Tag Archives: Tatooine

Review: “Star Wars: Heir To The Jedi” by Kevin Hearne

Title: Heir To The Jedi
Author: Kevin Hearne
Series: Star Wars (Rebooted canon, though it would fit equally well with the Legends stuff)
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Del Rey, 2015

Who’s up for more adventures in that Galaxy Far, Far Away? I know I always am! Heir To The Jedi has the honor of being the first novel in the newly rebooted canon to feature one of the “main three” characters from the films, as Tarkin was focused on that stellar baddie and A New Dawn was busy setting up the Star Wars: Rebels television series. The funny thing is, this still fits perfectly well with the older canon, which isn’t surprising since it was ordered before the cut. In fact, it was originally supposed to close out the Empire And Rebellion so-called trilogy, now a duology with the omission of this volume. The series isn’t really hurt by this though–the stories bore no relation to each other, and were a trilogy only by virtue of theme: first-person narratives, each focusing on one of the “big three” characters. As far as I’m concerned, this can “count” for both universes, both the official one overseen by the Lucasfilm Story Group and the more tumultuous “Legends” canon that came before.

The Death Star has been destroyed, but the Empire lives on. Though they’ve bloodied the Empire’s nose, the Rebel Alliance finds itself in an extremely tenuous situation, on the run and strapped for cash. The Empire has them outnumbered and outgunned in nearly every way, leaving the Alliance desperate for any advantage they can muster. So when word comes that a brilliant cryptographer under Imperial “protection” would like to defect, they have little room to refuse. Luke hasn’t had much time to train with the Force–in fact, without Ben around to train him, he has absolutely no idea what he’s doing–but he’s still one of the best pilots in the Rebellion. Alongside Nakari Kelen, newly-recruited Rebel and a crack shot with her slugthrower, Luke is dispatched to an alien world to stage a rescue under the very nose of the Empire….

There are a lot of terms I could use to describe this particular adventure, but I think the best one to pick would be “fun.” Remember the sense of unadulterated adventure you felt watching the original films for the first time? That’s what you get with this book, minus the whining Luke does through most of the first movie. That callow youth who yearned for something, anything to take him away from the sun-scorched sands of Tatooine is gone, sobered by the loss of friends both new and old. In his place stands an awkward young man just beginning to understand his place in the galaxy, conscious of his connection to the mystical Force but unsure how to proceed with learning to tap into it. No longer the boy he was, not yet the man he will become, this is Luke Skywalker at a crossroads, and anything can happen next….Or, you know, not. Because while this is all new territory, it was conceived before the reboot came down. Even leaving that aside, we know what the status quo is at the beginning of Empire. The game isn’t going to be changed by this book. But that’s okay. There are still things to be learned here. We can watch Luke take his first solo steps towards realizing his fate as a Jedi, cringe at his awkwardness with the entire field of romance, and cry with him when that romance proves doomed.* For the first time, we can really get inside Luke’s head as he narrates the entire adventure in the first-person POV. And who knew? His internal dialogue is remarkably entertaining! Bottom line, this is Star Wars at its best, as you remember it. I heartily recommend picking this one up.

As for when this happens, the closest I can nail it down is “shortly after” Star Wars IV: A New Hope. I’d say at least a couple months later, probably not more than a year. It’s pretty vague.

CONTENT: Mild profanity, mostly fictional. I don’t actually recall any whatsoever, but there’s usually a little bit. Some violence, usually not too disturbing. Some flirting, but no real sexual content.

*That’s not a spoiler–Luke is single at the beginning of Empire, so any romance set before that is doomed….

