"Perhaps that feared Luke Skywalker just that much. And that was a mistake. Luke Skywalker was not the Sword of the Jedi. Jaina was, and now the Sith had trapped themselves inside a locked temple with her" – Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse
Upon reading the quote from Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse, I found myself wondering why is it that Jaina is used at the end of a series to clean up messes. Yes, we’ve only seen this once before, but when an event happens twice within a short period, one starts to wonder.
Luke maintained a prominent role in every book of the Fate of the Jedi series. Odds are that most of the pages are dedicated to his particular plotline. (No, I’m not going to count, it’s just a hunch). Jaina has not. In each book, Luke deals with whatever mini plot is occurring on the planet he and Ben visit, faces Abeloth, fails at defeat and flies away. This formula would have worked more effectively had the Jacen plotline not been tossed aside and it hadn’t turned into a game of chase, but what’s done is done.
Now the Lost Tribe of the Sith and Abeloth somehow managed to worm their way onto Coruscant to cause problems. Based on the quote, it seems that Jaina will deal with the Sith in the Jedi Temple, as Luke cannot. Luke could not deal with Jacen, either. It was Jaina who ended that mess.
Jaina’s role as “Sword of the Jedi” crops up when it’s convenient. While it shouldn’t control every aspect of her life, only using it when Sith needed a swift kick in the butt alters the title. It makes Jaina sounds like a tool for the Jedi, or authors, to use. When she’s not needed, she fades into the background. Jaina doesn’t need that title to do what is right. Prophecies and titles are fine and dandy, but it’s the character’s choices that define them, not a string of words.
How does all of this make me wonder if Jaina is Luke’s replacement? Let’s look at their roles. Luke in the Legacy of the Force and Fate of the Jedi series played an important role, but could not take down the final opponent. Assuming Jaina takes down the Sith, something she’s proven she can do, she is once again solving a problem her uncle could not. If she takes down Abeloth that will further seal the deal. Given the quote, it’s a reasonable prediction.
By having Luke deal with the Sith and Abeloth throughout the series, he still plays an important role. He then steps aside to allow Jaina to defeat the Sith. He’s stepping aside for the new hero. If Apocalypse plays out this way, then it will be the second time Luke turns to his niece. He is no longer the “go-to Jedi” for grave threats. Luke’s role is more of a mentor and guide.
Passing the torch is a necessary step in a multigenerational story. Luke cannot be the hero forever. He has to move on. It’s inevitable. In a way, it feels like the authors are weaning readers off Luke’s role as the ultimate hero of the Star Wars universe.
And that’s okay. Part of what makes Star Wars such a lasting fandom is that the story is constantly progressing. The Star Wars universe is large enough to allow one Jedi to fit the mold of the mentor and teacher and another the fighter.
If these predictions are true and Jaina is the one to save the day, then why isn’t she on the front cover, you ask. My guess is marketing. The casual reader is going to recognize Luke (or Han, Leia and Lando) more than other characters. Del Rey already used EU characters on the fronts of Conviction (Tahiri) and Ascension (Ben and Vestara). Throwing a member of The Big Three on the cover of at least one of the last three books could be a way to try to increase sales.
Jaina fits the role as the “next Luke Skywalker” well. She’s not the same person, appeals to many fans and has enough experience to fit the job. While I don’t see her as the leader of the Jedi in the sense that Luke was, she would be a viable, believable hero- whether she works for the Empire or the Galactic Alliance.