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"Shards of Alderaan": Book 7 in the Young Jedi Knights series


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chapter 1 :

Hours of hard work are spent rebuilding the Great Temple on Yavin IV that had been damaged during the recent attack from the Second Imperium.

Jaina’s friend, Zekk, who had served the Imperium as a Dark Jedi trained at the Shadow Academy had received medical attention and is now recuperating in the pyramid.

She watches Tenel Ka and Lowie work together nearby, while Raynar Thul, though dusty and dirty, seems much more subdued than normal. The Dark Jedi had humiliated him by tossing him into a muddy river. It seems to have helped him realize he’s not nearly as important as he’d thought.

The work is dangerous and they have to rescue Raynar a near avalanche of stone blocks collapses. Two days’ work is represented there. But it’s just a setback.

Jacen has to go out after a panicked ronto which runs into the jungle. Finding it, he convinces it to come back and let him ride.
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  • The time is officially 24 years ABY. I’m not really convinced it is, but, if so, then Jacen and Jaina are 15 and Anakin is 13 ½. Since this book takes place right after Jedi Under Siege, the timeline just doesn’t work out. Jedi Under Siege was 23 years ABY. I suppose the twins could have just had a birthday…
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chapter 2:

Zekk dreams of Tamith Kai and Brakiss, taunting him for leaving, lecturing him for abandoning the path they taught him. Brakiss challenges him to strike him down. When Zekk tries, the image disappears and all he can hear is rain. A bright light appears.

He wakes up to find himself in a room where Jacen Solo has just used a fountain to get him a drink. Jacen explains Zekk was fine for a couple of days after he returned from his stint in a bacta tank on GemDiver Station, but then fell unconscious. Master Skywalker says there are some wounds bacta cannot heal.

Old Peckhum is sleeping in a chair in a corner of the room where he’s been since Zekk collapsed.

Jacen tells Zekk that Luke has offered to let him stayhere and train with them. He goes to get Zekk some food after telling him everything will be fine. Zekk isn’t sure it will be.
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chapter 3:

Outside in the slow-falling rain, Tenel Ka tries to resettle stones in the courtyard. Raynar is doing his best to help do the same. Jaina and Lowie are repairing the skyhopper.

Jacen appears to tell them that Zekk has awakened.

After Luke tells his students that they need to start adapting to the changing galaxy, Jaina realizes that the Millennium Falcon is landing.

Han Solo tells his children that he had just finished a trip to GemDiver Station when their mother contacted him with some serious news. She thought he should deliver it personally. Raynar Thul’s father has vanished.

Bornan Thul is on the Trade Council with Han. He was supposed to attend a conference not long ago, but never showed up. He had been negotiating with a Twi’lek woman named Nolaa Tarkona, the head of a new political movement. Han hadn’t thought that sounded like a good idea and tried to talk Thul out of it. He wouldn’t listen.

His wife and brother have already reported his disappearance, but want to make sure Raynar stays here. They cannot be sure that Bornan hasn’t been kidnapped and doesn’t want the same thing to happen to him.

Wanting to help search for his father, Raynar finally agrees to stay here, but urges Han to make sure that competent people are taking care of the search.
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  • How often does Han come out here? I think he’s seen Lando more times in this series than he’s seen him in most of the other books. Nice to know he can take a break from chumming with an old pal to visit his children!
  • Bornan Thul was first mentioned, chronologically that is, in The Paradise Snare.
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chapter 4:

Through the vastness of space, Boba Fett pilots Slave IV, searching for Bornan Thul. Nolaa Tarkona’s message offered a huge bounty. She is the head of a political movement called the Diversity Alliance, nothing overtly criminal, not that Fett cares.

She explained that Bornan Thul, a member of the nobility from the late planet Alderaan, was her trade negotiator in the New Republic government. He was sent recently to secure a valuable shipment for her, but never arrived. She offers twice the sum he was paid to capture Han Solo if Fett can retrieve Thul and that cargo.

Fett’s records show that Thul had gone alone in his ship, refusing a diplomatic escort, which was an unusual move for him. He wonders if Thul discovered something important about the cargo or the Diversity Alliance.

Thul is a family man with a wife named Aryn, a brother Tyko and his son Raynar who now trains at the Jedi Academy . The wife and brother are under heavy guard, but the son might make a good hostage.

