Jedi Apprentice #7
I, Jedi
By Michael A. Stackpole
11-12 years after ANH

This book by Michael A. Stackpole over-laps Kevin Anderson's Jedi Academy Trilogy on the timeline, and has the distinction of being the only Expanded Universe novel told in the First-Person.


I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole is indeed told in the first-person narrative style, and is told from the viewpoint of X-Wing pilot Corran Horn, a character created by Stackpole for the earlier Rogue Squadron books. As I, Jedi begins, Corran learns that his wife, Mirax, while covertly investigating an especially lethal gang of pirates, has been kidnapped. Towards the conclusion of a previous Stackpole story-arc, Corran had discovered that his years of hunches and saved-at-the-bell gut instincts were, in fact, indications of nascent Force talent.

This knowledge of his Force potential, coupled with the warnings he receives through the Force of the danger to Mirax's life, and as well the supposition on the part of the New Republic analysts that the pirates and their ex-Moff leader, the venal Leonia Tavira, are somehow using Force powers to camouflage their activities, convince Corran to accept Luke Skywalker's offer to study at the newly formed Jedi Academy on Yavin IV. As the events of Kevin Anderson's Jedi Academy Trilogy unfold, with Luke struggling to combat his own incomplete training on the one hand, and the Dark Side powers luring his students on the other, Corran grows dissatisfied with the pace and content of his Jedi schooling. Impatient to find Mirax before it is too late to save her, Corran leaves Yavin, and calls upon his years of experience as a Corellian Security Officer to infiltrate one of the pirate bands.

But the pirates are a suspicious, dangerous bunch, and life in their society is full of deadly infighting. And the leader of the pirates, former Imperial Moff Leonia Tavira, is the deadliest of all. Her power base has been built on stepping-stones of cold-blooded murder, and now she shields herself in Dark-Side energies. With his Jedi training aborted, and his internal moral "compass" disoriented by immersion in the amoral pirate fraternity, will Corran be able to save Mirax without succumbing himself to the Dark Side? And if he holds-the-line on the good side of the Force, will he be able to save Mirax at all?




I, Jedi is typical, grade-A, Michael Stackpole scribing… in: true to the feel of the Star Wars universe, true to the characters, witty, sexy, down-to-earth, and three-dimensional. There is a refreshing grown-up element to the conversations and relationships, and some spiffy little insights into the accomodations made for inter-species interactions and friendships. There are marvelous psychological insights as well into individual personalities, most especially into Luke Skywalker's personality and into his sense of guilt and doubt about his father, and how that has led to many of his attitudes and actions throughout the Expanded Universe literature. If Luke sometimes appears monkish, now we can see that this is his realistic over-compensation for the fears and insecurities with which his circuitous life-path has left him. Too, there is a nifty passage about the history of the Jedi tradition, and how the very things that made the Jedi Knights effective…..their elevated sense of purpose which kept them apart from common folk….how these things were easily twisted by the Emperor into separate-equals-different-equals-feared, making the Jedi holocaust sadly efficacious. Dialogue passages are also intelligent, and dead-on character-wise. Everything feels "real". Unlike Kevin Anderson's self-consciously forced insertion of movie references (see the Jedi Academy Trilogy reviews), Stackpole uses previously established planets, cities, comestibles, species organically, so that the universe simply feels familiar….lived in.

For all intents and purposes, Michael Stackpole saves Kevin Anderson's bacon. As noted in the reviews for the Jedi Academy Trilogy, Anderson's basic plot outlines were good, but his execution stunk. In I, Jedi we get Stackpole's take on some of the events of Anderson's trilogy, and suddenly we see the fully-realized story that Anderson could only sketchily hint at. So many plot holes and inconsistencies are fleshed-out or explained. Under-motivated story facets are given multi-layered, realistic justification, with Corran Horn acting as the reader's voice, asking questions raised by Anderson's discrepancies. What occurred on Yavin IV with the evil Jedi spirit Exar Kun finally makes sense, now that we can see the frustrations that led students to be so quickly lured by the Dark Side. And Luke's reactions to these events are now plausible as well.

There are a few criticisms for I, Jedi, enough to make this a 4-star not a 5-star effort. While Stackpole efectively uses Corran to address the weaknesses in the Kevin Anderson novels, the perhaps unintentional result of all Corran's pushing and probing is that all of the other Jedi students end up seeming, as does Luke on occasion, like weenies; Corran becomes the only student prescient enough to unravel the mysteries behind the erratic behavior of several of the Jedi-trainees. He also comes across, both on Yavin IV and once he inserts himself into the pirate crew, as a little too good to be true. He is everyone's confidante, a hero for all situations. This is mitigated a bit by his self-deprecating humor, but it is, in turn, exacerbated by the first-person narrative style. That style does work at least 90% of the time and is a stimulating change from the other EU books, but it can serve to make Corran seem a bit omniscient, and it occasionally makes for some awkward moments. One other flaw….which feels like a plus to the EU aficionado, but is a potential draw-back to a SW lit newcomer: If you haven't read any of the X-Wing novels or comics, you will likely feel a bit lost. As a completist reader, I really appreciate the minimal recapping and explaining without the faux-conversational back-story that suffuses some of the EU efforts, but the more of the EU, and specifically the X-Wing EU, you've been exposed to, the more I, Jedi will mean to you.

All told, this is a wonderfully enjoyable read. Corran is a delightful creation…he is one of the true stand-outs of the EU…and spending time in his company (and in his head for that matter) is a great way to wile away the hours. Just as the X-Wing books are stories of the "chorus" as opposed to the "stars", so here we get a resonant picture of the every-day aspects of the Dark Side; this is not galaxy-spanning evil temptations, but one very human Jedi's journey to find the line between light and dark, and to accomplish difficult, real-world heroics while making sure he stays on the right side of that line.