Review: Jedi Trial
by David Sherman and Dan Cragg.
Star Wars: Jedi Trial is a fractured book. This was my primary feeling throughout the entire reading process, and now that it’s over, I can’t remember much about it other than how difficult to follow it was just because of how broken up the writing was. Apparently, it is about Anakin and Nejaa Halcyon trying to free a central communications hub on Praesitlyn from Separatist Control–and I had to look that up. Let me just say that this is not a book that will stick in the reader’s mind for longer than an hour after the covers close. First of all, this central location sounds like a medication for ADD; second of all, this should have been an awesome chance for some characterization of and action with Corran Horn’s grandfather. Unfortunately, Trial gets a verdict of FAIL on almost every count.
Let’s start with bad writing. What can I say that I haven’t said hundreds of times about 8 out of every 10 Star Wars books written in the last ten years? It’s written badly. Childish writing, staccato paragraphs, puffed margins, and short chapters alone nurse this crap up to 368 pages. If it were edited by a proper author, it would’ve reached 180, max. Characterization? Also a fail. The authors have the impression that sketching out a Gettysburg-sized cast will somehow result in a proper book, but all it does is produce confusion. The characters are little more than sock puppets, painted with broad-brush cliché. Dialogue is practically strictly catchphrase-based. Plot? So insignificant, I can’t even remember what was going on, and that’s after brushing up on a plot summary!
Really it’s no wonder this book is relatively poorly done so far as characterization and in-universe style. These two guys co-write a “military science fiction” series, which, for me, is already code for boring. The older of the two, himself a Nam vet, also writes Marines in Vietnam novels. The other was a sergeant major in the US Army and also writes Vietnam books, fiction and not, and is also a Defense Department analyst. Maybe these credentials get your blood pumping, but to me it just sounds like a recipe for another barely-canonical SW book whipped together like a bad Kroger cake and presented for the consumption of the masses who don’t know better.
In a canonical sense, the book does cover some actual events between E2 and E3. It doesn’t make any really egregious errors–some territorial contradictions could probably be explained without much trouble–but I’ve read worse. I myself found it shallow writing resulting in tedious reading, broken up and abrupt in transition, and not deserving of more than two stars, but if you’re interested in the Clone Wars, you could do far worse than by reading this. It’s a stupid book, but not a horrible one. That being said, if you actually like Star Wars, my usual conclusion will do: stay away.