Saturday, May 23, 2009

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi by James Kahn

In the beginning, a young man defeated the evil Empire's forces in an important battle. Then, he took a serious blow and his friends payed the price. Now, the Jedi returns.

After the ending to Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, with many strings not tied up, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi jumps off not too far after the ending of the second book of the trilogy. The first few chapters detail the rescue of Han Solo from the clutches of Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine. From there, Luke returns to see an old friend (Kahn's pun, not mine!), and then the Rebels and the Imperial forces clash for the battle to decide the war.

The early chapters with focusing on Jabba the Hutt and Han Solo are entertaining, but feel like an accessory to the rest of the story. As presented, the end of the last chapter of the Jabba the Hutt section feels like the end of one story, and the next chapter like the start of another. This section just didn't intrigue me like the rest of the novel did. However, after this section, things really took off.

Kahn seemed to hit his stride after our heroic group left Tatooine. From the epic space battles above the moon Endor as the Rebels fought the Impirial fleet and tried to destroy the new Death Star to the fight on Endor itself, as the Rebels, and their Ewok friends, try to bring down the shields protecting the Death Star, the action was gripping, the characters lively, and the story really flew along. The Ewok scenes were excellent, as Kahn played the teddy bear factor up for both humor and irony, and their loyalty and fanatical devotion to a cause was wonderful. Their interplay was spot on. The space battle above Endor was incredible as well, and I found myself flying through the pages.

While we all know the good guys win, I felt real suspense, hoping despite my foreknowledge that it would work out for the best, as Kahn really revved up the tension. His scenes with Luke, Darth Vader, and Emperor Palpatine were also very well done, and Darth Vader's role reversal was well played out, not feeling sudden or awkward.

While this is obviously not going to be the deepest story you will ever read, Kahn created believable (within the construct of the story) scenes, with characters you can care about, and a reason to plow through the book and not put it down. If it weren't for the first two chapters, this would have been by far the best book of the trilogy. Even with them, it is right up there. This was a great conclusion to the trilogy.


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