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Star Wars: I, Jedi
Michael A. Stackpole
Bantam Spectra Books, 465 pages

Star Wars: I, Jedi
Michael A. Stackpole
Michael A. Stackpole was born in Wausau, Wisconsin in 1957 and grew up in Vermont. He sold his first gaming project to Flying Buffalo in 1977. After graduating from the University of Vermont in 1979 with a BA in History, he moved and has lived in Arizona ever since. In 1987, FASA hired him to write the Warrior trilogy of BattleTech novels.

Michael A. Stackpole Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Thomas F. Cunningham

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Michael Stackpole, author of the first four books in the Star Wars: X-Wing series, presents another fine tale featuring his hero, Corran Horn. While most Star Wars novels adhere to a very typical structure -- usually two or three interwoven stories featuring the A-list talent, with a rousing climax that knots all the strings together -- Stackpole manages to stretch the boundary a bit with a first person narrative focused almost exclusively on Horn.

Stackpole gets off to a fine start with a little sleight of hand that I enjoyed greatly. The introductory tale parallels and embellishes Kevin J. Anderson's Jedi Academy Trilogy. Stackpole retells the beginning of that saga, but uses a little ILM magic to brush in a new student amongst Master Skywalker's budding Jedi Knights -- Corran Horn. Horn is a Corellian, like Luke's good friend and brother-in-law, Han Solo. He is independent, hard-headed and has a lust for adventure. He also has the blood of the Corellian sect of Jedi running in his veins.

When the story opens we learn that Horn is a gifted pilot with Rogue Squadron, fighting a pirate threat against the New Republic. Upon his return from a mission he finds that his beloved Mirax is missing. Horn pulls every string and calls in every marker he can, but ultimately finds that Mirax may be beyond his help -- she is being held captive by a beautiful and cunning ex-Moff. Corran comes to understand that Mirax's only hope may be for him to join the Jedi Academy and learn to use the Force.

At the Academy, Horn's progress is slow. Given his temperament and the urgency of his mission, it's not long before the inevitable occurs and Horn leaves the Academy. Not surprisingly, Luke harbors significant fears about where Horn's need for a quick path will lead him, and his famed Corellian temper does little to soothe Luke's concern. Despite the warnings, Horn is convinced that he cannot wait... and believes, rashly or not, that he's successfully faced the Dark Side of the Force many times in his career, and this will be no different. Mirax needs him, and he's off to her rescue -- and an adventure that challenges him in ways he cannot begin to suspect.

I, Jedi is presented as Horn's journal. It still has two distinct story lines and they work well together, but they work in series and not in parallel. I for one really liked this approach -- although the reason may have more to do with the way I read than anything else. (When you read 20 minutes to an hour each night before bed, and often return to the book only after several days, multiple story lines can be a little irritating.) It didn't hurt that Stackpole kept the story moving along crisply, either.

Stackpole uses the introductory tale to solidly establish the principal characters, and then builds on this in the second story line to develop and enrich the Star Wars myth. In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke lost his father's Light Saber, and was forced to build one. Building a Light Saber is one of the final tests before becoming a Jedi Knight, and in I, Jedi we learn how it's accomplished. While I don't think the plans will be in the next issue of Popular Science, I'll admit I really enjoyed Stackpole's imaginative addition to the myth.

In fact, there is a great deal to like about I, Jedi, and I recommend it. It gave me a chance to revisit the Jedi Academy Trilogy, and to compare the stories. I, Jedi is smartly executed and fun reading, and that's one of the highest endorsements I can give.

Copyright © 1998 by Thomas F. Cunningham

Thomas Cunningham is an independent corporate coach working in the software industry. Bad science fiction films give him a rash.


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