Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly Audiobook Review

I am not going to lie, as I listened to this, after reading it back in the late 90’s and barely remembering any of it, I had a few “What the #*$%?” moments, where I would have to take a moment to process what it was I had just listened to.

The story follows two plot lines, one where Han, Leia and Chewie go to the planet Belsavis after a former associate of Han’s attacks them. They trace some jewellery he was carrying and a mysterious note to the planet where it is believed there are hidden tunnels and crypts where they may find evidence of a group called the ‘Children of the Jedi’.

On Belsavis Leia encounters a former ‘concubine’ of Palpatine, Roganda Ismaren, who meets with Leia and convinces her she is in hiding but is secretly working with former Imperial supporters and her Force Sensitive son, Irek, who can use the Force to manipulate technology, bring a hidden weapon, The Eye of Palpatine online and help rebuild the Empire.

Meanwhile, drawn to the Eye, Luke Skywalker, C-3PO and two of Luke’s Jedi students, an A.I. genius turned Jedi, Cray Mingla and her lover, former Jedi Nichos Marr, who’s mind has been implanted into a Droid body after he succumbed to a life threatening illness find the ship, ‘The Eye of Palpatine’ which had been though lost for thirty years and was now performing its main objective, by visiting planets and picking up beings to turn into Stormtroopers. The creatures the ship picks up are tribes of Gamorreans, a group of Talz, Jawas and Tusken Raiders, among others.

When Cray is taken captive, the spirit of a former Jedi, Callista, reaches out to Luke and they save Luke’s student, retire The Eye of Palpatine and rescue all the beings on board before making sure the ship itself will self destruct. During all of this, Luke and Callista fall for each other.

Due to Nichos becoming more Droid than man, he sacrifices himself to assist in the rest of his team escaping. Cray, still in love with Nichos decides to give her life to be with him, allowing Callista’s spirit to take over her body. She escapes in an Escape Pod and is reunited with Luke.

Callista’s Force ability is no more after her spirit was transferred but she decides to pursue a relationship with Luke and the two of them return to Yavin IV to the Jedi Praxeum whilst Han, Leia and Chewie return to Coruscant.

‘Children of the Jedi’ is the first part of a loose trilogy, dubbed ‘The Callista Trilogy’, it is followed by ‘Darksaber’ and ‘Planet of Twilight’ and its one of the more absurd novels of the early EU era that I have encountered so far. The main storyline has Luke essentially fall in love with a ghost in a computer, amidst a turf war between the Gamorrean Tribes who have been brainwashed into becoming Stormtroopers and are wearing parts of Stormtrooper armour.

Some of the characterisations of the main heroes feels a bit off, at one point Han describes Cray as ‘The blonde with the legs.” to Leia. At no point has Han ever spoken like that to Leia, or anyone, even when he was trying to get under Luke’s skin in ‘A New Hope’ about Luke’s crush on Leia or his flirty bickering with Leia in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. It feels really out of character and out of place.

When we were introduced to Nichos Marr, the way it is written, which could’ve be down to the abridgement, feels like this is someone we had been introduced to in a previous novel (I had to look it up just to check), turns out this is his first appearance. This made it more complicated that it needed to be, having just come off the back of the introduction of Luke’s Academy in ‘The Jedi Academy’ Trilogy and not meeting this character. And then getting a whole backstory where he was sick and got transferred into a Droid body, which was essentially a way of easing us into the idea that Luke could fall I love with a spirit in a computer. A bit much really, and (again probably to do with the abridgement) the character pretty much gets relegated to background fodder once Callista appears. And when we finally see Cray during the team’s rescue mission she is cursing Nichos because he’s more Droid and unable to help her… but then decides she can’t live without him… it was all very odd.

The whole Luke and Callista romance feels very forced, they have a few interactions but nothing really that would lead to them developing such intense feelings for each other so quickly. Sure you could attribute it to the Force, but still, that excuse can only work so many times. And the fact that Callista possesses the body of one of Luke’s students (who has been described as very attractive in many different ways) feels really uncomfortable for me. Surely there’s some boundaries being crossed there?

Part of me is pleased to say that this is the first of the EU/Legends novels that I have consumed in the last few months that has been disappointing for me. I’m not sure if it’s the abridgement or the story itself that doesn’t work for me, or probably a bit of both, but I’ll happily leave this one off of my list to revisit down the line.

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