Before the holiday, I finished reading both volumes of the Tales of the Jedi collection.
I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was impressed with how much this series captured and recalled the original mythical magic of the 1977 film that started it all. The most universal themes of the cinematic Star Wars narrative are all at play in Tales: the timelessness of good and evil, duality, fixed destiny vs. free will, and the redemptive power of love. They may be painted in broader strokes here than in the novels of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, but such is the nature of the comic medium. Those broader strokes do not mean that they are any less effective. To be frank, I think the Tales collection was better than most of the EU novels.
For the die-hards, I think this is essential reading. This is the earliest story in the Star Wars universe’s timeline, and as such you will see events and actions which have consequences that reverberate for thousands of years. The Tales collection has the curious appeal of feeling like an in-universe legend. This is the Iliad and Odyssey of the Star Wars world, and the creators wisely played up that subconscious parallel. While the story seems to exist in a seemingly futuristic world full of spaceships, alien beings, and faster-than-light travel, they maintain the illusion, particularly through their artwork, that this story is, in fact, ancient.
The breadth and scope of the story contained in the Tales of the Jedi collection is done no justice here by my brief review. However, were I to sit here and review each story arc (as I originally intended), I would likely use up all my bandwidth. To be concise, it is an exciting, stimulating, and enjoyable read. There are various styles of writing, narrative structure, and most obviously artwork within the collection, as many cooks contributed to this stew. Yet the characterization was consistent, the story was always coherent, and the thematic elements were always on target. I highly recommend it.