The New Jedi Order series drove some fans right out the door. But it had a reason. When you know beyond a doubt that your heroes always survive an win, the story doesn’t seem quite so cutting, you know that eventually you turn the page and find them escaping and defeating the foe. The New Jedi Order will make you feel because this time, they are not guaranteed victory.
The New Jedi Order series changed all that rather explosively with a tragedy so big that it hit the newspapers in our world. The death of a main character. A heroic, fitting death, but still, a hero falls. After the Rebellion and the many books dealing with battling the Imperial Remnant, this was a shock wave.
And if it affects us, it affects them. We find the other main characters still reacting to the shock of realizing their string of luck, or fate of the Force, no longer guaranteed their safety. And so grief drives one family apart for a time, young Jedi must become the new heroes of their age, in spite of, or because of their guilt and pain and loss. The Jedi must decide how they will respond when the Republic government continues to play politics at the expense of the people, and what actions should they take in this war.
Worlds and cultures are destroyed by an enemy invisible in the Force itself, so even that constant is being questioned.
Every book begins with trepidation, which of our heroes is the focus? Will they even survive, and at what cost? Some books are more character driven, like Traitor and Dark Journey. Some are sheer heart stopping adventure like Star by Star. Others are tactical driven, the points of the war where the warriors are now in control and determined to defeat or at least hold off the brutal foe until the innocent have time to escape.
The New Jedi Order is both heartbreaking pain of losing characters we knew and loved on the movie screen and from books die. It is soaring courage of watching young Jedi like Jaina, Jacen and Anakin Solo face the temptations of the Dark Side, and find a cause that is their own, not a left over from their parents era.
By the end of the series, one has new heroes. One has wept for the pain of tragedy and horror, from the devastation of worlds, to grieved families and the loss of friends. One has cheered over the triumph of heroes smart enough and wise enough to win without genocide, against all odds. And that is the essence, to me, of a great story: if its made me laugh, cry and everything in between, than its done something rare and hard to accomplish. And this series does just that.