Jacen Solo, the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia, has a problem. He knows he’s ready to wield a lightsaber, but his instructor, Luke Skywalker, insists he’s not. We learn this in the first scene of Shadow Academy, the second novel by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta in the “Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights” series. When his uncle walks into his office and discovers his nephew battling imaginary foes, Jacen is startled. In his rush to extinguish the blade, Jacen drops the weapon. He apologizes for getting carried away while he waited, but cannot help himself. Again, he asserts he is ready to take up the weapon of the Jedi Knights. When Luke counsels him to be patient, Jacen leaves dispirited.
WARNING! Although this post doesn’t cover the novel in depth, or reveal any major plot points, it does reveal what occurs in the final scene: another discussion between Jacen and Luke. You have been warned.
Throughout the events of the novel, Jacen will be forced to take up a lightsaber, not only to preserve his own life, but that of his friends. He some gains proficiency with the weapon, but using it takes him into dark territory, mentally and emotionally speaking. Thus, in the final scene, when Luke hands him his lightsaber and asks him to demonstrate what he’s learned, Jacen refuses. He recognizes that he’s physically capable of wielding it, but he’s not yet ready for the accompanying responsibility. From now on, he will trust Luke’s judgment. When his uncle decides he’s ready, only then will he pick up a lightsaber again.
At first, I had difficulty accepting Jacen’s decision. The boy might only be fourteen, but he had used the weapon repeatedly, had gained some expertise with it, and he had used it appropriately: to defend himself and his friends. Furthermore, he recognized the responsibility attached to the use of the lightsaber. Ergo, he was ready to wield it, or at least begin a course of supervised instruction.
The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that Anderson and Rebecca had ended the novel correctly. Maturity isn’t earned in the short term, nor is wisdom gained in sudden insights. Knowing the right thing to do doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to do so. As the old saying goes, many are called, but few are chosen. However, that doesn’t mean that in the long term, you cannot forge yourself into the person capable of being chosen. While you may not even be currently ready to begin a course of instruction, if you work hard to gain the necessary underlying skills, and seek to adopt the proper mindset, eventually you will be ready...to begin.
Looking back now, I realize that I started writing my first novel before I had the appropriate skills or mindset to do so. Had I done better research, instead of simply assuring myself I was ready, and leaping right into the work, I might have finished the novel sooner. More importantly, it might have been something publishable, instead of a manuscript languishing in storage. Had I found better authors as role models, and studied not only their craft but also their approach, I might be a published author. But I leapt in, before I was ready...to begin.
Still envying Luke’s lightsaber,
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