic as it is) is to eventually have ALL of the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels (post-Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, that is. While I have read a few Old Republic and Clone Wars novels, I'm not as enthralled by them as I am with the New Republic, New Jedi Order, and Legacy novels.) before the new J.J. Abrams film arrives in theaters in December, if for no other reason than because it would be a fun if completely dubious achievement.
Clearly, the place to start with this is the "Thrawn" trilogy by Timothy Zahn, a series I read years ago and loved. While I remember some of that series, my memory fails when it comes to the details. Perhaps someday I will return to that trilogy for a re-read. In any case, Zahn's series helped to jumpstart the whole Expanded Universe, inviting a whole slew of authors to join in the fun by adding their own flavor and ideas to the universe created by George Lucas.
The Thrawn trilogy was followed by a trilogy written by Kevin J. Anderson. In that series, Luke has started up a new Jedi Academy on Yavin 4. Meanwhile, a new threat arises against the New Republic: an ill-tempered ginger named Admiral Daala, who has the distinction of being the first and only female Admiral in the Imperial fleet. She's a total bad-ass. I remember really liking that series, as well, but, again, my memory is a bit hazy on the details. There was something about the ghost of an evil Sith Lord who tries to possess Luke at some point, I think. And a new weapon called a Sun Crusher that, well… seriously, if you can't figure out what it does then you really shouldn't be reading at all…
In between those series were a few stand-alone novels. Dave Wolverton's "The Courtship of Princess Leia" was, in my opinion, pretty ghastly. Barbara Hambly's "Children of the Jedi" was decent, although fans across the board have lambasted it.
"Darksaber" was the novel published immediately after "Children of the Jedi", I think. Anderson returns as the author of this one, and it may be due to the fact that the previous two authors made a mess of things, so he was invited back to clear things up, which he does, nicely.
"Darksaber" is (almost) everything one comes to expect from a Star Wars novel: exciting, action-packed, fun, and with just the right amount of pathos and comedy to even things out.
Anderson carries on a few story lines started in "COTJ", most notably the love story between Luke and Callista, a former Jedi Knight who died, was a ghost trapped in the computer of an Imperial dreadnought, and returned to life by inhabiting the body of another Jedi. (Go ahead, roll your eyes. It's as silly trying to explain it as it was reading it…) Anyway, somehow in the transition of bodies, Callista lost her ability to use the Force.
Luke and Callista fly off together to revisit various places (Tattooine, Dagobah, and Hoth) where Luke thinks he can contact either Yoda or Obi-Wan for advice on Callista's "condition".
President Leia Organa Solo is conducting negotiations with Durga the Hutt, but it's not going so well. Unbeknownst to her and the New Republic, Durga has recruited Bevel Lemelisk, one of the original architects of the Death Star, to create a new weapon, one that will be as powerful as the Death Star but hopefully minus the weak spots.
Meanwhile, far out in the deep reaches of space, Admiral Daala (who was thought to be dead by the New Republic) is rebuilding the Empire by reunifying the fleet and, unlike the Old Empire under Palpatine, including non-humans and females as officers and soldiers.
Anderson's story is told at such a break-neck pace one may get whiplash. Cleverly tying in many loose ends and story lines from previous novels, "Darksaber" is, in my opinion, one of the best of the post-ROJ Expanded Universe novels.
Despite all the critical drubbing he seems to get, I usually enjoy the writings of Kevin J. Anderson. Whether it was his Jedi Academy trilogy, or his DC-Comics-based works (The Last Days of Krypton, Enemies and Allies), I almost always thought they were better than others did. However, as much as I hate to say it, this one was yet another disappointment from the Star Wars expanded universe. Only somewhat interesting, a bit hard to follow, lacking in action...that's not what I want from a space opera novel.
Content Concerns: Two or three profanities, and some slight violence.
For 2020, I decided to reread (in publication order) all the Bantam-era Star Wars books that were released between 1991 and 1999; that shakes out to 38 adult novels and 5 anthologies of short stories & novellas.
This week’s focus: Darksaber by Kevin J. Anderson.
Barely six months after Children of the Jedi introduced Callista, the great love of Luke’s life, Darksaber was released to explain their break-up. We have another great cover by Drew Struzan, although this marks the fourth book from 1995 that has Leia in her white ESB garb on the cover. Darksaber made it to number twelve on the New York Times bestseller list for the week of October 29, 1995, and was on the NYT list for three weeks.
MY RECOLLECTION OF THE BOOK:
My memories of this book were not of the book itself, but instead of how vehemently it was hated on theForce.net message boards. I remembered the Callista plotline pretty well, but had blanked on all the Hutt intrigue. I knew Daala was in this book solely because of a piece of artwork that depicts her poisoning all the warlords.
A BRIEF SUMMARY:
The Hutts are up to something! Princess Leia and Han Solo head to Nal Hutta to figure out what they’re plotting, while Luke Skywalker and Callista set off on a vacation/road trip to unlock her Force abilities. Meanwhile, Admiral Daala has limped her way to the Core Worlds and is consolidating her base of power...
The gang’s all here, and they’re not particularly interesting. Anderson doesn’t pay much attention to the political side of Leia’s character, so other than meeting with Durga the Hutt twice (on Coruscant and on Nal Hutta) she doesn’t do much as the Chief of State. Han’s worried about Luke. Luke’s worried about Callista. Chewbacca gets to go off on his own mission for a chapter at most.
There is little trace of the funny, good-humored Callista from Children of the Jedi. The disappearance of her Force abilities becomes the single most important facet of her character, to the detriment of everything else. What if she and Luke have children and they can’t use the Force? She needs the Force to be Luke’s equal! (I absolutely do not understand this. No one thinks less of Han because he’s not Force sensitive. And Han and Leia’s children, despite possessing a non-Force sensitive parent and a flipping Skywalker parent, are all talented. This seems like a non issue.)
After maybe a year of Jedi training, Kyp Durron is now a full-fledged Jedi Knight! (Luke’s Jedi academy seems to offer very abbreviated instruction before you get your diploma and are shoved out into the greater galaxy.) He’s still a bundle of anger, though, which puzzles me; Callista’s huge drawback is that while she can’t use the Light Side of the Force, she can access the Dark Side. Luke is obviously very opposed to it. But Kyp is still running around, very close to boiling point, and appears outright enraged at times. How is that not the Dark Side??
Daala returns. I would say that she learned from her mistakes in the Jedi Academy trilogy, except that during the Yavin IV battle she reverts back to old Daala--firing wildly, hitting her own ships, making a mess. I usually love messes, but Daala possesses too many Mary Sue qualities (the hair, the high rank) for me to root for her. She’s in league with Pellaeon, who seems very unlike his Thrawn trilogy self. Did he really lose all his self confidence after Thrawn died? What happened to the Chimaera, and why is he working for a warlord? This is the first book appearance, though, of his bushy mustache, which I believe originated in the Thrawn trilogy comics. The more you know!
