"Edge of Victory I: Conquest," published in 2001, is the first Star Wars novel by Greg Keyes. At the time of its writing he was working on a degree in anthropology, and between Edge of Victory and his other New Jedi Order contributions one can see how his interest in cultures might have helped him flesh out the Yuuzhan Vong. This book is the one which I could hand to someone and say “this is why the New Jedi Order means a lot to me” - but I also wouldn’t expect it to convert them, wouldn’t expect it to stick in their brain the same way it did for me.
It is one of my favorite novels of the New Jedi Order because of the pathos and power of Tahiri’s transformation, and the shock of seeing both the Jedi Temple and Rebel base destroyed. Those events were a much smaller part of the book than I remembered, though. Maybe there’s more form Riina’s perspective in the next book, but I remember her having to fight between two personalities more than was shown in “Conquest.” I also distinctly remember the damutek crushing the temple, but there was only one line of dialogue describing that in the book. I must have constructed more out of my own attachment to these scenes - unless they are detailed in the sequel.
I was a big fan of the Jedi Academy trilogy, despite its flaws. The destruction of the temple hit me hardest out of all the irreplaceable losses in the New Jedi Order. I could have sworn I remember descriptions of stone cracking, the temple flattening, Yuuzhan Vong shovel-beasts scooping up the pieces. I suppose not.