The New Jedi Order continues as Jaina Solo struggles with anger and despair after the Jedi Knights' harrowing adventure behind enemy lines.
Though the Jedi strike force completed its deadly mission into Yuuzhan Vong territory, the price of success was tragedy: not everyone made it out alive. In a daring getaway, hotshop pilot Jaina Solo stole an enemy ship, taking along her fellow survivors--and leaving behind a huge piece of her heart.
With the enemy in hot pursuit, Jaina is forced to seek haven in the unprotected, unfriendly Hapes Cluster, where the Jedi are held responsible for a past tragedy--and where the royal family has grim plans for their famous Jedi guest. Even more sinister are the intentions of the Yuuvhan Vong, desperate to capture Jaina for a hideous sacrifice.
Grief-stricken and obsessed with revenge, Jaina is blind to these threats--and to the overpowering evil dangerously close to consuming her. In the coming conflagration, Jaina will be fighting not for victory or vengeance, but fore her very being . . .
Features a bonus section following the novel that includes a primer on the Star Wars expanded universe, and over half a dozen excerpts from some of the most popular Star Wars books of the last thirty years!
The short bit without spoilers: this book’s story and writing are sloppy, inconsistant with the rest of the series, and lack a logical foundation. It’s very much a filler entry; exactly three events described have any bearing whatsoever on the remainder of the series, and they could each be described in one paragraph or less - everything else shows up and is promptly swept away without consequence. Not worth the money or time to read.
Now, for spoilers. This picks up right after the events of Star by Star, in which Jaina Solo gave in to the temptation to use dark side abilities in acts of revenge against the Yuuzhan Vong for killing her younger brother, Anakin, and is left with the guilt and anger of letting them capture her twin brother, Jacen. Her actions in Star by Star are rooted in a very natural grief and anger, and are a normal human reaction to the hand she was dealt.
Apparently, Elaine Cunningham doesn’t understand the human emotion of grief, or that the “dark side” equates making wrong choices, and doesn’t change someone into an entirely different and unrecognizable character, as Jaina becomes in Dark Journey.
In this book, Jaina decides that she’s going to do whatever it takes to get back at the Yuuzhan Vong, and will stop at nothing to do so. This involves making decisions that simply don’t make sense for her character, including willfully and knowingly sending innocents to their deaths, otherwise known - to those of us who are not Elaine Cunningham - as murder.
Kyp Durron is in most of this story, and his primary purpose is to be her “good” influence. For example, let me paraphrase a repeated interaction between them-
Kyp: Jaina, I just found out that you did/are going to do a very bad and evil thing. That’s almost (but not quite) a Dark Side thing and almost (but not quite) unforgivable!
Jaina: Yes, but my justification is revenge and furthering my own plans and you’ve done bad things in the past.
Kyp: Wow, I see now that this is a smart thing you are doing and even though I am slightly put out I now agree with you and will help you. Lead on!
At the end of the story, Jaina finds out that Ta’a Chume, whom Jaina knows is evil and has been chummy with for resources, is going to kill her daughter-in-law and current queen of Hapes Tenenial Djo to regain power. This, the murder of an innocent to further one’s goals, is too Dark Side for Jaina, even though in this book she murders innocents to further her own goals. So, Jaina decides she is no longer going to follow the Dark Side and everything she has done is instantly forgotten by everyone with absolutely zero consequences. What a great moral for a Star Wars book, an entire franchise based upon the consequences of making good and bad choices.
So, if Jaina’s story has no bearing on the rest of the New Jedi Order books, what does? Well, Ta’a Chume succeeds in killing Tenenial Djo, but Djo’s daughter, Tenel Ka Djo, becomes the new queen, staying on Hapes and essentially leaving the Jedi; Jaina figures out how to confuse Yuuzhan Vong pilots into thinking one ship is another, which comes in handy later; and Kyp decides after seeing Jaina do bad things that he needs to not be a jerk to Luke, and instead help him set up a Jedi council. That’s it.
Everything else in the book is filler that drags and is often uncomfortable, like the 34-year-old Kyp flirting with the 18-year-old Jaina, or the 44-year-old Prince Isolder, husband of Tenenial Djo and son of Ta’a Chume, contemplating marrying Jaina to replace his ailing wife and keep his mother out of power.
The good news is skipping this book won’t leave you very confused, because what you’d miss is briefly and succinctly reviewed in the following books. Frankly, it’s almost less confusing to go from Star by Star to Rebel Dream, the book immediately following Dark Journey.
However, if you’re looking for a book that has a little bit of Star Wars, lots of boring conversations, pretends to have political intrigue, and all comes out to mean nothing, I wholeheartedly recommend Dark Journey.