After nearly three years and eighteen or so books, thousands of pages, peals of laughter, gasps of shock and floods of tears… I have finally finished The Unifying Force and, thus, the epic New Jedi Order.
It’s a very strange feeling, I’ve never read such a long series of books and therefore had such an opportunity to to get to know a group of characters like I have in this series. The scale of this series really drove home the relentless feeling of the horror of war, and I really felt like I was slogging through the conflict right alongside our heroes. And I mean this in a very good way! So often in books, wars are fought and lost in mere chapters, where the New Jedi Order takes you through all the highs and lows of a galactic scale war, the battles fought and lost, as well as the heroes and villains on both sides.
It is with the “villains” of the conflict that I feel the New Jedi Order did so well and where, to me, part of its main triumph lies. The Yuuzhan Vong are an adversary like none I have encountered before. Seemingly barbaric and savage, they appear at first to be hell-bent on the utter destruction of the galaxy as we know it. They worship death and pain, abhor machines and technology and want to rebuild the galaxy and its inhabitants in their image, by force and torture if needed.
“We are the Yuuzhan Vong. Our cause is right and just” – Shedao Shai, warrior caste
Yet scratch beneath the surface and you get to see the Yuuzhan Vong are a deeply conflicted and frightened species, cast adrift and desperately seeking solace in their gods and searching for a home they have never had. I loved getting to know some of the key players of the Vong, from scheming Nom Anor, Harrar and Nen Yim, Warmasters Tsavong Lah and Nas Choka to the indomitable Shedao Shai, mad Onimi, traitorous Vua Rapuung and the terrifying Supreme Overlord, Shimrra.
But that’s enough about the Vong! Let’s talk about our heroes, the galaxy’s saviours (and those who walk somewhere in between!).
“The end of the world. Who’d’ve thought we’d live to see it?” – Han Solo
As I went into this series, I was already fully in love with Han, Luke, Leia and Mara of course. Yet as I looked back through my old posts about my feelings towards the Solo kids, hilariously enough I was at worst extremely irritated by them and, at best, resoundingly “meh” about them. Needless to say all three of them are now some of my favourite Star Wars characters ever and it has been such an amazing experience to literally follow their characters right from their births to their (😭deaths😭) growth to adulthood and beyond.
I fell deeply in love with Jacen, mostly because of Traitor, but also because he is such a rich and vibrant character. I love the way he grapples with the concept of the Jedi and their place in the Force (major Prequel throwbacks as he contemplates how the Jedi are supposed to “keep the peace” with violence. His relationship with Vegere was honestly the making of him and I’m absolutely dreading Legacy of the Force because I know where this is all heading and I’m 100% not ready for it!!
“Everything I tell you is a lie” – Vergere
And my thoughts on the New Jedi Order wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t talk about Anakin Solo. When I first went into the series I said I was “looking forward to caring about Anakin Solo” which is living proof that the saying “be careful what you wish for” is still completely relevant!!
From the moment he appeared in Vector Prime, I knew Anakin was going to become one of my favourite characters, but this was completely solidified during his time on Yavin 4 with Vua Rapuung. Plus his relationship with Tahiri was the absolute best thing and I will always feel bittersweet about it!
Anakin, to me, felt like the embodiment of everything his grandfather could have been, had he stayed on the path of the light. Anakin feels like the ultimate “what if” – what if Darth Vader never went bad? Well the answer is Anakin Solo. Weirdly enough, Nom Anor actually summed up Anakin the best:-
“I witnessed the death of perhaps the greatest of them all, the one called Anakin Solo, who gave his life so that the ones he loved might live…”
In terms of the concluding book, The Unifying Force, I have to say the book was a triumph. It felt so much like Avengers: Endgame in that there were ends tied up, and throwbacks to some of the earlier books that just made everything fit together seamlessly. The feat all of these authors accomplished by weaving a story together on such an epic scale, with Luceno masterfully concluding, is staggering.
The Unifying Force also, somehow managed to make me feel sorry for the Yuuzhan Vong (whaaaaaat) despite all the atrocities and horrors they wrought on the galaxy! I was mentally shaking my fist at Luceno for the gall of it!!
So how to summarise such an epic journey? I am so very glad I read this series. It has changed my fandom and the way I view Star Wars forever. Never before have I been able to traverse the galaxy for such a length of time with such a wonderful group of characters. Jacen, Jaina and Anakin Solo are as real and vivid to me as Han, Luke and Leia themselves. They feel like Star Wars to me and I think it is fair to say the New Jedi Order has become my all time favourite Star Wars.
“This is the shameful secret of the Jedi: there is no dark side. The Force is one. The Force is everything and everything is the Force. The Force does not take sides. The Force does not even have sides”