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Chickenman

In Defense of the New Jedi Order

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Chickenman

So I've recently been browsing the interwebs, and I've noticed something odd. Nearly every mention I've been finding has described the New Jedi Order series as "polarizing" and "controversial." Now, I was nine when the books came out, but I don't remember them being referred to as anything less than stellar. It might be the groups of Star Wars fans I hang out with online (You guys, and also, not others) seemed to enjoy them and I was insulated from popular opinion. But I've never seen the series as anything less than astounding.

Among the complaints are that characters didn't behave like themselves, it was too bleak and they killed a lot of loveable characters.

I'd say all three are examples of the saga maturing. I was nine and already sick of the superweapon of the month crap that Bantam was producing.

So it was awesome, right?

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Radioactive Isotope

it was both awesome and controversial. what i remember most about some of the later books was the uncanny parallels with the Iraq war and how some people didn't like the "realism" of their Star Wars fiction with such a crappy real world situation. the NJO and books after it (both chronologically and publish date) ARE much darker and grittier than their predecessors. is that a bad thing? depends on who you ask. i like this new exploration into the depths of the characters' psyches and that everything isn't perfect in their worlds. but i do miss the ones they've killed off, particularly Anakin. i still think it was a really bad move and they wasted such a great character.

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Mara

I honestly don't remember hearing it being controversial, but maybe that's because I was late getting into the EU novels anyway and didn't start the NJO till 2002. By then, I think a lot of the mayham had worn off. Or I just wasn't paying attention, in order to avoid spoilers.

And even now, having read them, I don't find the series particularly controversial. I don't think the NJO is the only one that would have stirred up feelings like this, so I'd just ignore it and focus on my opinions. Which, was that I thought it was a good series. Not sure if I would find it awesome (perhaps I need a reread) at this particular moment.

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Princess

Actually, I find it interesting to parallel what's going on in the SW universe and what's happening here

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Andy

I loved the NJO, Vector Prime was my first proper introduction to the Expanded Universe. :)

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James the Defender

Vectpr Prime was my very first NJO book. I loved the series, except for a few books (Destiny's Way, Balance Point, Dark Journey) My favorite book was Traitor. I've read it four times and after the Fate of the Jedi series is through, I'll probably read it again.

I liked the NJO. I liked the new view of the Force, and I have latched onto it in my fanfiction and tweaked it to my own...w/o noticing until after about five novellas, lol

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Radioactive Isotope

Traitor was my favorite as well. The Edge of Victory books were also great. I really need to dig those out of whatever box they're in a reread them.

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Mara

I don't understand why you guys loved Traitor so much. I didn't think it was anything special, not better than any other NJO novel. *shrug*

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Chickenman

it was both awesome and controversial. what i remember most about some of the later books was the uncanny parallels with the Iraq war and how some people didn't like the "realism" of their Star Wars fiction with such a crappy real world situation.

While I'm sure there are a few minor parallels with Iraq in the books, I don't see it as an overarching parallel. The Yuuzhan Vong themselves were certainly based more off of the Aztecs and Imperial Japanese than Al-Qaeda. They were polytheistic, not monotheistic. They worshipped pain, which is not something Al-Qaeda does. They were an invading horde, not a hit-and run insurgency or terrorist group.

The real parallel, I suppose is that America got this shock to the conscience thing as did the EU, but eh.

Then again, people got mad at Star Wars for likening Palpy to Bush (which totally happens in the EU and gets a winking nod from me) when it was more about the rise and fall of Rome and such. So, you know. Your mileage may vary.

the NJO and books after it (both chronologically and publish date) ARE much darker and grittier than their predecessors. is that a bad thing?

Nope.

depends on who you ask. i like this new exploration into the depths of the characters' psyches and that everything isn't perfect in their worlds.