Durga is boring to me. In an interview, Anderson said that the Hutt superweapon plot was inspired by the development with nuclear weapons in the Cold War; at first only the United States and the Soviets had nukes, but then it trickled down to others. I can see what he’s going for, but it’s still not interesting--the Hutts are so tragically cheap and inept that the concept that the New Republic views them as an actual threat baffles me.
I would say “Poor General Madine,” but instead I’m left wondering why he infiltrated the Darksaber practically all alone? He organized the Endor mission, but he didn’t actually go on it. And his death seemed a direct consequence of his poor planning. Farewell Crix, we barely knew you.
Wedge and Qwi Xux are still dating. I’m not sure what they see in each other, but I guess “I find this person attractive” can be reason enough.
This book is overlong, and filled with enough unnecessary scenes that it felt like Anderson was padding for length. There was absolutely no reason for this book to have 63 chapters.
The climax goes back and forth between the Yavin IV battle, and Wedge versus the Darksaber. Daala’s attack is exciting, and people die (poor Dorsk 81), and it doesn’t look good. But we keep cutting back to the other battle, which is not as thrilling. It’s obvious that the Darksaber is not going to work, and so its eventual demise (crushed between two asteroids after failing to fire its superlaser) falls flat.
Darksaber also feels a bit like a tired reunion tour to me: we start out with Han and Luke on Tatooine, breaking into Jabba’s palace to investigate rumors of Hutt schemes. Luke and Callista go to Dagobah and Hoth on their vacation/road trip; the Hutts are constructing the Darksaber in the Hoth Asteroid Belt. Sometimes Star Wars authors fall back on movie locations to create an instant sense of familiarity, but this felt like too much retread. Luke says he wants to show Callista his Jedi journey, but their time on Dagobah and Hoth are exactly the same: they talk, they get attacked by something (bats on Dagobah; wampas on Hoth), they leave. They almost freeze to death; they go back to Yavin IV; Callista goes off on her suicide run. Why couldn’t they visit Chad, Callista’s homeworld, or Bespin, the last place she saw her Master? Why not some planet that Callista knew was important to the Jedi? Why is this road trip FOR Callista so specifically tailored to Luke’s past?
And I find Callista’s attitude in this book baffling. At the end of Children of the Jedi, I got the sense that she was sad that her Force abilities were gone, and confused, like she had lost one of her five senses. But she still has so much knowledge of the old Jedi, and Luke specifically asks if she can teach them what she knows. By Darksaber, however, she’s not teaching. During the Yavin IV battle, she feels like she’s not needed or helpful. What has she been doing all this time? And why did Anderson choose to focus on what she lacked, what she had in the past? This is not healthy behavior! Callista talks a lot of crap about not being worthy of Luke, which is complete bull.
Also! Why does no one think about whether the absence of her powers is a direct consequence of what she did to be reembodied? Tionne mentions the story of Ulic Qel-Droma, but that’s not a direct analogue--the Jedi forcibly stripped him of his powers, but the Force itself seems to have done this to Callista. I found her decision at the end of Children of the Jedi to have unsettling moral implications, which apparently no one in the Bantam era wanted to touch.
Darksaber wraps up Callista’s plotline, as well as Daala’s. A lot happens here, so much so that it feels like a bloated, over-the-top mess. I can’t forgive Anderson for turning Callista into a mopey milksop, and for focusing an inordinate amount of time on the Hutt superweapon. Ultimately skippable, IMO.
Something is afoul in the Hutt camp, and the New Republic sends Han and Luke to Tatooine to sniff it out. They discover that Durga has codes for secret New Republic information. Meanwhile, Daala attempts to unify the Empire and strike out at the heart of the New Republic. NOTE: Years ago, I read this book, and recently listened to the audio version.
I Liked: I know a huge complaint about this book is how it deals with yet another superweapon (the third for Anderson). While I am no fan of this plot device, I did like how the Hutts were the bad guys this time and not so much the Empire. The Hutts have been rather unexplored since perhaps Return of the Jedi. There are more enemies to the New Republic than just the Empire, and this is one of the first times we get to see one. I even liked how the Darksaber was built and "destroyed". Sure, it ended with the needless death of a Star Wars character (SPOILER: Crix Madine). But that is how life is. Sometimes life ends up with needless deaths. And at least Anderson had the gumption to kill off one of the characters from the movies. It took till Vector Prime for someone else to have enough chutzpah to do it again. But back to the Darksaber's destruction, it was because Durga got hasty, refused to do the double checking his top engineers told him to do (because they ARE the experts after all), and just fired. Nice touch of real life, if you ask me (customers do sometimes act that way after all). Daala finally gets a chance to be successful. She even remarks, early on, how she was a failure and an embarrassment because she didn't think things through, she just acted on anger instead of strategy. The way she is able to unite the disparate faction of the Empire was exciting and a good tribute to her. Finally, she is allowed to win! I've heard some things about where she ends up in the Legacy series and I could sort of believe it now. Having Callista being separate from the Force is definitely an interesting concept, one I wish that was explored even more. I also liked the small bit where Tionne shows her disgust that Callista is alive and not Cray. Good work! We get a few new characters, or new light on old characters, which is really nice. Dorsk 81 gets a chance to buck the Cloning Blues and Bevel Lemelisk hearkens us back to the days of the Empire. Both were important and interesting aspects of the story.
I Didn't Like: But this doesn't mean Anderson's book is perfect, only better *gasp* than its predecessors, both the Jedi Academy Trilogy and Children of the Jedi (personally, it's pretty sad that this is the best of the so-called Callista trilogy). Anderson still can't quite get a handle on our Big Three. Han doesn't fair as badly, but Leia laughs about behaving like a spoiled brat to Durga (?!) and Luke acts like he skipped a dose of Vallium. And why is the civilian Qui Xux on a military craft? So she can canoodle Wedge when he's off-duty? Please! And while Daala is much better, she still has the strategical skills of a dandelion. As we saw in previous books, Anderson relies too much on superweapons to carry his novel through. What could have been an interesting look on the Force in Callista becomes yet another attempt to save the galaxy from the destruction of a huge superweapon. Yawn. Been there, done that, got the shirt. Also, Anderson again writes the Jedi as being far too powerful. The Academy students are able to Force Push 17 Star Destroyers? I hate to even bring this up, but even Galen Marek had trouble pushing ONE in The Force Unleashed, and even there, I didn't like the fact he could do anything at all! These guys have been training for all of, what, two years max and now they can push Star Destroyers out into the depths of space? I know "Size matters not" but, wow, just wow. My last complaint is Callista. I've never been a huge fan of hers, but at least in the previous book and in Traviss' work, she doesn't make me want to vomit. Here, all she does is whine about how she can't use the Force, claim to love Luke and yet blame him for her not being able to use the Force (?!). What kind of relationship is that? I know Anderson didn't create her and force her into this horrible, insanely rushed relationship in the first place (Hambly gets the credit for that one), but man, if he was aiming to make her disliked, he succeeded. After reading about her bemoaning losing the Force (which kinda doesn't make sense, how can she be devoid of the Force? Weren't the Yuuzhan Vong unique in that regard? Wouldn't Luke and the guys have had experience with the Vong after being around her?), I don't see how anyone could have wanted to cheer her on in a relationship with Luke. I could also complain about how she "saves the day" Mary Sue style, but I don't want to belabor the point.
Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence: Perhaps a d*** or h*** but nothing more. Qui Xux and Wedge are lovers. So are Luke and Callista. Daala kills a bunch of Imperial warlords. Luke and Callista are attacked by a wampa. Bevel has been killed more than once.
Overall: The second book in the "Callista trilogy", this isn't too bad--for brain candy. It's not the most brilliant work out there, but at least the characters aren't complete idiots and the story actually wraps up in a half-decent way. I definitely liked this more than Children of the Jedi, but considering how bad that book was, that isn't much of a compliment.
I'm only 12% in and this is already a 1 star book.
Here's why :
We spend the first couple of chapters with Han and Luke going back to Jabba's Palace. They discover that he had codes and passwords to access Palpatine's high security computers on Coruscant, and that someone came through the palace before them and now has these passwords.. They go back to Coruscant to (presumably) tell everyone in the New Republic administration about this obvious security risk.
Fast-forward to the chapter I'm currently reading, Han and Leia are welcoming a Hutt who wants to make peace. He carries a hundred little beasties telling everyone not to mind them and the natural, extremely curious nature. For some reason, no one considers them a security threat right there and then, merely an annoyance, but whatever. Said beasties eventually make their way to Palpatine's old computers and use the passwords to access high-confidentiality information about the New Republic.
So, what this hack of an author that is Kevin J. Anderson is telling us is that no one in the entire New Republic knows how to change a fucking password. They didn't change password when they took over Palpatine's turf, and they didn't change their passwords when Han came back and (presumably) told them about their passwords being leaked. As far as I can tell, the entire premise of this novel rests upon the fact that everyone in the galaxy is dumber than a sack of bricks.
(I'm reading through the Legends post-episode 6 stuff and am already dreading having to go through the Young Jedi Knights books knowing that KJA wrote them...hopefully, his co-author for that series smacked him upside the head whenever a glaringly stupid thing like this popped up in those books)
This is, sadly, a mess. The characters weren't too likable, the new ideas were simply preposterous (the hive-minded mammals were kind of stupid and seemed like a quick idea), and by the end I found myself cheering the Empire on although I knew in the back of my mind the "good guys" would win. Trust me, the protagonists aren't too nice and do some pretty merciless things, killing helpless Imperial underlings and pulling off ludicrous feats. The Jedi, who I have come to despise, manage to escape the main Imperial fortress without sustaining a scratch, Luke and his girl manage to get a stranded band of Wampa hunters killed without feeling a shred of regret, and a number of teenagers manage to PUSH an entire Imperial fleet away at the expense of only one individual (who I felt no sympathy for whatsoever). The book is just bad. At the end I was unhappy to see that Callista did not, in fact, die, and after this book I lost a lot of respect for Luke Skywalker.
I highly recommend avoiding this book. Star Wars seems to be a dying franchise.
This book is pretty darn terrible. Not even worth reviewing. If you're bored and have nothing else to read...go ahead. But I warned you. And if you read this book and liked it...good news...the Lucas people will be taking your money for years and years to come in exchange for very bad novels.
I have a history with Darksaber. I vividly recall: being about 12 years old, inside the Walden Books store in my local mall, and jumping out of my skin when I happened to see a book, a book! with the beloved Star Wars logo on it. I had never encounter one before; this was my introduction into the EU, now Legends, universe. I remember completely misunderstanding the blurb, being confused by the mention of a (the?) Death Star, and by the phrase "Han and Leia's twins" which I misread to mean Han and Leia were twins, so distracted was I by my intense excitement. I literally ran down the aisles, begged my parents to buy it full price for me, which they did....and now, years later looking at the same cover, the only thing I remembered before opening the cover was a character named Bevel and something terrible happens to his eyes.
Because I had such an intense memory around this novel, I really wanted to love it. But much like The Courtship of Princess Leia, it just wasn't as good as I remembered it. It wasn't that it was actively bad...it just never really got better than mediocre. At least now, unlike when I was 12, all the Callista stuff made sense. Anyway, here's my typical review.
Threat of the Day: Hutts, warlords, and deathstars, oh my! Durga the Hutt has hired one of the architects* of the original Death Star to build one for him. Durga's much like Jabba, cruel but silly. Lemelisk was a good avenue for interesting flashbacks, arguably some of the best use of flashbacks in Legends, but had no depth as a character in his own right.
*in Legends, their are 3 architects of the Death Star: Qwi Xux, the brainwashed and manipulated physicist who came up with the idea in a think tank; Lemelisk, the engineer who took Xux's idea and worked closely with Tarkin and Palpatine to build it; and Nasdra Magrody, who did something unspecified.
Meanwhile, in what feels more like bad timing than anything, "somehow alive" Daala is back from her latest suicide run to organize the Imperial remnants with Thrawn's toady Pellaeon. I liked Daala in Anderson's previous trilogy, and early on in the book it seems like she's going to be a great villain, but it just fizzles into all hype and no substance. She never actually villains, not to my satisfaction anyway. 3/10
Thirsty for Skywalker, You Are: Callista and Luke are trying to recover Callista's powers, but compared to their chemistry in Children of the Jedi this was a letdown. I wanted so much more! 2/10 Nerfs Herded
Best part: Seeing the Jedi pull an Ewok and attack the invading Imperials using various Force techniques was pretty cool.
Worst line: Durga frowned and glanced down at his control pad. "Oh," he said, "Sorry, wrong button." The smell of disintegrated flesh wafted through the bridge deck in greasy, sooty wisps from the collapsed body. "Well, let that be a lesson to you, then."
It took me a month to read this book. Not because it was long, but because every night I would pick it up, read a few pages, roll my eyes at the poor writing, then decide I’d read enough and went to sleep. I wanted to like this book, I really did. I wanted to come to the blog and say that Kevin J. Anderson had redeemed himself for the atrocious Jedi Academy trilogy (follow these links for my reviews of books I, II, and III.). But I just can’t.
Darksaber was bad.
Darksaber (1995) was written by Kevin J. Anderson as part of a loose trilogy (dubbed the Callista Trilogy because they involve Luke’s relationship with her) that started with Children of the Jedi and concludes with Planet of Twilight (both by Barbara Hambly). Durga the Hutt, one of the slug-like crime lords has decided to build a Death Star for himself so he can take over the galaxy. Admiral Daala from the Jedi Academy books is back and spearheads an Imperial Remnant push to take over the galaxy. Meanwhile, Luke wanders around the said galaxy with Callista trying to get her back her ability to use the Force. There really isn’t a Han/Leia story here, but that really doesn’t bug me as I would rather a book provide a good story than artificially shove characters in for marquee value.
