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Lit The JC Lit Reviews Special: KENOBI (spoilers)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Havac, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 237.75/25 = 9.51
  2. tjace

    tjace Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 11, 2008
    I posted my thoughts in the discussion thread, so I'll just give a rating: 10/10.
  3. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 247.75/26 = 9.53
  4. Lane_Winree

    Lane_Winree Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 30, 2006
    Totally forgot to do this. Here's my thoughts from here

    Relative to the pantheon of Expanded Universe novels, Kenobi is easily in top-five territory. This is a 10/10 book and a tremendous addition to the franchise. Well done, Mr. Miller.
    pronker likes this.
  5. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 257.75/27 = 9.55
  6. Revanfan1

    Revanfan1 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 3, 2013

    Oh, I can't do that? Fine.


    Plus an extra five. :p

    Seriously, this is now officially in the Top Five Star Wars books I have ever read. Ever. I quickly fell in love with all the characters and was even sad when Orrin Gault turned out to be a bad character. I knew he had flaws but I was hoping he would end up being "redeemed" in the end. However, I do have to admit that a small part of me was quite enjoying the delicious irony of Orrin becoming a Tusken Raider in the end, if only because he deserved it after shoving away that poor Tusken child. A'Yark being Sharad Hett's sister-in-law was surprising but I was only half-shocked when he turned out to be a she. Ben practically was Ewan McGregor in this book–although I was upset when I could only hear James Arnold Taylor's voice instead of McGregor's, similar though they may be–JAT just gets the inflection wrong sometimes compared to McGregor. But that was my own failing, not the book's. I could compliment this book forever, but I'll just say well done!
    Gorefiend and pronker like this.
  7. Darth Mird'ika

    Darth Mird'ika Jedi Padawan

    Sep 11, 2013
    Just finished it. Good book. Probably in my top 10-15.
    I liked how Kenobi balked when Anileem said "everyone calls me Annie." "Anileen is be just fine." That had to be a gut punch for Ben.
    In the back of my mind I knew there had to be a Krayt Dragon encounter. Very exciting.
    Good dialogue. The author hit Kenobi's character and personality perfectly.
    I kind of wish Qui Gon would have spoken to Kenobi.
    Anakin slaughtering the Tusken tribe - I assume Kenobi had no idea about this, but pieced it together by the end.
    Nice use of Mosep and Jabba. Can't have a Tatooine book without a Jabba reference.
    I'll give it a 8/10. It didn't have enough action and adventure. A farmhand and a Tusken tribe just weren't enough excitement.
    I also didn't like the way Kahlee, the teenage girl, swooned over Ben Kenobi. Creepy.
    At times it seemed like Anileen was the main character and Ben Kenobi was the secondary character.
  8. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 275.75/29 = 9.51
  9. darthcaedus1138

    darthcaedus1138 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Oct 13, 2007
    I'm going to give this an 8.5/10.

    To be perfectly honest, if not for the final part of the book, I'd have given it a 6-7/10. I just wasn't feeling the characters, the plot and I just didn't like Obi-Wan's meditations. But the end completely saved it for me. I still don't like Ben's meditations all that much, and the mention of BOTH Zayne and Kerra AT THE SAME TIME INFURIATED me.

    But overall it's a great book and one of the highlights of the EU.
  10. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 284.25/30 = 9.48
  11. Sniper_Wolf

    Sniper_Wolf Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 26, 2002
    Star Wars: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller is a disappointing entry by a solid author. Lacking subtlety or a proper utilization of transplanting of the western genre into the Star Wars mythos, Kenobi is a vacuous novel built around a poorly thought out, idiotic plot

    Kenobi offers two plot strands Del Rey has offered over the past few years: a new genre for an EU novel, and an exploration of a previously open time frame. Death Troopers, the EU zombie novel, and Darth Plagueis, the titular character's and Darth Sidious' background, are comparable novels. Similar to Jedi Trial and Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, very little of Kenobi comes from Obi-Wan's point-of-view. I recognize this can possibly be a directive from Lucas Film Licensing. James Luceno mentioned how Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader was not originally given that title, making the reader unaware that Lord Vader would spend equal time with a new character created for the novel. However, I enjoy John Jackson Miller's work so I put my reservations aside regarding genre and topic matter.

    Westerns have long been an influence on Star Wars from Han's dress-up to Tatooine itself. Understandably, this is a relatively unused aspect of the franchise waiting to be expanded upon. However, once the initial gloss wears off the western setting is not implemented in an intriguing fashion.

