From the Amazon Review Vault: The Last Jedi

Not to be confused with the title of Star Wars: Episode VIII, a novel by the name of The Last Jedi made its way into paperback in 2013. Set between Episodes III and IV, it followed a Jedi who had survived the Purge. This

From time to time I’ll be dredging up some of the old reviews I’ve written of novels on Amazon. This was written about the 2013 Star Wars novel, The Last Jedi. Star Wars was acquired by Disney not long after, relegating this novel to “legacy” status, but it’s still a good read.

What the previous Jax Pavan books should have been

(4 stars out of 5)

Although neither the title nor the back cover give any indication, The Last Jedi is actually the fourth book in the Coruscant Night series, picking up right after the end of the third book. The Coruscant Night books were long on promise but short on delivery; after a promising start, the novels got progressively worse. The third book, Patterns of Force (Star Wars: Coruscant Nights III), in particular, was an angst-ridden, boring, deeply disappointing conclusion to the trilogy. What made it worse was what a lost opportunity it was. Reaves had taken a fascinating premise — a lone Jedi trying to survive in the aftermath of Order 66, in the time between Episodes III and IV — and fumbled it. (Others may note that this is not the only take on the dark era to come up short; see the video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II.)

I stumbled on The Last Jedi by accident in the grocery store book section, drawn in by the title. Imagine my surprise to turn over to the back cover, see Jax Pavan’s name, and realize that this was a continuation of a series I figured had ended. Obviously I was skeptical about the book, given its predecessors, but I’m happy to report that that this book finally delivers the goods that should have been delivered a few books ago.

For this novel, Michael Reaves brought on Mara Kaathyrn Bonhoff, and that collaboration yielded a novel that is far superior to most, if not all, of the Coruscant Night books. The pacing is good, the scope is sweeping, and the character development is much better. Jax finds himself in all kinds of places, dealing with the real dangers of life in the Empire and struggling with the prospect of being the only surviving Jedi. Reaves and Bonhoff do a good job of painting Jax in a plausible light: he is capable in the Force but not invincible, virtuous but burdened, intelligent but not infallible. They also bring a good amount of material from other Star Wars novels and writers, carving out Jax’s journey among the rich universe of Star Wars.

Not everything is perfect. The novel gives little or no backstory into events of the previous books, and neophytes may quickly get lost among the many names and past storylines referenced, especially in the first third of the book. This nearly derails the book, and even I, having read the earlier books, had to dust off Coruscant Nights to brush up on what The Last Jedi was talking about. Reaves also continues to harbor a weirdo fascination with pheromone-casting Zoltrans and Faleens, but at least that element is toned down considerably from the previous books, where the plot device bordered on silly.

But once the novel gets going, it goes well, and The Last Jedi proves a good read and an authentic, if often dark, take on a dark time in Star Wars lore.

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