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I actually agree. Dark Empire is not one of the SUs better moments. The story is shoddy, jumps around with little rhyme or reason. It undermins Vaders sacrifice at endor and is far too reliant on superweapons and plot bunnies. The artwork is also atrocious.
+1 I learned about it indirectly back in the day via the Jedi Academy trilogy (Clone Emperor huh?). It started a tendency of can you top this carried on in the JA, Darksaber, Vong Invasion and even the new movies.
Darksaber and the Yuuzhan Vong War are actually some of my favorites-though I admit both have flaws- they are light years above Dark Empire in terms of quality,story and impact.
I have Darksaber available in HC, bought back in 95 or 96 IIRC. I liked it at the time (I was 16 or 17) tried rereading it and yeah it is kind of erm crap now. NJO around 19 books of which maybe 5 were any good (the early/1st 3+ Aaron Alston?). I think the only legends stuff I liked after the 90's were maybe the legacy books (looked good by comparison to NJO), the legacy comic series and some of the RPG material for Star Wars Saga Edition. Main plotline anyway I liked the 1st Darth bane book and some of the Zahn books.
I don't think Darksaber falls into the 'crap' category- that is reserved for. Crystal Star, The Corellian trilogy and Children of the Jedi. It has memorable moments, is pivotal to various characters development and does a good job of showing viewpoints on the stories players.It does suffer from plot bunny syndrome, lack of investment in the callista subplot and some cheesiness.As to the NJO though, they were vastly superior in terms of character development, stakes, scale and writing. The Enemy Lines, Star by Star, the Force Heretic and the last prophecy were all incredible writing. Legacy was too much an unneeded rehash of CW and reboot feels
Crystal Star is 1/5 territory, Darksaber is more like 2/5 or 2.5/5 being generous. Its a bit silly but has some enjoyable moments and I enjoyed it circa 1996 probably because it was being compared to the Crystal Star And Corellia trilogy. How about I raise you a Planet of Twilight, The New Rebellion, and perhaps a Mandalorian Armor?