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Dark Apprentice
(The Jedi Academy Trilogy - Book Two)

By Kevin J. Anderson
11 years after ANH

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This book by Kevin J.Anderson is the second 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.

Dark Apprentice continues the Jedi Academy trilogy apace, picking up right where book one of the trilogy, Jedi Search, left off. As Kyp Durron, the young man Han rescued from the spice mines of Kessel, begins his studies at Luke's Jedi praxeum on Yavin, dark forces under the surface reassert themselves. Meanwhile, back on Coruscant, political in-fighting erupts over the fate of the newly discovered super-weapon, the Sun Crusher, Admiral Ackbar becomes embroiled in machinations designed to ruin his reputation and career, and Mon Mothma's health concerns draw her more and more into seclusion. And roaming about in the galaxy, Imperial Admiral Daala is poised to pose an increasing threat to the precarious stability so recently established by the New Republic.

Dark Apprentice is a baby-step up from its predecessor, Jedi Search, but it's still not a great book, by any means. As with Jedi Search, there are a lot of decent plot-lines, but again, author Kevin Anderson doesn't appear to have the writing skill to bring those stories fully to life. Much of the novel reads like a treatment for a novel, as opposed to the finished product. Synopses from the first book are introduced sloppily with little or no attempt at organic integration into the story, characters' actions are agressively explained and rationalized instead of motivated by plot or temperment, and several major events are extremely far-fetched, following not the logic of the SW universe, but the necessities of the author's limited capacity to get from A to D without cheating. This book as well, as did the first one, seems in desparate need of editing. Recapping the plot from book-to-book in a trilogy makes sense; recapping the plot within the same book seems superfluous, unless your target audience is readers with grossly impaired memories.

As with Jedi Search, there are some nice bits mixed into the mish-mash. Han's relationship with Kyp is touching (if a tad homoerotic?), and seems to indicate a paternal pattern was at play in Han's accepting responsibility for Luke and Leia in SW: A New Hope. It's also a subtle reminder of Han's hard-scrabble childhood, and its affect on who he has become. There are also some good scenes with Wedge Antilles and the scientist Qui Xux, with Han and Leia's twins, Jacen and Jaina, and an exciting, if somewhat padded, set-piece on Admiral Ackbar's home-planet of Mon Calamari. But there is still a disturbing lack of continuity and veracity in Anderson's handling of the core film characters, there is still a lot of non-SW "real world" referencing ("turbo-skis"?), and the attempts at comedy are forced and sophomoric.(If Han and Lando had bet on Sabacc Games one more time for ownership of the Falcon, this book would have to be burned!) All in all, not a great piece of Star Wars continuum, but enjoyable enough in a light-reading sort of a way.