Awhile back, I wrote a post on EUCantina about the prequelization of the post-Return of the Jedi era of the Expanded Universe. The article’s basic point was that in the early days of the EU, the authors had no official knowledge about the Jedi Order in the Old Republic. None of us did–all we had was our imaginations. We didn’t know that Jedi lived in a Temple on Coruscant, were taken from their families as babies, and trained from the time they were children. As such, Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy was full of adults from many different worlds, of different ages, and varying careers. Some of them even came from families of Jedi. Tionne was a historian, Corran was a pilot and a cop, Mara was a smuggler, Kirana Ti was a warrior, Streen was a hermit, etc. etc. No matter what your opinion of the Jedi Academy Trilogy, I have to give credit to Kevin J. Anderson for creating a diverse group of Jedi, personality and background wise (although in retrospect there could have been more non-humans and people of color). Even in other eras, like the Tales of the Jedi comics, being a Jedi seemed to be more “what you did” and less “who you were.”
Then the prequels came out, and everything changed.
It started in the New Jedi Order series. The peaceful Jedi Knights were once again forced to fight against a formidable enemy, this time the Yuuzhan Vong. Even though we did get the awesomeness that was Jaina as a Rogue, we witnessed war tearing the Order apart, the government growing suspicious of the Jedi, and lots of people dying. Suddenly there was a Jedi Temple on Coruscant. (IIRC, it also appeared in the graphic novel Union.) The Jedi Academy on Yavin IV was destroyed. This isn’t to say I didn’t like the NJO–as a whole, I did. But the post-RotJ connections to the prequel era definitely started there. I can understand the importance of this–the authors and editors wanted new readers to be able to connect to the Jedi Order they were already familiar with through the prequels.
It wouldn’t have been bad if they’d stopped there. Instead we got the Dark Nest Trilogy, in which Luke unilaterally declared himself Grand Master of the Jedi Order and basically told the rest of the Jedi that if they couldn’t devote their entire lives to the Order, they needed to get out. (Remember Danni Quee? Yeah, she had to leave.)
Then, and now, I call such bullshit on that.
Since Dark Nest, the Jedi Order of the post-RotJ era has become a almost carbon copy of the Jedi Order seen in the prequels. The only difference is Jedi being allowed to marry. (I can’t help but wonder if they would have gotten rid of that too if it wouldn’t prove so problematic.) Up until Apocalypse, the Jedi were headquartered in the Temple on Coruscant, the same one used in the Old Republic. Now the Jedi Order has been driven from Coruscant, so its headquarters are somewhere else. Okay, that’s a slight difference, but the point is still the same–the Jedi all live in the same place. Early in the Bantam era, the Jedi only lived at the Academy if they were teaching or studying. Once they were done, they left. They lived their lives the same as before, but now they also happened to be Jedi. At least that’s the way I always perceived it. Possibly I was wrong, and was reading into the books what I wanted to see.
(Also, when did they all start wearing Jedi robes?)
Nowhere is this so-called prequelization of the Jedi more evident than if you read Troy Denning’s recent interview with Lightsaber Rattling. It’s a really good interview, and I thank Pete Morrison for conducting it. Brian has already made points about the out-of-universe implications. I’m more concerned with in-universe implications, especially concerning something Denning said in regards to Jaina Solo.
And it’s good to work that way, because if you’re working at alone (as most authors do), it’s easy to grow very myopic very quickly. A good example would be the Jaina-Zekk-Jag love triangle of the LotF series. I kept thinking that Jaina and Zekk ought to end up together, but Aaron and a couple of editors seemed to prefer Jag. So we went back and forth about that in emails and story meetings, and eventually ended up resolving the issues I had — which were that I didn’t want to see Jaina going off to live with Jag somewhere other than the Jedi Temple, because I didn’t want to lose her as a character.
In my view, Jaina is a vital character to the future of the whole EU, and whenever anyone said she should be with Jag, I kept having images of her being ripped from my writing life forever. I guess I was identifying with Han Solo a bit too much there. ‘You’re not going to take my daughter away. She’s going to live here in my Jedi Temple forever.’