    Kenobi's triumvirate characters fit into typical western archetypes. Orrin is the land baron wanting more, Annileen the owner wanting to hold onto her land, Peg Eye the Indian chief, and Obi-Wan is the man with no name entering the town. The lone gunslinger captivates the audience due to the ambiguity of the character's background. Roland's name is not revealed initially in The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, and his full background is not expostulated on until book four, Wizard and Glass. Do we know if Clint Eastwood is a ghost or not in Pale Rider?
    Unlike these examples, Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the best known characters in genre fiction. Oh my, what might be that metal cylinder on Ben's belt must be? The attempts at suspense are an artifice because the readers are well aware of Kenobi's background. JJM is not clever enough to lead the reader into believing we are following Kenobi only to blind sight us by revealing the mysterious stranger is say A'Sharad, who is out on Tatooine somewhere starting up his path from Republic general to Darth Krayt.

    Telling a different type of story in the Expanded Universe is a smart move, but the writers must move beyond a standard string of plot beats taught in How to Write Genre Fiction 101. Kenobi is not as erogenous as Death Troopers, a novel that should have named the infected Star Destroyer the LV-426.

    Concurrently, Orrin and Annileen add little to their archetypes. Yes, Orrin's fallen in deep with the sharks, but there is not much more added that can surprise anyone who has read or watched more than one western. Yes, the bloodthirsty capitalist is a symbol of encroaching civilization threatening the wild freedom offered by the West. Yes, the rich land baron in town is the rich land baron in town because he never underestimated his opponents' greed. Why JJM never moves beyond the simple dichotomy surprises me.

    Our Tusken chief is the only part of the western apparatus working in the novel. Similar to most revisionist perspectives, the Tuskens are more than simple savages. JJM borrows blatantly from Native American practices, but the actualization of their point-of-view is interesting to read, given how Anakin's slaughter of the tribe in Attack of the Clones possesses a far wider effect than Hayden Christensen pouting. There are a few prose missteps in the tusken POV. If the Sand People's descriptions of the characters differ then why do the Sand People have younglings?

    While not as obvious as Death Troopers, the western application is used for minimal purposes.

    Titular Character's Backstory
    Origin stories and extrapolations on gaps in a character's storyline pose the risk of ruining the mystique, or, in simpler terms, showing us the monster is a guy wearing a rubber suit. This seems contrary to the concept of an expanded universe, but humor me for a few seconds. In our minds we will fill in the gaps. Our brains will create a story based around what we read from the character's actions and attitudes. Sadly, Del Rey has not responded to my calls for a Han Solo pre-Leia love child showing up. Do we need a line connecting every single dot?
    By focusing on the three original characters very little is given to Obi-Wan's motivations. Yes, the reader is treated to Obi-Wan's two to three page soliloquys now and again, but very little of this truly affects how Obi-Wan acts. Oh, Ben disappears for several moments multiple times while the Tuskens or Jabba's flunkies are put down. These are superficial attempts at exploring Obi-Wan's rationales, which leads to the worst failing of the novel.

    The entire book is weaved around a blatantly idiotic plot, namely what is Obi-Wan doing besides meditation and fighting off the occasional Lars farm trespasser. We spend over three hundred pages for Obi-Wan to go, “Well, I must not get involved in the local politicking because this may well harm my primary mission, guarding Luke.” Obi-Wan's stupidity at sticking his head into every pissing contest might work if he is a neophyte knight or a padawan hiding out, not one of the few surviving members of the Jedi Council. Did Obi-Wan spend all of his days and nights on Coruscant clothing orphans, did Obi-Wan spend all of his days and nights during the Clone Wars making sure every single war refugee is fed? Luke is one of the two potential threats to the Emperor and Darth Vader, and Obi-Wan is seriously making vague allusions to his past life to some country bumpkin he met a few days ago? JJM does not go into the pure nonsense of Obi-Wan leaving Tatooine as Jude Watson did. JJM does a great job at hacking any credulity behind Obi-Wan's actions. I imagine the plot is created so the novel can be something more than the EU interpretation of Notes from Underground.

