Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller (book review).

April 28, 2015 | By | Reply More

‘Star Wars: A New Dawn’ by John Jackson Miller is one of the first novels of the ‘new’ continuity established in the aftermath of Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. More importantly, it tells us the story of how Kanan and Hera met, the two leaders of a seditious cell in the animated series ‘Star Wars: Rebels’.

SWANewDawn

Kanan Jarrus was a Jedi padawan who managed to escape Order 66. Having concealed his abilities with the Force, he spends his time working on the mining moon of Cynda, getting drunk and keeping a low profile. Cynda is a source of a much needed mineral for the Empire and is controlled by its neighbouring planet, Gorse. If you’re familiar with the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘The Caves Of Androzani’, you’ll recognise the set-up. Both Gorse and Cynda receive an unwelcome visit from mining magnate Count Vidian, one of the Emperor’s trusted business advisers in the new Empire. A brutish cyborg with an even more deadly style of business management. Complete with a fleet of Star Destroyers, TIE Fighters and Stormtroopers, Vidian is determined to take Cynda’s resources by any means necessary in the name of the Empire.

Unfortunately for him, Hera Syndulla, a mysterious individual whose motives are unclear, is determined to learn more about Cynda and Gorse’s secrets and her path inevitably gets entwined with the charming Kanan, who seems to fall for the beautiful and resourceful Twi’lek more or less instantly. With Hera’s subtle persuasion, Kanan begins to believe that the Empire is something that can be stood-up to and, more importantly, fought.

Lucas Books made a wise-decision in asking Jonathan Jackson Miller to write this novel. His book ‘Star Wars: Kenobi’ was one of the better novels from the ‘Legends’ range, especially since, as JJ Abrams pointed out at the ‘Star Wars Celebration’ opening talk, the movies are as much a western as they are a fantasy. He keeps this genre firmly in mind here again, this time mixing the idea of mining with corporate whistle-blowing, the surveillance state and a satire on business ‘experts’ with Count Vidian being basically a psychotic Alex Polizzi. The result is a fun adventure that not only creates Kanan and Hera as a cute, smart double-act, but also maintains enough menace and drama to keep you turning the pages.

Miller draws his characters well. Vidian’s motivations are uncomfortably understandable, as are those of his Imperial Naval liaison, Sloane. Aiding our heroes is a surveillance officer turned conspirator, Zaluna, and the mine explosives expert, Skelly, dealing with PTSD from the Clone Wars. All of these are given equal time on the page to breathe and by keeping the core group of characters small, makes them more effective.

This isn’t a full introduction to the ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ crew, the stories of Sabine, Zeb and Chopper have yet to be fully told, while Ezra’s story forms a key part of the show’s first season. As an introduction to Kanan and Hera, though, it works a treat and convincingly shows how the two came to fall in together in the first place. The action doesn’t really flag and there’s enough wise-cracking and improvisation to let you know you’re in the ‘Star Wars’ universe.

I would recommend ‘A New Dawn’ for all ‘Star Wars’ fans. Not just ‘Rebels’. It has a great mixture of action, humour and belief. Who knows what might happen if this idea about defying the Empire catches on?

John Rivers

April 2015

(pub: Century 2012/Lucas Films/Random House, 2014. 445 page hardback. Price: £19.99 (UK) ISBN: 978-1-780-80223-8

pub: Arrow Books/Random House, 2015. 381 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 8.99. ISBN: 978-0-099-59088-0)

check out websites: www.randomhouse.co.uk, www.starwars.com and www.farawaypress.com

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Category: Books, Scifi, Star Wars

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