Sunday, February 19, 2012

I, Jedi: A Guest Review by jzhanfan

The following is a guest review submitted by jzhanfan.

I, Jedi is an oddity in the Star Wars Extended Universe for several reasons.

Michael Stackpole’s first non-X-wing book was the first EU book with a primary storyline that didn’t involve any of the OT characters. (Wedge is technically an OT character, albeit a minor one). The entire book is about Corran Horn - a character created specifically for the EU.

It was also (and remains to this day) the only EU book written in first person.
These two things, combined, could have made this a very interesting book, had it taken place in a more interesting time period, and had the narrator been someone the reader cared about. Unfortunately, Stackpole’s book is set during the same time period as the events of the Jedi Academy Trilogy and the story centers around Corran Horn and his wife, Mirax Terrik Horn (both created by Stackpole in the X-wing series).

The first thing wrong with this is that Corran wasn’t even in the Jedi Academy series as even a minor character, and suddenly he was there for everything. It reminds me of those books they write for kids where some minor character (like a mouse) is present for all these important historical events and tells you his side of the story. For example, to hear Corran tell it, Exar Kun was after HIM, not Kyp or Luke, and Corran was the only one who could finally defeat him and set Luke free.

If you can get past this total rewrite of what is, admittedly, a very confusing story in its original incarnation, there’s a second problem: Corran Horn himself, who is so boring he belongs in one of the prequel movies instead of the EU.
Corran, you might recall from the X-wing series, used to be a Cor Sec agent, basically your galactic cop. Then he came to fly in Rogue Squadron, and in the process met and married Mirax. Then it turned out his great grandfather or something was a Jedi and he has Force abilities too. (Yeah, so much for that “last of the Jedi” thing, eh, Yoda?)

Much of the plot revolves around Corran’s struggle over whether to train with Luke as a Jedi, to return to his law-enforcement career, or to remain with Rogue Squadron. He starts off hanging with Rogue Squadron and returns home one day to find his wife Mirax is missing.

Mirax Terrik Horn is the daughter of Corran’s former nemesis, smuggler Booster Terrik. Mirax is a smuggler, too, and a shrewd and calculating lady, and I ought to like her a lot more than I do. Because she gets all the sweet reunion scenes with her husband that Leia never gets, though, Mirax annoys me.

So anyway… Mirax is missing, Corran’s trying to find her. First he gets advice from Luke who tells him to become a Jedi in order to find her. This puts Corran on Yavin IV right in the middle of the Exar Kun mess and he takes credit for keeping Kun occupied while Luke was out of it. Then Luke wakes up and Corran is pissed off because Luke is letting Kyp come back, and Corran quits in a huff. He goes home to Corellia, talks to Booster Terrik and some of his own relatives and decides to find Mirax the old fashioned way, being a detective. So he goes undercover and infiltrates the pirates, finds and rescues Mirax. That’s about it, although it drags on forever.

From a Han and Leia fan perspective there is not a lot here, but I give it a 2 on the H/L factor scale for two reasons. One, when Han and Leia do pop up in the background of Corran’s tale, they seem a lot more like themselves than the Han and Leia from the Jedi Academy books. And two, for this one observation about Han that Corran makes when he and Leia and the twins are with the students on Yavin IV:

“Han Solo did what he could to help out by using the Falcon’s food prep unit to create a dinner of Corellian food… I didn’t think he normally approached cooking with any more joy than I did… being the only person on the moon who was not Force-sensitive had to be rough on him. The conversations we all had were, in retrospect, very self-indulgent and in the long run rather trivial."

I think it’s about time someone thought about what it’s like for Han to be the only non-Force-user in his whole family - too little attention is paid to this dynamic in his life. Surely it gets to him sometimes? I can so see Han Solo hanging out on Yavin IV because that’s where Leia and his kids are, but thinking, jeez, don’t these freaking Jedi ever shut up?

Keep in mind that having been a CorSec agent, Corran is determined to hate Solo and think of him as a criminal who got lucky, but he finds that there is more to Han than that and it’s sort of gratifying to hear someone else coming to this conclusion. In the X-wing series I remember enjoying the scenes where Tycho tries to convince Corran he’s wrong about Han, and I really love seeing Corran struggling to accept the idea that Han Solo is an honorable man.

