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Anderson's Jedi Search lacks subtlely and continuity

JEDI SEARCH

Written by Kevin J. Anderson.

Bantam Books.

By Patrick Mahoney
Staff Reporter

In Jedi Search, the first book in the new Star Wars trilogy, a clever plot line is marred by unwarranted coincidences and lifeless characters. Kevin Anderson tries to follow Timothy Zahn's successful original series, but fails to produce something equally enjoyable.

The first problem is that Anderson makes allusions to occurrences that did not happen in any of the previous books. While reading, I stopped and became confused, thinking that maybe I had missed something in the first series. When I went back, though, I was unable to find any mention of the events alluded to. It's not as though they are small occurrences either; Luke mentions that he has experienced the Dark side in his training with a clone of the dead emperor. This is something that seems rather important, yet it is never talked about directly in the old series.

To further frustrate readers, Anderson presents everything in a "matter of fact" way that led me to believe I should have already know about these allusions. As a result, I was distracted with every mention of the event, wondering what happened here that I should have known.

Anderson lacks subtlety, also. Throughout the book, he spells everything out. All of the characters always tell what they are doing and why, leaving nothing for the reader to imagine. This takes away much of the enjoyment of reading a book. I never found myself wondering whether the characters where hiding anything or not. In addition, many of the plot developments are far too convenient. For example, when Luke begins his search for prospective students to fill his Jedi academy, he accidentally stumbles on a foolproof way to determine a person's potential. It takes away all the mystery of the situation when everything is known.

Other developments in the book are just too implausible to believe. Much of what drives the actions of particular characters is simply unbelievable. If I were a commanding officer in charge of a battle force, for example, I wouldn't wait around multiple years for orders from my superiors.

All of the characters are also lackluster. Luke has become somber and introverted. Han and Chewie do what they have to do, but don't really seem to have anything driving them. Everyone starts and ends the same, maybe with a few more scrapes and bruises, but effectively the same. Leah is possibly the only exception. She starts the book as the same old Leah that we have seen in previous series, though we do notice a subtle change by the end.

Besides Leah, one other character does stand out in my mind: that of Moruth Doole - the lead antagonist who runs a narcotic spice mining operation on an inhabitable world. But unfortunately, it seems impossible that anyone so clueless could possibly have risen to the point that he did. Everything that he does borders on moronic. As I read, I wondered if he was actively trying to get himself into trouble.

Although Jedi Search is full of flaws, I did enjoy the book. It was a different type of story. It had none of the tactical plotting and diplomatic conniving in the first two trilogies. It was completely different, yet it succeeded in filling in several minor hooks left unanswered from earlier books. Additionally, the book functions very well in setting up future plot lines. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.