Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights: Return to Ord Mantell
Iím still doing some catching up in the Star Wars series of books. I jump around here and there, but I am still quite interested in knowing the history of Jacen Solo and what events conspired to make him follow in the path of his grandfather Anakin Skywalker. To that end, I decided to check out the twelfth book in the Young Jedi Knights series.
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights: Return to Ord Mantell takes place when the Solo twins are approximately sixteen years old. Han Solo is asked to be the Grand Marshall of a race on Ord Mantell that he has won a number of times in the past. Thinking it would be nice to show his children a bit of his history before the Rebellion, he brings Jacen, Jaina and Anakin along. While at the smugglerís world, the Solos come in contact with their friends Zekk, Tenel Ka and Lowbacca who have entered the race in Tenel Kaís ship, the Rock Dragon.
Unfortunately, it is not all fun and games on Ord Mantell when the group realizes that Han Solo is being targeted. It is soon learned that Anja Gallandro, a lightsaber wielding smuggler with a secret spice problem, has been looking for revenge against Han Solo for quite some time regarding an incident involving her father.
While attempting to make amends with Anja, despite the fact that her fatherís death was not Hanís fault, the group learns that Anja comes from a world deeply entrenched in a civil war between the mining and farming communities that has been going on for decades. Seeing an opportunity to help Anja and to perform a mission of diplomacy, Han and his entourage travel to Anobis, but helping to end a decades-long war will be no easy task and may put everyone involved in extreme danger.
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights: Return to Ord Mantell brings us back to Brian Daleyís Han Solo adventures of the late 70s and early 80s. Gallandro was a gunslinger and rival whose betrayal of Solo on a co-opted mission resulted in his untimely death. Iím not certain how I feel about the creation of Anja as a character. She does seem to have the duplicity of her father, but the spice-addiction and the lightsaber do add a twist to her storyline. I wonder if her character will be used as a message for young adults to stay away from drugs. I suppose I wonít know until I read further into this series.
As for the growth of the Young Jedi, there isnít much to talk about. Jaina acts as co-pilot for her father, which does serve to show her flying abilities that later land her the job of New Republic pilot. And Zekk begins his work on his newly chosen path as Jedi Knight. But for the most part, there isnít much growth exhibited by the characters in this novel and not much that will show me why Jacen eventually takes his chosen path in later novels.
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights: Return to Ord Mantell is a fun read for young Star Wars fans, but doesnít do much for an adult fan accept bring back a few older characters and introduce us to a new world embroiled in civil war. Other than that, I get the feeling that this is one tale that I could have chosen to skip over and would never have missed. Perhaps it is a set-up story for more intense adventures. Iíll never know until I check out the next book in the series, Trouble on Cloud City.