“Still it was impossible to ignore the effort he had given to fighting the Empire. Something in the man struggled against taking the easy way out, against abandoning friends and abandoning hopeless causes. Perhaps it was a will to succeed, or a fear of failure, or both, or even more, but it caused me to realize that a catalog of his crimes and deeds could not sum this man up.”

One good thing for all of us who were annoyed to find Leia painted as a very bad parent during the Jedi Academy trilogy; Corran has way more faith in her than Kevin Anderson apparently did.

For example, in the beginning of the book Mirax has decided they should have kids and keeps dropping hints:

“She always managed to flick on the HoloNet monitors when some event featuring news about Leia Organa Solo’s three year old twins was being shown. The children were frighteningly cute and their very existence had been blamed for a baby binge in the New Republic …that cuteness factor can really get under your skin. The New Republic media avoided showing the twins drooling and dripping the way children do, and they really maximized the appealing things about the toddlers."

I thought that was cute that the media was always showing how cute the kids were. And it’s not like the media’s making Leia out to be a bad mom, it seems like everybody wants to be like her.

Anyway as a result Corran joins all of us in being totally boggled by the idea that Leia Organa Solo truly doesn’t know the coordinates of Anoth and thus can’t go to her own son when he’s in danger. Corran makes it sound like Ackbar and/or Winter was keeping this from Leia rather than that she didn’t want to know.

Also, as Corran tells it, he’s the only one who objects to Leia taking off for Mon Cal with Terpfen the traitor. However he’s not interested in volunteering to go along, he’s got other plans that involve messing with Exar Kun. This gives Leia that chance to utter this line:

“I hate it when a Corellian smiles like that. Usually means Han’s about to lose the Falcon to Lando in some sabacc game”

I found this really funny since if you’ve read the Jedi Academy trilogy you remember how much gambling over the Falcon that Han and Lando have been doing during this time.

Last but certainly not least, this book provides one of my own favorite Han profic quotes: When Han finds out who Corran is married to, his response is “Really! Someone who finally has in-laws that are as interesting as mine.”

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing this one, jzhanfan, so we didn't have to :)


  1. Well, thank you for confirming that I didn't really miss much. The thing about the kids being frighteningly cute though made me smile, as did the idea that the two of them having kids made all sorts of other people in the galaxy want kids. And of course the lines thinking about Han and dealing with not being Force sensitive and, like you said, probably bored out of his mind a lot of the time. Thanks for writing this one for us!

  2. Thanks for the review, Jz. Glad I didn't bother with this one.

    Isn't Coran Horn Stackpole's "pet" character? Bit of a Mary Sue/ Gary Stu by all accounts. He obviously wanted him to muscle in on the action so wrote him into an already established storyline that he didn't previously appear in. Pretty ridiculous really.

    Didn't think there was much Han and Leia in this one, as I did the obligatory flick through in the book shop when it first came out, and couldn't recall anything significant. And I didn't buy the book, so that tells you something.

    Yes the reference to the twins being all cute and adorable is nice. I mean, come on, Han and Leia are definitely going to produce some damn fine looking kids aren't they, so I always picture them as the cutest things imaginable.

    And would Leia seriously not know where Anoth was? She wouldn't know where her own children were ? Oh but Ackbar and Winter knew but they kept it from her....ugh. Like what do they think she's going to do with that information, she's their mother for Sith's sake!!!

    Love that line about the inlaws, I can imagine Han saying that!

    Interesting that this is the only first person narrative to date. How about a Han or Leia first person narrative novel?? Yeah, like that's ever gonna happen. Would be great though.

  3. claire1976, yeah, Corran Horn is Stackpole's pet the way Mara Jade is Tim Zahn's. the difference, in my opinion, being that Mara is actually pretty interesting. If nothing else, she's a very polarizing character - people either love her or hate her. No one except Stackpole cares about Corran. The first person narrative makes it even more of a "Mary Sue" sort of story, because it's so clear that Corran is being inserted into an existing time frame and story to give him credence.

    the kind of luck we have, we'd get a first person narraive from Jacen or Anakin Solo's point of view.

  4. OMG these google words are getting worse and worse. how am I supposed to read them when they warp the letters?

  5. Oh tell me about it, those words are just getting beyond a joke.

    Out of interest, does Horn actually appear in any scenes in this book that were also in Anderson's trilogy (where he obviously didn't feature) ?