I have tried three times to put coherent thoughts on paper, only to delete them. This review has puzzled me a bit because I want to try and convey my many issues with the book without descending into an absolute nerd rant.
Let’s talk about Crix Madine. If you’re a nerd, you know who he is. For the Normies out there, he was one of the Rebel Generals in Return of the Jedi who gives a briefing as the fleet prepares to assault the Second Death Star. I have many a happy memory of flying cover while a Rebel extraction team brought him safely off of Corellia in the N64 game Rogue Squadron.
Kevin J. Anderson has Madine set up as the Chief of Intelligence, the highest-ranking honcho in the whole government when it comes to spying. Madine spends the first part of the book on some of the ships in the Republic fleet participating in training exercises. He explains that Madine likes to keep his field skills sharp. Alright. Fine. I’ll accept this at face value. He’s the Chief of Intelligence but he wants to make sure he’s up on all the new ways of spying. But then Anderson does something incredibly stupid with Madine…he sends Madine on a secret mission. Wait. So the Chief of Intelligence is going out on covert ops? That doesn’t really make sense. That’s what agents are for. But wait, it gets better. No sooner have Madine and his two sidekicks departed on their mission than he does the whole “we’re not gonna be coming back from this one” internal monologue. So let’s wrap our heads around this. The Chief of Intelligence, the guy responsible the espionage activities of the entire (fragile) New Republic, thought it would be a good idea to assign himself a suicide mission. That would be like if Eisenhower had decided to go on a nice jog down Omaha beach the morning of D-Day. No leader in their right mind would do something this idiotic.
As a piece of storytelling, Darksaber is subpar. The story in this book just…happens. There are no twists or turns, no emotional roller coaster. Everything unfolds in a predictable way. The Hutts want to build a Superweapon. And indeed they do. The Empire wants to attack the Republic. And indeed they do. The Republic needs to fight back against the Empire and the Hutts. And indeed they do. I mean, that’s it. Anderson has ignored a cardinal rule of storytelling; readers want to be duped. We want betrayal. We want to be surprised. There were only one real plot twist in the story; it turns out a very minor character who, while working for Durga the Hutt, claimed to have been a great Imperial Officer, was actually a Private, and a failure at that. Alright. Neat character development. Would have been great if it mattered to the story in the slightest. The story moves on and it doesn’t matter if the guy had been a Private, a General, or a Dewback. He dies a few pages later, anyway, and not in any sort of ironic way that brought karmic balance to the fact that he lied.
It’s just frustrating that this book got written. It’s frustrating that after the atrocity that was the Jedi Academy books, LucasFilm decided to give Anderson more contracts. I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. I’m sure the man writes good books (he has over 150 novels to his name), but these aren’t them. I am so glad that Disney decided to delete this book from the annals of Star Warsdom. The storytelling is poor, the love story makes you want to vomit, and what it does with Star Wars characters is just sad. Avoid this book. It wasn’t as bad as the Jedi Academy books, but that’s only because this book was so much funnier than Anderson’s previous novels (by funny I mean you’ll be laughing at how much of a train wreck Darksaber really is). It’s not worth your time. I hope Kevin J. Anderson has a successful career writing his other books if for no other reason than that it keeps him from messing with my Star Wars anymore.
It should be illegal for Kevin J. Anderson to write about women.
This story suffers from a lot of lazy coincidences and loose narrative. While it would have been super exciting to learn more about the Hutts and their homeworld, KJA completely butchers their presence, totally missing the mark on their personality and delivery. The whole story just kinda brambles along with what seems like no real purpose. Things magically happen at the right time and everyone walks away happy, except apparently for a bunch of disposable characters (how many did KJA kill off, like 5?)
So, another big meh from KJA. I really wish he had never gotten involved with Star Wars.
(NOTE: At this time of reading, I had only read the "Heir to the Empire" trilogy as of post-Return of the Jedi.)
Even though I would later learn that this was supposed to be a middle book in a trilogy, this book provided the necessary contexts to stand on its own.
There were things I liked and things I disliked. Aside from Daala, her role in the Empire's story, and the Empire's story as a whole, nothing else really seemed to matter to me.
Overall, I'll give it a 4/10; I liked some characters, but the reasons for returning to this book are very few, especially since the title doesn't seem to fit the book's plot. Maybe it should have been split into two books...
---------SPOILERS--------- (After a first-reading) Han and Luke in the desert as Tuskens was interesting, but I was slightly bothered that when they tried to break off from the line of Raiders, they didn't think staying consistent by riding in single file to hide their numbers was a good idea.
Durga the Hutt was kind of meh; he wasn't menacing, he was just an annoyance that distracted from the true villain of this book: Daala.
-------Daala------- She, along with Pellaeon (which felt right considering his involvement in the Thrawn Trilogy) carried the evil in this book. Her attempts to reunite the Empire by bringing the generals together reminded me of the ruthlessness of the character Dedra in the "ANDOR" TV series. I loved every part with her and Palleon.
Honestly, had this entire book been about Daala, Pellaeon, their efforts to reunite the Imperial remnant, and they started the "Darksaber" project, I think the story would have carried more stakes (yes, it might echo "A New Hope" and Zahn's "Thrawn Trilogy", but it would have been more engaging. However, I am bothered by Daala's decision to launch a TIE fighter attack instead of trying orbital bombing. For one thing, in "Empire Strikes Back", the only reason the AT-ATs were sent to Hoth was because the Rebels activated a planetary shield generator. Based on this books's description, Yavin 4 did not have a planetary shield. Thus, Daala could have blown up Yavin 4 with no sweat. Still, she does survive by the end, and I would be curious to see what she does next with Pellaeon.)
Instead, we get a Hutt that makes Leia a pushover in her own territory using leprechaun-sized four-armed apes that get away with the most pathetic heist in the galaxy. It was not clever at all.
The way those single-minded creatures overran everything, it's a wonder Durga didn't just have them take over the New Republic right then and there (the Barrel of Monkeys under control of Dr. Porkchop from "Toy Story 3" comes to mind...)
I didn't like the way Lemelisk's flashbacks were inserted. They just felt repetitive. Even the detail that Tarkin had a slave named "Ackbar" (yes, I think it is meant to be THE General "It's a trap!" Ackbar) was just kind of meh to me.
------Kyp and Dorsk 81------ Honestly, this was the most boring part of the book. In short, they go to Dorsk 81's planet of Khomm, they leave Khomm, find out Daala's plans during a rally, and leave to defend Yavin 4. Dorsk 81 dies Force pushing 17 Star Destroyers using the strength of (30?) Jedi (it reminded me of "linking" from "The Wheel of Time" books; one user, multiple people's power).
