Children of the Jedi
By Barbara Hambly
12 years after ANH

* * * **

This book by Barbara Hambly provides the first installment in a loose sort-of-trilogy with Kevin Anderson's Darksaber and Hambly's other EU contribution, Planet of Twilight.


Children of the Jedi begins with the "whole gang"…Luke, Han, Leia, the 3 Solo children, Chewbacca, and the droids R2D2 & C3P0…on a diplomatic visit/holiday to Ithor, the bucolic forested home-planet of the "hammerhead" Ithorians. Their calm sojourn is abruptly ended by an old smuggler pal of Han's, Drub McKumb. Drub, emaciated and deranged, has pulled himself together just long enough to get to Han on Ithor, shout a frantic warning of impending doom, and collapse into a coma. With information pieced together from several leads, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and R2D2 head to Belsavis, a remote planet, that may have served as a hiding place for a group of Jedi children during the height of the Emperor's purges. Luke meanwhile, with clues drawn via the Force from the memory of one of his students who may have been one of the hidden children, races off to a distant asteroid field in search of a vision that came to him as a darkside omen.

That both groups find more than they bargained for is par for the course. The quartet on Belsavis find a multi-layered conspiracy set to tilt the balance of power in the galaxy. It is an evil plan linked to the past, but very much of immediate concern. Luke…with two Jedi students and C3P0 in tow…is taken aboard an automated ship, a ship reawakened to its mission to destroy the Jedi children on Belsavis. As these two plot-lines converge, each group uncovers more and more pieces of the whole. Can Luke take control of the powerful computer running the ship and stop it from annihilating Belsavis…killing Han & Leia in the bargain? Can Leia, Han, & Chewbacca unveil the mastermind behind the reawakening of the death-ship before it's too late?




Children of the Jedi is wonderful, simply a revelation. It is wise, knowing, spot-on with character "voices", concise and rich in dialogue, emotion, and flow, and densely plotted. There is something lyrical and mesmerizing about this book. Descriptions of environs and ambience are poetic and inventive; internal monologues are evocative and highly character enhancing. Author Barbara Hambly fills the book with lovely details: a moisture-condenser clicking on Uncle Owen's farm, Leia's adopted aunts clucking at the foibles of society at the Emperor's court, a very very funny portrait of the home-life of Gamorreans. Leia and Luke both get some fill-in back-story about their pre-ANH families and childhoods that resonate with a sense of security lost or of a belonging always searched for. Han & Leia's interactions are romantic and sexy and feel so right. Luke also is a nice balance; in Hambly's hands, he gets back some of his sweetness and boyishness, while maintaining the maturity and dry humor with which his travails have armored him. He also, finally, gets a love-interest, and one every bit his equal and worthy of him. His blossoming relationship…who she is and where they meet should remain a surprise…is knowingly depicted, their conversations full of warmth, and wit, and intelligence borne of tribulation and pain.

There is an inherent cleverness to this novel as well. With the book essentially alternating between two playing stages…the Luke-on-the-runaway-ship stage, and the Han/Leia/Chewbacca detectives-on-Belsavis stage…as each group puts together half of the puzzle, the reader gets the complete picture. This is a savvy, non-cheating way to keep the plot unfolding at its own pace, keep the protagonists on each stage questing, and to dole out the information at the suspense-appropriate time without having to resort to character obliviousness on the one hand, or omniscience on the other. Hambly also deals with Luke's Jedi skills in a believable manner. In other installments of the EU, authors have often confronted this issue awkwardly, and as a result, Luke's abilities, and his timely use of them, have varied widely. Hambly adroitly, in essence takes the issue off the table. As Luke is wounded…in a couple of separate melee, actually…his injuries, and the limited medical facilities on board the ghost ship, increasingly diminish his capacity to access his Jedi powers. And in a mellifluous concurrence, the deterioration of Luke's health neatly parallels the disintegration of the run-away ship.

This is perhaps the most "human" of the EU novels. Hambly offers delicate insights into the Jedi of old, wise homilies of past Jedi masters, details of life among the Old Republic Aristocracy, and insights into the film protagonists'…Leia's, most especially…choices and paths not taken. The better of the EU authors can add nuances of characterization to the movie personae that greatly enrich the SW-universe immersive experience. Children of the Jedi is a glowing example of this phenomenon. While maintaining continuity, it exponentially deepens our knowledge and understanding of all of the much-loved players. (Even C3P0, who can be depicted as naught but a fussy irritant, is well written, and an intrinsic and interesting asset to the story). This is just a marvelous book, full of humor, smarts, action, suspense, and subtle discoveries. Enjoy!