    The Annileen concept is so blunt I almost laughed. Obi-Wan's close proximity to his former padawan's only child, adopted by his former padawan's step-family, on his former padawan's home planet is too oblique a reference for the readers. The reader is forced to endure a female counterpart to what Anakin could have been if he stayed on Tatooine, complete with comparable looks and the same nickname. One of the reasons literature generally lacks prodigies is because a higher cognitive and emotional maturity than chess or music prodigies is needed write stories. Sadly, the reader is introduced to the fifth grade reading level version.
    I admire JJM smooth prose in the novel. Outside of a few clinks the novel is not plagued by neogolisms, silly metaphors, and bad attempts at adapting Earth concepts into the EU concept. Still, the rest of the novel is profoundly inept at making the core emotional and narrative points resonate. 4/10.
    pronker likes this.
  12. Jedi Ben

    Jedi Ben Chosen One star 7

    Jul 19, 1999
    Just finished this and if this should be where I end up jumping off the EU books, then it's a damn fine exit!

    What I really enjoyed about this was the pace, it isn't an action piece, rather it's far more meditative in its outlook. It spins its tale carefully, characters are introduced, developed and then later exit the stage There's all manner of subtle comments in the book too, comments that, if you read fast, you simply miss the chance to savour.

    At the same time this was a rare book in that I never found the spell being broken by plot or character idiocy that had no logic to it whatsoever - Jabe and Orrin both make wrong decisions, they both make idiotic decisions, but you can easily see how they made them.

    The subtlety also extends to how Kenobi uses the Force - we only see him use the lightsaber openly at the end as he duels a Krayt dragon! Up until then, it's a flashing, mysterious presence. Yet, the whole time, Kenobi is walking wounded in body and spirit - only at the end does it sound like he's started to find a measure of healing. The meditation sections are also an inspired concept.

    This book really isn't for the speed reader or the action junkie, it simply isn't that kind of story - rather, it's akin to a fine wine or an excellent Single Malt. You drink them slowly and reverently, you do not down it in the style of a jager-bomb! And only by reading it correctly do you reap the full benefit.

    Finally, there may be all these other Jedi survivors of Order 66, a pitiful band to be sure who pose no threat whatsoever to Sidious and Vader - the vast majority of whose fate is to be cannon fodder for Vader - but there is only one Luke Skywalker. It is Luke that Kenobi is on Tattooine to protect, until the right time.... Just as Vader and Sidious don't have to be in the story for the effects of their actions to be felt, so too is the same true of Luke, who is but a baby at this time.

    I very rarely really award this, but it's been a very, very long time since I've come across a SW work like this, there really is no other mark it can have....

    pronker and Gorefiend like this.
  13. JediMatteus

    JediMatteus Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Sep 16, 2008
    yeah i think people are overrating the book some, just because there are so few novels of it's quality. I did not like the fact that the meditations were toned down more than they should have been, and that there was nothing from Qui Gon. It was one sided communication. I felt bored at times, i agree, the last 1/3 of the novel saves it. I dislike that at the end that Ann did not get to really know who Obi Wan was, after all that transpired. I wanted to see Anakin's sins against the Sand People to be brought out more. Once again it was really good novel, but a 10??? No.
    darthcaedus1138 likes this.
  14. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 298.25/32 = 9.32
  15. GrandMasterKatarn

    GrandMasterKatarn Jedi Knight star 4

    Feb 8, 2008
    One of the best books to come out in a long time, JJM blows this out of the water and into the hallmarks of awesome. Wonderful characters, plot, and a great way to explore a band of settlers on this iconic world. 10/10
  16. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 308.25/33 = 9.34
  17. Todd the Jedi

    Todd the Jedi Mod and Soliloquist of SWTV star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Oct 16, 2008
    The Republic has fallen, the Jedi are gone, and the only hope for a brighter future is a baby living in the middle of nowhere on a planet that's in the middle of nowhere. This is the tragic reality that Obi-Wan Kenobi faces in light of the events of Revenge of the Sith, and on top of everything he must adapt to life in the harsh deserts of Tatooine. John Jackson Miller's novel Kenobi examines just what this is like, and the problems Obi-Wan faces as he leaves the life of a Jedi behind and becomes the hermit Ben.

