- "You are the first of the new Jedi Knights. You are the core of what will become a great order to protect the New Republic. You are champions of the Force."
- ―Luke Skywalker
Champions of the Force is a Star Wars Legends novel written by Kevin J. Anderson. It is the sequel to Dark Apprentice and the third volume of Star Wars: The Jedi Academy Trilogy. It was first published in paperback by Bantam Spectra on September 1, 1994.
As the New Republic continues its struggle for survival, a scattered but powerful remnant of the shattered Empire seeks to destroy three precious children—among them Han and Leia's Jedi twins—who represent the next generation of Jedi Knights, in this third and final novel of the Jedi Academy Trilogy…
Suspended helplessly between life and death, Luke Skywalker lies in state at the Jedi academy. But on the spirit plane, Luke fights desperately for survival, reaching out physically to the Jedi twins. At the same time, Leia is on a life-and-death mission of her own, a race against Imperial agents hoping to destroy a third Jedi child—Leia and Han's baby Anakin—hidden on the planet Anoth. Meanwhile, Luke's former protégé Kyp Durron has pirated the deadly Sun Crusher on an apocalyptic mission of mass destruction, convinced he is fighting for a just cause. Hunting down the rogue warrior, Han must persuade Kyp to renounce his dark crusade and regain his lost honor. To do it, Kyp must take the Sun Crusher on a suicide mission against the awesome Death Star prototype—a battle Han knows they may be unable to win… even with Luke Skywalker at their side!
A few days after his destruction of the Cauldron Nebula, under the influence of Exar Kun, Kyp Durron flew the Sun Crusher to determine the fate of his brother, Zeth, at the Imperial Academy. He transmitted an ultimatum to Ambassador Furgan, threatening to destroy the solar system if they didn't provide information about Zeth. Desiring the Sun Crusher himself, Furgan ordered a group of TIE/LN starfighters to attack Kyp, who had been distracted by a falsified story about the death of his brother. He destroyed most of them and responded by firing a resonance torpedo into Carida's sun, Caridan. Furgan ordered the evacuation of Carida with the limited transports available, giving priority on the basis of rank. He escaped aboard the Vendetta, bound for Anoth. Dauren, a lowly lieutenant, knew he had little chance of escaping and located Zeth. He told Kyp, who swooped down to save them, but Dauren stabbed Zeth with a plastisteel fragment. Before Kyp could save his brother, the sun went supernova, destroying the planet. Kyp was driven further to the dark side by his despair at having killed his brother.
The disturbance in the Force caused by the destruction was felt by Leia Organa Solo and the Jedi students at the Jedi Praxeum on Yavin 4. It also caused the spirit of Luke Skywalker to return to his body, which had been separated from his body by Exar Kun. However, Luke soon realized no one could see him and wondered what he could do to save himself.
In the Maw Installation, Chewbacca and Wedge Antilles were leading a New Republic task force that was trying to capture the facility, now that Admiral Natasi Daala was no longer there to defend it. They captured it, but Tol Sivron and most of the Installation personnel escaped aboard the Death Star prototype.
On Coruscant, Lando Calrissian and Mara Jade met to discuss a joint venture between him and the Smugglers' Alliance on Kessel. They agreed to meet there in a week, but she refused to take him with her. Han Solo had just arrived on Coruscant to try and find information about the location of Kyp, so he could try and talk some sense into him. Lando persuaded Han to let him tag along aboard the Millennium Falcon, so that Han could drop him off at Kessel if their search took them near it.
Back on Yavin 4, the spirit of Exar Kun came to taunt Luke and then possessed Streen and tried to make him kill the Jedi Master. The Jedi students stopped him just in time. Shortly after, Terpfen arrived and warned Leia that Furgan was going to Anoth to capture her son, Anakin. They went to Mon Calamari to get the coordinates for Anoth from Ackbar.
Han tracked Kyp to the Core Worlds and tried talking to him, but Kyp threatened to fire a resonance torpedo at the Falcon. At the same time on Yavin 4, the Jedi students worked together to destroy Exar Kun, which ended his hold over Kyp and returned Luke's spirit to his body. Kyp gave in and surrendered to Han.
Leia, Ackbar and Terpfen arrived on Anoth with a New Republic battleship and engaged the Imperial forces, killing most of them. Furgan ran off with Anakin, but Terpfen got the infant back and chased after the Ambassador in an MT-AT. Furgan fell off a cliff and was killed. Then Terpfen tried to kill himself by walking off the cliff, because he felt guilty for giving the name of the planet where Leia's baby was hiding to Furgan; but was stopped by Ackbar.
After taking Kyp and the Sun Crusher back to Coruscant, Han took Lando to Kessel. They met with Jade, but discovered that there was a small problem with their operation, in that Moruth Doole had holed himself up in the prison building. They led Smuggler's Alliance forces inside it and Doole tried to escape them, but was killed by an energy spider. Their problems soon got worse, as the Death Star prototype arrived in the system and destroyed the Garrison Moon. Smuggler's Alliance freighters attacked the prototype and it retreated back to the Maw. The Falcon had latched onto its superstructure and was taken with it.
At the Maw, Admiral Daala had returned with the Gorgon and attacked the New Republic forces there. Luke and Kyp arrived at the Maw with the Sun Crusher, which they intended to send into a black hole to destroy it, while the Death Star prototype returned soon after them. Daala began to target the Maw Installation, in an attempt to destroy it, while Sivron prepared to fire the prototype. However, he was distracted by the Sun Crusher and pursued after it, but both craft were sucked into a black hole. Kyp had been piloting the Sun Crusher and escaped in a message pod, which Han saved using the Falcon's tractor beam, just before it was sucked down as well. The Installation exploded and seemingly destroyed the Gorgon, although it had escaped by jumping into hyperspace moments before.
Terpfen had revealed to Ackbar that the dying Mon Mothma had been poisoned by Furgan with microscopic nano-destroyers. He asked Cilghal to come to the Imperial Palace and heal Mon Mothma, which she did.
Leia, Han, Ackbar, Wedge, Chewbacca and Mon Mothma then attended the reopening of the Cathedral of Winds on Vortex, while Lando and Mara returned to Kessel and Kyp went back to Yavin 4 with Luke, to continue his Jedi training.
The 2012 book The Essential Reader's Companion dates the events of Champions of the Force to 11 ABY, following Dark Apprentice (1994) and preceding the short story "Firestorm" (1997) and the novel I, Jedi (1998), which are set concurrently to Star Wars: The Jedi Academy Trilogy. The events of the trilogy are followed by Children of the Jedi (1995).
Champions of the Force was first published in September 1994. The following October, Dark Horse Comics began the six-issue miniseries Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi - Dark Lords of the Sith, which was co-written by Kevin J. Anderson and chronicles the origins of Sith Lord Exar Kun.
- ISBN 9780553298024; September 1, 1994; Bantam Spectra; US paperback
- ISBN 9780307796134; June 28, 2011; Bantam Spectra; US eBook
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