I think what bothered me the most is, despite the fact Dorsk 81 returned to his home, there weren't many actions taken by his clones (the planet is a cloning facility to expand generations, reminding me of the hierarchy in "Foundation") to try and get him to stay, not even forcefully. He just......walked away. First, after one day. Next after warning them.
So, when the time came for Khomm to be destroyed, I didn't really see the clone-people as good or bad. It felt empty because, despite Dorsk's conflict, there was not enough time to really establish how good or bad his people were. I remember only Dorsk 80, Dorsk 82, and the ruler who was passive about everything. True, all resented Dorsk 81 for abandoning tradition, but it felt like it was only those four, so the loss of the city as a tragedy due to failure to listen had no weight for me. It was just a decoration that was set-up to be broken.
I'm glad his Force push didn't obliterate Pellaeon and his fleet. But, I didn't really feel anything with his death either based on this book alone.
---------Luke Skywalker and Callista--------- The best way I can sum up this relationship (based on what I know about "Legends" continuity) is that Callista is the Gwen Stacy of Star Wars before Mara Jade Watson eventually married Luke (in some future book, not this one). Nearly everything Luke does in this book surrounds his desire to help Callista or his love for Castilla.
I can't help but think his methods were rather odd. For one thing, his attempts to help her reconnect to the Force is by retracing his own journey.
And so, we go back to Dagobah. Again. (Since this is the fourth post-Return of the Jedi novel I have read in Legends continuity, right after Tim Zahn's original "Thrawn trilogy", it feels repetitive). Then we go to Hoth. And not only does the couple return to Echo Base, but they also get attacked by a pack of wampas led by THE EXACT SAME WAMPA THAT LOST AN ARM TO LUKE. Suddenly, the wampas are pack animals that can dig through the entire walls of Echo Base with a superior intellect for no reason. I assumed the Wampa Luke harmed was responsible, but nothing changed when it died.
Also, the implications of Callista being cut off from the Force but being able to use the dark side seems kind of contradictory; does that imply that anybody who taps into the dark side can be a Force User? I dunno, it just didn't sit right with me.
When I was done reading, I am glad that Luke and Callista separated by the end of this book. Although, I should mention, Mara's appearance in the beginning wasn't really necessary. Her conversation with Callista about Luke and Lando felt off.
-------------------- OTHER: Parts of the dialogue kept calling back to the original trilogy (Yoda's "do or do not there is no try"; it's a great line, but hearing it nearly every time a Jedi uses the Force can make it repetitive).
Despite not having the Force, Callista is somehow skilled enough to take Luke to a stalemate in a duel.
Luke being unable to sense the living Callista because she no longet has the Force bothered me because the Force is in everything, regardless of Force sensitivity.
Luke is able to survive the cold of space because he can "slow down [his] metabolism, put [himself] practically in suspended animation" using "only his will to survive [keeping] his heart beating and oxygen molecules moving through his lungs. In another few hours he would have succumbed." (It reminded me of "VIII: The Last Jedi" when Leia did a similar trick, though her side-effects from survival are more lasting.)
Leia going to the Hutt bathhouse with Han seemed pointless, even if it was to meet with Durga.
Finally, the Darksaber. The title of this book should be changed. While I get the conflict between the Hutts and the New Republic is critical because of the potential of the super laser, it didn't feel like a main conflict. It honestly felt like the side-story because the Empire, united as a fleet by a villain who had previously escaped, was a bigger threat than a laser that was being put together wrong because of the stupidity of hive-minded creatures.
In fact, not only does the laser never fire a single shot due to terrible circuitry, but it's destroyed by two asteroids colliding. So not only is there no conflict for the New Republic to solve but their involvement was never necessary to begin with. (Also, did the Death Star plans get completely stolen, or were they merely copied and they are still in the archives? I never got an answer for that.)
Because of who is involved, the Battle of Yavin overshadows Durga's Death Star evasive maneuvers.
So, what should it have been called? To me, "Night Hammer"would have been better; it is a more iconic name that truly recognizes the main conflict in this book (especially since a "Darksaber" is more recognizable as a literal lightsaber with a black blade as of 2022); not only does the Night Hammer represent Daala's authority over the Empire, but it also represents the united Empire itself as a hidden, yet visible threat.
--------------THE UNEXPLAINABLE---------------- Lemelisk (if you read this book, you may notice the author loves characters with an "L" in the middle of their name) had an interesting backstory with the clones. However, while the concept of the flesh-eating beetles (reminded me of the scarabs from "The Mummy Returns") was cool, I am confused on one little detail:
Palpatine says that since the Death Star was going to blow up Yavin 4 (which would be before the events of the ending of "A New Hope"), he extracted the creatures because Yavin 4 was their homeworld and they would go extinct.
At first, it sounds reasonable, but then I thought about it and I realized, "How?"
Vader and Tarkin, aboard the original Death Star tracked the Falcon to Yavin 4, and thus the Empire discovered where the Rebel Base was. However, this means that between the time the Death Star approached Yavin 4 and the Death Star being blown up, Palpatine (or at least Imperial agents) extracted the bugs. Now, my question is, "If Palpatine could do that in a short amount of time, the only reason he could have been able to would be he had people on Yavin 4.
But if that's true, then WHY WOULDN'T THOSE IMPERIAL AGENTS TELL THE EMPEROR WHERE THE REBEL BASE WAS?? On one hand, they knew, but didn't tell Vader and so they allow "A New Hope" to happen. On the other hand, they didn't know, and yet still collected the bugs.
No matter how much logical consistency you want to apply and no matter how you spin it, it's a huge plot hole that cannot be explained easily. Perhaps I'm lacking in "Legends" materials, but I'm pretty certain the Emperor didn't know Yavin 4 was the Rebel Base prior to "A New Hope". A simple way to make this make sense is if the bugs were not from Yavin at all. But, hey, despite this little rant, it doesn't take away from what I liked about this book.
When all is said and done, as a concept, it's entertaining to read. You can read it if you want to be enlightened, and I won't stop you.
While there certainly are worse Star Wars novels than this one, it is just not really good. None of its storylines are really captivating, the characters are acting strange, and there are a number of weird details that turn this into a rather mediocre book bordering on bad.
Luke and Callista set out on a mission to recapture Callista’s force potential which she has lost during the transition into her new body. I really did not care for this story line all. First and foremost, the whole motivation behind their trip was beyond stupid. They do not try to regain Callista’s powers because this might make her a valuable addition to the Jedi Academy and the New Republic in general or even to regain what certainly constituted a crucial aspect of her whole personality. No, they do it because, apparently, they can never truly be together unless they are both force wielders and since they truly looove each other (something we are constantly reminded of) it is imperial they reclaim Callista’s powers. As if this questionable motivation weren’t enough, the whole journey unfolds as a rather bland one taking them to several locations some of which are loosely connected to Luke’s own development as a Jedi and some of which are just random. During this they are oblivious to anything else that is happening in the galaxy beside their personal drama and inadvertently get a couple of strangers killed which they, too, do not seem to care about.
