View Full Version : The Themes of the NJO: A Different Thread (SPOILERS LIKELY)

Nova Spice
6 August 2003, 05:03 PM
Whilst listening to a very moving song today, I began to re-read some of my NJO books. Quips and snippets from various passages; refreshing my memory on what has taken place. With the series heading toward it's inevitable finale, I thought I'd start this thread in a different manner. I'm not pointing out discrepancies or asking a question. I won't be asking for anyone's opinions (though they're always welcome). I'm just writing.

The following is a breakdown of how important this series is to Star Wars, and on a greater scale, how important the NJO is to us; the fans and the people.

And remember, "Everything I tell you is the truth."


For four years we've watched the heroes of the Rebellion, the iconic characters of that far away galaxy, face the dangers of evil. A fanatical race bent on annihilating all life; all the infidels. This is an evil in the form of genocide. An evil that wants to destroy life; not an evil that wishes to control the galactic government or exterminate the order of Jedi. But an evil that seeks to devour life in its totality.

From the opening chapters of Vector Prime, we were given the state of the galaxy. Peace had come. The Empire and the New Republic were no longer at war. The Skywalkers and Solos were finally earning their long-deserved rest. The Jedi were flourishing and the galactic crisis stemmed from the threat of war between two isolated worlds, Rhommamool and Osarian. All in all, things were finally back to normal.
And then Dobido slammed into Sernpidal, killing the Mighty Chewbacca. Or "Chewie" as we've all come to call him. We felt Han's grief, Anakin's guilt, and the fragility of peace shattered. The Rhommamoolian crisis escalated into full-scale war. Something appeared at entry point: Vector Prime. Dubrillion was being attacked by strange coral-like ships and Kyp Durron's starfighter squadron was obliterated. At the end of the novel, we were left with a "What now?" feeling. Chewbacca was dead. A Jedi Knight had fallen to a strange and mysterious alien race. And everything in our preconcieved little Star Wars universe had fallen apart.

The Dark Tide novels showed us the advance of this alien race, these Yuuzhan Vong. Fan favorite Corran Horn had become labeled a murderer in the eyes of the New Republic and forced into isolation. Ithor had been destroyed much like Sernpidal. The Jedi Knights had become divided in Luke Skywalker's camp and Kyp Durron's camp. Another Jedi died. And the New Republic leadership became enamored with their own self importance. Han Solo was nowhere to be found, while his wife and kids took to the frontlines. It was at this point that we, as fans and readers, realized that these fanatics were winning. The title of the series lived up to it's name.

With the Agents of Chaos duology, we picked up with the war six months after Sernpidal. Han Solo was not the roguish hero we watched charge down the Death Star corridors or fly through the Hoth asteroid belt or lead the Rebel strike team on all or nothing mission. Han Solo was a wreck in every sense of the word. Our perceptions of our heroes were changed. Everything we knew about them started to take dramatic new directions. With the conclusion of this series, we witnessed Han's desperate attempt to find himself again. We were shown the Vong's treacherous attempts to kill the Jedi, as well as the emergence of a strange, enigmatic creature who healed Mara Jade's illness. The enemy advanced and half the New Republic and Hapan fleets were wiped out at Fondor by Centerpoint Station. A weapon armed by young Anakin Solo. Wurth Skidder, one of the members of the new Jedi order was dead.The good guys were losing.

By the time Balance Point hit shelves, the series was a year old. Chewbacca's death was still fresh in our memories. And we began to realize that this new menace was evil incarnate. Jacen Solo's destiny began to take shape in this novel. We were shown how many people had been scarred and affected by this invasion as Leia tried to turn Duro into a safehaven. And it was here that we learned of Nom Anor's threat to our heroes. We had been given a new character to fear and he went by the title Warmaster. His goal? "Bring us your Jeedai and we will stop our conquest at Duro." The second Purge had begun.

The Edge of Victory duology began with death. Two Jedi Knights dead within the first chapter. The Peace Brigade, traitors to the New Republic, had targeted the Jedi Academy to deliver the young students to the Warmaster. We saw the youngest son of Han and Leia begin his tragic path toward his destiny. Heroically, Anakin Solo, with the help of Talon Karrde, helped save the students from certain death. The cost? Longtime friend Tahiri had been briefly captured and brainwashed by the Vong. At the conclusion of this series, we were given the first glimpse of hope. The birth of Luke and Mara's son. Ben Skywalker had arrived in a war-torn galaxy. Corran Horn had returned. Anakin Solo and Tahiri seemed to be heading toward a relationship. And yet, the enemy advanced even further. Their conquest at the border of the Core.