    As for Mara, my personal view on her is that she started off as an interesting character, especially the way Zahn originally wrote her, but in much later books I didn't really care for her at all. It was other writers, not Zahn, that ruined her and made her into a Mary Sue, especially in the NJO.

  6. Sounds like I didn't miss much in terms of this book. Some cute stuff about the kids though.

  7. You guys can ask for new words when they're too hard to read, can't you?

    It's funny, going back and reading Mara right now she doesn't bother me at all. I think I only started to hate her when they made her relationship with Luke out to be the most amazing thing imaginable and Han and Leia couldn't even compare. Come on, can't they have a good relationship without having to constantly be compared to Han and Leia? Why does one have to be better? And they always talked all mushy to each other. You see Mara in these books talking to Lando and other people, she certainly doesn't seem like the type who is going to walk around calling Luke "Dear Husband" or whatever. I'd much rather hear Leia's terms of endearment, which are usually sort of insults but used in such a lovingly way :)

  8. We can, yeah. Little harder to read them on my iPhone.

    I can handle some Luke/Mara. Not sure why they are so much better. She Wanted to kill him. Yeesh. And Han and Leia have been married for years. Got to be doing something right.

    I'd much prefer to hear Leia call Han nerf herder. :)

  9. I feel the same way, I didn't mind Mara so much when she wanted to kill Luke, and even in the beginning when they got married. it wasn't until until they started using Mara and Luke's fabulous relationship to illustrate to us in the NJO just how bad Han and Leia's had become.

  10. Wow, jzhanfan. That sucks. Have I missed much not reading the later EU?

  11. I like Leia calling him nerfherder in an affectionate way, I actually think she would do that.

    Luke and Mara shippers apparently complained to Lucasfilm that they were written badly in Vector Prime, and they didn't act like they were even married, I.e they don't kiss. (geez, maybe we should have complained after the Thrawn trilogy about lack of kissing!) so after that they increased the Luke and Mara mushiness and in the mean time dragged Han and Leia through the dirt. That's when Mara became unbearable because they turned her into some super sex goddess who had such a perfect marriage and always looked like she was 18, and was so much better than Leia at everything.

    I agree with amara, it's not easy at all to type those google words on your phone!

  12. Wow, I've just noticed that Luke looks like a girl on the I Jedi

  13. We couldn't complain about the Thrawn trilogy, there was no internet! Maybe that was the problem. Maybe there was internet, but it was in its infancy and hardly anyone had it. I think I got my first glimpse somewhere around '94-'95. We had it not long after.

    Looking forward to some good relationship debates later when we get to those books that will drive us nuts, but that's not until this summer, I think, if we keep pace.

  14. We could have written letters though, although to be fair, when those books came out I was pretty young and it didn't really hit me at the time that they could have been written a lot better, I was just thrilled to have a SW book that continued the story from the movies.

    Yep, the NJO will certainly throw up some interesting debates. I am looking forward to it on one hand, but kind of not on the other, if that makes sense? Long way to go yet.

  15. You're so right, Claire. I never would have thought to write. And was just thrilled to have more SW.

  16. And yes, probably not much Internet before 94-95. I wasn't on it regularly until after had first full time job. Back in the days when didn't have to load the images if you didn't want to.

  17. Written letters? I was still in elementary school. In fact, it's possible that I hadn't even yet completely fallen in love with Han Solo and liked Luke better. Not positive exactly when that change occurred, but it is possible I wasn't there yet when the Thrawn trilogy came out. And yeah, when I discovered the books and even reading COPL first, I was just excited to finally have spome new stories to read and the fact that they had gotten married at all was enough for me.

    Man, remember when loading a single web page with a picture took a minute or two? It was like line by line. Excruciating!

    Amara, thank you for changing your icon to your pic of Lego Han and Leia having switched pants :)

  18. Man, now I feel old. :) I was newly married and starting first job around the time of Thrawn.

    Lol, Zyra. Glad you noticed. That story still needs to be written I'm sure.

  19. I feel old too amara z. I remember reading Heir to the Empire in short spurts in the aisle of my Waldenbooks because I couldn't get it from the library. back in the days when you couldn't just go online and reserve a book and they'd get it from another branch for you :-)

    I think my first PC back in '91 or '92 had AOL or Compuserve on it. for sure I was online in some form by summer '92

    I love lego Han and Leia changing pants. :-)

  20. Geez, and now we can download a book immediately if have kindle or nook. We always had computers in the house but it was 95 or later before I was on the web.

