Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Riina Returns in Force Heretic I: Remnant

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.

Several fans told me going into the Force Heretic trilogy that it was one of the more "skippable" sections of the New Jedi Order. I admit that Heretic was, therefore, fighting that first impression in my mind. It didn't disprove the assertion: dramatic stories for Saba, Jaina, Jacen, and Tahiri couldn't make up for the fact that the book treads water. It feels like a set up for things to come afterward, and was slow going despite itself. Remnant was Shane Dix and Sean Williams' first foray into Star Wars. It was a mediocre entry in the series, although it was literally about the making of a legend - which is particularly relevant to Star Wars fans today.

Williams went on to write Fatal Alliance and the novelization of The Force Unleashed, while Dix's only other entry into the Star Wars saga was Or Die Trying, a short story that ties in to the New Jedi Order and on which he collaborated with Williams.

Although I don't remember this well, I think I have never read Remnant before. I made sure to read Refugee, because I liked the Ssi-Ruuk; however, my memory of Remnant is blurry to nonexistent. I was surprised to find out that Jacen and Danni were together by the end: I know I called it in my last entry, but for some reason it seemed to happen awfully quickly.

The most interesting story in Remnant for me was Tahiri's, in which she is haunted by visions of herself as the shaped Riina Kwaad. It almost reminded me of the madness that affects the Jedi in later books. Saba's story was also good, and more complete: the opening images of Barabels spinning in space was horrific.

Other parts passed by without impact. The suspicious, comic bureaucracy of the Fia and the destruction of the Yevetha homeworld were significant but inconsequential.  I did like the scenes of Leia helping Tahiri, and Palleon shouting "Empty!" at the Yuuzhan Vong commander - although he immediately follows it with the sigh-worthy "the Empire will always strike back."

Also in the realm of weirdly humorous: at one point, it is noted that the mission to Myrkyr "had not gone smoothly." I can't fail to note the massive understatement.

This brings us back to legends. Mezhan Kwaad's story becomes the basis of the Jeedai heresy, morphing as it grows. At first, the Shamed Ones tell it in a way that is mostly accurate - she killed Vua Rapuung and is killed by a Jedi - but the Jedi-Who-Was-Shaped is not a major part of the story yet. The story changes as the book goes on, reflecting the way real philosophies and rumor grow and change. The characters use the word "legend' to describe that story, and it is with bittersweet fondness that I look at this prophetic proclamation. Remnant is indeed a murky Legend now.

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