We’re taking it back to 1995 with this week, folks. Another forgotten classic of the Star Wars EU that outshines anything from the new canon, this In My Opinion review is about Darksaber, by Kevin J Anderson.
Darksaber is part of the Jedi Academy Trilogy, a New York Times Bestselling series written by the ridiculously prolific Kevin J Anderson. This novel reads like a standalone, but also does a good job carrying a larger story through it all. This novel came at a time when Star Wars fans were still shunned from the majority of society, long before any whispers of Episode I began. Which is why it’s so special. It comes from a time when Star Wars was shaped, not by George Lucas, but by the writers who were playing in his universe. Writers like Timothy Zahn, Aaron Alliston, and Kevin J Anderson were the gods of the Star Wars universe then, and their words were what fans stayed up night after night reading and rereading. Therefore, when this novel was written it had a lot weighing on it. It needed to be a good read.
The good news is, it most certainly is a good read. It gives off the same feelings, preserves the same values, and totes the same feel-good humor the original trilogy of Star Wars movies had. Kevin J Anderson does not disappoint. But then again, look at him. How can he disappoint?
PLOT: There’s a lot going on here plot-wise, but the premise is so good it’s hard to forget any of it. Druga the Hutt, a crimelord who’s stepped into the vacancy left by Jabba, is finally putting his considerable wealth and greed to work. First, he gets his hands on the Death Star plans. Then he gets his hands on the engineer who built the Death Star. Next, he builds a Death Star. But not a gaudy, moon-sized thing. All Durga wants is the laser, the most powerful super-laser in the galaxy, so he can hold entire planets hostage for ransom. Meanwhile, the de-facto leader of the Empire is marshaling her troops for an attack on the infantile Republic. There are even more plots, actually, each weaving into each other to tell a masterful tale. Each scene unfolds as its own story.
SETTING: Anderson, a learned scholar of sci-fi, really flexed his creative and imaginative muscles in this novel. Anything that was inconsequential to the main plot he seemed to take liberties with in order to make the story a unique sci-fi experience. Aspects of space-yachts and interplanetary casino gaming that have never been seen before popped up for the first time in this novel, thanks to good ol’ Anderson. He still manages to capture the essence of each familiar planet and setting from the movies, making readers squeal with delight when they find themselves in memorable places. But I love Anderson’s ability to bring in new elements of sci-fi never before seen to a long running sci-fi series, keeping it fresh and new.
CHARACTERS: So, so, so, so good. The old favorites are always close at hand; Luke, Leia, Han and the rest. But the new characters are who really take the stage. There is a character in this novel whom I will never forget. I truly wish Disney and the story group at Star Wars decided to make this novel into a movie, or at least this character. His name is Bevel Lemelisk, and he’s the engineer who designed and oversaw construction of both Death Stars. But Bevel didn’t create the moons of doom by choice. You see, when he first disobeyed the Emperor, the Emperor killed him. Had him eaten alive by beetles, actually. But just before Bevel’s last breath, the Emperor transferred Bevel’s consciousness into a clone. A clone who happened to be watching its original self die. Once Bevel was safe in his new body, the Emperor would give him an order, and if Bevel didn’t obey, he would be killed and cloned again. And again. And again. And again, until he finally did obey.
How crazy is that? Bevel is one of the most unique characters I’ve ever read, because he’s died at least twenty times. His mind, his memories, his inner monologues… are so interesting.
VERDICT: If you’re reading this, I imagine you’re a Star Wars fan. So, if you’re a Star Wars fan you should totally read this book. If you’re not a Star Wars fan but want to know what damn good sci-fi writing is, read this book. If you’re a hater, don’t read this book. If you have no imagination, don’t read this book. In my opinion this book should’ve been made into a movie long ago. If Disney is focused on making Star Wars profitable, this right here is how you do it.