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Star Wars: A New Dawn Book Review

Star Wars- A New Dawn Book

‘A New Dawn’ reminds us that it’s a great time to be a “Star Wars” fan.

Along with the Dark Horse Comics “Star Wars: Darth Maul- Son of Dathomir” mini-series, the aptly named Del Rey book “Star Wars: A New Dawn” kicks off a new era of expanded universe literature that will be in continuity with the various multimedia offerings as well as all of the films and the two animated television series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels.” To tie in with the upcoming ‘Rebels,’ author John Jackson Miller’s new SW novel serves as a prequel to the series and takes place between Episodes 3 and 4 (the same timeline that the show is set in). ‘A New Dawn’ is essentially an origin story of how two of the primary characters of “Star Wars: Rebels” (Hera and Kanan) met.

The story begins with the Empire seizing control of the production of a valuable resource (Thurolide) on the planet Gorse and its moon Cynda. Led by the intimidating and efficient cyborg inspector (Count Vidian) and the interim Star Destroyer Ultimatum Captain Sloane, these Imperial forces hope to ramp up the production of this Star Destroyer resource for Emperor Palpatine. Unfortunately, their unwanted presence winds up creating chaos on the planet and moon as the vicious Count Vidian will do ANYTHING in his power to make sure the ultimate goal is met. Knowing Vidian’s plans could have disastrous effects, a Twi’lek rebel spy (Hera), a mysterious wanderer (Kanan), a reckless and disgruntled miner (Skelly) and a former security surveillance monitor (Zaluna) hope to put a stop to Vidian’s reign of terror.

When I first picked up “Star Wars: A New Dawn,” a wave of excitement washed over me. Truth be told, I hadn’t felt this way about a “Star Wars” novel since “Shadows of the Empire.” ‘A New Dawn’ signaled, well, a new dawn of SW books and I couldn’t be happier to see what canonical stories Del Rey has in store for us. For their inaugural book ‘A New Dawn,’ author John Jackson Miller (who previously penned “Star Wars: Kenobi”) has the tough task of not only digging into a relatively unexplored era, but introducing readers to characters that fans know very little about. So, how does it fare? From a writing perspective, the central story is a bit underwhelming. If you’re going to reboot the EU, starting off with a story that will give sci-fi fans flashbacks to the wretched “Avatar” unobtanium plotline may not be the wisest choice. The Thurolide storyline is easily the least interesting part of this book, but thankfully, there is so much more to sink your teeth into with this tale.

Going into the book, I was intrigued to learn about the characters of Hera and Kanan and John Jackson Miller did not disappoint in that respect as the characterization in this novel is the book’s greatest strength. While I have to be purposefully vague about certain plot points and character revelations, I can say that Hera and Kanan are bound to be characters that fans of all ages will cherish. Kanan in particular is a refreshingly rich character whose past, present, and future gives SW fans much to talk and speculate about. As for Hera, we still don’t know a ton about her after this book, but it’s clear that she will play a pivotal role in rebellious actions. As engaging as these two characters are on their own, however, they prove to be even more engaging when interacting with one another. Again, I have to be careful what to say here so as to not spoil the fun, but I will say that I am very curious to see what their dynamic will be like in “Star Wars Rebels.”

In regards to the novel’s other characters, they are all quite strong. Skelly and Zaluna prove to be interesting supporting characters while the story’s villains exceeded any and all expectations I had. Count Vidian could have easily been a Darth Vader or General Grievous wannabe, but this cybernetic madman was a formidable and memorable antagonist. As for Captain Sloane, I will be very curious if this determined Star Destroyer Captain Captain winds up on “Star Wars Rebels.”

Perhaps the most surprising element of ‘A New Dawn’ is how dark and politically charged it was. Not only is this story likely more adult than anything we will see on ‘Rebels,’ but I liked that we (the readers) got up close and personal with the post Clone Wars universe. While we have obviously seen the impact that the Empire has had on the galaxy before, you really get a sense of what a post Clone Wars galaxy is like here. Whether we’re learning about the treacherous Imperial politics, the ruthless business games, the Big Brother esque surveillance, the cold blooded murders, or the the hostile takeovers, the Empire’s rule over the galaxy feels legitimately disturbing in ‘A New Dawn.’ While some fans may take this all for granted, making the Empire feel like a threatening force really goes along way here. It really drives home the point of what the Rebels are fighting against which is what this whole era is about.

Aside from the actual ‘A New Dawn’ story, readers also get a few extra bonuses that include an appreciative acknowledgement by John Jackson Miller, a foreword about “Star Wars” and its future by the supervising director of ‘Clone Wars’ and ‘Rebels’ (Dave Filoni) and an excerpt of the next tantalizing SW book “Tarkin.”

Overall Thoughts: If you’re impatiently waiting for “Star Wars Rebels” to air, make the wait more tolerable by checking out ‘A New Dawn.’ Not only is it a solid EU title, but it does a fine job establishing two of the show’s characters.

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August 29, 2014 - Posted by | Book review | , , , , ,

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