    This book was clearly a labor of love for JJM. He peruses the vast amount of information on Tatooine and weaves an extensively detailed story based on various elements of past EU lore on the planet. I liked how he tied events here to Sharad Hett's story from Republic, as well as Anakin's Tusken slaughter from AOTC. Everything about the Pika Oasis seemed very real, and all the characters were fleshed out and added great variety to the setting. The Calwells and Gaults especially were all well-written. Annileen was a great character, and acted as a great foil to Obi-Wan. I actually liked that we didn't get any POV scenes from Obi-Wan beyond the meditations. Over the course of the novel his interactions with Annie and the others really reveal more about himself than his inner thoughts could have. I might be biased because Obi-Wan has always been one of my favorite SW characters, but damn it all if this wasn't one of the best portrayals of him in a long time, possibly since Stover's ROTS. While he takes time adjusting to life on Tatooine, he also struggles with his guilt regarding Anakin and the fall of the Republic. I think JJM really captured how tragic his story is; all the hardships he's faced in his life are finally catching up with him now that he has all the time in the world to just sit around and think. But of course, even Obi-Wan can't escape conflict. He's a Jedi, and Jedi stand up for what's right, and the events of the novel call for the particular skills of the Jedi Knights.

    I liked that JJM decided to focus the story on relatively small conflicts. That's all he could really do with Obi-Wan, since any attention Obi-Wan attracts cannot bode well for his task of protecting Luke. Tusken Raiders are often featured in stories, but we've never really seen any stories from their POVs, except from human Tuskens like the Hetts. I think JJM did a great job of writing such an alien perspective, while also "humanizing" some Tuskens, so to speak. This was easily the best portrayal of Tuskens ever. A'Yark was a great character, though her gender reveal was kinda obvious. Whenever a writer doesn't use gender specific pronouns when describing a person, chances are their gender is supposed to be something the reader would not have expected. As for Tuskens, we generally think of the warriors as male, which suggested that A'Yark was actually female. Still, she, along with Annie, was a great example of a strong female character who doesn't take any **** from the men who run her people. I liked how she was a conduit for the reader to better understand the ways of the Tuskens, even sympathizing with them to an extent. Tatooine is a harsh environment to live in for all, settlers and Sand People alike. A'Yarks struggles to keep the Tusken way of life alive and well without letting tradition hamper her people were very interesting and gave some good insight into current Tusken society. I liked the end where she was hopeful for the future of her people, which may be a subtle reference to A'Sharad Hett's eventual return.

    The other source of conflict is Orrin Gault, an farmer with too much ambition for his own good. I liked his progression from slightly overzealous businessman to the sleazy (though slightly unwilling) enforcer of a protection racket. There were hints all along of his darker nature, and his dealings with Jabba's men gradually bring him down a slippery path, providing a great contrast to Anakin's fall. But Obi-Wan deals with Orrin a bit differently. He learned a hard lesson with Anakin, and he doesn't want to repeat such an occurrence. I liked how the conflict eventually played out, and the absolute irony of Orrin's eventual fate. I liked that Obi-Wan's knowledge of Sharad Hett came in handy when dealing with the Tuskens. But Orrin's true nature really comes out when it's revealed that he's been behind some of the so-called Tusken raids, and everything spirals out of control for him after that. His desperation brings Jabba's minions down on him, and eventually leads to the death of his own son, which is darkly fitting considering he left Annie's son to die at the hands of the Tuskens.

    I think the best parts of the novel were those that dealt with Annileen. She was a very compelling character, and her interactions with Obi-Wan were very well-done. She was just about the only voice of reason in this story, besides Obi-Wan of course, and she had a lot of great moments in the story that showed just how tough she is, like when she firmly staked her claim to trading with the Jawas. In general she was always responsible for keeping everything in the Oasis from going to pieces. I liked her backstory and how she came to be the owner of Danner's Claim. I liked her interactions with her kids as well, and how her protectiveness often causes her to butt heads with Orrin. Speaking of whom, I thought his relationship with Annie was interesting. As he is all about business, I figured his proposal seemed pretty fishy and reeked of selfish intentions. I liked how Obi-Wan became a vessel for Annie to vent her issues to, as well as a rudder to sort of keep her level-headed in such times of strife, especially with all the conflict between the Tuskens and the farmers. And once Orrin's shady business practices come to light, Obi-Wan once more helps Annie and her family and gives them a chance at a new life. I liked that Annie's attraction to Obi-Wan didn't really go anywhere, but simply fizzled as they both realized they weren't right for each other, and had purposes in life that differed too much.

