Champions of the Force
(The Jedi Academy Trilogy - Book Three)

By Kevin J. Anderson
11.5 years after ANH

* *


This book by Kevin J.Anderson is the third in a trilogy which establishes many of the basic tenets for future Jedi training, and adds core characters and plot-lines for the on-going Expanded Universe.


Champions of the Force is the concluding chapter in the Jedi Academy trilogy, and it starts out, literally and figuratively, with a "bang", as Jedi Academy student (and rescued Kessel waif) Kyp Durron weilds the Sun Crusher super-weapon against the Imperial training planet of Carida. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker lies comatose on Yavin, a victim of Kyp and the Sith spirit Exar Kun, Leia and Han's youngest child, Anakin, is the object of an Imperial kidnapping plot, and Admiral Daala romes the galaxy in search of New Republic targets to accost with her one remaining Star Destroyer. Will Kyp be able to turn from the Dark Side of the Force? Will Mon Mothma survive the horrible wasting disease inflicted on her by the Empire's minions? Will the nascent Jedi at Luke's Academy be able to join together to wake him from his spirit-plane limbo? Toss in a military expedition to free enslaved Wookies, Lando Calrissian's latest money-making plans, and a wandering Death Star prototype, and Champions of the Force has enough threads weaving together to make a bantha.


Champions of the Force is pretty much just like its Jedi Academy Trilogy predecessors: passable, but only barely. Kevin Anderson's writing is like something out of a turn-of-the-century (the previous century) "mellerdrammer". It's over-wrought and terribly heavy-handed. ("His scream vanished with him into hyperspace"; "Her curves looked like hazardous paths through a complicated planetary system"..OH, PLEASE!!). As in an old Saturday morning matinee movie, characters are one-dimensional cliches. Twi'lek scientist Tol Sivron is unremittingly incompetent; Daala is over-the-top impetuous; Jedi-candidate Streen is hermetic. Motivations are likewise un-layered and superficial. And because the players are stick-figures and their actions so ill-defined, the Anderson-created characters don't earn the equal billing with and emotional responses from the core characters that Anderson cedes them. The author also ends up coming across like an Imperial Spy, constantly displaying anti-non-human bias in his descriptions. Wookies are loyal but brutish; Twi'leks are beady-eyed, and untrustworthy; Calamarians are stoic and noble. There's the Imperial anti-woman slant as well. Women are either hyper-emotional she-witches, hyper-nurturing Madonna's, or "babes." Leia has gone from competent and fearless, to a scrambled mess.

Even more problematic and off-putting, is a pervading condescension emitting from Anderson's writing. There are a plethora of direct quotes from the films, all delivered with a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" of fan-pandering. Naming conventions and most attempts at humor are also self-congratulatory and self-conscious. Champions of the Force, as with the other two books in the Jedi Academy Trilogy, is just a shame. It sits in a "cat-bird-seat" on the timeline, it offers potentially gratifying and exciting plot-lines, and it just squanders almost all of this. Kevin J.Anderson has been one of the most active and high-profile authors in the Expanded Universe talent-pool, and he seems to have had a lot to do with the creation of a "community" out of the disparate writers and artists collected to participate in the EU. For that, and for the decent rough outlines of characters and plots that he has contributed to the Star Wars pantheon, he is forgiven for the weak actual execution of this Trilogy. There's enough entertainment value in Champions of the Force for picking it up, but get through it speedily. It won't take well to close inspection.