Star by Star will remain the ultimate Star Wars novel. The enemy had created a weapon to hunt down the Jedi. More Jedi began to fall to this creature weapon, known as the voxyn. With the end of this book, I think anyone honest will admit they had shed a few tears. Anakin Solo had sacrificed himself. Coruscant was lost. The New Republic had fallen. Jacen and Jaina, the famous twins, were separated. One lost to the dark side, the other lost to the enemy. It was no longer in doubt, the good guys lost. It was only a matter of time.

Dark Journey showed us the state of the Jedi survivors. Two and a half years after Sernpidal had been destroyed, we watched as the granddaughter of Darth Vader embraced the dark side. The happy Solo kids had been shattered: one dead, another captured, and another turned evil. We witnessed at the end of this novel, the Hapans rallying to the cause under the leadership of fellow survivor and friend, Tenel Ka. We read with uncertainty, the fate of Jaina Solo and her brush with evil. The war continued.

Enemy Lines gave us a glimpse into the nature of the New Republic remnant. Fellow hero and fan favorite, Wedge Antilles had rallied the surviving fleets from Coruscant and had taken the offensive, turning Borleias into a bunker-world. This series showed us the formation of a new Rebel Alliance. Han and Leia began to establish cells on yet-to-be conquered worlds, and Luke Skywalker, Mara Jade, and Tahiri undertook a daring mission to destroy a dark side monster, Lord Nyax, on Coruscant. By the end, the New Republic had scored the morale boost needed to continue the war effort.

In Traitor, we saw that Jacen Solo had endured torture for months. Under the tutelage of Vergere, Jacen began to understand a new view of the Force. This novel taught us the nature of truth. At its end, Ganner Rhysode, another member of the new Jedi order, sacrificed himself heroically. The shaping of Coruscant was sabotaged. Jacen had his final goodbye with the ghost of Anakin, and he and Vergere began their journey back to the New Republic.

When Destiny's Way came out, it marked the four year anniversary of the series. Jacen Solo had returned. Jaina had emerged from the dark side. The New Republic had reformed and mobilized on Mon Calamari. An ailing Admiral Ackbar had returned to turn the tide. By novel's end, Vergere, having taught Luke about the mysterious living planet, Zonama Sekot and the new way of using the Force, sacrificed her own life for Jacen. Warmaster Tsavong Lah was dead. The New Republic had a new chief of state, Cal Omas. And the enemy had been smashed at Ebaq. The turning point had finally arrived.

The latest series, Force Heretic has opened our eyes to the turmoil of Tahiri. It has shown us that old grudges can fade away, as the Empire joins the newly dubbed Galactic Alliance. It has revived old threats. Renewed old friendships. And forged new ones. And in the thick of it all lies Vergere's mystery...Zonama Sekot. We're left with a sense of uncertainty. What will the final two books hold?

The NJO is among the most controversial of the Star Wars line. Some people despise it. Others are enamored with it. Some devote their RPG experience to it, like myself. Others refuse to accept it. I for one, believe that if the critics would pick up the novels and read it, they would realize how truly Star Wars these books feel. In fact, I argue that they embody the true spirit of the galaxy far, far away. There is adventure, romance, love, struggle, humor, sadness, turmoil, and death. The threats are real, the stories are enthralling. It's the same spirit that drew so many to those theaters in 1977.