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Review: “Star Wars: Kenobi” by John Jackson Miller

Title: Kenobi
Author: John Jackson Miller
Series: Star Wars (Legends Canon)
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Del Rey, 2013

Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of my favorite characters from the Star Wars saga, and if I’m being honest Ewan McGregor’s performance in that role is one of the few highlights of the otherwise-regrettable prequel trilogy. I’m not his only fan–he’s such a favorite that we get adventure after adventure featuring Anakin’s former Master, to the point where I don’t think he ever once had a chance to stop and breathe during the entire Clone Wars. What hasn’t been detailed until now is his exile on Tatooine after Order 66 and the Jedi Purge. You’d think that this would have been covered long ago, given the incredible range of character-shaping events Obi-Wan has just been through, but you would be wrong. It is only just recently that we have been granted insight into this period of Master Kenobi’s life, but the result is spectacular.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is dead. He died on Mustafar after striking down his former apprentice, Anakin Skywalker. Nearly everyone he ever cared for, ever loved, is dead. The Jedi Order, his family, has been nearly wiped from existance by the treachery of Chancellor-turned-Emperor Palpatine and the clone Stormtroopers. Obi-Wan is dead. In his place stands Ben Kenobi, the Jundland Waste’s newest settler. From his lonely hut out in the desert, Ben keeps solitary watch over the Lars homestead and the orphaned boy being raised there. He tries to stay away from the small outposts of civilization that dot the wastes, but can one of the greatest Jedi in the history of the Order ignore people in need?
For Annileen Calwell, life continues much as it has since the death of her husband years earlier. Her children are rebellious. Her shop, Dannar’s Claim, is an oasis of hospitality in the desolate wastes, keeping the local moisture farmers supplied, repaired and their thirsts quenched. Everything is normal, and yet this life is killing her with stress and boredom. Trying to learn more about Ben, the mysterious drifter who has taken up residence out in the wastes, offers at least a little diversion, but Ben is stubbornly secretive. And Orrin Gault–neighbor, local land barron, entrepreneur and her late husband’s best friend–has been acting a bit strange. Probably nothing to worry about, but more stress is the last thing she needs….
A’yark’s people are in trouble. The Tuskens have been weakened considerably from their former numbers, decimated a decade earlier when Jabba The Hutt incited war between the Tuskens and the settlers as a way to sell off his stockpile of antiquated blasters. Tuskens are used to hard times, but recently even their spirit has been broken. Three years ago, the strongest of the local warbands was wiped out with no survivors and no trace of any predator. Every man, woman and child was killed, their bodies left to the scavengers. Now the Tuskens are so weak that old traditions are beginning to die out as matters of pragmatism take precedence. A’yark struggles to hold them together, to boost their spirit as much as possible with raids on settlers that fail to properly defend themselves, but the tribe is dying despite A’yark’s efforts….

John Jackson Miller manages to pull off what I don’t believe anyone has ever done before: he wrote a Star Wars western. The elements are all there–ranchers, settlers, merciless natives, the widowed shopowner and the lone wanderer. People just trying to survive in a harsh land beyond the rule of law, where justice rides in your holster or hangs on your saddle or speeder. Beyond that, Miller manages to get inside the head of Ben Kenobi at his most broken–he has been betrayed by trusted friends, seen his family exterminated, and been forced to confront and (he believes) kill the man he has regarded as his brother for more than a decade. Ben is broken, and it shows. This was one of the best Star Wars novels I have read in a good long time, and I hope that Miller is given the chance to play in this sandbox a bit more.

This novel stands on its own fairly well, assuming you’re familiar with the movies. There are passing references to Zayne Carrick and Kerra Holt, both characters also written by Miller, but you’ve no need to know their stories in order to understand Ben’s. More significant is the story of Sharad Hett, as the history there plays into the Tusken situation, but you get most of the information you need from the text. If you’re interested, find a copy of the Star Wars: Outlander graphic novel for that tale. Ben also cites his friendship/relationship with fellow Jedi Siri Tachi and the Mandalorian prime minister Satine as earlier lessons in the importance of not getting caught up in romantic emotion. If you’re a longtime reader you’ll know Siri from the Jedi Apprentice series, and Satine comes from the lamentable Clone Wars CGI series. Neither is essential to understanding the story here, but you can look it up if you want. In any case, you should definitely give this novel your attention.

CONTENT: Mild language. Mild violence, not too disturbing. Mild flirting, but no real sexual content.

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