Literature / The Callista Trilogy
The Callista trilogy is the unofficial name for Children of the Jedi
and Planet of Twilight
, the middle novel written by Kevin J. Anderson
and the other two by Barbara Hambly
. Luke Skywalker falls in love with a computer! The Hutts build a Death Star!Children Of The Jedi
follows Luke's adventures as he, pupils Cray Mingla and Nichos Marr, C-3PO and a few others find themselves stranded aboard the starship known as the Eye Of Palpatine
, a fully automated Dreadnaught which has set its destructive sights upon an old Jedi outpost on Belsavis. However, Luke finds an unexpected ally aboard ship, and in the most unusual place — Callista, a Jedi who died trying to stop the ship decades ago, has infused her spirit into the ship's computer. Han and Leia, meanwhile, search Belsavis for the eponymous Jedi children, and encounter the reason for the Eye
's sudden reactivation: Roganda Ismaren, one of the Emperor's other Hands, who has used Bio-Augmentation
to make her son Irek capable of reprogramming circuitry via the Force. While the Solos try to stop them from summoning the dreadnaught, Luke and Callista fight it from the inside. In the end, Luke's two students blow it up, and Cray hands her body over to Callista. She is reunited with Luke but has lost all connection to the Force
takes place eight years after the Battle Of Endor, about a year or so after the events of the Jedi Academy Trilogy
(both written by Kevin J. Anderson). The story features the return of Admiral Daala, who manages to organize the Imperial forces in an attempt to destroy the new Jedi Academy; the graduation of Karma Houdini
Kyp Durron into a full-fledged Jedi Knight; and a new foe, Durga The Hutt, who is constructing his own Death Star
. It also follows the exploits of Luke Skywalker as he searches for a way to help his new Love Interest
Callista regain her Jedi powers
While Luke is hopping and skipping about the galaxy seeking a cure for Callista's condition, Durga The Hutt approaches President Pro Tem Leia to establish peaceful relations. It's all a ruse; agents of Durga break into the Imperial computer archives and retrieve schematics of the Death Star, which Durga plans to recreate. He even goes so far as to hire the original engineer, Bevel Lemelisk, to redesign the new space station; Lemelisk's design strips the station down to just the power plant and superlaser shaft itself, making it look like a lightsaber (hence the book's title
During all this, Admiral Daala returns to the Empire, only to find it splintered, factioned and civil-warring
. Her attempts to reunite the Imperial forces fails, and so she enacts a plan which forces the feuding warlords to listen up, in the process gaining an ally: Former Captain, Now Vice-Admiral Pellaeon, former underling of Grand Admiral Thrawn
himself. Daala brings the warlords to a peace conference to negotiate a reunification; but when they can't get past their personal differences, Daala executes them all
and takes command herself, fulfilling her Xanatos Gambit
; their cooperation would unite the empire, but Daala replacing them all does too.
Hints and vague warnings abound as the various New Republic leaders begin to uncover evidence of both Daala's and Durga's respective schemes. Meanwhile, newly minted Jedi Knights Kyp Durron and his pal Dorsk 81 have infiltrated
the Imperial systems in hopes of finding out what the Empre is up to these days. They learn that Daala has managed to reunify all of the Imperial forces and is planning to unleash it upon the New Republic. They get themselves exposed as spies in the process but manage to escape. Daala, instead of reworking her tactics, merely speeds up her schedule, and further attacks Dorsk 81's home planet
In the meantime, Durga and his minions have been constructing the new Darksaber superlaser in Hoth's famous Asteroid Thicket
. Unfortunately, he's as bad at hiring good help as Daala is at military strategy; the Hive Mind
creatures who are doing the actual construction are easily distracted
and tend to get confused when they return to work, resulting in a nearly non-functional space craft. Nonetheless, the New Republic sends a small strike team (led by General Madine) to sabotage the project. The team fails, and Madine is killed
. Durga and his minions are ultimately defeated when the superweapon fails to work and the Darksaber is pulverized by asteroids
While all this is going on, Daala attacks the Jedi Academy. However, she underestimates the Jedi trainees' power, and they manage to use The Force
to blow her fleet to the outer edges of the star system; Daala herself is spared this fate only because she was a little late to the party. While the Jedi continue mopping up the Imperial forces, Callista — who can't stand to watch the Jedi do things she herself no longer can, especially Luke — commandeers a ship and sneaks aboard Daala's flagship, sabotaging it and ending the battle, but at the cost of her life.
