|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2009)|
|Author||R. A. Salvatore|
|Cover artist||Cliff Nielsen|
|Series||The New Jedi Order
5 October 1999
5 July 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 Chewbacca in its context (the first and only time a major film character has been killed off in the Star Wars Expanded Universe), despite the fact George Lucas approved of it. 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. They are doing this 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 what is happening, and two of the members 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 go 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 sole purpose is to protect the galaxy from criminals and pirates. Lando, meanwhile, asks Luke Skywalker and his wife Mara Jade to go and 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, incidentally, 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 decided to make 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 easily decimated under the mighty forces of the Vong. Kyp Durron and his apprentice, Miko Reglia, are the only survivors, but while Kyp is able to escape to tell the rest of the galaxy of this new threat, Reglia is taken captive and tortured like Danni Quee. Helska IV would later be 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 unfortunately, 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 also find themselves facing 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 soon blown, but they are then quickly aided with forces from the New Republic that battle off the Vong and manage to get Jacen and Danni off of Helska IV. Miko Reglia, unfortunately, sacrifices himself against a few Vong warriors to make sure that Jacen and Danni escape.
With Jacen and Danni returned, the New Republic makes a quick plan 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 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 couldn't kill, and Chewbacca wasn't 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 Star Wars Episode VI: 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.
- Belkadan: The planet on which ExGal 4 is located. The ExGal stations were located on the rim of the galaxy to research activity beyond. Belkadan is the location of the first direct contact with the Yuuzhan Vong invaders.
- Dubrillion and Destrillion: A pair of planets where Lando Calrissian has his most recent enterprise located. The Skywalkers, the Solos and Kyp Durron's help defend the system during one of the first Yuuzhan Vong attacks.
- Helska 4: An icy planet where the Praetorite Vong have set up a temporary base of operations. This base is also used for the detainment of Danni Quee and Miko Reglia as both a prison and interrogation facility.
- Sernpidal: A world where the Yuuzhan Vong show their might by pulling the planet's moon to the surface, destroying Sernpidal. The destruction had its effect, terrorizing many New Republic citizens. Chewbacca dies saving Anakin Solo moments before the planet's demise.
- Rhommamool: Homme word of Rhommamools, laborers exploited by the Osarians. Base of a cult created by Nom Anor.
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.