Right. I mean, aside from the Thrawn Trilogy and The X-Wing series, the Bantam books were okay, but didn't matter. (The X-Wing series didn't really matter either, but bonus points for being awesome.) They were all about the villain/supervillain of the month with no real development. I'm pissed at Luke for the way he handled the Yuuzhan Vong, but the fact that he had to wrestle with such decisions makes him a billion times more human than "The Nostril of Palpatine is threatening to kill us all. Let's stop it." Most of the books of that era were just attempts to emulate the movies. Even the vaunted Thrawn Trilogy plays out much like Episodes 7 8 and 9. There wasn't that amount of agony that strengthens and grows a character. The NJO came along and changed the game, which is why I consider it on par with the movies themselves.

but i do miss the ones they've killed off, particularly Anakin. i still think it was a really bad move and they wasted such a great character.

Anakin is both the death I'm saddest about, and my favorite death. The previous couple of books all pointed to him becoming the messiah of the series and then he was cut down before his time. I loved it. For one, there was the absolute agony of it, it just felt and still feels like such a blown opportunity (I agree, a wasted character) but that's exactly what I love about him. It's a real deconstruction of the mythic hero. Conventionally, people see the potential for greatness in the hero and he lives up to that greatness. Anakin never got the chance. He was cut down. Even though he dies saving the survivors of the strike team, it's such a small cause given what he was supposed to achieve, that it feels like a waste. Because that's how deaths actually happen. Hollywood has given us the notion that the main character always goes down in a blaze of glory. But that's not how soldiers die. They accidentally poke their head out of the wrong corner, they step on a landmine, you get pinned down, you're standing in the wrong place when the artillery hits. In reality, you die because you didn't stay alive long enough.

Now granted, his wasteful death wasn't the intent at all. They wanted to kill of Jacen but Lucasfilm said no, according to a source I read a few days ago but can't remember. Ah, well.

Anyway, as it turns out instead, the unlikeliest hero, the pacifistic and philosophical Jacen...still isn't the hero. He learns a way to see the Force There really isn't a Luke Skywalker of the New Jedi Order. It's a combination of an entire cast of characters from all corners of the EU working together that lead to the downfall of the Vong, and that's much more satisfying.

Are you still reading this? Really?

I loved the NJO, Vector Prime was my first proper introduction to the Expanded Universe. :)

Vector Prime is where I direct all my friends to go to start in the EU. As I said before, nothing happens in Bantam's run. I tell them that Luke's recreated the Jedi Order and the Solos have kids now and hand them the book.

I don't understand why you guys loved Traitor so much. I didn't think it was anything special, not better than any other NJO novel. *shrug*

It was a philosophical and intellectual approach to and reexamination of the mythos.

Also:

"No. I am Ganner. This threshold is mine. I claim it for my own. Bring on your thousands, one at a time or all in a rush. I don't give a damn. None shall pass."

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James the Defender

I don't understand why you guys loved Traitor so much. I didn't think it was anything special, not better than any other NJO novel. *shrug*

It was a philosophical and intellectual approach to and reexamination of the mythos.

Also:

"No. I am Ganner. This threshold is mine. I claim it for my own. Bring on your thousands, one at a time or all in a rush. I don't give a damn. None shall pass."

Absolutely! Best quote in the EU!

That book was incredible with plot development and being character-driven instead of plot-driven. It's because of the personality of the characters that the plot of the book happened and not vice-versa. It was shorter than some of the books and packed with action. The layout was incredible and the style of writing was most interesting.

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TheUnknown

I still need to finish the NJO. Other than the Agents of Chaos books, Balance Point, Destiny's Way, and Force Heretic II (Refugee?), I loved them. I still get goosebumps at the thought of the line "Anakin was the Force, and the Force was Anakin" and the exchange between Nom Anor and Ganner that includes this: "You are one man." "I am one Jedi." And Traitor is one of the few books I've ever re-read because Jacen was like me, just without the super powers and adventure: "Is there anything worse than finally reaching home and finding out that you're still lost?" or "I spent so much time wanting to act grownup, trying to be grown up. Now I just want to be a kid again."