As the New Republic goes back to day-to-day life, Luke receives a message from Callista
, revealing that she survived the battle, but she cannot continue a relationship with him until she regains her Force powers — on her own
. Also revealed is that Daala survives the battle, but renounces her rank
and supreme command of the Imperial forces is handed over to Pellaeon.
In Planet Of Twilight
Luke heads off on, ostensibly, a mission to rescue Callista, whom he believes may be hiding on a backwater planet. Said planet also happens to be a hotspot for political upheaval and a Cult Of Evil
which is bent on conquering the New Republic — meaning that Leia has to go in to negotiate.
It's all a ruse; Leia is kidnapped upon arrival, her invite to the negotiations having been merely a lure. Luke now has to both find his old flame and rescue his sister before she becomes a mere bargaining chip. There's also a subplot with a plague that sends Threepio and Artoo careening from one misadventure to another before being rescued by a retired Admiral Daala
of all people, who then proceeds to help out
because she hates the Imperial moff
involved in the political upheaval of said backwater system. Sentient power crystals are also involved.
Tropes featured in these books include:
- All Your Powers Combined: How Dorsk 81 and the rest of the Jedi trainees repelled Pellaeon's fleet in Darksaber. It kills Dorsk, sadly.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Luke favorably contrasts his time with Callista aboard the Eye of Palpatine with previous times with women, of which we are assured there have been many. Now, anyone following Star Wars figured as much, but to lampshade it?
- And I Must Scream: Callista on the Eye of Palpatine.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The Tauril in Darksaber, much to Bevel Lemelisk's chagrin. They tend to get fascinated by any asteroid or starship that gets too close to the under-construction Darksaber. And once they're done gazing, they end up getting back to work... at the wrong stations, leading to component connections going all doolally. At one point they build the superlaser assembly at a right angle.
- Bad Boss: Palpatine to Lemelisk. Count the times he executed the poor guy (though he had the sense to have him revived, due to his skills) with things like being lowered into molten copper.
- Board to Death: Daala to the feuding warlords:
Daala: "I didn't want to rule. I had no intention of becoming a political leader. I wanted to crush the Rebels instead — but you give me no choice. I can't leave the Empire in the hands of fools like you."
- Body Backup Drive: Prominent mention is given to how the Emperor used to have Bevel Lemelisk executed for his failures - slowly, painfully, often via... creative methods - then immediately reanimate him in a cloned body. He would often "awaken" to find his corpse still nearby, apparently in case the horrible, horrible death he'd just suffered wasn't enough of an abject lesson. It was later hinted Palpatine did this partly to see if the technology would work on himself.
- Body Horror: Bevel Lemelisk, the designer of the first Death Star, is killed horribly by Palpatine after the first Death Star is destroyed, then cloned and restored to life with full memories of how horrible his death was. He is set to work on the second Death Star and the process is repeated every time the project suffers a setback.
- Body Motifs: The Eye of Palpatine.
- Brain Uploading: How Callista got into the computer aboard the Eye of Palpatine. Also, the transference of Lemelisk's mind to new bodies every time he was killed and cloned could be seen as this.
- Brought Down to Normal: Callista, as the result of infusing her spirit into the body of a recently deceased Jedi.
- Also, this temporarily applies to Luke when he first arrives on Nam Chorios, since the weird effect created by the planet's living crystals augments the Force to an incredible degree, making any use of it spiral out of control. Until he adapts, Luke is compelled to rely on his wits and physical fighting prowess, not the Force.
- Damsel out of Distress : Two things happen without fail in Barbara Hambly's novels: 1. Leia is kidnapped by the Big Bad. 2. She will make their lives pure hell before she is rescued during her own escape attempt. Filleting her erstwhile kidnappers with a lightsaber is optional.
- Deathbringer the Adorable: One of Leia's adoptive aunts had four pet pittins (analogous to kittens). Their names were Taffy, Winky, Fluffy, and AT-AV (short for All-Terrain Attack Vehicle). Leia named that one herself. Obviously harmless, but it is easy to imagine a kitten analogue behaving in a manner that would earn it such a name.
- Doomed Home Planet: Khomm, Dorsk 81's home world. Especially notable in that Khomm had been neutral throughout all the previous galactic conflicts, and was attacked by Daala's forces for the sole reason that a Jedi spy had hailed from there.
- Fake Ultimate Villain: General Sulamar in Darksaber. Claims to be a feared and dreaded Imperial officer, responsible for the Massacre at Mendicat. Turns out that Mendicat was a mining station and said Massacre was really a foolish command error of Sulamar's that sent it hurtling into the star it was orbiting. Guess Durga forgot to Space-Google him.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Callista gets a pretty good one.
- Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: the Darksaber.
- General Failure: Admiral Daala, oh so very much. Later books have to give her brain damage to justify it.
- Also, "General" Sulumar in Darksaber, once it's revealed that he's a great big fraud.
- Generation Xerox: What Leia and the rest of the New Republic believe is the case regarding Seti Ashgad, who they think is the son of a same-named Senator that Palpatine exiled to Nam Chorios. Turns out he's the original Seti Ashgad, having been kept alive and young by a mutated droch beetle.
- Get It Over With, "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner and Face Death with Dignity: Bevel Lemelisk's reaction to Wedge's threat of final execution for being a danger to galactic safety? A resigned sigh of "Ah, well. If you're going to kill me, at least make sure you get it right this time." It especially makes sense given how many times he already died and was reborn.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Cray and Nichos, blowing up the Eye.
- Hive Mind: The Tauril, the creatures that build the Darksaber. They're sadly easily distracted.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs: A variation of "Might as well be hanged for horse theft as for stealing chicken feed". "In for two credits, let's rob a bank!"
- I Just Want to Be Special: This is practically Callista's refrain for pretty much the entirety of Darksaber.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Luke and Tionne do this to an Imperial Flying Fortress using the stump of a giant broken tree.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: In Planet of Twilight, Callista says this of Luke.
- The Infiltration: several in Darksaber.
- Info Dump: Darksaber is as long as it is partially because Daala and Bevel Lemelisk keep hauling the plot to a hard stop so they can reiterate their respective backstories. And not only them, but also General Madine, Qwi Xux, Dorsk 81...
- Informed Ability: Admiral Daala is described as a tactical prodigy that was kept down because the Empire was sexist. Daala's "campaigns" tend to be poorly thought-out raids that end in cataclysmic failure, and Daala herself comes across as trigger-happy and borderline unhinged. The only intelligent things she does are to eliminate the feuding warlords and consolidate their fleets into a single Imperial Navy, and turn over command of what's left to Pellaeon after her scheme's inevitable failure.
- Informed Flaw: In Darksaber Pellaeon is described as speaking with "little charisma". This is the same Pellaeon who took command of the Imperial fleet at Endor, brought about an honourable peace with the New Republic in the face of diehards on his own side, went on to lead the Empire for three decades and in this book managed to persuade his fleet to disobey a direct order from their (and his) superior to attack Daala. Maybe he was having an off day.
- Killed Off for Real: Crix Madine. The first film character with a speaking role to die, too. Also a Shaggy Dog Story since he went on that mission to destroy the Darksaber, but as events transpired, he might as well not have bothered. Dorsk 81 also bites the big one, dying after pooling together all the Jedi's powers to repel Pellaeon's fleet when it began its attack on Yavin 4.
- Lampshade Hanging: In Darksaber, upon learning of the eponymous menace, Han quips "Not another superweapon!"
- Lava Pit: One of the various ways Palpatine executed Lemelisk. Played with in that it was in fact molten copper, and when Lemelisk asked "why molten copper?" a month later, Palpatine simply responded "It's what the smelter used that day."
- Meaningful Name: Daala alters the Night Hammer's name slightly, adding a K at the front as a sort of sick joke against the Jedi.
- Also, the eponymous superweapon in Darksaber, named due to its resemblance to a Jedi's lightsaber.
- My Grandson Myself: Seti Ashgad presents himself as Seti Ashgad Jr. in Planet of Twilight.
- Narrative Profanity Filter: Planet of Twilight has:
Sitting up, the youth said a word that Threepio knew in close to a million languages but was programmed never to utter in any of them.
- Noodle Incident: Played straight and eventually subverted with General Sulamar and the "Massacre at Mendicat", which he claims was a magnificent military campaign that put him on the map in Imperial history. Crix Madine reveals to Durga and Lemelisk that said massacre was in fact nothing more than when Sulamar made a buffoonish command error that sent the Mendicat, an Imperial mining station, hurtling into a star.
- Also: since the end of The Thrawn Trilogy. Pellaeon has gained a promotion but lost the Chimaera and ended up in the service of a warlord, all of which hint at an interesting few years between The Last Command and Darksaber. Source material says he lost the Chimaera while fighting under the reborn Emperor, and then the Empire split up into warlord factions again. Later books show that he eventually manages to recapture the Chimaera.
- Reality Ensues: Honestly, Durga? What did you expect to happen when you tried to build a superweapon but decided to cheap out on construction material?