The NJO Themes:
-The tragedy of war. The first book hits us hard with Chewbacca's death. Then in the middle of the series, we lose Anakin Solo. Subsequent deaths of other supporting characters (Elegos A'Kla, Wurth Skidder, Ganner Rhysode, Vergere) reveal to us that the good guys do lose. It's not a stark contrast to the films. We lose Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Mace, Padme, and Yoda. The war theme is perhaps a bit stronger than we're used to, but doesn't that make sense? The enemy has waged war on life. How can they accomplish this without lives being lost?
-The struggle for truth. When circumstances arise that tear the fabric of lives apart, truth often becomes obscured. It is during trying times that our heroes have to find the truths that have been blind to them for so long. Jacen has exemplified this throughout the series; his never ceasing quest for answers. Vergere was his fulcrum. How do you find truth when everything you've known has been destroyed?
-The passing of the torch. The covers of the novel is as far as you have to go to see that the classic heroes of Star Wars are old. Even the droid duo, R2-D2 and C-3PO are feeling the effects of age. It has been a gradual process, but slowly Luke, Han, Leia, Lando, Wedge, Corran, and the rest, have made way for the new generation. Jacen and Jaina and their fellow friends have become symbols of the Jedi. They are the New Jedi Order.
-The perserverance of life. It is in freedom's name that the Rebel Alliance was originally formed. After finally succeeding in establishing a galactic democracy, the New Republic is annihilated after only a quarter century of rule. Was it all for nothing? What is the price that the Galactic Alliance is willing to pay to ensure that freedom prevails? There have been trillions of deaths; how many more are going to die before victory is finally ensured?
-The right to exist. Since the Vong entered the galaxy, they have bluntly stated that the infidels will be purged. We've seen that so far, they've made good on their promise. We've watched as our heroes have refused to give in, particularly after the birth of Ben. We've seen that the good guys believe in their right to life, as well as the enemies. We've seen how precious a gift life is.

I spent some time on this post. The New Jedi Order is by far the best Star Wars line ever. It takes everything Star Wars and expands upon it. We travel once again to that galaxy far, far away on our heroes adventures. Perhaps their last. We meet new friends as well as old. We see the new face of evil and we despise it, realizing that everything is at stake. Heroes have died. Icons have fallen. Yet in the thick of it all, good clings on. And it is this spirit that makes the New Jedi Order, Star Wars at it's finest.

Paul Klein
6 August 2003, 06:49 PM
Excellent post Nova! I enjoyed reading it, and can't wait until I get to the NJO. I have already read Vector Prime and Dark Tide 1, but this past February I decided to read Ė in perfect chronological order, all the Star Wars books after Return of the Jedi, starting with The Truce at Bakura. Iím only on the first book of the Jedi Academy Trilogy right now (hey, this is a 51 book quest after all), but I really hope to finish them all in time for The Unifying Force to come out so I can read it unspoiled. THAT is the book I canít wait for.

Thanks for the post Nova.

6 August 2003, 07:42 PM
It's an excellent summary of the saga, although I believe you're missing a couple of the underlying themes. When I get time to re-read the saga again, I may comment on my own thoughts.

6 August 2003, 10:06 PM
Excellent summary, my friend. While I do not care for the NJO (yes I read them) it is evident that you have paid close attention to them. Your grasp of the themes is presented in an artfull and coherant manner. I thank you for your study.

7 August 2003, 09:51 AM
Wow :) Bravo Nova Spice *claps hands* excellently done. Very good summary. And anyone who does not want a spoiler dont read anymore of my post.

But as for some points that are missed :) we see a thorough debate on what being a Jedi means? Are they warriors or monks? There was alot of turmoil on that sunject as seen with Anakin and Jacen.

Also it would have been best to also mention that in Destiny's Way we are finally fully introduced to the real evil behind the Invasion. The Supreme Overlord of the Yuuzhan Vong Domains.

The NJO series is truly a good one. It brings back everything the Jedi have faced. The New Republic basically went down the same path as the Old Republic, only difference was that the Old Republic became the Empire. And enemies like the Yevethan Duskhan League and Ssi-Ruuvi Imperium are shown again. We see terror after terror emerging like the Voxyn to Lord Nyax. We see old enemies become powerful allies like the Imperial Remanat. We see a Jedi Knight who is from the Old Republic.

We see a plan that was being developed since before the Old Republic; the plan of the Yuuzhan Vong. Truly they are an enemy that is even greater then Emperor Palpatine.

Sorry :) Nova Spice has placed NJO fever on me ;)

7 August 2003, 11:11 AM
I bow to your poetic witt, nova. I loved it. Short but succinct.

8 August 2003, 08:13 PM
Nova has done a brilliant job summarizing the Saga. Well done.

9 August 2003, 08:37 AM
Between this and several dozen other posts, Nova has convinced me to read these books. I was not a NJO hater, I thought at first it was a rip off of Cobra-La, but I was more interested in the classic trilogy era and the New Republic and the Old Old Old Republic.

