On page 217 of “Dark Tide II: Ruin” (2000), Chiss Empire pilot Jag Fel outlines for Rogue Squadron pilot Jaina Solo the differences between them: It’s not that she’s not strong or skilled or smart, it’s that she’s not “grim.” That’s also the perfect word to describe my overall impression of “The New Jedi Order,” and this third book is where it starts to really get grim.
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Good news and bad news: “X-wing” author Michael Stackpole returns to “Star Wars” for the second book of the “New Jedi Order” series, “Dark Tide I: Onslaught” (2000). But it’s not an “X-wing” book on the sly; it’s very much part of the invasion genre as established by R.A. Salvatore in the first entry, “Vector Prime.”
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I’ve been on a Michael Stackpole kick this past year, so it was only a matter of time until I’d exhausted most of his best work and got down to the dregs, namely “Union” (1999-2000), a four-issue comic series chronicling the wedding of Luke and Mara. This is a highly unusual “Star Wars” comic in that there’s hardly any tension or conflict in it; the group of Imperial terrorists who aim to disrupt the ceremony feel like a cursory throw-in that we’re not supposed to take seriously.
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Because Lucasfilm is shifting its focus away from the Clone Wars era, we’re not likely to see a paperback anthology called “Tales from the Clone Wars” anytime soon. However, if you still have your back issues of Star Wars Insider, you can pretend you are reading a couple volumes’ worth of Clone Wars tales. The magazine published 20 short stories from issue 62-88 (2003-06); 12 were set during the Clone Wars, with two more shortly after that period. (Insider wouldn’t return to short fiction until issue 124, when it would once again become a staple of the magazine.)
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“Mara Jade: By the Emperor’s Hand” (1998-99) marked Timothy Zahn’s first foray into comics, but he apparently got good guidance from friend and collaborator Michael A. Stackpole. In this six-issue series, Zahn wrote the overall story, Stackpole wrote the scripts for issues 1-3, and Zahn wrote the scripts for 4-6. It reads very much like a meaty novella (the duo had collaborated on “Side Trip” before this and would go on to do “Interlude at Darkknell”), yet it also leaves room for Carlos Ezquerra’s art to shine.
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