Lit KENOBI by John Jackson Miller: The Official Discussion Thread (Spoilers Allowed)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Havac, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. HWK-290 Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jul 29, 2013
    star 2
    Now I want someone to draw Ben riding Jabba across the Jundland Wastes via maker hooks. Damn you, Digital.
  2. Gorefiend Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2004
    star 5
  3. fistofan1 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2009
    star 4
    Man, this was a fantastic read. I didn't expect to get that attached to the new characters, or for them to have such a strong influence on "Ben". I agree with the users who mentioned Miller's ability to create tension without a galaxy-shaking threat: If you create a quality group of characters, the tension doesn't t have to be forced.

    This might be my favorite EU novel to date. Here's hoping JJM is up for more!
    themetresgained, JackG and pronker like this.
  4. dp4m Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2001
    star 10

    Have I steered you wrong yet? :p
  5. Rogue_Follower Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2003
    star 6
  6. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 7
    Getting my copy on Thursday!
    JackG, pronker, Zer0 and 1 other person like this.
  7. JackG Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 15, 2011
    star 4
    Siri Tachi mentioned! [:D][face_party]
    I have much to say when I finish this book soon, and have taken lots of notes about cool continuity ties I've noticed. Spoiler: there's plenty!
    For example, there's some nice links to the Outlander comics here, and some foreshadowing to the Claws of the Dragon.
    Sharad Hett's step sister-in-law aims to have Obi-Wan join their tribe like Sharad once did, in order to restore them to eminence. This is before A'Sharad obviously does this, and it makes me believe that this tribe will be the very tribe that A'Sharad goes on to lead. Brilliance!
    pronker likes this.
  8. Lugija Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2009
    star 4
    This was a great book. I was surprised that there wasn't much talk of the characters in this thread, because they were what made this book.

    Oh, Orrin. I had The Mob Song stuck into my head for some time after a certain chapter.
    Barriss_Coffee and pronker like this.
  9. Barriss_Coffee Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2003
    star 6
    I'm trying to imagine what Organa's reaction was at the end.

    "Hey Bail, I know we agreed never ever to contact one another again under any circumstance, but can you write a letter of recommendation?"
    "..."
    "Y'know -- for a university?"
    "...Ben, it's only been like, a week."
  10. Lugija Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2009
    star 4
    "It's not for me, it's for this woman. She's in trouble, I was involved-"
    "Have you been drinking again?"
    "Some sweet sweet water."
    "Yeah, I have to go somewhere now. Bye."
    Grey1, Gorefiend and CooperTFN like this.
  11. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 7
    It's a bit premature to rush to say I'll like it based on a quick perusal of the Dramatis Personae - a page I normally loathe - but some lines just leap out at you. Case in point:

    Yeah, think I'm going to like this.
  12. Solent Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2001
    star 2
    You know, things would have definitily been interesting next time they tried to pull another Shmi Skywalker.
  13. JohnJacksonMiller Mastermind: KOTOR, LTotS, Knight Errant

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 24, 2005
    star 3
    That line is, incidentally, exactly why I wanted to do a Dramatis Personae (which I also tend to see as unnecessary a lot of the time -- it's the job of the novel to remind you who the characters are).

    Just updating -- now that our James Arnold Taylor joint interviews are up, I will be doing a Facebook chat Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 3 p.m. EDT on the book at the Star Wars Books Facebook page. We'll try to keep that chat relatively spoiler free, but as I did with Knight Errant I will at that time post the link to a "Ask Me Anything (Spoilers Included)" post on my website. I'll take those questions there and will answer as many as I can in later posts to follow and on my production notes page.

    (I'd expected to get to all of it sooner, but the promotional cycle on hardcovers is a bit different from the other books I've written.)
    Last edited by JohnJacksonMiller, Sep 12, 2013
  14. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 7
    And you've nailed the reason as to why I don't care for Dramatis Personae pages!
  15. JohnJacksonMiller Mastermind: KOTOR, LTotS, Knight Errant

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 24, 2005
    star 3
    Oh, I can see the rationale for them, especially if you get into longer storylines with extended casts -- it's not much different than the TV show opening titles that ID characters over shots of the actors. (And a show like Deep Space Nine didn't have photos, but it did give full character names and ranks.) So it can be helpful and non-obtrusive.