    Thanks on the pic. They are actually catching some private time her cell on the Death Star. :)

  21. I feel so young now...

    Well, looks like I didn't miss to much by not reading this book. Always wondered where Corran had come from, though.

    Ok,I would just like to say that last night I started having really vivid dreams about getting reviews of my fanfics. Is there something slightly wrong with me? Haha!

    LOVE the lego Han & Leia!

  22. FYI, having taken a side by side run through a couple scenes from the Jedi Academy trilogy and I Jedi it looks to me like Stackpole inserted Corran (who was going by the deeply subtle alias of "Kieren" at the Academy so no one would know who he was) into several scenes involving "the students" and also managed to take advantage of the gaps between scenes to cram in a scene for Corran to take part in. For example the trilogy never mentions that Leia has a conversation with "Kieren" at any point, but it doesn't say she had the same conversation with someone else instead, either.

    I give you Michael Stackpole: the ultimate fanfic writer; king of the missing moment story. :-)

  23. Oooh, you had aol in the early 90's? You were so ahead of the times :) I remember going into those old aol chat rooms. That was the first place I'd go talk about movie stuff, though not Star Wars in general as there weren't any of those.

    Golddragon, I have dreams about mundane things like that. I'm pretty sure I've dreamed of reading an EU book or something, and it was never even anything profound or interesting. No dreams about reviews, though.

    King of the missing moments, nice :)

  24. Thanks, gold dragon.

    Never had AOL myself. Don't remember who our ISP was. Hubby probably does.

    I've dreamt that I couldn't remember a story idea I wanted to write about. It was a bit odd to wake up with that feeling.

  25. Ahh, the days of dial up Internet...I remember it well.

  26. Lol, Claire. I bet the sound of a modem dialing would take us right back, huh?

  27. LOL indeed, claire and amara. we get impatient with google when it won't let you post because it thinks you are a robot? try watching your message board post grind away at 2400 baud for 20 minutes and getting all the way to 99% uploaded... and then the phone rings, instantly cutting off the connection.

  28. I must have been lucky that I did most of my work late at night. Or the line wouldn't let the call through at all. I would have been so hacked off otherwise.

  29. Oh, I forgot about that when the phone rang. If you had call waiting it might not kick you off. And that horrible dial-up noise when you were connecting. The pain!

  30. Oh those were the days. It seems so funny now. Can you just imagine still having all that? And yes, google asking for stupid words is nothing compared to losing your page that you've watched load for the past hour!

  31. So sorry to post so late. We were out of town for the long weekend. Thank you jzhanfan for the review. My daughter is currently reading this book, I have not had a chance to even flip through the pages. I find your points interesting and funny. I like the dynamic of Han being the only non-jedi on Yavin IV. I think, he's probably eternally grateful that he doesn't have to deal with their philosophical crap. It seems that Leia doesn't jump onto the Jedi bandwagon as much either, at least in the fact that she doesn't give much time to training etc until much later. So in that aspect Han and Leia have much in common. They probably have some pretty interesting conversations. It is interesting that in later years, Han and Leia end up helping the Jedi in various ways, but I would have to think it is because of their children and not because of their deep devotion to the order.
    I like that the media points out how cute the Solo twins are. This is an aspect I didn't know or have given any thought to, interesting. And finally, I too remember the day's of dial-up and pre-internet. I remember sending away for Star Wars "fanzines" out of the Starlog magazine. Where I got the $15.00 from I don't remember. Man, I wished I kept those original fanfiction homemade magazines I bought. Thanks again for the review.

  32. I own this book for some reason, but I thank JZ for reviewing it and saving me from wasting my time and reading it. Seems like very little Han and Leia worthiness in it! Do like the part about the children being so darn cute, though...

  33. I know this post is older, but I found a funny quote from it on Wookiepedia.

    "What, no quick shot about how Corellians have no use for odds, so they don't know when they're stacked against them? No joke about the most famous Corellian being named 'Solo' because no Corellian will trust another Corellian? What other unoriginal and older-than-the-Empire slur could you have offered? Oh, yes, how about suggesting that Leia Organa took up with a Corellian because, hey, after the destruction of Alderaan, she had nothing else to lose."
    ―Corran Horn

    I love that little bit about Leia at the end.

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  35. Haa, I like it!! That's pretty cool. :)