Examining the Star Wars Mega Series: Fate of the Jedi

So, let me finish up with “Fate of the Jedi”. Note that I don’t really follow Star Wars online, and so don’t really know the reception that any of these series have gotten. I know a little from some comments I’ve read sporadically, but don’t really know what most people are thinking. So this one might be the most controversial of my three assessments:

“Fate of the Jedi” is an utter disaster. It boggles my mind how three at least somewhat competent authors managed to mess this series up, overall, so very, very badly. It isn’t even that the series is like “Dark Nest”, which is just completely and totally bad from start to finish. There are good ideas and good parts to it, but you don’t really grasp just how very, very bad the series is until you get to the end and everything comes together into one really terrible package.

Now, let me reiterate that this is my opinion. There are, of course, reasons to potentially like it, and some people might just like it for whatever reason. But as I said at the start, I’m going to give some at least semi-objective reasons for my opinion that it’s really, really bad. At let’s start at the beginning, with the ideas that it tried to express. And the problem is that it’s a long list. We have:

1) A Lovecraftian Great Old One villain in Abeloth.

2) The clash between the Jedi and a strongly distrusting government.

3) A strange illnesss that’s making the young Jedi think that their friends and family have been replaced with identical imposters.

4) Luke and Ben tracing Jacen’s travels to try to figure out what made him turn to the Dark Side.

5) A lost tribe of Sith becoming active again.

On their own, none of these ideas are big enough, in my opinion, to make a nine book series. However, they’re all big enough for at least a duology if not a trilogy. And not all of them play well together if you try to interweave them, and trying to do all of them at once is far, far too much to do in only nine books. As a result, the ideas don’t get the attention they deserve, especially when you add in the subplots like Jaina and Jag, Corellia vs Coruscant, Tahiri’s recovery from the events in “Legacy of the Force”, the split in the Jedi over loyalty to the government or not being tied to a government’s agenda, and a number of other issues that are shoehorned in. So the ideas aren’t developed properly, which is terrible if one of the ideas really appealed to you. Add in that this wide focus requires that each book divide its time between the various ideas — since they can’t all be done in the same scene — and you run right into the problem that “New Jedi Order” neatly sidestepped and “Legacy of the Force” mostly managed to avoid: if you don’t like one or more of the ideas or scenes, you get taken away from events that you were enjoying and that you really want to see continued to read about events that you don’t like. With so many themes running through the work, there are a lot of scenes for each theme, and that means that you get taken away a lot more than you normally would. I definitely recall at times grumbling to myself about having to struggle through the Luke Skywalker or Abeloth scenes when the Jedi-Daala conflict was what I was really interested in.

This is all made worse by the fact that out of the main themes I’ve identified, many Star Wars fans will have reason to strongly dislike one or more of them. For Abeloth, it could be argued that that sort of GOO is not what Star Wars is about at all, and dislike the shift in tone. For the Jedi-Daala conflict, you’d have people disliking Daala as Chief of State and the fact that this sort of conflict has been done before. Luke and Ben’s quest will only appeal to certain fans, who liked learning more about the Force. Stuffing all of this stuff into one series almost guarantees that almost all fans will strongly dislike part of the series, which is not exactly a selling point.

So, if this was done really, really well, the best you could probably expect is to get to mediocre in the minds of most fans; some good parts, some bad parts and overall okay. But it isn’t done really, really well. There are massive issues with it in pretty much all of the storylines. Abeloth doesn’t get the required detail, and so, to me, comes across as nothing more than a plot device, used to bring in the other elements. She’s the cause of the mind disease affecting the Jedi. She gets the Sith into the Temple, and is the force that brings Luke and the Sith together. But she doesn’t do much herself, and when actually faced directly tends to go down quite easily … only to spring back up again with a “Fooled you!” when she’s needed to do something that otherwise couldn’t happen. Daala and the Mandalorians act like complete idiots, and the conflict is again not detailed enough and so requires manipulation to get the required emotional gravitas … like inventing one character, setting her out as such a nice and caring person … only to, a short time later, have her killed off by the Mandalorian commander to, I suppose, “make it real”. And Daala’s idiocy in even allowing that hurts the work, because we’re supposed to believe that there’s a real conflict here, especially since we can see why regular people would indeed be afraid of the Jedi, but making it just seem like Daala’s insanity hides that and makes Kenth Hamner’s attempts to work with the government just seem totally misguided, which hurt the conflict among the Jedi over how they should react to this and made that seem much more one-sided … right up until the point that Saba Sebatyne kills him and then, despite having little political skills whatsover, is made acting Grand Master in his place. To why my thought was, literally, WTF? How can the Jedi countenance the person who killed the Grand Master simply taking his place? Didn’t any of the Jedi support him at all? If they didn’t, then why was he so stubborn over it? If some did, then didn’t they think that she simply grabbed power because he didn’t do what she wanted? Patting her on the back over what she did really didn’t make sense to me, although I admit that part of that might be that she was never my favourite character in the first place.

Anyway, there are a number of writing issues that it has. But even with that, I might not call it a disaster, except for how it ended. Or, rather, how it didn’t end. None of the issues are actually addressed, other than kicking Daala out of office. The Sith Tribe still exists, Vestara turns away from the Light Side, and even Abeloth isn’t really defeated and could come back at any time. Nothing gets resolved in the series, and so it feels more like an introduction to another series than like a self-contained series in its own right. A long, annoying introductory series, being completely blunt.

Look, in a continuing universe like Star Wars, everything’s not going to get resolved in each series. The EU itself grew out of what was left over from the OT. “Legacy of the Force” built on the leftovers of “New Jedi Order”. Heck, even “Fate on the Jedi” picks up the loose threads from “Legacy of the Force”. But what all of those series have that “Fate of the Jedi” lacks is the feeling that this story is over, even though there’s still story to come. You could stop at the OT even if someone raises the questions that the EU tries to answer, like “How does the Republic actually go about replacing the Empire?”. You can stop after “New Jedi Order” and “Legacy of the Force” and feel that their stories are complete. I don’t get that from “Fate of the Jedi”, because conflicts are introduced as part of it that seem to require resolution. We know that Vestara and Ben have to meet again. We have to pretty much figure that Abeloth will have to be dealt with more permanently and not remain a threat hanging over their heads. The Sith Tribe will probably try to invade at some point. And so on. With all of this, it seems like too much of a set-up for the next series, whatever and whenever it will be. And when I wasn’t really enjoying this one, not even giving me something that would let me close the book on these issues is just really, really annoying.

So, taken all together, it’s a mess. This series should have been split up into a set of semi-related but independent series, allowing them to focus on their main ideas more and develop them properly, and then also to end them properly and move on to the next set of issues. Without that, and with the writing problems, it just ends up as something that I really don’t think I want to read again.

Although, I might do that at some point … which is more than I can say for Dark Nest.

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2 Responses to “Examining the Star Wars Mega Series: Fate of the Jedi”

  1. What I Did on My Winter Vacation … | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] I wrote up my impressions of the Star Wars Mega Series, which I had been thinking about for a […]

  2. Thoughts on “Last Orders”, and “The War That Came Early” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] characters, like the Czech sniper. This left me feeling about the series they way I felt about “Fate of the Jedi”, that the resolutions and the end of the series and thus the series as a whole, ultimately, is only […]

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