- The Remnant: triple subverted in Children of the Jedi. Luke's investigative mission to the Eye of Palpatine starts with the dreadnought shooting them down, leading to a crash-landing on a planet where they are confronted by a garrison of Imperial stormtroopers... consisting of one old black man, Triv Pothman, who immediately helps patch them up. He's been waiting for the Eye to pick him up for decades. Then it does, brainwashing everyone into being stormtroopers—again, in Triv's case. Then Luke helps him snap out of it and he remains on the good-guy side, eventually experiencing the Call to Agriculture at the end of the novel.
- Reluctant Mad Scientist: Bevel Lemelisk, though moreso in his backstory. While in the Emperor's employ, Lemelisk genuinely had no choice about designing weapons of mass destruction, as the Emperor would simply repeatedly murder him until he complied. Later, while not overtly malicious or evil, Lemelisk admits to himself that he designs killing machines because it's fun and challenging; he thinks nothing and cares less about what his employers will do with his weapons once he's finished with them.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: Nichos Marr in the first book. He's the result of a failed attempt at Brain Uploading. As a result, he has heated outer plating to imitate body heat and the ability to move his face. Too bad he's still a robot who happens to have some human memories.
- This not only foreshadows the fact that Callista might exist, but it also explains her reincarnation: Nichos' lover, Cray Mingla, who orchestrated the creation of the droid as a Replacement Goldfish, decides to rejoin him on the other side. And since she's got this spare human female body she won't need anymore, and Callista could use one...
- Shaggy Dog Story: Luke and Callista spend Darksaber traveling the galaxy trying to restore Callista's connection to the Force, but the subplot is interrupted when Daala attacks the Jedi Temple and Callista disappears in the process of stopping her. She does show up in Planet of Twilight but the status of her connection to the Force is not addressed again until the Fate of the Jedi series, where after going through even worse, she gets a happy ending.
- Shaped Like Itself: Anderson is fond of these because they make him happy. "The structure rose like a giant ivory edifice." "Below, the dense greenery looked like clouds of foliage."
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Durga the Hutt spends an entire book building his Darksaber in the asteroid field from Episode V. When the time comes for him to go forth and menace the New Republic the superlaser fails and the entire vessel is fatally sandwiched between two giant asteroids before it can even get out of the asteroid field. And so Crix Madine and his team died for nothing.
- Made even worse when you consider that the sporadic scenes where Bevel Lemelisk is dealing with the hive mind laborers screwing up his designs quickly devolve to the status of an Overused Running Gag. Even with enough time to complete the weapon, the shoddy materials and computers used to put it together would render it a laughing stock.
- Spear Counterpart: Children of the Jedi is, in a real sense, a romance novel told from the guy's perspective.
- Stupid Sacrifice: Crix Madine, who is executed trying to sabotage the Darksaber, only for it to get crushed by two asteroids after failing to fire due to shoddy workmanship anyway.
- Temporary Love Interest: Callista.
- Zigzagged. Hambly was commissioned to create a love interest for Luke Skywalker, on the understanding that Callista would stick around as his permanent match. But Mara Jade had built up such enormous Popularity Power by then that Lucasfilm decided on a new direction.
- Untouchable Until Tagged: How Callista died.
- Villain Decay: lampshaded and addressed. At the end of Darksaber, Daala resigns her commission because she feels that after her repeated defeats, she can no longer ask her men to follow her lead.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: the Ismarens get away, and aren't seen again until the New Jedi Order.
- Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Averted. Say what you like about how Madine died, but at least Durga was smart enough to ensure that it was properly carried out.
- Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Subverted when Daala orders Colonel Cronus to launch a terror campaign against a large number of civilian and military targets, including Khomm, the Chardaan Shipyards, and a library world with a massive fleet of Victory-class Star Destroyers.
- You Are in Command Now: Pellaeon, after Daala resigns.
- You Get What You Pay For: Durga's Darksaber probably would have worked better if he hadn't been chintzy on the construction costs. Lemelisk tried to warn him early enough to fix it, but he didn't listen.
- You Have Failed Me: Lemelisk gets executed by Palpatine for failing to look over a fault in the first Death Star which the Rebels finally took advantage of... Then he's revived, being too good to throw away, but he does end up executed and resurrected multiple times whenever Palpatine sees a setback.
- Durga tries this trope, via an electrified chair, but he pushes the wrong button and executes someone else entirely. The next time someone screws up, the entire crew jumps out of their chairs, leaving Durga with nobody he can execute that way. And later on, we see that Durga has learned from his experiences, and had everyone restrained in their seats so they can't get away.