First, he needs to determine if Thul is alive. At an out of the way planet, Slave IV scans for debris that might be the remains of his ship. He does find wreckage but not enough to account for the whole ship.

His search is interrupted by the arrival of another bounty hunter, Moorlu, who vows to destroy him. Fett allows the ship to be hit by an ion blast which cripples him. When Moorlu comes close, Fett, hanging in zero-g, cranks a pneumatic launcher and ambushes the ship by sending concussion explosives through.

He despises hunters that are too easy to kill, but it does get rid of amateurs.

Several hours of work restore Slave IV’s electrical systems. Then he uses the tractor beam to haul in the ship debris and confirms that the wreckage does come from Thul’s ship. However, there isn’t much and he finds it too convenient that he’s found the piece with the serial number on it.

Nothing vital to the ship is in the debris either. He has a feeling Bornan Thul is going to be more challenging. He likes it better this way.
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  • Been a while since we’ve seen Boba Fett. Last time he was mentioned was in the Bounty Hunter Wars, maybe?
  • Slave IV? What the heck is that? According to my sources, it’s an alternate ship introduced in “The Last One Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett”
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chapter 5:

Jaina has visited Zekk’s room several times, only to find him asleep each time, so she takes a walk alone by the river. She finds that life here is different than it was before the attack. There is too much work to do now to spend time in meditation.

She tosses a pebble into the water and watches the ripples fade away, wondering if her life will vanish without a trace someday. She would rather do something significant.

A stone skips across the water and she turns to see Zekk. He says he feels better than he looks and invites her for a walk.

They stroll through the jungle, finding the remains of the shield generator station that his commando had destroyed. Jaina tells him a new one if being sent. There will even be a military force in orbit and their communications equipment is going to be upgraded. Her uncle doesn’t like all of this, but he cannot let his school be caught unguarded again.

Zekk mentions that Brakiss had thought the defenses here were woefully inadequate. They had believed this would be the Jedis’ downfall.

Jaina tells him that he can stay here and be trained to use the Force correctly. They may not have the same relationship as before, but they can still have adventures. She and her friends are thinking of going to the Alderaan system to get a gift for her mother. He can come with them.

Zekk tells her he’s not the same person as before and neither is she. She cannot understand where he’s been. He cannot forget the things he’s done. He does need a new start, but not here.

She tells him that she’ll still be his friend, no matter where he goes or what he decides to do.
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  • I’m sure sure we remember the Academy being caught off guard in Darksaber, too.
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chapter 6:

Luke allows the four friends to work with Zekk to help repair the Lightning Rod. He thinks that this ship will be very important to them.

Zekk finds something healing about repairing the damage he’d caused. Jaina is doing very well, ship repair being one of her specialties.

He is leaving with the ship to return to Coruscant, unsure about what he will do from there.

Two days later, the ship restored to almost new, he says good-bye to them. Peckhum agrees that the ship has new life and wants to give it to Zekk. He admits Chief of State Organa Solo has been pushing him to use a new cargo ship provided by the New Republic.

He’s been resisting the change, but thinks giving the Rod to Zekk will force him to accept it. They’ve all got to move up to bigger and better things.
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chapter 7:

With the Lightning Rod gone, they set to work fixing Lowie’s T-23 skyhopper. Jaina is distracted thinking about Zekk. Tenel Ka admits she is distracted, too. She’s expecting something that is being sent from Hapes by her family.

Two ships push through the heavy winds. Tenel Ka assures them that this is not another visit by one of her grandmother’s associates, but a gift of some kind. She was going to refuse it, but her parents were concerned for her safety. She finally agreed and now her grandmother hopes to talk her into a prosthetic arm.

One of the ships is called the Rock Dragon and it is being given to her.

Jaina cannot help feel envious. She’d wanted her own ship for a long time, but her parents will not allow either twin to have one until they are 16. Tenel Ka understands this. She explains that she has no real desire to own a ship but gave in for her parents’ sake.

She will be happy to run one of the support functions if Jaina and Lowbacca would agree to be pilots and mechanics. The ship will need some work, though. Jacen doesn’t understand why they wouldn’t have sent a state-of-the art ship for their daughter. Jaina has a feeling that the ship may be old but it probably has features they don’t know about yet.

Tenel Ka adds that she thought Jaina and Lowie would prefer a ship they could work on. Besides, her parents felt that sending her a luxury speeder would call too much attention to their daughter. There is no Royal House of Hapes crest on it and her grandmother has had many unique subsystems installed, too.