    Overall this was a highly enjoyable read. It's surprising that it took this long to get a dedicated Western in SW, and JJM did really well capturing the essence of that particular type of setting. Obi-Wan's role is evocative of The Man With No Name, Shane, and various other classic Western characters, and Danner's Claim has the feel of a classic saloon, farm and repair shop, all in one. The settlers vs the Tuskens was very reminiscent of classic cowboys vs Indians tales. JJM also made great use of SW continuity with all the references to Outlander. The shout out to Kerra and Zayne wasn't too bad, though he could have been more subtle about it. And interestingly enough Anakin's Tusken slaughter doesn't play as big a role as one might expect, which was the case with Tatooine Ghost. I even liked that JJM settled the old "Jabba the Hut" discrepancy here.

    I give Kenobi a 9.7 out of 10 for expertly capturing the essence of Obi-Wan, as well as telling a very fun and exciting yet relatively low-key story. Great characters; great setting; great action; great everything really. Miller really hit it out of the park with this one.
  18. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 317.95/34 = 9.35
  19. Bib Fartuna

    Bib Fartuna Jedi Knight star 4

    Nov 4, 2012
    Just finished, awesome read!

    I wonder when Alderaan is destroyed, if Obi-Wan senses Annileen's and Kallie's death? :eek: [face_thinking]

    Kenobi is jinxed...

    pronker likes this.
  20. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 326.95/35 = 9.34
  21. Gorfy

    Gorfy Jedi Padawan star 1

    Oct 13, 2013
    It felt good to listen to / read a Star Wars book which has just come out. I no longer feel like i’m playing catch up (Well in reality i’m still a good few hundred books behind but hey I can pretend).

    Where do I start with ‘Kenobi’. It’s possibly my favourite of the Star Wars books I have read so far, and that includes the Thrawn Trilogy books (No hate mail please). A big draw for me was the ‘untold story’ aspect of the book. Not a story which we never knew existed but a genuine fill in the blanks story. It’s easy to forget that Obi Wan lived on Tatooine for 19 years. He wasn’t General Kenobi one minute and then Old Ben the next, he had to have done things, and this is the story of his first few months living on Tatooine…doing things.

    I found this book quite moving at times, after all at this period in time Obi Wan is just getting to grips with what happened between he and Anakin. At this period in time he still believes he killed Anakin, his best friend…his brother. Perhaps i’m just sentimental but even typing this i’m thinking back on the book and I feel moved…still.

    Now before you think this is a weepy tearjerker of a novel it isn’t. It has it’s moments and that was the overall feeling I got upon finishing the book but really it has more of a crime thriller feel to it, puzzling out the goings on at the farmsteads and the Pika Oasis. There’s comedy, action and even romance, it is in fact a very well rounded book and the word is…subtle. For a Star Wars book with a Jedi in it Kenobi is not all about the lightsabers, or the flipping about, or even the force, it’s about the people. Yes there are those other aspects (It IS still a Star Wars book) but they are used on rare occasions so when they are used, they have more impact.

    I’m not going to go into the plot but it will have you turning the pages, or in my case staying up for an extra few hours listening to just one more chapter…well ok 2…3……..8.

    If that isn’t recommendation enough then here’s 9 out of 10. (I’m leaving room for something to be even better!)

    In some ways it’s hard to describe what it was that made this book so good for me, it just made me feel good. Oh and as an extra note in the audiobook Jonathan Davis’ Ewan McGregor is superb. I’d be interested to know whether it was partly his reading which heightened the emotional response the book gave me.
    pronker and Iron_lord like this.
  22. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 335.95/36 = 9.33
  23. Bib Fartuna

    Bib Fartuna Jedi Knight star 4

    Nov 4, 2012
    Isn't there a book, set shortly after Episode III, where it has an epilogue that has Obi-Wan on Tattooine discovering that Darth Vader (Anakin) is still alive?

    ...just checked the 'Wook', and my recollection was correct, that epilogue was in Dark Lord.

    How does this all fit in Timeline wise?

    Does Kenobi then, come before Dark Lord?

  24. Cynical_Ben

    Cynical_Ben Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 12, 2013
    i used this book as a palate cleanser of sorts between Destiny's Way and Force Heretic: Remnant in my main thread. Let me preface my thoughts with the following biases: I love Westerns, they're second only to War Movies and just ahead of Mysteries in my movie genre categories, and I love small-scale stories in the Star Wars universe. This book combined those loves with a skill that hasn't been done with this sort of success since Hard Contact, or maybe since Solo Command or Iron Fist.

    There is one bias that I do not have, though, this is the first work of JJM's that I've ever read. I have never read a KotOR comic, I have never read Knight Errant or the Lost Tribe of the Sith eBooks or any of his other works. I came into this book with a fresh mind, expecting good things but braced in case I was disappointed.

