Top Ten: I Jedi

Cover of I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole. Artwork by Drew Struzan.
Artwork by Drew Struzan. Click to read a preview!

Title: I, Jedi

Author: Michael A. Stockpile

Nutshell: Corran Horn’s wife has been kidnapped. Ordinarily he would go rushing off after her, swoop in to her rescue, and they would kick rear end and take names all the way out of the enemy base. But Corran doesn’t know who kidnapped Mirax or where to find them. The galaxy is a huge place, and only a few New Republic intelligence officers know where she was before she was kidnapped. That information is highly classified, of course.

In addition, there’s some evidence that Mirax was kidnapped by someone who thought she was associated with the Jedi. Which means it might take a Jedi to rescue her.

So Corran joins Luke’s Jedi academy, to connect with the Force and his Jedi heritage. But soon he discovers that being Luke Skywalker isn’t his destiny. If he’s going to save Mirax, he’s going to have to be a Jedi on his own terms.

Read-alikes: Just about any other Star Wars book is like this one, especially the X-wings series. I also think Timothy Zahn’s Night Train to Rigel and series is similar.

Ramblings:

Fun facts: I, Jedi was the first book to follow a character that doesn’t appear in the movies in any way, and books that follow new or side characters are still in the minority, on this side of the movies. (The pre-movie writing is where most of the expansion beyond the original cast of the movies is happening.)

I don’t know why these books aren’t more of a thing. Certainly, readers like to follow their favorite characters from the movies. I have a friend who doesn’t like the Star Wars books beyond that. But the books that aren’t restricted to the movie characters have so much more freedom in the world. (And those poor Skywalker/Solos need a break!)

Anyhow, iJedi is also remarkable in that most of the events in the first third of the book take place in a previously written Star Wars book (Well, three: Roger MacBride’s Jedi Academy Trilogy). In this book, there is no mention of Corran Horn. In other words, Mr. Stackpole wrote Corran into the preexisting story, without changing or damaging anything that happens in the other book. And that, my friends, is just crazy.

The prose does occasionally get a bit wonky in that section, as Mr. Stackpole walks the line between sharing story and plagiarism. But never mind. Eventually Corran goes away from the Jedi Academy and the story really takes off, because the starfighter, covert ops plot is something Mr. Stackpole is much better suited for.

Corran is already an unusual Jedi in that he specializes in mind tricks, where most just make stuff float. But he chooses his pilot/investigator life over his Jedi path, and becomes a fascinating blend of Jedi and starfighter pilot, which I think the Star Wars universe needs more of. There need to be more “gray area” Jedi, rather than only the cosmically perfect, zen types and the evil overlords. (Unless the zen Jedi have spent millennia eliminating trained Jedi with opposing viewpoints… which is horrifying and yet I almost wouldn’t put it past them.)

He then proceeds to attack an entire warlord by himself, which is impossible. But impossible is Rogue Squadron’s stock in trade. Even without the Rogues, Corran gives impossible a run for its money. It’s very entertaining.

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