|Author||R. A. Salvatore|
|Cover artist||Cliff Nielsen|
|Series||The New Jedi Order|
October 5, 1999
July 5, 2000
|Media type||Hardcover & Paperback|
|Preceded by||Crisis at Crystal Reef|
|Followed by||Dark Tide: Onslaught|
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Vector Prime is a science fiction novel by American writer R. A. Salvatore and published in 1999. It is the first installment of the New Jedi Order series set in the Star Wars universe. The book has received much controversy for the death of a prominent character from the films (the first and only time a major film character has been killed off in the non-Canon Star Wars expanded universe), despite George Lucas's approval. On its release, the book was featured on the New York Times Hardcover Bestseller List.
The alien race known as the Yuuzhan Vong are preparing for their invasion on the Star Wars galaxy by covertly disrupting the peace established by that of the New Republic ever since the fall of the Galactic Empire years previously. These distractions allow for the specialist warrior caste, the Praetorite Vong, to establish a base on the frozen backwater world of Helska IV. But though they settle on Helska IV as secretly as possible, it is noticed nevertheless by the members of the ExGal-4 base on the nearby world of Belkaden, which is also infiltrated by a Yuuzhan Vong agent named Yomin Carr. Three ExGal-4 members go to Helska IV to investigate, and two are killed by the Praetorite Vong, while the remaining one, Danni Quee, is captured and tortured for experimentation. Back on Belkaden, Yomin Carr readies the planet for Vong habitation by poisoning the world as the initial step in terraforming, and he kills the remaining Ex-Gal-4 scientists personally.
Meanwhile, the Skywalker-Solo family, who, like the New Republic, are unaware of the Yuuzhan Vong threat, decide to take a vacation from the bureaucratic troubles of the Republic and visit Lando Calrissian at his industrious planet of Dubrillion. There, they see the liftoff of Jedi Master Kyp Durron's Dozen-and-Two Avengers X-wing squadron, whose purpose is to protect the galaxy from criminals and pirates. Lando, meanwhile, asks Luke Skywalker and his wife Mara Jade to investigate what is happening on the world of Belkaden with R2-D2. They go, and Mara gets into a fight with Yomin Carr that she wins by killing him. This is despite her sickness that the Yuuzhan Vong had given her through their agent, Nom Anor.
Lando also asks Han Solo, his son Anakin Solo, and Chewbacca to go to the planet Sernpidal to pick up some cargo. They comply, but as they arrive, they find that the Praetorite Vong have made a target of the planet by pulling its moon, Dobido, down. Meanwhile, at Helska IV, the Dozen-and-Two Avengers get into a battle with the Praetorite Vong, which marks the first-ever battle in the Yuuzhan Vong War, and the squadron is decimated under the mighty forces of the Vong. Kyp Durron and his apprentice, Miko Reglia, are the only survivors, but while Kyp escapes, Reglia is taken captive and tortured like Danni Quee. Helska IV is later raided and investigated again by the Skywalkers after they leave Belkaden.
Back at Sernpidal, Han, Chewbacca, and Anakin save as many people as they can aboard the Millennium Falcon, but Chewbacca is incidentally left behind and dies as Dobido crashes into Sernpidal, destroying the world. As the Solos and Skywalkers fall into grief over Chewbacca's death, they and their allies face the threat of the Yuuzhan Vong.
The final battle against the Praetorite Vong occurs when Jacen Solo senses a call in the Force by Danni Quee, so he takes his sister, Jaina, with him to rescue her covertly. Their cover is blown, but they are aided with forces from the New Republic that battle off the Vong and get Jacen and Danni off of Helska IV. Miko Reglia sacrifices himself again to make sure that Jacen and Danni escape.
With Jacen and Danni returned, the New Republic plans to destroy Helska IV by using heat-concentrating ships to blow the world up. The vast majority of the Praetorite Vong are destroyed in this explosion, and it appears that the New Republic has beaten this alien menace. However, it turns out that the actual Yuuzhan Vong invasion force have yet to make any real appearance in the galaxy.
The novel ends with the Skywalkers and Solos returning to Sernpidal so that Han can say a few words about Chewbacca in the wake of his sacrifice. He concludes that with his death, the galaxy has become a more dangerous place.
At the time of its first publication, Vector Prime was extremely controversial among Star Wars fans in that its plot called for the death of Chewbacca, making the Wookiee the first major character from the original trilogy to be permanently killed off in the Star Wars expanded universe novels. The concept of killing such a character was the decision of the book editors (said to include Randy Stradley, a then-editor at Dark Horse Comics), who sent a list of characters they would like to kill to George Lucas, with Luke Skywalker at the top of the list. The response was what characters they could not kill, and Chewbacca was not on the list, hence his selection. This is covered - in some detail - in the round table interview with the series editors published at the end of the final New Jedi Order novel, The Unifying Force. Opinion was sharply divided as to whether this death of a beloved character was an effort to boost sales and interest in the new series, or if it served the dramatic purpose of declaring that not even the core characters were necessarily "safe" anymore.
Though Chewbacca is the first major character from the original trilogy who dies in a novel, this is not the first time a talking character from the original trilogy dies in a novel. General Madine, who appears in Return of the Jedi alongside Admiral Ackbar and Mon Mothma, had died in the novel Darksaber, published in 1995. Several other characters from the movies had previously died in novels and tales, such as Het Nkik, the Jawa in the cantina. Mon Mothma's death occurred a few weeks before the events of Vector Prime, and Admiral Ackbar died toward the end of the New Jedi Order series.
For Vector Prime, Mark Hamill reprised his role as Luke Skywalker for a commercial for the book. He had a speaking role in which he, as Luke, recalled his previous struggles and talks of how he was unsure he could defeat this new threat, the Yuuzhan Vong.