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 :)