Fatal Faves: The Jedi Academy Trilogy–Fond (?) Memories

jatcoverFor the latest piece in our Fatal Faves series, Megan Crouse of This Blog is Full of Words/HoloNet Digest and I got together to talk about the Jedi Academy trilogy! We both have fond memories of this much-maligned trilogy from our younger days, and we revisited them together. With much laughter, mocking, and nostalgia, here’s our conversation!

Megan: So I think maybe the first thing to discuss is whether the series even holds up – obviously we’re doing this because we’ll defend it, but would you recommend it to a fan who has maybe never read Expanded Universe material before?

Rocky: Hmm. I’d say probably not. I got into the EU due to JAT, but I also wasn’t super familiar with Star Wars before then, and didn’t know what other Star Wars books were out there. I think one of the reasons this series holds up for me is because when I first read it, I didn’t have a point of reference. But for most people, who have had at least some exposure to Star Wars? Probably not.

Megan: That’s funny that you say that, since it was one of my first exposures to the EU too. Reading it after seeing the sequel trilogy makes me realize how many parallels there are – Luke’s fears about his own power (which isn’t directly confirmed in the ST but could be a factor in his exile), Mon Mothma’s illness, Han being a father figure to a dark-haired ball of rage. That said, the corny moments are very corny and the awkward moments are very awkward (…everything, everything about Moruth Doole) so it might be a better introduction thematically than tonally?

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Fatal Faves: Darksaber

darksaberYou know how many people with the benefit of hindsight like to rag on Kevin J. Anderson’s work? A lot, including myself. But that’s hindsight; in his time he was an extremely influential (and prolific) author throughout most of the Bantam Expanded Universe, and regardless of the critics a lot of his works are still beloved by fans. Because of his proliferation, his work was often among the first stories that thousands of burgeoning young fans read. That includes me. My first “adult” EU book was the anthology Tales of the Bounty Hunters, where, I’ll be honest, I loved KJA’s IG-88-centric story “Therefore I Amsecond most out of all of them. (What was the first? “The Last Man Standing”, of course.)

Once I had moved from the short story collections and into full-fledged novels, I was given a number of Bantam-era novels from a used bookstore for a birthday. It was a mixture of them, no complete sets, meaning I owned a third of the Crispin Han Solo trilogy, a third of the Bounty Hunter trilogy, and so on. One of the books was the KJA scribed Darksaber, a lesser book of his, not as high-profile as the Jedi Academy Trilogy or as landmark as Tales of the Jedi. The book blew my mind in a lot of ways, I recall reading it through several times, and going back over my favorite chapters more often than that.

Here’s the thing. I enjoyed so much of Darksaber, and it made such an impression on me that scenes are still stuck in my mind today. That’s more than I can say for most of the other books I had in that era (Slave Ship anyone?). When I think of the Bantam era, I think of the X-Wing series first, and then Darksaber, even before Heir to the Empire. It so perfectly exemplifies the era of Star Wars publishing for me. The story, the characters, the plot(s), the twists, everything is just so pulp, so Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers. Read More

Fatal Faves: Children of the Jedi

You want Star Wars? I got you, fam.
You want some primo Star Wars? I got you, fam.

So, this is my thinkpiece on why Bloodline is the greate– nahhhh, let’s talk about Children of the Jedi.

Picture yourself on the Internet, and try to imagine that everyone hates something that you love and hold dear. I know, unthinkable of, right? That kind of online hate? Who would do that? So you won’t believe how offended I was when Mike said that this new section, Fatal Faves, was going to spotlight indefensible areas and works of the Star Wars universe that we still love anyway, because fuck it. Because honestly, I feel like I’ve been defending Children of the Jedi for the last twenty years in a pretty badass lonely crusade, like some long-haired Toshiro Mifune ronin or some overweight Leonidas yelling “Roganda!!!!” before charging alone against the masses of the haters. So yes, I’ll say it here: I love Children of the Jedi and I don’t hate myself for it. Not most of the time. Sometimes. Only when it gets dark.

In this fandom saying that you love Children of the Jedi is like playing a selection of the best moments of RuPaul’s Drag Race before a Westboro Baptist Church congregation. If you admit that you drink the Kool-Aid of the Eye of Palpatine, you are hated by the Legends fans, you are also hated by the movie purists, hell, you are probably hated by people that have never read a Star Wars book but just found out that the book has a tuberculous plant called topato and a pet called pittin. “What’s wrong with you, freak!? Didn’t you recently throw a fit over the use of stupid words like flimsiplast instead of human words like paper? Why don’t you go back to your stupid continent? God, I’m a staunch Hilary supporter, but I’m voting Drumpf just to see you walled out of my country!” Read More

Fatal Faves: Shadows of the Empire


A long time ago, in another millennium entirely, I had only just discovered Star Wars via the Special Editions and I was hungry for more. The Paradise Snare, book one of A.C. Crispin’s Han Solo Trilogy, was my first SW book, but I didn’t actually choose for it to be—it was the summer of 1997, my fifteenth birthday was coming up, and I asked my mother to get me what seemed like the most exciting, natural entry point into the world of the Expanded Universe. No, not Heir to the EmpireShadows of the Empire. I don’t even know how I actually managed to hear about it, since I didn’t own a single piece of merchandise at this point, but somehow there were enough remainders of its huge multimedia bonanza the previous year that it got through to my young, ignorant brain that this was an Important Story.

Exactly how hard my mother looked for it—it would’ve been out in paperback by this point—will forever remain a mystery, but one way or another she eventually settled on Paradise Snare instead. I can only imagine what was going through her head as she browsed through things like The Crystal Star and Splinter of the Mind’s Eye before deciding for some unknowable reason that that was the right call, but in retrospect, it actually was a pretty good call. Not only was the HST a great story, but Paradise Snare being set as early in the timeline as it was led to me reading the entire Bantam era pretty much in chronological order, which had a huge impact on how I ultimately became familiar with stories like Dark Empire, the Corellian Trilogy, and yes, Shadows of the Empire. Read More