Examining the Star Wars Megaseries: Legacy of the Force

So, moving on from “New Jedi Order”, I continue today with my thoughts on “Legacy of the Force”.

“Legacy of the Force” is clearly an attempt to re-do the Prequel Trilogy right. And it’s unapologetic about it, making references to the PT a number of times throughout the series, through recordings that R2 manages to get ahold of and through comments about how Vader was when he was running the Imperials. And, for the most part, it’s successful, and is much, much better than the PT in portraying a generally good person driven to the Dark Side, and thus actually demonstrates how slippery the slope to the Dark Side can be. Jacen has a good reason for starting down that path, and you can clearly see how his concern for his lover and daughter drives him to do what he does. The politics are interesting and fairly easy to understand, unlike that of the PT. We have a link to how the change might affect his loved ones through his parents and sister. The action works. The Jedi Council doesn’t act like complete morons. Things are written so that we can see — most of the time — why the crew would follow and might be dedicated to a Sith Lord, by showing that Jacen hasn’t lost all of his good qualities. And, in general, the minor characters from the EU are used well.

So, then, what’s wrong with it? Because I don’t think I like it quite as much as “New Jedi Order”, and God knows that series has some major issues. Well, one really bad thing about it is that too often the series treats Jacen and being on the Dark Side as simply being psychopathic. Jacen is evil, acts evil, and revels in being evil. Except that, for the most part, that isn’t how it’s being portrayed. In most of the work, Jacen is treated as seeing the evil as a necessary thing to bring peace to the galaxy, and so for the most part is simply apathetic towards hurting people. He starts from not caring because they are bad, then because they aren’t bad but are hurting the galaxy, then because they may not be bad but they aren’t doing what he wants or needs them to do, or aren’t being successful. It had the opportunity, then, to build and build and ending with Jacen never really liking hurting people, but being willing to do it, or with him starting to enjoy it more and more as the Dark Side dominated his thinking, moving from seeing power as what he needs to do good to enjoying power for its own sake. But that gets cut-off with the constant portrayal of him as simply psychotic without any redeeming qualities. And while Allston is one of my favourite Star Wars authors, he’s the worst at this in the entire series. Traviss and Denning both remember, more of the time, to have Jacen rationalize his evil acts, while Allston tends to have him revel in them.

This is epitomized in one part of the books that I really hate, where at one instant Jacen rewards this one female crew member for doing a good job … and then not too long later she fails him and he kills her out of hand. I would have preferred it to be a different person, because in Traviss’ part she points out how Vader was respected by his men, and having Jacen be seen as someone who rewarded those who did well and harshly punished those who failed could lead to a sort of respect, on the level of, say, Thrawn. But with it being the same person, that doesn’t work as well; Jacen comes across looking more like someone who is inconsistent and unhinged than someone who is simply utterly ruthless. You can argue that that was, in fact, the point: Jacen is indeed becoming unhinged and this was meant to demonstrate that. My reply would be two-fold: 1) If you need to do more to demonstrate that he’s becoming unhinged than have him kill someone outright on the bridge of his ship, you’re doing something seriously wrong and 2) In order for the rest of the series to work, you need to explain why his fleet stays with him. Killing inconsistently only leaves fear, fear of the crazy person who’ll kill them if they leave, but if they have some respect for him, and note that Niathal does not exactly have clean hands, then you can see why the forces stay in opposition long enough for all the cool events to play out, and also why other forces might want to stay out of it. It works better in a work that had established all of that as backstory anyway.

Which, I guess, leads into another problem with the series: inconsistencies between the authors. Yes, “New Jedi Order” has them as well, but that’s easier to understand with the sheer number of authors and series that was going on. This series is more focused, and is indeed more clearly meant to be read all together, and so the seams show a little more. But that’s not a problem, except that it gets into something mentioned last time: you can’t ignore parts you don’t like as easily anymore. As it turns out, I really hate Alema Rar, and she harkens back to the Dark Nest Trilogy, which I utterly despised. But that’s one of Denning’s pet characters, so we see her a lot. And the same could be said for Boba Fett. I personally like Boba Fett, and like how Traviss expanded the character and his link to the Mandaloreans, but I can certainly understand some people not liking that and wanting to skip it … and not being able to. Especially since Boba Fett’s part isn’t actually really important to the rest of the story, and might even get in the way with it. At most, he provides someone to be killed to demonstrate how bad Jacen is getting — but never does anything about it — and trains Jaina to go after her brother, giving her some tech tools to do it with. None of that was necessary, and none of that justified the large role he played in the series. Now, if he had been a constant threat to Jacen or the Solos because of what Jacen did to his daughter, then that would have been different. But he wasn’t, which always leaves me wishing that it had been done like “New Jedi Order”, as an aside trilogy or duology showing us the conflict from another angle and looking at a popular character from the EU as well.

Overall, though, I do like the series, and generally enjoy reading it. Traviss can be a little too descriptive at times, but you do learn lots and lots reading her stuff that is kinda missing in what the other two do. But the change in format to a formal series actually hurts it a bit, especially when they try to pull off things that you might rather not read … not because it’s bad, but because you simply don’t care about those characters or events.

I’ll finish up with “Fate of the Jedi”.

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