star wars dark journeyElaine Cunningham
Del Rey
2002

“That was a joke,” Jaina broke in impatiently. “And as for changes, my feeling is that by the time this war is over, none of us will be the same, even the Jedi. Maybe especially the Jedi.”

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, hotshot 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 royal family has grim plans for their famous Jedi guest. Even more sinister are the intentions of the Yuuzhan 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 for her very being…

After quite the roller coaster ride of the previous novel, here we are at Dark Journey, the tenth book in the New Jedi Order novels, in case you were keeping count. This one focuses less o the Yuuzhan Vong’s continuing conquest (though it does have brief parts between the young and idealistic offspring of the Warmaster and the Priest that has a few more years of experiential wisdom under whatever this species use as belts, the interaction I found rather interesting), and focuses more on a tale of political intrigue of the former Queen Mother of the planet Hapes trying to manipulate Jaina Solo into becoming the new Queen Mother to “lead” them against the Yuuzhan Vong. Politics are even more convoluted when it’s a culture utilizing tactics that put Game Of Thrones to shame.

Anyway, Jaina’s having a bit of an existential meltdown herself due to all the wackiness she’s been going through as of late. She’s going to some rather dark places, going so far as to out-manipulate Kyp Duron. Yes, Dark Journey is ultimately about Jaina Solo and the rather interesting path she goes down. Further insight is gained on the Yuuzhan Vong “technology” and culture but this is wearing down on the Solo offspring, who’s trying to figure out if she has a greater purpose as a Jedi beyond being a rather skilled pilot. It was fascinating watching her go pretty dark, not going full Sith, but now we see the potential in falling into that trap. And I admit it was amusing to see Kyp get a healthy dose of his own medicine.

Overall, while not an entirely throw-away filler story, I found this less interesting, mainly due to the lack of interaction with the antagonists, regulating the Yuuzhan Vong to passive reactionary characters, little more than a Greek Chorus. Well, okay, as passive and reactionary as the Yuuzhan Vong can get. Jacen Solo’s captivity isn’t even touched on, which leads me to think the next book will be focused on that aspect of the outcome of Star By Star. The political intrigue and brief action scenes were written well, and the story rarely lagged. But…eh, Dark Journey seemed like Game Of Thrones Lite in Space, more or less. Take that as you will. In the end, Dark Journey made me think, “well, this is one finally”, rather than eagerly want to move on immediately to the next book in the series. But, move on I must…

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