Meanwhile, the Hutts are acting shady and Leia exploits her position as Chief of State to run a private investigation. For that purpose, she puts on her best royal-highness-act to place her adversaries in an awkward position and make them reveal information. It turns out the Hutts are building yet another super-weapon (Yes, this idea is getting old but it seems to me that in a universe where such technology exists people would repeatedly try and exploit it). However, luckily for the New Republic, they are being complete amateurs about it and given terrible craftsmanship their ploy ultimately fails. In my opinion, despite bordering on becoming goofy from time to time, this was the strongest story line of the book. It gave some interesting insights into the construction of the original Death Star through a number of flashbacks and we got to see Leia act like a statesman, which is something she is terrific at and I like to see this facet of her character come through.
In addition, we learn what the Imperials have been up to recently (they were prominently absent in Children of the Jedi). Evidently, they were too busy infighting to get anything done since Thrawn's death and now Admiral Daala has to get involved to unify their forces. In this she is supported by Captain Pellaeon who appears as an incredibly submissive but somewhat useful confidante. As far as Daala is concerned, Anderson seems to try really hard to rectify this character’s stupid behavior in the Jedi Academy trilogy explaining her motivation behind the stupid courses of action she took. Here, she is portrayed as trying to redeem herself in unifying the remains of the Empire which suits her much better than the blind rush for revenge we have seen her on earlier. Daala eventually comes up with the brilliant plan of attacking the Jedi Academy believing the destruction of which would be a “mortal blow” to the New Republic. Coincidentally, two of the new Jedi are present when she publicly announces this plan and Kyp uses this opportunity to present himself once more as a hotheaded idiot. He literally starts loudly ranting against the Emprie while surrounded by Imperials and continues drawing attention to himself by killing a bunch of Stormtroopers with his lightsaber. Him being unable to constrain himself for five minutes in turn leads to his pal’s home-planet being devastated and vastly limits the Academy’s ability to prepare for the upcoming attack. Great job!
In the end everything boils down to a battle on and around Yavin IV which is won due to heroic albeit stupid acts. For one, Dorsk 81 pushes away a bunch of Star Destroyers using the Force (“We should take Bikini Bottom and push it somewhere else”) which miraculously works but costs him his life. For another, Callista, who has no ability in the force whatsoever, takes out a Super Star Destroyer singlehandedly, thereby providing an addition to the row of anticlimactic resolutions this novel makes to its plot lines.
Overall, this is an ok novel which exhibits some strengths and a bunch of weaknesses. It is one that might as well be skipped by anyone who is no completist.
I really enjoyed reading this novel, not for any literary reasons but because it was full of action and tied a lot of other plots together from other books. It was a hard book to put down. The action sequences were better than most I have experienced in SW novels and seemed much more like the movies. I also enjoyed how the author linked events in this book back to other books and the movies through well-written flashback sequences. I had three problems, however. The first was the single-dimensional character of Callista; the second was the new superweapon (yet another) which was doomed to failure from the start and hence, not a real threat; and the third problem was the chronology. By this I mean we see adventures of Luke and Callista occurring over what seems to be a couple of weeks and yet the new super-weapon, trimmed-down Death Star planet buster weapon was built from scratch during the same time frame. Something didn't jive there. Still, the overall reading pleasure was quite high. If you read only a select few SW novels, read the ones by Timothy Zahn, and Kevin Anderson (including this one)
After reading the Jedi trilogy by Anderson, I was worried that I may find similar problems in Darksaber when I read it again. Thankfully, this book was written much better than Anderson's previous Star Wars books. The plot of this story was very engaging all the way through. There were few chapters that I felt I had to trudge through. Unlike some of Anderson's earlier books, I was very interested in all of the characters and storylines. I would recommend Darksaber mainly to star wars fans and science fiction fans, it is entertaining all the way through. The only problem I have is I felt that Admiral Pellaon was made into a weak character, nothing like the strong leader in the Heir to the Empire trilogy when he fought with Grand Admiral Thrawn. The weakness of his character made it unbelievable after reading about him in earlier books.
Utterly unremarkable. Part of a sequence that included Children of the Jedi, Planet of Twilight, and the Dark Fleet Trilogy, all of which I forced myself to read, then summarized all six for a friend who was reading them with me (I didn't want her to stop in horror).
“I cannot leave the Empire in the hands of fools like you.”
Natasi Daala—Supreme Imperial Commander
Admiral Daala executes a baker’s dozen of the most powerful warlords and takes control of the remnants of the shattered Galactic Empire. They left her no choice. Their squabbling was destroying what was left of the regime and wasting precious resources. With Vice Admiral Gilad Pellaeon as her second in command, Daala rebuilds the once-scattered factions into a united fleet with one purpose—destroy the New Republic. Daala is back and in charge in Kevin J Anderson’s follow-up to the exciting Jedi Academy Trilogy. Star Wars: Darksaber delivers more thrills, greater pathos, and a well-connected plot to please avid fans of the franchise.
Luke Skywalker—Lovelorn Jedi Knight
While Daala is building her power base in the Deep Core, the New Republic continues to stumble forward. Luke Skywalker is in love with a woman named Callista, whose spirit had been trapped for decades before being restored in the body of one of Luke's students. Alive, but somehow blocked from the Force, Callista fears growing close to Luke. She was once a Jedi Knight in the days before the Empire but is now powerless. What hope could their union mean in the quest to breed a new generation of Jedi? As they search for answers, their love blooms. There is some element of the tragic love story here, unique to Legend’s continuity but ever-present in current Canon. It's well done, without seeming overly saccharine.
Leah Organa Solo—Bold Public Servant
Leah works to find balance in her life. As Chief of State of the New Republic, she has tremendous responsibilities. As the mother of three Force-sensitive children, she is also responsible for safeguarding the future of the Jedi Order. Matters are further complicated when she receives an offer of alliance from the most unlikely of sources—the Hutts. Enter notorious crime lord, and bloated egotist, Durga Besadii Tai. Claiming to want peace, Durga offers to ally with the New Republic for commercial and economic purposes. This is a tempting offer seeing as how the New Republic has not been able to establish stable trade routes due to the existence of rampant pirate activity, unaligned sectors who want nothing to do with them, and the remnants of the Imperial fleet.
The Hutt-Imperial Alliance
Already a powerful crime lord, Durga the Hutt forges an alliance with Imperial General Sulamar in a scheme to hold the galaxy for ransom. Using his Imperial connections, Durga steals the plans to the Death Star and hires its original architect to construct a new, sleek superweapon—the titular Darksaber. The Darksaber is a cylindrical tube, with the superlazer at the end and greater maneuverability. Using this new weapon, Durga and the toadying Imperial General plan to exact tribute and protection money from the New Republic, the unaligned sectors, and even the remaining Imperial holdouts.