But once we worked out a way to bring Jag to her and make him a part of the Jedi Order, I was very happy to see Zekk move on and write Jaina and Jag’s wedding at the end of Apocalypse.
So, basically, Denning believed that if Jaina married Jag Fel, she’d be forced to leave the Jedi Temple. As a result, she would be torn from the main storyline.
I don’t understand this at all. First of all, why couldn’t Jag live in the Temple? Are non-Jedi spouses and family members not allowed to live there? And if you point out that he was leader of the Empire and having to live on Bastion, well that didn’t happen until the end of Legacy of the Force. In a book Denning wrote. They could have changed that plotline if they really wanted him to end up with Jaina and couldn’t see any other way for him to be with her.
Second, why would Jaina leaving the Temple mean she could no longer be a part of the main storyline ? Is this not a universe equipped with the Holonet and hyperdrives? Having her live elsewhere could make the story more interesting. The authors could introduce new settings and characters. It’s been argued that the travel time to and from Bastion would prevent her from going on missions or quickly responding to problems. Um, I don’t buy that. This is a universe in which Palpatine felt Vader’s pain and immediately arrived on Mustafar to save him. Travel time in the GFFA is hand-waved all the time; getting from Point A to Point B takes as long as necessary to fit the plot. Finally, even if Jaina continued living at the Jedi Temple, wouldn’t she still have to travel? Not all problems the Jedi respond to happen on Coruscant.
But, instead of saying, “Well Jaina can just live elsewhere, that’ll work too,” the authors and editors had to come up with a way for Jag to join the Jedi. For him to marry Jaina, he had to give up everything and become an honorary part of the Jedi Order.
I call bullshit on that, too.
It’s true, though: in the GFFA that exists right now, a character cannot be a Jedi and live away from wherever their headquarters is at the moment. They have to be a Jedi at every moment. They have to put the Jedi first. They can’t have any other professional interests. One need only look at Mara Jade Skywalker’s funeral for proof. It was a Jedi funeral, non-Jedi need not attend. Except Mara wasn’t a Jedi for half of her life. The man who walked her down the aisle, Talon Karrde–the man who gave her a second chance by hiring her as part of his smuggling organization–was nowhere to be seen. Nor was Mirax Terrik Horn, who got arrested with Mara sometime between Vision of the Future and Vector Prime. Nor were any of Mara’s old smuggling buddies, with whom she spent ten years. This is completely and utterly wrong, not to mention a disservice to Mara’s character.
Does anyone else find this Jedi-centric universe completely boring? Remember Corran the cop? Tionne the librarian? Does anyone even remember Kirana Ti? This is a problem that relates to the diversity issue we keep harping on: everyone is now the same. No wonder I found most of Fate of the Jedi so boring.
That is why the Old Jedi Order was destroyed. They lived in a Temple, away from the rest of the general population. Regular people couldn’t relate to them. The Jedi took away their children–consensually, of course, but the practice still rubbed lots of people the wrong way. They grew arrogant. Look at what’s happened in the post-RotJ era as far back as the NJO. The government blamed the Jedi for the war with the Vong. That enmity has only grown over the years, leading to the Jedi Order being kicked off Coruscant and blamed for the war with the Lost Tribe and Abeloth.
Does anyone but me see a pattern here??? (The answer to that is no: Havac wrote a great blog post on Eleven-Thirty Eight about this same subject.)
Some people, who started reading the EU after NJO, probably won’t understand my problem with the Monolithic Jedi, as I call them. But I do. I want to go back to a time when being a Jedi was what someone did, not who someone was. Where a Jedi could be trained from birth, but still go off and have his or her own profession. Where a Jedi could get married, and living outside the Temple wouldn’t be cause for alarm that she’s going to be gone from the storyline forever.
I mean, gosh–what if Jaina’s just sick of living on Coruscant? What if she likes Adumar better?