Darksaber by Kevin J. Anderson is the follow up to Children of the Jedi and follows multiple threads. It’s a bit of a complex story, involving the Jedi, the Empire and the Hutts, as well as Luke’s saga with Callista, his would be lover. It’s actually quite a roller coaster of an adventure and jumps around a lot.
Spoilers for Children of the Jedi are in Darksaber
Following up from Children of the Jedi, Luke’s beloved Callista has lost her powers in transferring her essence from the computer of the Eye of Palpatine to Cray Mingla’s body when the latter choice to join the Force to be with her lost mate. Luke and Callista are seeking that union of spirit they had back then, but without her powers run into trouble. Luke’s natural tendency is to protect (or over protect,) hers, is to seek out her powers but not hold back Luke.
While Luke and Callista are off on their quest, Luke’s Jedi student’s have set out on theirs. Kyp and Dorsk 81 seek out what the Empire is up to and find trouble aimed right at the heart of the New Republic and Jedi. Meanwhile, Leia and Han are off to uncover a secret Hutt plot to build their own super weapon that is known as the Darksaber. Qwi-Xux, Wedge Antillies also make appearances.
The big surprise of this story (to me) was the unexpected opening up of General Crix Madine’s backstory. This defector from the Empire has been mentioned in RPG and in video game, but has had little expansion beyond that, and his brief role in Return of the Jedi. It made me sorry there were never interactions with any of his friends (such as Rieekan) in other stories, just mentions.
Bevel Lemelisk, a key designer in the Death Star plans also is involved in this, along with some unsettling information of how Palpatine used to ‘play’ with his powers, particularly when he was angry about something.
Darksaber was big and jumped around a lot, but the only part confusing for me really was following Luke’s past to various places he’d learned of the Force. It seemed like given the nature of the quest, it would’ve made more sense to go to where Callista learned it. But I do understand that probably would’ve run afoul of the prequel prohibition in place when the book was written.
My favorite parts of Darksaber really were watching the Empire and Luke’s Jedi. Their collision was inevitable.
I’m also probably in the minority here, but as weird as Callista’s past is (ghost of another era), I did like her and their romance. I think it does show that Barbara Hambly who invented her intended her to be the real deal (as she has stated Lucasfilm asked her) in interviews, only to have them change their minds when Zahn indicated he wanted it to be Mara. Darksaber by Kevin J. Anderson shows this shift in course, challenging the relationship that looked so promising.
Darksaber Lore & Continuity
Darksaber was sequel to Children of the Jedi, and is followed by Planet of Twilight, it’s basically sandwiched between two Barbara Hambly books.
There is a The Clone Wars TV show book that ties into this, No Prisoners. You can find out why I don’t feel TCW works with the Expanded Universe here, but this book was written early in before it started massively overwriting things. It was clearly meant to reveal Callista and Djinn Altis in the Clone Wars, and how their different philosophy set them apart from the main Jedi Order.
Bevel Lemelisk first appeared in West End Game RPG such as the Death Star Technical Companion, and is mentioned in the Jedi Academy Trilogy.
General Madine first appeared in Return of the Jedi, and has mentions and appearances in Dark Forces and Rogue Squadron games.
The lore in this Darksaber goes all the way back to Tales of the Jedi, given Callista’s situation (listed in the spoiler warning).