I don't mind spoilers, never have. They never get in the way of me enjoying a book or movie or television show. Heck I know how many scenes of Ep 3 have been filmed and who was in them.

Hats off to Nova, I may not wish to game in that era, but I owe it to my fandom to read the NJO.

Nova Spice
9 August 2003, 12:13 PM
Thank you for all the kind words. This post had been on my mind for some time. After finishing Force Heretic III: Reunion, something hit me.

It occurred to me how long this series has been going. Vector Prime hit shelves in 1999. It's 2003. I started to reread parts of the seventeen novels and came to the realization of what an incredible story the NJO has been.

With the final two novels coming out, and a promised explosive conclusion, my feelings toward the NJO have come full circle. I, like many others, didn't know what to think when Chewbacca perished. Ever the curious type, I began to read subsequent novels. And after Dark Tide I: Onslaught, I became hooked.

It's been one helluva ride and I can honestly say, looking back, that it has been the coolest Star Wars experience since I saw A New Hope for the first time. The NJO has restored the name: Star Wars to the Expanded Universe.

"This threshold," he announced through a happy grin, "is mine. I claim it for my own. Bring on your thousands, one at a time or all in a rush. I don't give a damn."
His flourish ended with the blade slanted before his chest, and his teeth flashed in the gloom.
"None shall pass."
-Ganner Rhysode, Traitor

Kanner Ra'an
10 August 2003, 02:15 PM
I too am i huge NJO fan. I've rushed out to buy every book the day it came out, and pre-ordered over half of them. Around the time of vector prime i was going to stop wasting my money on Star Wars books, many of which had been of exceptionally poor quality. NJO changed my mind, though it too has shown the effects that we've seen when a series has more then one writer and they dont seem to comunicate. I cant wait to see how the series ends.

Rogue Janson
10 August 2003, 02:56 PM
I was keeping out of this thread because I was a bit behind in my NJO reading, thus a little worried about spoilers. But since I got Destiny's Way and the Force Heretic books earlier this week, I'm pretty much up to speed. :) (Almost finished FH3.)

I think you're spot on with your themes Nova, but you missed one really important one - possibly, from the way it's hammered home in Force Heretic, the most important one. This is unity.

From the start, the Yuuzhan Vong worked to divide the galaxy, turning the New Republic against itself. The Jedi were divided amongst themselves. The major powers in the galaxy - the NR, Hutts, Remnant and Chiss - do not work together. As a result, the coordinated efforts of the Yuuzhan Vong were stunningly successful. The assault fractured the galaxy further, physically as well as ideologically, destroying communication links and cutting off hyperspace lanes. Even at the personal scale, relationships were broken - that of Anakin and Jacen, but in particular of Han and Leia.

As the series has progressed, however, the NR has become more united politically. The Jedi have come together, and even integrated their council with the NR (or Galactic Alliance). Friends and family have pulled together more tightly than ever. Han, Leia and co's mission in Force Heretic is all about putting the pieces back together, reestablishing contact and cooperation. The Imperial Remnant and even Chiss are brought into the combined effort.

The Yuuzhan Vong, on the other hand, are divided. By their caste system and by their rigid hierarchy (separating superior from subordinate). Again, this is brought out most clearly by the shamed ones and workers in FH.

There is also a separation in the Force, with the Yuuzhan Vong appearing 'outside' it. The mission to Zonama Sekot aims to find the answers to this. Ultimately, rather than destroying the Yuuzhan Vong, the hope is to live in peace with them, as one galaxy.

In Force Heretic, this is symbolised by Tahiri. She is split between her human and Yuuzhan Vong personalities, both trying to destroy each other. When they realise to destroy one is to destroy the other, they merge, become one and become stronger.

There's a reason for the book titles 'Force Heretic: Reunion' and 'The Unifying Force'.

You get the picture? I'll stop there.

10 August 2003, 04:38 PM
unity is a very good point, has anyone else noticed as the good guys become more unified the bad guys have become more divided.. this is a rather well known symbolic thing. if anyone here plays battletech they talk about the same general thing in the first somerset strikers source book, the SB for the BTech cartoon.

the good guys started out heavily divided while the bad guys appered monolithicly united. by the end the bad guys had become starkly divided while the good guys became strongly united.

the symbolism there represents the strength of a unity of purpose and cause and the shifting of the tides.

