*So, Light and Shadow is a story originally planned for the Adventure Journal, but it was apparently left unpublished when the Journal folded up. It was later published on the web and you can read it at the link above, if you so desire.
*So, this story begins with a fella name of Dray; he has hermited himself away on an unnamed planet that he calls Vigil. He is, and this is no surprise, nursing some demons and has come ‘to try and salvage his very soul.’
*So, it seems our friend Dray was a Jedi, at least a learner. Under circumstances that aren’t entirely clear in the fragmented memories Danner spins, Dray kills a fellow apprentice and a close friend.
*So, Dray is given to having these sort of John on Patmos visions apparently. But one day, those visions are interrupted by reality. A ship has crashed on his lonely planet. Lengthy sequence of Dray rescuing a young girl from the flaming wreckage; her parents have died in the crash.
*This culminates in an admittedly great moment when Dray has been flinging wreckage all around and nearly dying and then he finally gets the girl and drags her out of the flames and collapses to the ground with her, safe at last. She then matter-of-factly says, “I think you’re evil. Usually I can tell.”
*Which, I have to admit, sort of perfectly captures that weird genius kids have for saying something absolutely on point at the worst possible moment.
*After this rather surprising moment of verisimilitude, we are plunged into absolute camp. Allow me to quote: “Bracing himself, Dray prepared to enter her deep subconscious. That was where a Force-sensitive being maintained a protective barrier that would prevent another Force wielder form penetrating his or her inner mind. This powerful ‘shield’ violently pushed back such an intruder . . . The stronger the push, the greater the being’s strength in the Force.”
*Well, I have to say I prefer Danner’s ‘shield’ to Kevin J. Anderson and all his talk of ‘rubbing the nub’ or whatever the hell he was going on about in Jedi Search.
*So, Dray pushes into the young girl’s subconscious. And he is promptly blasted through the forest, screaming as he careens through the trees to finally land in an ice-cold lake half a mile away.
*Makes all that stuff with Kyp seem kind of subtle, doesn’t it?
*Seriously, I’d so love to see that on the big screen. It’s just so awesomely terrible.
*So, the girl introduces herself as Nova and Dray introduces himself, for some damn reason, as Lian.
*Actually moving: “Did you come here because of your heart?” “My heart?” “I can feel it. I think it weighs more than my daddy’s ship.”
*So, suddenly a couple of Dark Siders show up, Xash and Sindra, twins. They’ve come for Nova, obviously.
*This is a pretty good lightsaber duel.
*It has a nice flow and sort of turns on a dime a couple of time. Ultimately, however, after flirting with it a couple of times and avoiding it, Dray gives in to the Dark Side himself and blasts the twins with some Force Lightning.
*In so doing, of course, he freaks Nova out and she runs away from him into the forest.
*So, then we get a lengthy flashback to Dray’s training. It involves him having to go alone to the Citadel of Shadows and . . . doubtless meet his Most Dangerous Foe if you know what I mean.
*I’m seriously so sick of this trope. I mean, Empire did it. Does that mean everyone else has to do so also?
*So, Nova has been captured by this dude, Thannor Keth, Sorcerer of the Sith. He’s given to saying things like “Jedi whelp” and “I answer to no one” and stuff.
*So, Dray engages in combat with Keth. There’s a nice moment where Keth does his whole dramatic thing and he closes with “You don’t know the power of the Dark Side!” to which Dray coolly replies, “I am familiar with it.”
*So, then like Dray and Nova like mingle their Force essences or something and defeat Keth. You remember the end of Dark Empire? And how it was like completely unclear what the hell had just happened? This isn’t that bad (nothing is that bad), but it head fakes that direction.
*So, then Dray fixes up his ship and prepares to take Nova to Ossus to be trained. I suppose this is the detail that fixes this as being around Sith War time. I really didn’t see any other real markers at all.
*Allow me to quote the beautiful ending: “He glanced at Nova and nodded in thanks, for his new ward had helped him find something he thought was long-lost . . . Hope. And at that moment, all was right with the galaxy.”
*Except, not really, because at that exact moment, Ossus was being reduced to a smoking ruin and everyone died except one guy who managed to turn himself into a tree, which is kind of Pyrrhic victory if you ask me, am I right, and, anyway, the Jedi are basically decimated and the rest of the galaxy ain’t much better and it’s all because the Jedi are hopelessly lost in a world where they can’t see the forest for the trees, no pun intended, and basically, if you can even find a frigging teacher for Nova in all this chaos, she’s basically just going to get turned into an idiot anyway.
*Truly, all is well.
*Well, seriously, this is an enjoyable story. Danner has an engaging style, particularly in the action sequences. There’s nothing really new in Dray’s story except Danner’s strange decision to really leave his past mostly vague. I mean, we never really find out what actually did happen at the Citadel or why he killed his friend or why he left the woman he loved, Cayli.
*I forgot to even mention Cayli, didn’t I? Ah, well.
*But it’s longer than you might think and so has a little more time than some of these stories do to actually breath and actually adhere to some sort of internal rhythm. And that lightsaber fight at the half point really is very good.
*CANONICAL STATUS: While there is a distinct possibility that this story has its roots in truth, there are no outstanding historical records to corroborate it. It is NOT RECOMMENDED as a historical resource.
*Above average. 2 ½ stars.
*Well, it’s been ten reviews again already and you know what that means! Or, well, actually, you don’t. I’ve been doing my take on the 111 Star Wars Stories You Can’t Live Without, posting a new review every ten reviews. Well, I’ve decided to shake things up a bit. I’ll continue with my reviews of that list, but next time, something a little different.