Following on the success of his previous Star Wars offering, Kenobi, and in conjunction with the newly-formed Lucasfilm Story Group, John Jackson Miller throttles us forward from the end of the prequel era and into the Dark Times, the largely uncharted territory between trilogies. The Clone Wars are over. The Empire has risen. The surviving Jedi are in hiding, hunted by Darth Vader and his minions. The management style of the day is subjugation, murder, and wanton destruction. And there are some people in the galaxy who truly see what’s going on, and they can’t just lie down and take it like “good citizens.”
This book takes place some 6 years before the events of the upcoming Star Wars: Rebels animated series, which itself will take place 5 years before the events of Episode IV: A New Hope. In other words, 8 years after Revenge of the Sith, and 11 years before A New Hope, squarely in the midst of the worst time the galaxy has ever suffered.
The story here covers the first encounter of our newest heroes, Jedi Kanan Jarrus and freedom fighter Hera Syndulla (perhaps related to Clone Wars era fighter Cham Syndulla?) as the Rebellion begins in the form of small, isolated cells. It also provides our first look at the new era of Star Wars, wherein everything is officially canon, so in this regard it’s a New Dawn in more ways than one.
Although Kanan and Hera are most definitely at the forefront, their first adventure gives us a supporting cast as strong, rich, and three-dimensional as any that Miller has offered in the past. From the conspiracy theorizing Skelly to the Imperial monster Count Vidian (who is a most worthy addition to the Star Wars villains list), the supporting cast give us a very close look at what ordinary life is like under Palpatine’s Empire… and what it means to rebel against it.
Kanan and Hera themselves seem to have the banter we’ve seen in the preview videos already intact, harkening back to the classic days of Han Solo and Princess Leia. It’s that kind of dynamic, without being a carbon copy of it. With them, they bring along all of the adventure and swashbuckling we’ve come to know since 1977. I was excited for Rebels before. Now I’m chomping at the bit for it.
The audio production is as high quality as any of the offerings from the Star Wars camp in recent years. Veteran narrator Marc Thompson plays the roles to the hilt, and the subtle additions of John Williams theme music and those famous sound effects are dropped in to add that extra layer of awesome you just don’t get from most audiobooks.
If everything that’s been hinted at is true, this animated series will not only tie the trilogies together, but it will eventually play on themes offered from Clone Wars and offer some new threads to be continued in the upcoming Episode VII. As a fan, that’s simply too hard to resist. The future looks bright ahead, and this book is the on-ramp.
Me? I am one immensely happy fanboy.