Wednesday, July 8, 2015

In Which The Final Prophecy Is Great

 

The New Jedi Order was my first passion in Star Wars literature. Soon after seeing the movies for the first time, I got caught up in this ongoing story about Jedi fighting aliens. About ten years later, I’m re-reading the series with a fresh perspective.

 After Force Heretic, The Final Prophecy was a breath of fresh air. It marked a return to what I've always loved about the New Jedi Order, plus fantastic character moments enabled by people from opposite sides of the war ending up stuck in a ship together.

The Final Prophecy was Greg Keyes' third Star Wars novel after the Edge of Victory series. That means that he has written most of my favorite New Jedi Order novels, plus Emissary to the Void, my introduction to the Expanded Universe. Thank you, Greg Keyes.

But on to The Final Prophecy, the penultimate volume in the series. If you haven't noticed yet, this is a Nen Yim and Tahiri Appreciation Zone, and my faves get pulled to the forefront here until the disaster that is Nen Yim's death. They end up angrily stuck in the Sekotan ship together on the worst road trip ever, and they gain grudging respect and then actual respect, which culminates in revealing that Tahiri has Nen Yim's memories. Nen Yim's first reaction to this is to curse at Mezhan Kwaad, which seems appropriate. (She's an atheist using religious-based swear words, but I bet if she was human her language would have been pretty strong.) There are still rocky moments - even as they're becoming friends, Nen Yim mistakenly mentions that she dissected Jedi - but Tahiri advances to the extraordinary level of acceptance required to actually find Nen Yim boring

Tahiri's integration with the Riina personality is shown in several quieter emotional moments, too. She introduces Corran to the concept of "izai," keeping the essence of a promise instead of the literal words. What a concept to come from the Yuuzhan Vong! Tahiri also sees more beauty in the world because of her "overlapping tastes," which seems like the most positive possible portrayal of a fractured, doubled personality.

Corran Horn is also great, as is the equally grudging Master-apprentice relationship that develops between her and Tahiri. (Couldn't things have just stayed like this forever?) I'd have liked more about Tahiri actually wanting a teacher - her emotional denial of that fact came at a surprise to me as well as to Corran - but it was still a well-written moment.

The only character who doesn't end up with at least some measure of trust from the others at the end of the journey to Zonama Sekot is, ironically, Harrar. The skeptical priest has his own reasons for siding with the Jedi against Shimrra, although those aren't clear at first. Maybe his change of heart would have been more powerful if I hadn't known it was coming.

The prose is significantly better than some other books in the series, with a stronger voice if not outright poetry. It doesn't hold the reader's hand, but rather gives them just enough information that they can keep up. Even the Imperial sections are more interesting than in previous books: Devis has a great little arc. My unexpected other favorite, Alema, continues to fight in Jaina's squadron.

The war is starting to go a bit better for the New Republic, with their armies able to move closer to the Core as the Yuuzhan Vong stretch their forces and their resources thin. This is another turn of events that seemed to happen very quickly - weren't they mostly losing just one book ago, with the stalemate at Esfandia a noted success? But the Empire has fully committed to helping the Republic now, so that might have something to do with it.

There's not much left to say, except that Greg Keyes' Tahiri will always be my only Tahiri, and that, somewhere in my head, Nen Yim is happily experimenting on Sekotan plant life. There might be a bit of a delay before my post about the final book of the series, and if so, it's because I just wanted to sit in The Final Prophecy a little more.

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