    But there can also be a potential spoiler-y element at play with them: we opted not to put one into Knight Errant because our encounters with most of the characters (and the mere existence of one of them) were intended as surprises. By contrast, we meet every character in the Kenobi Dramatis Personae in the first three chapters.
    Last edited by JohnJacksonMiller, Sep 12, 2013
    Normal_Nerds and Gorefiend like this.
  16. instantdeath Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2010
    star 5
    The only books I've ever been grateful for a Dramatis Personae is in the Malazan books; I live by those things.
  17. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1999
    star 6
    One thing that struck me about the Kenobi DP that I'm just now remembering is that it felt like the cast list for a play. Any drama clubbers out there?
    Last edited by CooperTFN, Sep 12, 2013
  18. Barriss_Coffee Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2003
    star 6
    I think they were useful in the X-Wing novels when everyone had call signs, but I've never been sure why it's been such a rigid tradition since. It's certainly hindered a few books to the point they had to flat-out lie, even if the lie was only confined to the DP alone (Fatal Alliance comes to mind... fortunately the Kenobi DP skirted that issue).
    Force Smuggler likes this.
  19. LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Lucasfilm Ltd Mod

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 9
    I think if most of the characters are already known (such as in a continuing series) then the Dramatis Personae page is overkill. Having said that, I'm a big Warhammer 40K fan and some of those books can have a lot of characters with military titles. In those I find myself constantly referring back to the DP page if there is one.
    Last edited by LAJ_FETT, Sep 13, 2013
  20. JackG Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 15, 2011
    star 4
    I can now visit this thread without closing my eyes and copying-and-pasting my thoughts as I go; I finished it tonight.
    Bear in mind I haven't read any other points yet, so I will inevitably repeat stuff that has been discussed. My review is quite long as I decided to take notes as I went, something I hadn't previously done. This was because I was so pumped for the book that I made a concious effort to remain unspoiled, something I don't normally bother with in the EU.


    Anyway, here's my review:

    This is a superb book. There is no doubting that, in my mind.
    Beyond that, where do I begin?

    Let’s start with the characters, excluding Obi-Wan. As I started to read Kenobi, I didn’t think I would come to really care for the characters, which in my mind were just distractions from the main show: Kenobi himself. The ending of the novel proved me very, very wrong. The Calwell clan grew on me as I progressed through the novel, and I felt as if these characters were more fleshed out than some perennial favourites of the Expanded Universe such as Jacen or Jaina. When Obi-Wan rejected Annie, I truly felt for her; it was quite moving, let’s be honest. I know I have more to say about the Calwells, but I think it all has been said before. I hope we see them again sometime. As for A’Yark: what a revelation. And I don’t mean purely the revelation regarding her sex, but rather how refreshing it was to have a strong female mother character, who wasn’t even a Jedi, but rather a Tusken! She was all kinds of compelling to read about. As for the revelation of her gender, what a tricky move! A moment when I went, “oh, hey . . . wait a minute, now”, and I don’t often get surprised in SW novels. There's obviously much more to be said of the novel's created characters, but I won't go any further than that. Lastly on this point, I would like to

    Let’s now discuss Obi-Wan. I’m not sure I liked only having Obi-Wan’s thoughts appear in his meditation, but I had to accept that. I also see why it occurred: how people perceive ‘Ben’ entirely depends on their experiences with him, not just who he is. Obi-Wan at the start of the novel quickly rushed to use his lightsaber to end a bar fight, with Luke Skywalker in his hands. Obviously such a course is unsustainable if Obi-Wan is to keep Luke safe from prying eyes, and the Galactic Empire. Contrast Obi-Wan’s actions at the bar at the beginning to his last interaction with Annileen: not only does he coldly tell Annileen the hard truth that she can’t remain on Tatooine with him, but also after everything they’ve been through he doesn’t even reveal he is a Jedi. A small courtesy, a secret she could hypothetically keep. He even admits he had lied to her about almost everything. This is a man to whom the galaxy, and everyone but Luke are secondary thoughts: he can’t help them all. By the end, Obi-Wan is profoundly changed. However, considering Luke is the key to helping all of the galaxy, this is actually typically Obi-Wan: helping in any way he can.

