Story by Kevin J. Anderson, original cover art was by John Alvin. It was released in 1996.
This is an amazing piece of galaxy building and I can’t overestimate it’s importance to the mythos of Star Wars. This was the book that starts the massive multimedia project, where game, comic and novels would tie together for decades. Jedi Search is also the beginning of the fulfilled promise of Return of the Jedi as the hard work of restoring a war torn New Republic and Coruscant goes on, even as Luke Skywalker is finally ready to take the desperate gamble of training new potentials to break the bottleneck of only having one Jedi to serve the galaxy. As the first book of a trilogy it’s a great setup.
None of our original trilogy heroes are left out of Jedi Search, each has a role. Han Solo is off playing the unlikely role of ambassador to the shady characters now in charge of Kessel, and naturally ends up in over his head. Lando and the droids help hunt down Jedi Potentials. Leia is juggling the demands and concerns of kids, husband, Jedi training and her duties to the Republic in a extragalactic version of what most career moms probably go through. Luke of course is searching out Jedi trainees and testing them as well of course, and some of them test him back in terrifying but awesome ways.
Jedi Search has monsters, both the sentient variety and the non sentient, along with some real hero versus monster moments that I can imagine as a tapestry or painting just like that of the ancient knights and myths.
The characters seem to be very much in character for where they should be, post Return of the Jedi and after the recent challenges they’ve faced. Luke seems very in control, quite powerful but still just a bit unsure of the best way to do what he feels he must. The new characters are interesting with their own weaknesses and strengths. Even re-reading years later it feels fresh and new and it’s a great edge of the seat adventure, even though I know what happens.
Among the new characters one finds some truly unusual candidates, but Luke’s approach gives me pause. His wording is a bit too like his father’s (although his idea of how to achieve order, and Vader’s idea, are drastically different.) There are also some warning signs that some of his student’s might have reasons to be a bit eager for power. Kyp in particular reminds me of Anakin Skywalker’s situation, though in many ways worse (even Anakin knew that his situation could be worst, as explored in Jedi Quest by Jude Watson.)
The difficult lives his student’s have experienced up to now are a faint indication of the challenge Luke will have not so much in teaching them to use the force, but when to use it and for what purpose.
The Jedi Search ending is excellent. In spite of being the first in the trilogy it actually would stand alone pretty well, while leaving some open threads to continue in the rest of the trilogy.
Jedi Search Continuity
I have a whole separate post about Jedi Academy trilogy’s influence, but I’ll reiterate a bit here.
This story involved consultation with other authors to be sure it didn’t break continuity with their stories – so it references early books. Jedi Search also has a brief reference (easily missed) to an event in the cancelled Heart of the Jedi by Kenneth Flint. You can find a freely released copy of that (later edited to fit the continuity) on starwarstimeline.net.
Jedi Search was written before the prequels, when few knew what the Old Jedi Order looked like. However, Luke’s training was not as that of the Old Order, so it makes sense that he would follow the later pattern.
If anything happens to him, there will be no one to train new Jedi. Under these circumstances, he cannot wait and take years to train Leia’s 3 children to knighthood. He has to take the desperate gamble of training them now, so that if the Empire or criminals or anyone else who doesn’t want the Jedi rising again take him out, the Jedi legacy will not end. Hence the point of Jedi Search, is finding new adult candidates to train.
The new characters introduced here go on to have many of their own adventures. Jedi Academy’s Jedi Search is the start of a foundational trilogy that explains much of later stories.
Due to Jedi Search being written before the prequels, and before they incorporated more of the classic Marvel era, there are elements which might seem confusing. However most of this is easily explained by it being from Admiral Daala’s point of view.
- There were many other female officers, but that doesn’t mean she knew of them. She might or might not have been persecuted at Carida, but the ‘hair cut’ was no doubt standard for all humans. It’s entirely possible Furgan couldn’t stand her, but that doesn’t mean no other women passed through before (or after, if he was overruled).
- She had no way of knowing what the Emperor really knew. No matter how close she felt to Tarkin it’s unlikely he told her everything. Palpatine being a Sith and behind both sides of the war was known to but a few. So what he knew about the Death Star pre-Maw was only her assumption based on what Tarkin told her.
- It’s a bit of over confidence on her part to think Palpatine knew nothing of the Maw Installation. He may not have known the exact location but he almost certainly knew of it. It’s very possible he saw no need to seek it out. He had Bevel Lemelisk, a primary designer and the original plans. As far as he was concerned, the few scientists and destroyers within might well have been expendable, or at least not worth the effort of risking anyone going to the area of the Maw to hunt them.
- Finally I have heard people assuming the bits about the Death Star in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith negate these books. Not so. We saw a brief look at the plans, and had several books mention what were probably components being tested. But there is no way to really know how long post Revenge of the Sith the framework we saw in the end was created. It certainly wasn’t complete until right before A New Hope, so it’s about a 20 year gap.
The characters and situations involving Kessel are also visited in Rogue Squadron: Wedge’s Gamble, released the same year. That story takes place several years earlier.