For a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights brought peace and order to the Galactic Republic, aided by their connection to the mystical energy field known as the Force. But they were betrayed—and the entire galaxy has paid the price. It is the Age of the Empire.
Now Emperor Palpatine, once Chancellor of the Republic and secretly a Sith follower of the dark side of the Force, has brought his own peace and order to the galaxy. Peace through brutal repression, and order through increasing control of his subjects’ lives.
But even as the Emperor tightens his iron grip, others have begun to question his means and motives. And still others, whose lives were destroyed by Palpatine’s machinations, lay scattered about the galaxy like unexploded bombs, waiting to go off…
Author John Jackson Miller, who is coming off his award winning novel Kenobi, which is about one of the most beloved Star Wars characters, was assigned the task of A New Dawn. This story is set about eight years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, and six years before the new animated show Star Wars Rebels. Besides some short videos released, this is the first true introduction to Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla. While taking place in a time period that we have little to no information about, Miller does a great job of giving us a view of life in the galaxy without Jedi. With ties to events from the prequels and being able to bring in classic images like TIE fighters and stormtroopers, this is a great bridge between the two trilogies.
Beware, mild spoilers ahead.
Like most great book titles, A New Dawn has a few different meanings. The planet of Gorse has an interesting orbit cycle that plays heavily into the story and the title. To me though, the title is much more fitting to the current state of Star Wars. With the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney, the existing expanded universe was wiped out to move forwards with a clean slate. A New Dawn is the first novel to be released in this new era of the franchise, and literally being the new dawn of Star Wars canon.
As was Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope, Kanan is a Jedi in hiding after the events of Order 66. Kanan is a cocky fast talking pilot that lives a simple life so as to not bring any attention to his past. In all ways he has cut his ties with the Force and has been living just as a civilian. While Hera is younger, she sure has seen a lot in her years. As you read further into the book you start to understand more of Hera’s motive to come to Gorse, but right away it is apparent she is focused on her mission. While Kanan and Hera are the two main heroes of this story, they are also surrounded by a great cast of supporting characters. This is where Miller shines to me; we see six different point of views during the book. You really start to understand the intentions of each person and the reasoning for their actions. Take Skelly for example, he might come off crazy to most, but there are definitely more layers to him. Miller also does a great justice to help female characters feel more important then we have seen in past Star Wars novels. To me, Star Wars is for men, women and children, so it’s great to see a novel featuring some very strong female leads. While Hera is front and center on the cover, Rea Sloane is a fantastic female captain of an Imperial Star Destroyer named Ultimatum. Even though you might not agree with her actions, she truly was a standout character to me. I’m hoping some of the characters are able to make cameos in later stories or even in Rebels.
A hero can only be as good as their villains and Count Vidian fills the role perfectly here. Villains like Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Darth Maul and General Grievous worked so great because they all felt so different from each other, but felt like they belonged in Star Wars. Vidian fits right into that equation. While he might not be a trained killer like the rest of them, he definitely feels like a true Star Wars Villain.
With Star Wars Rebels coming to Disney and Disney XD in October 2014, this is a great way to prepare for this new weekly adventure. You’ll learn so much of the back story to Hera Syndulla and Kanan Jarrus, but you’ll also learn a lot about the current state of the galaxy between Revenge of the Sith and the original Star Wars film. Unanswered questions about post war politics, that I have never thought about, gives the reader more depth to this already deep universe. The story might start off a tad bit slow, but once it picks up it takes you on one hell of a ride. While riding high on the success of Kenobi, John Jackson Miller, once again, delivers a wonderful Star Wars novel. For anyone who is interested in watching Rebels, I would say this is a must read for you to further understand two of the main characters.
Big thanks to Del Ray Books for the advanced review copy.
For more Jedi News book reviews click here.