I jokingly said the NJO at its best was like what you'd get if Stephen King at his best were to write a SW novel (something I'd love to see, hey, they're coming out with a SW horror novel): unpredictable, great characters, great dialogue, violent, edgy, dark, great story.

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Chickenman

I can't remember if I've ever reread a book. But if so, then Traitor or Shatterpoint will be my first. F'ing Matthew Stover, man.

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TheUnknown

I was nowhere near as enthusiastic about Shatterpoint. To me, it was 115 pages of boredom until the really good parts begin. I guess not being as able to relate to Mace as I was to Jacen had something to do with it.

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Chickenman

It's lightyears away from Traitor's awesomness, I'll admit. But it was still enjoyable. I think after actually seeing Apocalypse Now and understanding what Heart of Darkness was about, I'll understand it more.

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Ender

I was fine with Anakin's death merely because it spawned the Anakin the Potted Plant joke on SW.com.

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Radioactive Isotope

I don't understand why you guys loved Traitor so much. I didn't think it was anything special, not better than any other NJO novel. *shrug*

That's because you don't know a good book when you read one. :p

Seriously, though, the way that Stover writes bombards the reader with sensory information to the point that the reader is in the story. When one can literally smell the blood while reading, it is the sign of an amazing writer. And the exploration of psychology is incredible.

it was both awesome and controversial. what i remember most about some of the later books was the uncanny parallels with the Iraq war and how some people didn't like the "realism" of their Star Wars fiction with such a crappy real world situation.

While I'm sure there are a few minor parallels with Iraq in the books, I don't see it as an overarching parallel. The Yuuzhan Vong themselves were certainly based more off of the Aztecs and Imperial Japanese than Al-Qaeda. They were polytheistic, not monotheistic. They worshipped pain, which is not something Al-Qaeda does. They were an invading horde, not a hit-and run insurgency or terrorist group.

I never said it was an overarching theme; I just said there were parallels. And I don't think they were intentional.

Then again, people got mad at Star Wars for likening Palpy to Bush (which totally happens in the EU and gets a winking nod from me) when it was more about the rise and fall of Rome and such. So, you know. Your mileage may vary.

I remember that. Again, I doubt it was an intentional commentary by Lucas since he's had the basic story in his head for years. The timing just sucked in that regard. I for one thought the Bush = Paply people were a little nuts. One can argue some similarities, but for goodness sake, it's a fictional story. Like people who think The DaVinci Code is a heretical attack on the Catholic Church. It's a story, people!

I'm pissed at Luke for the way he handled the Yuuzhan Vong, but the fact that he had to wrestle with such decisions makes him a billion times more human than "The Nostril of Palpatine is threatening to kill us all. Let's stop it."

I totally agree. In fact, I was quite disappointed in the portrayal of Luke in the Legacy books, particularly after Mara's death. It was almost like the author's got caught up too much with what Jacen was doing and as an afterthought threw in, "Oh, and Luke's sad that his wife is dead." There just didn't seem to be the depth of emotional struggle that NJO Luke had with the YV. Personally, I would think having one's spouse murdered would have a much bigger impact than debating how to defeat a super enemy.

Also:

"No. I am Ganner. This threshold is mine. I claim it for my own. Bring on your thousands, one at a time or all in a rush. I don't give a damn. None shall pass."

Absolutely! Best quote in the EU!

I happen to like:

"Nine.

Hundred.

Billion.

Survivors can be weapons, too."

I was nowhere near as enthusiastic about Shatterpoint. To me, it was 115 pages of boredom until the really good parts begin. I guess not being as able to relate to Mace as I was to Jacen had something to do with it.

The first time I read Shatterpoint I found it a bit difficult to get through. It's one you have to read a few times to really appreciate. But then, I like Mace a whole lot better than Jacen, so I guess that helps.

Edited by Radioactive Isotope

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Mara

Stover's okay. But I think Zahn, Denning and Allston are all 100% better.

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Princess

Many times. To possibly emphasize the fact that you can't comprehend the depth to Stover's works

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Mara

Everyone is entitled to opinions. It's point of view. No one is right OR wrong.

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