Star Wars: Darksaber is a worthy addition to the franchise. The author manages to tell several stories and ties them up nicely in a final, climactic confrontation. The standout characters in this narrative are Callista Ming, whose second shot at life proves to be less than thrilling, and Vice Admiral Pallaeon. Caliista is a tragic figure, wanting to be with Luke but fearing what their union would mean to the next generation of Jedi. Gilad Pellaeon is another stand out. Pallaeon is a loyal Imperial who found himself languishing under a greedy warlord until his encounter with Daala. He is a good example of the likable antagonist. He is not a villain. He serves the Empire because he believes in its primary ideals. He continues to serve because of the troops for whom he is responsible.
Kyp Duron returns and manages to be even more annoying, churlish, and just plain extraneous. Just because you tell a sob story and pretend to feel bad doesn’t make you justified, innocent, or excuse your activity. By that same rationale, Daala is totally justified in all her actions. He is the least developed and likable character of the story.
This books come from my personal collection, but I am leaving a professional review
This is commonly known as one of the worst SW novels in Legends, for reasons I still ponder. Is it the best, no. Is it amongst the worse, hardly! It was a HUGE step up from it predecessor Children of the Jedi (which in my opinion is one of the worse novels in Legends, along with The Courtship of Princess Leia). I actually enjoyed this novel, especially the last quarter, which I found thrilling and exhilarating. Without spoiling anything, the final battle, seen through the eyes of several important characters, was on par with the XWing novels in my opinion (with the added bonus of Jedi, Force powers and lightsabers).
One negative aspects I can think of, I sigh at the thought of ANOTHER super weapon of mass destruction being built and destroyed. The idea of super weapons in SW is becoming tedious after seeing the Death Star 1 and 2, the Sun Crusher, the prototype Death Star, and now the Darksaber. Another negative point is the language some people use sounds lame and somewhat childish. Example? Luke tells Callista "I'll protect you with my Jedi powers". Really? Did he really have to add the "with my jedi powers"? "I'll protect you" would have sufficed. Everyone knows he's a Jedi Master, no need to emphasize he has powers, which in sort it sounds silly enough calling them "Jedi powers". It should be more "I'll protect you with the Force". Anyway maybe I'm nitpicking but I find the language dosen't suit the character in some instances.
I really like Admiral Daala as a character but sometimes it feels like she's is lacking in command finesse and makes it feel a little unbelievable. Why would you hold a rally with all your troops and personnel (all the way down to the mechanics and janitors) to tell them EXACTLY what the plan is to the finest detail. Not everyone needs to know the What, When, Where, Who and How of the plan. That's not how the chain of command works, they just need to follow orders. There could be spies within the ranks and by giving out every single minor detail of the attack could compromise everything. It just seems really idiotic and amateurish of Daala to do that, being such a highly admired and supposedly competent leader as she is described as in the novel.
Finally one more small detail I didn't enjoy, is that I feel Kevin J Anderson just recycles worlds that every SW fans know and have seen a dozen times before. Luke visits all the planets from the movie, from Tatooine to Dagobah, to Hoth (where the Darksaber is being built) and of course to Yavin IV where the big battle takes place at the Jedi temple. It's a big galaxy, with no many worlds to explore. So let's see something different.
Anyway these are minor disappointments in the grander scale of the novel, and dosen't affect the overall enjoyment. All in all it was a delight to read, and I believe Kevin J Anderson redeemed the work brought forth by Barbra Hamley in Children of the Jedi, which she will probably trainwreck again in the next novel of the Callista Trilogy, Planet of Twilight, which I'm trying to figure out why she was chosen to write another SW novel. I didn't read that one yet so I'll wait and see but my hopes are not high that it will be anything more that weak to mediocre.
This book deserves more praise that it has received. I still recommend it to any SW fan who wishes to experience the lore of it all.
Was it as bad as the first of the Callista novels, "Children of the Jedi", no. Is it good? Also no. Thankfully the publisher took the reigns from Hambly for this book (though why they gave them back for book three is beyond my understanding), though I'm not sure Anderson was the best go to try to fix what was wrong here. Some of the fault lies with still having to use material Hambly introduced. But some of it is Anderson falling into some of his own patterns for this franchise work that could use improvement. Don't get me wrong, the Jedi Academy trilogy was fun, but he leans back into several issues with characterization and plot that existed there. Framed in the trainwreck of the Callista trilogy they become a bit more glaring. Like most Star Wars stories, we've got two or three plots running concurrently, and trying to bring them all to a meeting place near the end. One involves the Hutt's, which are nice to see fleshed out here as I think the closest there was previous to this in publication order may have been bits and pieces in Tales from Jaba's Palace. Unfortunately, this sub-plot involves Anderson leaning into yet another super-weapon. Though it is entertaining to see the comically sub-par Hutt overseen weapons project. I think this material may have been better as a separate shorter work involving a few recognized names (like Madine), but staying entirely away from our 'main' Star Wars trio and companions. We get a little more Qwi Xux with Wedge in this plot too, which feels really extraneous and shoe-horned in. Again, probably better as its own shorter work. The Callista/Luke plot feels absolutely ridiculous, though I'm sure was required to be here by the publisher. Why are the Wampas suddenly smart enough too recognize and disable critical starship systems? Why are they strong enough to claw through ship hulls? Callista is written just as badly and one-dimensionally here as anywhere, and we get lots of just silly fighting between her and Luke. This sort of culminates in Anderson making even the Jedi apprentices and trainees almost unbelievably over-powered (moving/destroying 17 star destroyers? smashing star fighters in the sky?). I feel as though the novelists could have benefited from consultation with some of the authors that worked on the early Dark Horse comic story lines (Dark Empire, Tales of the Jedi), who seemed to always have a better grasp on the scope, limits, and nature of the Jedi powers. Brighter points, saving this from one star...the peek into Hutt society and the darkly comedic tone you get with a lot of Hutt stories. We get to see a number of earlier characters brought back and fleshed out a little bit (Daala is *more* interesting here than previously, Pelleon as well). The sub-plot involving the Imperials warring internally....though it does feel artificially rushed/wrapped up in one book. Even chronologically, it feels like Daala is able to unite the the Imperial factions in a matter of days/weeks, and totally change their practices to the point of accepting women and alien troops? This feels like it could and should have been spread out over multiple books and been an 'A' plot, not something more like a 'C' or 'D' plot. All in all, unless you're trying to be a completionist and hit most of these books in publication order, skip this as well.
This book was a slog. This was definitely one of the books in the EU/Legends universe that, while being an ok book, was not good for the overall storytelling.
For one thing, Kevin J. Anderson was trying to accomplish too much. He had to tell Luke and Calista's love story, the story about Admiral Daala and Vice Admiral Pellaeon and their story of rebuilding the empire, the story of the Hutts on Nal Hutta/Shadaa, and the continuation of the throughline of the jedi academy. If this book had been 700 or more pages, I think that Kevin J. Anderson could have included all of this or if it was a trilogy in and of itself, all these stories could work. But it just felt rushed and choppy in a 430 page book.
