This was by far the most entertaining piece of media I’ve encountered in the Star Wars Chronology Project so far. The voice acting was excellent, and the narration was enjoyable. It had a very classic Star Wars/Buck Rogers vibe to it. The music and sound effects were lifted straight from the movies, which gave the audio drama an air of familiarity as you were listening. I felt like a kid again as I was listening.
This audio drama consisted of the stories Ulic Qel-Dorma and the Beast Wars of Onderon, The Saga of Nomi Sunrider, and The Freedon Nadd Uprising. The audio drama was not a boring textual reading of the Tales of the Jedi stories, but a well acted drama, in every sense of the word drama. There were sound effects, several different voice actors, and music, all put together to make an entertaining piece of Star Wars history.
There were a few deviations from the comic, most of them improvements to the story.
Firstly, there was an improvement in dialogue. There is a particular scene in the Beast Wars of Onderon when 2 beast-rider commandos dismounted off their mounts and went to capture princess Galia. In the comic, Tott Doneeta exclaims “Two Beast boys are getting away” or something to that effect. In the audio drama this piece of dialogue is improved to “Two beast riders have slipped through. I bet a Hutt’s ransom they’re after the Queen!”
Secondly, there is an added scene before the three Jedi intrude upon Orin Kira and Princess Galia’s wedding. Before they entered the ceremony, Ulic managed to use his Jedi mind trick ability to confuse two guards. This is the first time (in chronological order) that the Jedi mind trick has been presented an ability a Jedi may possess.
Thirdly, the character of Novar had a more prominent role. Novar is flushed out in more detail in the Tales of the Jedi Companion, and in the audio drama the details from the RPG book are brought to life in more scenes where he is the focus of our attention. We learn through the RPG book and audio drama that Novar is a darkside magician, and is the leader of one of the cults of Freedon Nadd. After King Ommin and Queen Amanoa, Novar seems to be the next in line with regards to darkside pecking order in the city of Iziz. He’s more than just a servant to the king and Queen, but possesses significant darkside power.
Fourthly, there is more of a connection in the audio drama to Cay replacing his arm. In the comic book, Cay has his arm sliced off, and a few scenes later we see him removing the arm of a droid and replacing his lost arm with the droid arm. There is not much in the way of plot or dialogue to explain to us how he was able to replace his arm with a droid arm so quickly. This gap is partially filled in the audio drama. After Cay loses his arm, he and his brother Ulic find themselves in King Ommin’s cybernetics laboratory. This makes sense because King Ommin needed cybernetics in order to stand upright (See my original post on the Tales of the Jedi Companion for more details on King Ommin). Cay tinkers around the laboratory a bit, and then manages to attach his arm. Though details were not provided on exactly how this occurred, it was better than thinking he had simply attached the droid arm with a lightsaber and a screw-driver.
Fifthly, the dramatization of Queen Amanoa’s battle meditation, and then Master Arca’s battle meditation was awesome. It decently portrayed the effects the battle meditation had on the morale of the troops. This was one of the more enjoyable scenes in the entire piece.
The stories of The Saga of Nomi Sunrider and The Freedon Nadd Uprising ran with very few deviations. There were a couple of added battle scenes between the Jedi and the followers of Freedon Nadd. What was most conspicuous though was the absence of Dace Diath, Kith Kark, Qrrl Toq, and Shoaned Culu. Of the five originally sent from Ossus to help in the quelling of the Freedon Nadd uprising, the only one included was Nomi Sunrider – for obvious reasons of course. I found this unfortunate as I was really looking forward to how the audio drama was going to present these characters.
All-in-all the audio drama rocked, and it comes highly recommended. I look forward to the next audio drama I come across, which will be the Dark Lords of the Sith story arc. For my next post however, I’ll be examining The Shadow of Freedon Nadd, from the Essential Guide to the Force, until then, may the Force be with you.