Monday, January 05, 2009

Star Wars Omnibus: Tales of the Jedi Volume 2

About a month ago, I reviewed some Star Wars novels and said that I much prefered reading about the time before the prequels and original trilogy. I may have to revise my opinion a bit, especially since I've finished reading Star Wars Omnibus: Tales of the Jedi Volume 2.

You'd think this would be good. It tells the stories of the ancient Jedi Knights, set approximately 4,000 years before the original Star Wars trilogy. It fills in backstory for the Old Republic, with the Jedi fighting the evil followers of Sith magic. But there are problems.

Some of the problems can't be helped. These stories were written before George Lucas revealed a lot about the way Jedi are supposed to live. For example, one of the main characters, Nomi Sunrider, was married and had a child before she became a Jedi. Two other Jedi are married to each other. And there is plenty of references to other Jedi getting married and having children. Needless to say, I'm curious to see how the folks at LucasFilm will retcon all of this to preserve the continuity in the Expanded Universe.

But more importantly, there's a lot lacking in these stories. Simple craft is one thing that is really missing. The storytellers seemed content to just "tell" us everything in boxes rather than "show" us. That's an odd choice, if you think about it, since this is a visual medium and it should have been pretty easy to show us instead of bludgeon us with the blunt end of the plot.

The story is lacking as well. This volume centers around the reborn Sith, personified in Exar Kun. I had built Exar Kun up in my mind as a titanic figure, darkness incarnate. He doesn't come across that way. He's just a guy who feels like following the Dark Side for no discernable reason.

Not only that, but I really question the whole "Krath" subplot as well. Are we to seriously believe that a five-planet star system ruled by spoiled youth who dabble in Sith magic is a viable threat to the Jedi and the Republic?

The art is a toss up. I didn't really like it, but at the same time, the rough drawings really gave the stories an ancient feel to it. You could tell that this was the "history" of Star Wars, moreso than the Knights of the Old Republic games.

Speaking of which, I couldn't help but draw comparisons to that, especially the first one. If Exar Kun is such a bad guy, why wasn't he more sinister, like Darth Revan or Darth Malak?

There was one bright spot in this book, and that was the final story, "Redemption." I liked the art better and the story flowed better as well. If the whole book was like that, I would have loved it. As it is, it's just okay.

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