She named the ship herself after a small animal she once saw on Dathomir that eats only planets and insects, but can defend itself with a poison strong enough to kill a rancor.
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chapter 8:

Leaving the Yavin system, Zekk decides that he is going to go home to the planet of his birth. The world of Ennth has recurring convulsions every eight years. His parents had moved to a refugee station a year after his birth to wait the disaster out before returning to help rebuild.

He was nine when the convulsions returned and had been evacuated to the refugee station. This time, his parents stayed too long on the surface, trying to retrieve mere possessions. A groundquake had struck, opening up fissues and spewing lave.

Not wanting to stay on a dangerous world with no guardians, he’d stowed away on a cargo ship, not knowing where it was going. He’d hopped ships until he encountered Peckhum.

That was eight years ago. Now he’s returning home. He finds refugee stations in orbit again, having come at the right time. He sees the colonists are evacuating and wonders if he can help redeem himself by helping.
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  • Zekk is 17 years old if he was 9 when orphaned and eight years have gone by. He was described as a couple of years older than the twins a few books ago.
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chapter 9:

Jacen can’t see an emergency when he and Raynar run into the communications center in the Great Temple. Raynar explains that some creature got into a transformer housing and they don’t know if it’s poisonous. Tenel Ka thought Jacen might be able to coax it out.

Jacen walks over and asks Tenel Ka how she can tell the difference between a rancor. She tells him that one of its legs are both the same. It’s an old joke from Dathomir that no one understands or finds funny.

Jacen finds a spotted thyrsl inside the housing and convinces it to come out. They are distracted by the return of his father and go out to find if there’s news of Bornan Thul.
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chapter 10:

Han brings no news of Raynar’s father, but they’ve got some leads. He’s got Lando Calrissian and several of the best former smugglers searching for him.

In the meantime, he’s brought Anakin with him. Their brother explains he’s got an idea for restoring the Great Temple. They should treat it like a puzzle. If they sort out the pieces and fit them back together again, he can help them see the patterns in his mind. Anything they can’t reconstruct can be reproduced by artists to reflect the original work.

Their mother has let him come even though it’s not time for his classes to start again. Han brings Jacen a gort egg that will take about a year to hatch and Jaina a modular signal transmitter.

Their mother will be arriving in about a week. Her birthday is coming up and they are going to spend it as a family. Jaina asks if he thinks it would be a good idea to get a piece of Alderaan to give to her as a keepsake.

Han believes she would like that, but they’ll have to go themselves. He still has work here on top of helping keep an eye out for Bornan Thul. They can go in Tenel Ka’s ship, but only if he can inspect it first to make sure it’s safe and they promise to be back in three days with no other stops.

Jaina wonders what could possible go wrong.
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  • Wouldn’t it be considered a desecration of the Graveyard at Alderaan to remove a chunk of the planet? Just wondering. The survivors seem to treat the area with reverence.
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chapter 11:

The four friends are silent as they view the asteroid field that remains of Princess Leia’s homeworld. They can sense the echoes of the dead here.

Jacen and Jaina decide they will search for something special for their mother. Flying through the field, Jacen mentions that he’s heard some smugglers and pirate gangs have been using the area as a hideout the way some do around Hoth.

Tenel Ka doesn’t think they will find those elements here.

When they come across a piece of the core of Alderaan- the heart of their mother’s world – Jaina decides that’s the prize.
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chapter 12:

Zekk scans the surface and finds settlements in the same locations as the previous cities. He lands at the main settlement where his parents had lived after sending a message identifying himself.

A woman introduces herself as Shinnan. She’d been 13 during the last disaster, but she remembers Zekk’s parents. He offers to help with the evacuation. There are regular groundquakes here.

Inside the command center, she introduces him to Rastur who has been placed in charge. He tells her that Newest Coast Town has been destroyed by a tidal wave caused by seismic activities. Fortunately, most of the supplies and settlers had been evacuated.

Zekk works for several days, filling the ship and ferrying people and supplies to the refugee stations. Later that week, lightning begins, making the last cargo ships’ journey difficult.

They are packing up the command center when the groundquake hits. Shinnan runs to get some of her possessions. Zekk feels a foreboding as he runs after her. He sees her disappear into a stone house and knows she’s doomed. The next groundquake topples building all around, including that house.