    I found the scope of the novel to be challenging at first, but ultimately rewarding. Kenobi’s exile certainly isn’t a galactic war, and as such I wondered if it would be an interesting period to read about. I presumed that A’Sharad would feature prominently and his duel with Obi-Wan was an absolute given. But it turns out I was wrong in this too, like I was wrong about caring for the novel’s original characters. So little time progresses, if we look at it. I didn’t expect this. Also, can someone tell me when or if Obi-Wan discovers that Anakin = Vader in this book? I know it occurs in Dark Lord, but I’m unsure if they clash. Furthermore, I think that whilst this novel doesn’t cover as much time or as many events, and reveal as much as Darth Plagueis, a natural comparison, I think it is a better novel. Unfortunately, I would hesitate in recommending Kenobi to a friend due to how little, when looked on paper, occurs.

    The amount of action and violence in this novel compared to say a LotF novel was miniscule, but it made the action more meaningful and realistic, in my opinion .It also made this novel much better for it; huge chunks of battle sometimes reveal an author’s inability to construct a story non dependant on it. Obi-Wan used his lightsaber sparingly, which was hugely refreshing. Furthermore, the scarcity of death in this book fits in well with the period portrayed. A’Yark’s son, Mullen, the other farmer and a few no name settlers, Jabba’s thugs and Sand People are the only deaths which spring to mind. For a novel with few deaths, it really punches above its weight; revealing new insights into an old character and leaving a last impact which novels featuring galaxy-spanning conflicts could only dream of. I also respect that choice to not kill off the major antagonists (Orrin or Mosep) or protagonists (Annie or A’Yark), which is becoming far too frequent in novels not centred on the Big Three, I think. It shows a truth that not all tales end in death.

    The continuity in this book was perfect. Ties to Star Wars: Obi-Wan, a relatively unknown Xbox game from 2001; Outlander comics; foreshadowing to Claws of the Dragon – it was all handled subtly and in a way which didn’t exclude readers whom were unfamiliar with the content from enjoying it. Of course, there were also the heavy ties to Attack of the Clones, which I thought was really great. Obi-Wan seems to be on the verge of understanding that incident, too. “Ben started to say something, but stopped.” The ties to Outlander also tickled my fancy, me being a canon fiend and all. When stuff can tie into a work like this, supplement and enhance it: go for it. I thought A’Yark was actually going to be A’Sharad at the beginning, but she was better; a nice link to Sharad, too. When she spoke to Obi-Wan that first time, it was one of those, “whoa!” moments for me. Not only did it connect Outlander to A’Yark through her half-sister and Sharad joining the Sand People, but it also greatly foreshadowed Claws of the Dragon in that A’Yark yearned for another Force-user to take command of the tribe and lead them to eminence once more, which is exactly what A’Sharad will do later. Maybe it is even the same tribe which he goes on to lead? There was also Jabba’s townhouse in Mos Eisley, which appeared in the Dorling Kingsley locations sourcebook, if I’m correct. Also, huge shoutout to JJM for that mention of Siri Tachi! I may have been one of the three people in the world who were happy you not only recognised her existence, but also mentioned her on the same page as Duchess Satine, whom inevitably gets a lot more attention as Obi-Wan’s love interest nowadays. As an avid reader of the Jedi Quest and Jedi Apprentice series as a junior schooler, this was wonderful.