    Needless to say, this book exceeded my expectations. JJM proved to me that he thoroughly understands this universe and the characters in it. He has a terrific grasp of the characters, the settings, the different cultures and ideals, even morals and philosophy. This is Star Wars, not the cheap imitation that sometimes gets pushed through the corporate grinder these days. From the first page to the last, this book breathes life and depth into characters who, in the grand scheme of things, we shouldn't care about.

    If this were the next big novel, a novel set after the events of the movies, none of the characters in this book, save maybe two, would even get names. The entire plot of this book would hardly be worth a blurb in the next sourcebook, there are no galaxy-shaking events or outcomes, nothing in the "big picture" changes to any noticeable degree. Every scene in this book takes place within a few hundred kilometers of each other, and only one scene, at the very end, takes place off of one of the most visited planets in the EU: Tatooine.

    It's odd, I normally dislike any EU book that uses Tatooine apart from events referencing the movies. A lot of time seems to be spent on a fairly insignificant world. Yet, this book managed to make Tatooine seem new and different, it was alien, yet familiar. JJM managed to make Tatooine interesting again. More than that, he made probably the most humdrum part of Tatooine life, the moisture farming, a central part of the plot and not have the book be boring or dry. And that's because he gives us characters to be invested in and care about.

    I can't talk enough about the superb character work in this novel. Every character comes to life off of the pages, two-dimensional at first glance but with hidden depths and motivations that don't come to light until the plot kicks into the final act. We see the devoted widow shopkeeper, her thrill-seeking son and unhappy daughter, the snake-oil salesman neighbor who leads the local watch group and his two Hell-raising kids, the cranky old man who buries his wealth in the sand, I could go on. All of them live and breathe with the same power as a character in a movie.

    Perhaps the standout of them all, though, is the "villain", A'Yark. A Tusken Raider, but an unusual one to say the least, no spoilers. A'Yark comes off, at the beginning, as a typical Tusken, though more eloquent and clever than most we've seen. As the story progresses, we see that A'Yark is, in fact, a highly unusual Tusken, willing to do whatever it takes to save the clan, even commit heresy. This doesn't make A'Yark a villain, it lends motivation, it gives depth where depth seems to always be lacking: in the savage races. A'Yark isn't vanquished or killed at the end of the book, but that's for the best, reinforcing the idea that all life, even ones seen as vermin by the farmers, has value.

    I would be amiss, though, if I only talked about the Tatooine natives. The character work on Ben Kenobi is what glues this book together. It hints and pokes and prods at the emotions and thoughts the Jedi Master must be feeling so soon after the events of Revenge of the Sith, but it never states them, it never gives us a first-person monologue about exactly how he feels. Even when the novel does go first person, in Ben's meditations, he doesn't allow himself to think about it, leaving us in the same dark we started from. We see him from the point of view of the natives: a quiet, possibly crazy loner, but we know that he is more. Ben is both the drifter in a Western and the wandering samurai in a Kurosawa film. Yet, we also see that he is vulnerable and human, he possesses much knowledge and teaching of the Jedi, but knows little about the struggles of the little people, of the people he has come to know and rely on in his new home, of the practicality of love and betrayal.

    We can also see the resignation and sorrow Ben feels as he realizes what his new life means for him: years of silence and solitude, alone with his thoughts, frustrations, anger and guilt. He has to set aside his Jedi nature for the good of his mission and for the sake of the galaxy's future, but again and again he comes back, just one more time, to help. In the end, when everyone else has left or disregarded him, he remains where he is, on the edge of the Dune Sea, watching over the precious bundle who will be the new hope of the future.

    I haven't enjoyed a Star Wars book this much since, well, it's been a long time. A self-contained work that requires only a knowledge of the movies to enjoy, but which nods to the fans of the EU enough times to tickle. A character-driven piece that tears down stereotypes and plays with expectations. An understated and bittersweet look at the lives of the beings who live every day under those twin suns without knowing that, just beyond those dunes, something amazing is happening.

    It might be my biases speaking, but I honestly cannot think of a single flaw I detected while reading. The pace, superb. The plot, deceptively complex. The characters, wonderfully diverse and surprisingly deep. The dialogue, crackling. The setting, familiar yet still fascinating. I hate numerical score systems, but if there was ever a book that deserved a full and hearty 10/10, it's this one.
  25. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 345.95/37 = 9.35