Rastur and the others dig her out but she’s dead. She had gone to get a datapad and a sheet of paper that contained their plans for rebuilding their home when they returned.
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chapter 13:

Jaina and Lowie land the Rock Dragon on the large asteroid and they all get into environment suits.

They walk along the rock, Jacen having fun jumping and flipping over. He’s warned to be careful not to jump too far or they’ll have to rescue him. Jaina cuts a small piece of of the asteroid.

Jacen, on the other hand, keeps exploring and finds himself staring into the open mouth of a larval space slug. His yell brings his sister and friends. He hadn’t expected to find anything alive out here.

When they get inside the ship, Jacen sends a transmission to the Academy where Raynar confirms their father has been anxiously waiting for them. It’s time to get back before something goes wrong.
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chapter 14:

They navigate the Rock Dragon through the asteroid field again when they are fired upon by another ship. Jaina frantically searches for the weapons systems while Em Teedee suggests they retreat.

Tenel Ka signals the ship and asks that it identify itself. They get no response. The ship conservatively targets their engines. Tenel Ka tells them to get to a hiding place. She triggers a subsystem that sends decoy gas and shrapnel which detonates. They limp along, having temporarily evaded their attacker until Lowie lands the ship in a cave.
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chapter 15:

The people of Ennth huddle on the cargo haulers in orbit, giving up much privacy and comfort, until they can return to their world and rebuild. Zekk knows they will go through the same thing eight years from now.

He heads back to the Lightning Rod and sleeps for a long time. When he wakes up, he seeks out Rastur and asks why they bother going through this again and again. Rastur reminds him that, with destruction comes renewal. He is already planning to build the house he and his wife designed. He may take another wife or he may live alone.

They’ve paid for this home with their blood; they cannot just abandon it.

Zekk decides that he wants a permanent home in his life. He cannot make a home out of Ennth’s endless cycle of destruction.
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chapter 16:

Inside the cave, they begin the process of making repairs. Lowie thinks they should divert power from weapons into the one remaining engine. They are doomed if the mystery ship finds them anyway.

Jaina agrees. They will plot an immediate path through hyperspace and head off, hopefully before the pirate ship locks onto them.

When they’ve done the best they can do here, the ship raises off the floor of the cave. The enemy ship meets them at the entrance and fires at the ceiling. Boulders collapse onto the Rock Dragon, burying it.
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chapter 17:

The backup systems kick in eventually while Em Teedee works to tap into emergency power. They are not leaking air, at least. Tenel Ka suggests that the action was to trap them, not kill them. Their attacker wants something.

Em Teedee reports that they are being scanned and it would have to be with a very expensive remote slicer. That means they are dealing with someone very powerful. Of course, Tenel Ka’s grandmother is powerful and she asks Em Teedee to check and see if this ship contains such a device, too.

It does, but they decide to hold off using it in the hopes that their attacker will think they are dead.

Outside the ship, they find the hull is banged up pretty good, but it could have been worse. The wall of rock blocks the exit completely. Jaina thinks they might be able to clear it with their lightsabers.

The rock rumbles and a figure steps through. It’s Boba Fett.

He wants to know where Bornan Thul is. He believes they’ve come here to aide Thul who might be hiding in the wreckage of his homeworld. They insist they didn’t come here for Bornan Thul and don’t know where he is. Fett thinks that Han Solo might know and this group would make good bait.

He fires at the roof of the tunnel, bringing down more rock, before leaving.

Back inside the ship, Em Teedee announces he took the liberty of using the remote slicer while Fett was talking to them, feeling the bounty hunter wouldn’t notice if he wasn’t inside his own ship. The droid has gotten all of Fett’s data files.

Jaina decides they’ll have to use them to get out of this alive.
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chapter 18:

Em Teedee picks up a signal being sent from Fett’s ship that is directed at Han Solo, telling him his children need help in the Alderaan system.

Jaina looks through Fett’s logs and explains that he knew their father and Raynar’s were on the same trade commission. It would appear that more than one hunter is after this bounty. Fett has already eliminated at least one.

Tenel Ka finds reference to Nolaa Tarkona being the one to set the bounty. This is the woman Han told them was supposed to meet with Bornan Thul at the conference. Jaina suggests Em Teedee try to send a message to her father warning him to stay away.