    In terms of diversity, many species appeared, and more importantly, many stereotypes were subverted by JJM in this novel. The Tuskens were sympathetic, not monsters, and the humans (the Gaults especially) were actually those who acted like savage beasts; not only did they slaughter Tuskens needlessly - they also tricked their fellow Oasis residents. Orrin also made a move for Kallie, which I think is also worthy of a mention given how weird and disturbing that was. Definitely something which had direct consequences, which I thought was appropriate given its gravity. What a sleaze. Also, a Zeltron whom didn’t appear to be completely a sex worker was nice.

    One thing that grew on me in the end was the ambiguity of Qui-Gon’s ability to hear Obi-Wan, and if he was just choosing to not respond. This annoyed me in the beginning, but I think it was Jinn’s way of making sure that Kenobi wasn’t reliant on his wisdom. It is a nice link to Heir to the Empire when Obi-Wan made it clear to Luke that he would have to work things out on his own, without Kenobi’s guidance. Yeah, I would have loved some epic Qui-Gon revelations, but this was about Kenobi and I get that. Obviously Jinn responds in the end, as Kenobi does become a Force Ghost, so there’s that.

    Other things I liked: Ulbreck was drinking Fizzz; “Alderaan still exists, doesn’t it?” - just more the people Obi-Wan put in harm’s way; Obi-Wan’s crazy introduction to the Calwell family; A’Yark deciding to inform all the Tuskens to leave that “wizard” alone.

    I have a few pieces I didn’t agree with: I thought the timeframe of the novel could’ve been longer, but that was just my expectations. I immediately drew comparisons and unrealistic expectations that this novel would be just like Darth Plagueis, when I first heard of its announcement. Further to this, another expectation of mine that wasn’t met (yet I think should’ve) was the Larses. I can see why JJM choose not to focus on them too much, but I would have like to at least see a little of an Owen/Obi interaction, given that they seem to have a reputation for not seeing things eye to eye. I guess I had to settle for Obi-Wan’s lamentation on this matter in his meditation to Qui-Gon. This would’ve been the perfect time to have some conversations appear, but oh well.

    Sometimes I couldn’t quite imagine the locations described, especially the tiered scene of the massacre, but it was probably just me. Also, the shoehorning in of Kerra Holt and Zayne Carrick on the same page was a bit obvious. However, when that is the biggest problem of a novel in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, you know you have done an excellent job.

    Bravo to John Jackson Miller for a brilliant novel, and one of the EU’s best! It’s definitely up there in my top favourites.

    I give it a 9/10.
    Last edited by JackG, Sep 14, 2013
  21. cthugha Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2010
    star 3
    ...finished.

    Show Spoiler
    so I suppose Annileen eventually dies on Dagobah? :p


    Awesome book, exactly the kind of story I like to read... small, personal, but bathed in gravitas and significance.

    The only thing that sort of bothered me was... Ben "smiles reassuringly" at a Tusken child -- but given what we learn about the Tuskens in this book, how would the child recognize a smile, let alone a reassuring one? Wouldn't it rather be appalled by the sight of naked flesh and teeth? Or are we talking "mammalian fundamentals" here, as in "some basic signals just can't be overwritten by culture"?
    (Which reminds me of my long-standing question as to why Tahiri of all people, raised as a Tusken on a desert planet, likes running around barefoot so much...)
    Gorefiend and DigitalMessiah like this.
  22. DigitalMessiah Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2004
    star 6
    I considered the same thing about Tahiri.
    themetresgained likes this.
  23. Gorefiend Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2004
    star 5

    Well more of a question what else he should he do? He is used to it working with other races.
  24. cthugha Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2010
    star 3
    ...sure; but you might expect the child to react differently to his instinctive gesture.

    Whatever; that "complaint" was mostly to show that there really isn't a lot to be bugged by in this book. ;)
    Gorefiend and pronker like this.
  25. Gorefiend Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2004
    star 5

    He properly used the Force to help the gesture along.