Tag Archives: A New Dawn

Review: “Star Wars: A New Dawn” by John Jackson Miller

Title: A New Dawn
Author: John Jackson Miller
Series: Star Wars (Canon)
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Del Rey, 2014

Much has been made of the fact that this is the first entry into the Star Wars Expanded Universe since Disney hit the reset button, despite the (apparently unnoticed) publication of several tie-ins to the series Star Wars: Rebels that preceded this. Even the title makes a reference to it. Maybe those don’t count because they’re not geared at adults. Anyway, all that hype is a little misleading. There is very little here that harkens the new era of Star Wars publishing. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but it had very little to do with the reboot. I’m pretty sure the book was mostly written already by the time that edict was handed down. That’s not its function. The place of this book in the ongoing Star Wars canon is to serve as a prelude to Star Wars: Rebels and introduce a couple of the main characters from that show. And it does that, superbly. Just don’t expect a grand departure from what came before, because almost everything therein was consistent with the Legends canon that existed before. There was no reason to foist major structural change on the book just to buck tradition and highlight the fact that there was a new sheriff in town.

The old order is dead. It died eight years ago, and when it fell it took everything Kanan Jarrus knew with it. He was just a Padawan at the time, only starting his journey to becoming a Jedi, but that didn’t matter to the Emperor when he issued Order 66. Kanan’s master sold her life to give him time to escape, and he’s been running ever since, floating from system to system, just avoiding the Empire’s notice, never in one place too long. He’s put his Jedi heritage behind him, and looks out primarily for number one even if he can’t resist sticking his neck out for a friend every once in a while. These days he makes ends meet flying transports loaded with high explosives between the mined-out planet Gorse and it’s still-rich moon Cynda as the companies scramble to meet Imperial quotas. Given how often they fall short, the Emperor has sent an envoy to see what he can do to speed up production. Cyborg businessman Baron Vidian made a fortune during the Clone Wars, and since has been working for the Emperor, smoothing logistical bumps in the rapid expansion of the Imperial Navy. The cost in sentient lives and suffering has been noticeable, and would-be rebel Hera Syndulla has followed him to Gorse in an attempt to learn all she can about Imperial security in general and Vidian in particular. When Vidian launches a coldhearted plan to speed up production at the expense of countless lives, Kanan and Hera will be thrown together in a desperate attempt to stop him. But can the massive might of the Empire really be resisted?

Like I said, I enjoyed this, and I’m if anything more excited for the launch of Rebels. The characters of Hera and Kanan were well-rounded and interesting, as were most of the assorted allies and acquaintances featured here. Unfortunately, the villain Denetrius Vidian was not nearly so nuanced as I’ve grown to expect from Miller’s work. He’s far from the only starkly-evil villain in the Galaxy Far, Far Away, but could have been given some more shades of gray. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment, but its still worth noting. The book was also notable for its inclusion of those incredibly rare creatures, female Imperials. There were several female stormtroopers thrown in (although not by name, and it didn’t make any difference to the story what gender they were), as well as the commander of Vidian’s Star Destroyer. I’m not sure if this is an attempt by the new Lucas Story Group to make the Empire more inclusive, or just Miller trying to even the playing field a bit. The only thing here that really conflicted with previous canon was the inclusion of Depa Billaba as Kanan’s former master when previous canon had established her as lying comatose at that point in the timeline. Obi-Wan makes a pointed comment in the prologue about the various “legends” contained in the Jedi archive, but that’s about the only nod they make to the reboot issue aside from the title. In case anyone’s interested, this is set eight years after Revenge Of The Sith, six years before Rebels and eleven before A New Hope.

CONTENT: Mild language. Some violence, not all that gory or gratuitous. No sexual content, but Kanan flirts with every female he meets–occasionally, as in the case of the Star Destroyer’s captain, just to annoy them and get them to leave him alone.

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Mini-Review: “Star Wars–Rebels: The Machine In The Ghost”

Episode Title: The Machine In The Ghost
Episode Writer: Greg Weisman
Short Story Author: Michael Kogge
Series: Star Wars: Rebels
Rating: ****
Publisher/Copyright: Disney, 2014

And here we go! I think this is officially the first new story released for the rebooted Star Wars Expanded Universe. That honor was supposed to go to the upcoming novel A New Dawn, but the people over at Star Wars: Rebels jumped the gun a bit in promoting their new show. What we have here is a three-minute short, part one of a four-episode series of prequels to the actual show. Those same four prequels were also adapted by Michael Kogge into a series of short stories in the book Rise Of The Rebels. These prequels are meant to introduce you to the characters from the show in the context of an actual story as opposed to their earlier introductions that focused more on the production/character conception side of things. This time we meet Kanan Jarrus, Hera Syndulla, and C1-10p or “Chopper”. Kanan is a former Jedi Padawan who managed to survive Order 66 and has locked away his lightsaber, living on the run until he hooked up with rest of this crew. Hera is the pilot and owner of the Ghost, with her own unrevealed (so far) reasons for hating the Empire. Chopper may be the grumpiest astromech droid you’ll ever meet, but there’s no way he’s going to let the Ghost and her crew be blown to smithereens on his watch. There are links to the introduction videos above, and you can see the short below.

The actual video itself is so short that I can’t give much of a summary without spoilers. Basically, we find Kanan, Hera and Chopper alone in the Ghost being pursued by a quartet of TIE Fighters after being ambushed when they tried to raid an Imperial supply convoy. When the ship starts taking damage, Chopper has to balance conflicting orders from Kanan and Hera as to what to fix first before the TIEs blow them out of the sky.

Since I’m a huge Star Wars geek, I’m obviously excited about this upcoming show. A lot of the same people from the Clone Wars cartoon have been carried over, and as much as I gripe about that show it definitely did improve as things went along. Plus, you know, since they rebooted the timeline I can’t gripe about how much they screwed stuff up anymore–that other stuff no longer exists. I think the crew has learned a lot (they say they have) from that experience, and I look forward to seeing what they can do in this new time period. Regarding this particular installment, it was very fun. I really enjoyed the banter between Kanan and Hera, but Chopper was the real focus here, I suspect because Kanan and Hera will be getting much better introductions when A New Dawn hits shelves. We know that Kanan and Hera meet in that book, set in 11 BBY,* while the show is set in 5 BBY. This short could hypothetically be set anywhere in that interim period, especially since the rest of the crew is absent, but I’m placing it as close to the start of the show as possible given the characters’ unchanging appearance. Obviously, as more information emerges as to the status quo at the start of the series I can refine that further. Is the short story version worthwhile? It doesn’t really add much, aside from refining the context of why they’re being chased and pointing out that the guns Chopper fires are mounted on the Phantom, a smaller fighter docked to the back of the Ghost. You also get inside Chopper’s “head” a bit more to see what he’s actually thinking, but there’s really no need–he’s a very expressive droid, so it doesn’t add much to the experience. It’s not bad, I was just hoping it would be expanded a bit. Use the short as a jumping-off point or something, maybe even offer context as to whether this happens before the rest of the crew joins up or if they’re just off on another errand (I doubt this, since the Phantom is still present, but who knows).

CONTENT: Aside from TIE pilots being blown up, no violence. If you understand the binary language Chopper beeps in, I imagine his dialogue would be profanity-laden, but you can’t and so there is none. No sexual content.

*Star Wars dates are measured in years BBY or ABY, before or after the Battle of Yavin respectively. Effectively, BC/AD with Star Wars: A New Hope as the tipping point.

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