In the meantime, they will have to clear away the rubble. Fett probably doesn’t know they can use the Force so they have that on their side.

Tenel Ka and Jacen get to to work on that, while Jaina and Lowie return to fixing the ship. Jaina finds the modular transmitter her father had given her and thinks that might help them get a signal out.
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  • I wouldn’t take bets on Fett not knowing the Solo kids can use the Force. That would be very unwise. 
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chapter 19:

Once the stones are cleared off, the Rock Dragon is prepared once more for a quick escape. Jacen prepares to send the signal as soon as they exit the tunnel. The signal will be weak and his father may be on the way already, but he might be warned not to fly into an ambush.

Straining the sublight drives, the ship heads out and Jacen broadcasts a message quickly warning any incoming ships that Boba Fett is in the area.

The enemy ship reaches them quickly. Em Teedee notes he didn’t bother to cover his tracks while accessing Fett’s records. Clearly, the bounty hunter isn’t just firing to disable them.

Tenel Ka suggests they ram him. Jaina thinks they should come up with another idea. No one has any and it becomes moot when the Rock Dragon dies and they are caught dead in space.

Fett has to admit they are ingenious, but they’ve warned off anyone in the system, foiled his ambush for their father and know far too much about Fett than he should allow anyone to have. He circles around and fires.
Suddenly, Jaina spots the Lightning Rod which yanks Slave IV with a tractor beam and pulls it off course just as Fett fires. The newly-installed weapons systems Peckhum agreed to after being caught unarmed by the Shadow Academy do their job well in pounding the other ship.

Zekk pursues Slave IV much to their alarm. They hope he comes back soon because their life support is out.
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  • So is this Slave IV just not in the same shape as Slave I? Because I cannot imagine Boba Fett running from the Lightning Rod, regardless of the weapons or how surprised he was to see it.
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chapter 20:

As time passes, they wait and hope Zekk hasn’t been destroyed. They cannot send any more signals out.

Em Teedee tells them there’s a transmission coming in. They are delighted to find out that it’s the Millennium Falcon. The larger ship locks on with a tractor beam and pulls them to a larger asteroid.

While making repairs, Han explains that he came to look for them when three days passed, assuming they were collecting half of the debris field for their mother. He didn’t get Fett’s message until he dropped out of hyperspace and it was followed by Jacen’s.

Jaina hopes Zekk will be alright. Han thinks he will as the Lightning Rod is coming in now.

Zekk tells them that he saw the other ship jump into hyperspace. Han didn’t think there were any bounties out on him anymore, but Jaina tells him this was connected to Bornan Thul. Fett believed Han knows where he is.

Han wishes he does, but doesn’t know why a trade councilor would have a bounty on him. He’s told there’s apparently a missing cargo that Thul may have. They’ve accessed Fett’s logs and learned that the bounty was set by Nolaa Tarkona. There are probably other hunters out there, but Fett is the best.

Zekk thinks that can change. He’s looking for something else to do and would like to try his hand at bounty hunting. Han warns him that’s dangerous work and he won’t make a lot of friends. Zekk says he already has those. His Force abilities should help him with the danger.

That’s how he found them here. He got the sense that Jaina was in danger. Jaina is saddened that Zekk won’t be coming back to the academy, but she does tell him her father knows a lot about bounty hunting and their methods. He may be able to help.
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  • Why didn’t they just attach the Rock Dragon to the Falcon and high-tail it out of that asteroid field? I’m sure the repairs could’ve waited until they were on Yavin IV.
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chapter 21:

At the Great Temple, Jaina powers down the Rock Dragon as the Falcon lands beside it. From the cockpit, she and Jacen spot their mother and brother waiting for them. The whole family will be together for their mother’s birthday.

The birthday dinner is breaking up and Leia admits she couldn’t ask for a better gift than having her family with her. Jaina suddenly worries that their present will bring back painful memories.

Anakin gives her a small replica of the Great Temple. He made it out of broken stone shards that were too small to use in the reconstruction. When she opens up the shard, she knows it’s from Alderaan.

This is truly a gift from the heart, from her children as well as her home. The survivors of Alderaan passed the heart of their world onto their children. Han mentions that Raynar is also a child of Alderaan. Zekk has offered to help him find his father.

Jaina remembers how Raynar cannot be with his family right now. Luke suggests that maybe he needs a few friends right now. They agree and raise a toast to family.
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End of Book 7

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