Nova Spice
10 August 2003, 06:46 PM
I have one word, Janson.


That is perhaps, some of the best insight I've seen in quite a while. I can't believe I missed it! 8o

I'm glad you brought it up, and I have to agree with you, that the theme of unity might perhaps be the strongest one in the series. If you don't mind, I think I'd like to add that to the list.

Nice work. Thanks for pointing out the obvious and extrapolating on it! :D

Rogue Janson
11 August 2003, 03:00 AM
Another thing to add to that ramble about unity:

Not only must all the pieces of the whole come together or be destroyed, but everyone must recognise that they are a part or be destroyed. There can be no hiding away in isolation, pretending you are not part of the larger picture - as we have seen over and over again, up to Zonama Sekot.
This applies to the YV too. Means for their utter destruction have already been devised (we'll assume for the moment alpha red would work). If they do not recognise their part in the whole and make peace, it may used.
Luke recognises that to wipe out the YV would exact a terrible price on the Galactic Alliance, again mirroring Tahiri and other examples.

On a side track, the unifying of the YV and the galaxy/Force requires them to meet, if not half-way, but at least not entirely on the YV side. Thus, we have the Jeedai heresy moving in that direction. The one thing that concerns me about this is the lack of a 'heroic' leader (normally a requirement in SW, if not in real life). At the moment there's only one candidate - Nom Anor - and can he really change enough to play a heroic role?
Anyway, I suppose I'm wandering off topic there.

Nova Spice
15 August 2003, 11:22 AM
I downloaded an audio interview that theforce.net did with Traitor author Matthew Stover. It's over an hour long, but I received my money's worth.

The reason I am saying this is because I thought the interview revealed something important about the New Jedi Order. Mr. Stover was quite well-versed on the Force and the "new way of using the Force." Naturally he should be, it was his creation. Or so I thought.

As Janson has so humbly done, I'll add on to the original themes list:

-The expansion of horizons. For so long, we have been under the impression that the Dark Side and the Light Side are two pools of the Force, pools that can be tapped into. Thanks to Vergere and Jacen, we have learned that the Force does not have sides, colors, or distinctions. The Force simply is. The Dark Side and the Light Side come from within someone. The Force reflects that which is inside it's user.

Mr. Stover made a fine point. This "new way of viewing the Force" isn't all that new. The answer and the concept itself, was right in front of us the whole time. Thanks to Vergere, it seems that the drapery has been drawn back. This idea in itself is relevant to the Vong. The answer to their Force invisibility is not a great mystery. It is right in front of the Jedi's nose and I think this principle will be applied to them as well.

There's two novels left. Both of which are being written by two veteran NJO authors, Greg Keyes and James Luceno. We've been promised an explosive, shocking, and thrilling conclusion. And according to Mr. Stover, not everyone may survive.

Jim Williams
15 August 2003, 01:08 PM
Nice work Janson.

16 August 2003, 04:05 AM
We have alot of revealations about the Starwars galaxy with the NJO books. I have never seen so many Starwars books on the same enemy. Well perhaps the X-Wing books but i dont think they were that many as NJO. Its almost that the Rebel Alliance was not making a goverment but was preparing for a enemy they did not know about. Cause alot of the elemnts from the other books is seen. To name a few is the Thrawn Books, Truce at Bakura, Black Fleet Crisis, Centrepoint Crisis those who have red all the way to FH3 will know what i am talking about.

And speaking of revelations if i am not mistaken a huge insight on Yuuzhan Vong aka Vong aka Scarheads will be coming in the next book.

Kanner Ra'an
16 August 2003, 05:36 AM
Its almost that the Rebel Alliance was not making a goverment but was preparing for a enemy they did not know about.

I dissagree here. I didn't see that at all. One of the perpuses of NJO is tying up lose ends as well, if thats what you mean. But i can say for certain that those book were not created with any thought of the NJO. It wasn't even dreamed up yet.

16 August 2003, 07:45 AM
I am not talking about the book point of view :) cause i know the NJO was not pre-planned and all. What i meant was that in some sense it almost is like that when you read the NJO books. Cause they go through everything they did in the past. Not sure if i am making sense now :P

16 August 2003, 10:20 AM
yeah the NJO is nice. the New republic books where just "quick one shot enemies".

really sortta lame really :)