That being said, I love Kevin J. Anderson's writing style. He really sounds like a fan who is getting to write Star Wars books, which is really when the books are at their finest. He has plenty of humor, love, color, darkness, and plenty of gross things in this book. He really seems like he wants every book to feel like Star Wars as much as possible. I actually laughed when at times he used the phrase "Jedi Powers", which sounds like what a 7 year old would say when they don't know how to explain the force. He used it a little too much, but it was still funny.
I really wish the whole book could be about the Empire consolidating it's power. I think the best of the expanded universe was when the story was simplest and just telling a straightforward Empire vs. Rebels plot, with some new characters, some old, some new places and some old places, but all with original storylines. I think that's why Timothy Zahn is so well liked and that's why the X-Wing books are so good. Andeson does this well when he tries for it, but he tends to get side tracked.
That leads me to my last point. You could have cut out the entire plotline of the Darksaber and the Hutts and the book would have actually been better(and the book's title is Darksaber). That whole story could have been it's own book, with the empire throughline being it's own book.
Overall, fun, but not great. Anyone who is a completionist should read this so that they can say they've read all the EU/Legends books, but it is in no way close to where someone should start. 5.7 out of 10.
With Darksaber, the second part of the Callista Trilogy was published in 1995. Unlike the first and third book, this book was not written by Barbara Hambly, but by Kevin J. Anderson.
The New Republic is growing and the new Jedi Order led by Luke Skywalker is also growing. Luke has found the love of his life - Callista. In the first novel of the series, Callista was still living in the computer of the battleship "Eye of Palpatine" and was able to escape from it because she was able to take over the body of Dr. Cray Mingla with the help of the Force. But Callista was separated from the Force by this process and she always feels inferior to Luke, because he is the great Jedi Master and Callista no longer feels the Force.
Meanwhile, the Empire is rebuilding with Admiral Daala and Vice Admiral Pallaeon reuniting the fleet. But the Hutts are also planning something big, because their delusions of grandeur lead them to want to build their own Death Star or just its superlaser.
Luke and Callista don't really experience much, except that they visit a few planets and talk about a pregnancy that isn't there yet. The Hutts and their super laser does show that the Hutts are still around too, but the fact that in this part of the book the New Republic intervenes and even a named character from the films dies would not have been necessary, because that laser would have been destroyed without it. The Empire, on the other hand, is very well written, because Admiral Daala is indeed a threat to the New Republic, because she manages to unite them different imperial fleets.
All in all, it is probably the strongest book of the trilogy, even if it is not to my taste in parts.
Fun fact: In Germany the book was subtitled "Der Todestern" as the Deathstar but no one knows exactly why.
These days I am re-reading the Callista Trilogy. Having completed "Darksaber", I am now 2/3 done. The high school Matthew and the adult Matthew have very different reviews: in high school, I was bored by "Children of the Jedi" to the point I didn't finish reading it and I breezed through "Darksaber" with high enthusiasm. Now, I feel that "Children of the Jedi" is a better book and "Darksaber" is the lesser book. Simply put, "Children of the Jedi" had much better character development and the writing was higher quality. Now Kevin J. Anderson is a fine author (I thoroughly enjoyed the Jedi Academy Trilogy), but his writing falls short in this book. I thought key scenes were rushed with sparse details and his execution of Crix Madine felt inappropriate.
That having been said, my God! is this one exciting ride. We see many familiar (and novel) planets that are well-described (Tatooine, Hoth, Coruscant, Yavin 4, Nal Nutta, Nar Shaddaa, Khomm), we explore the hidden realm of the Inner Core. The immense imperial fleets were both an upside and a downside to the book. I found the size of the fleets to be realistic, but some of the combat scenes were too quickly and too poorly described. Also, there's no resolution to how Palleon's 17 Imperial-class Star Destroyers escaped from the fringes of the Yavin system (maybe described in the next book?).
This book is worth reading, but is surely for a younger audience.
Darksaber makes for a sequel both to Barbara Hambly's Children of the Jedi, previously released in 1995, and Kevin J. Anderson's Jedi Academy trilogy, released in 1994. Anderson picks up many of the narrative threads of the previous year in Star Wars, while trying to make good on some of the dramatic promises made in Hambly's previous novel. He brings back a few antagonists familiar to fans of the series, as well as a number of his original characters.
The book's scope is sprawling, though, covering the efforts of the Hutts in creating their own superweapon, efforts of the Imperial remnants to reclaim their stake in the galaxy, and Luke and Callista's efforts to try to recover her access to the Force. With so many different threads to follow, the book can sometimes feel like it isn't quite sure of what its main focus really needs to be, and yet it still manages to find a means to address each story beat somewhat satisfyingly.
Anderson's novel thus acts as a capstone to the 1995 vintage of Star Wars. He works diligently to try reckoning with ideas both new and old, pulling in the existing continuity of the series for an action-packed (and there's so much action here!) tale of space adventure. Of any of his books, this one shows Anderson's understanding of what makes Star Wars so fun, and why we keep coming back for more.
This book has received a lot of negative reviews over the years, so I went in with low expectations (particularly following Children Of The Jedi). To be honest, I didn't find it all that bad. There were some silly moments, certainly but taken in the spirit of the story they mostly worked. I enjoyed the Wampa siege and would have preferred to have seen more of that. The rest of the story also flowed reasonably well, if a bit disjointed as it followed all the different story threads...at the most there were six or seven at once, which was perhaps a bit much. My main criticism was actually regarding General Crix Madine. His story worked fine for me, but it was the fact that his beard got more mentions than anyone on the front cover of the book. it established very early on that he had a beard and then repeatedly had reminders that he had a beard. Even his very last scene had him defiantly lifting his bearded chin... it got a little annoying and was a weak alternative to actually telling me more about the character of Madine than the fact that he has a beard. He has a beard, did you know? Granted, this is not the best story from the Star Wars Universe, but I don't think it's as bad as some are making out.
This is a really good follow-up to the Jedi Academy Trilogy, and KJA impresses me in ways I never thought he could. It's not like it fixes anything from the JAT, and it's not an amazing book or anything, but the quality is much better than the JAT and I was entertained and engaged throughout. The reemergence of Admiral Daala and Pellaeon was fantastic and very well done, probably the best part of the book. The other antagonist, Durga the Hutt, fell very flat, and almost seemed like a distraction from the main event, especially after his superweapon failed mostly due to incompetence, rather than any actions taken by the protagonists. Seeing new Jedi Knights operating throughout the galaxy was very cool, and one of them had one of the best single scenes in the book, and it really made me appreciate a character who hadn't been used much previously. I didn't care for Callista's arc, and while she was fine in Children of the Jedi, I found her very annoying here. I didn't get much out of her and Luke's story. Overall, fun, pretty good, but a little uneven at times.