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Star Wars: Ronin Book Review

“Star Wars: Ronin” offers up a new type of Star Wars story for better or for worse.

Written by Emma Mieko Candon, “Star Wars: Ronin” is based off of the fantastic “The Duel” episode (episode 1) from the recent Disney+ animated series “Star Wars: Visions.” In fact, the full title of the book is technically “Star Wars: Ronin: A Visions Novel.” Perhaps there will be more Visions books in the future? At any rate, the story revolves around the titular mysterious, lightsaber wielding roaming Ronin and his droid pal B5-56. The book begins with a retelling of “The Duel” although it expands upon that story and goes beyond it. We learn that Ronin hears a female voice in his head and that the Sith Bandit (who is named Kouru) returns from the dead and seeks revenge against Ronin. Eventually, Robin encounters the equally mysterious Traveler AKA Fox alongside his companions Ekiya and Chie who want help in finding the lost Imperial homeworld Rei’izu. Along the way, readers can expect storylines involving a Sith witch that can seemingly resurrect the dead, Lord Hanrai, a stolen ship, Kyber shards, and a few twists.

After being blown away by “The Duel” episode, I was eager to learn more about the mysterious Ronin character with this new novel. While some readers may relish the fact that this story focuses on its own unique, non-canon “Star Wars” universe, I found myself frustrated by the entirety of it. 

What appealed to me so much about “The Duel” episode was that it went back to what ultimately inspired George Lucas to create Star Wars- the works of Akira Kurosawa. “The Duel” itself is steeped in Kurosawa influences, references, and designs. It may be unfair to compare an animated series to a novel, but that visual component and atmosphere was greatly missing from this novel. Sure, there are certainly Kurosawa esque elements in this book to be sure with the Ronin character and the clans, but It didn’t really feel like a continuation of “The Duel” at all to me. Not only did it lack the bond between Ronin and his droid that we see in the episode, but the Ronin character sometimes takes a backseat in the story which I found odd. I wanted to be invested in this book and its characters, but I had a hard time delving into the overwritten, dry prose. Again, this style of writing may work wonders for others, but to me, it felt so far removed from other SW novels and had a very sluggish pacing that I struggled to get through.

Perhaps the most frustrating element of the novel is the world building. Given that this is a very different SW Universe, there’s a lot of world building to be done here with the Jedi Clans, the Sith, the Sith Witch, the undead, and so forth. Maybe it’s me, but I never felt like I got the full picture of what this universe is like. I felt like so much was missing and I couldn’t click with it personally. The intrigue is certainly there especially with the supernatural elements, Ronin’s dark past, and the arc of Kouru, the way the Jedi and Sith operate, but it never came together in a rewarding manner.  

Overall Thoughts: “Star Wars: Ronin” may be a refreshing change of pace to some fans, but to me, it never lived up to “The Duel.”

October 8, 2021 - Posted by | Book review | , , ,

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