SW: Heir to the Jedi

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Kol Drake created the topic: SW: Heir to the Jedi

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Remember watching Episode IV: A New Hope where that young kid takes his 'first step into a wider universe' under the urging of Ben Kenobi? He's barely able to switch on a lightsaber without slicing off his foot and then -- BOOM -- his one teacher, Kenobi is dead. Not much more "How to be a Jedi" for the rest of that movie. Three years of story time later, we get Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and that 'kid' is hanging upside down and has a lightsaber fly across the ice cave to his hand.

What happened between New Hope and EMSB so that he has this new skill with the Force?

Heir to the Jedi tries to show Luke's fledgling steps after the end of New Hope. He's freaked that he's lost the one teacher he had and does not know where to turn to. It has only been a few months since the destruction of the Death Star. Mostly, he's stuck on a bunch of ships doing their imitation of Battlestar Galactica, floating out among the stars, looking for a new base, new suppliers -- and basically bored out of his teenaged mind. So, he jumps at the chance to 'do' errands just to 'do' something.

And so the story begins.

*****

Here is the Amazon blurb --

Luke Skywalker’s game-changing destruction of the Death Star has made him not only a hero of the Rebel Alliance but a valuable asset in the ongoing battle against the Empire. Though he’s a long way from mastering the power of the Force, there’s no denying his phenomenal skills as a pilot—and in the eyes of Rebel leaders Princess Leia Organa and Admiral Ackbar, there’s no one better qualified to carry out a daring rescue mission crucial to the Alliance cause.

A brilliant alien cryptographer renowned for her ability to breach even the most advanced communications systems is being detained by Imperial agents determined to exploit her exceptional talents for the Empire’s purposes. But the prospective spy’s sympathies lie with the Rebels, and she’s willing to join their effort in exchange for being reunited with her family. It’s an opportunity to gain a critical edge against the Empire that’s too precious to pass up. It’s also a job that demands the element of surprise. So Luke and the ever-resourceful droid R2-D2 swap their trusty X-wing fighter for a sleek space yacht piloted by brash recruit Nakari Kelen, daughter of a biotech mogul, who’s got a score of her own to settle with the Empire.

Challenged by ruthless Imperial bodyguards, death-dealing enemy battleships, merciless bounty hunters, and monstrous brain-eating parasites, Luke plunges head-on into a high-stakes espionage operation that will push his abilities as a Rebel fighter and would-be Jedi to the limit. If ever he needed the wisdom of Obi-Wan Kenobi to shepherd him through danger, it’s now. But Luke will have to rely on himself, his friends, and his own burgeoning relationship with the Force to survive.


I suppose Heir to the Jedi's biggest selling point might be that it is written in first-person perspective. This is actually only the second Star Wars novel to attempt that trick (the first being Michael Stackpole's 1997 book I, Jedi -- a much better book, imo). I suppose doing it this way is supposed to allow readers a closer glimpse into Luke's personality, mindset, and motivations than ever before. While it is a 'good idea', the first-person perspective is a pretty superficial element. You could very frequently switch pronouns and substitute "I" and "we" with "he" and "they" and it would have little or no impact on the story.

The other problem is that Luke's voice never exactly feels right. There is a stiff quality to the writing that works against what should read more like Luke's personal diary or recollections. The way he describes most people, places, and ships he encounters is oddly formal, which Hearne attempts to offset by relaying on more casual prose elsewhere. The writing bounces between formal, highly descriptive wordplay and Luke's more casual intergalactic redneck mode. Especially early on, the book never seems sure of what tone it's shooting for. The end result is that it becomes more difficult, rather than less, to connect with Luke and his emotional struggles. To Hearne's credit, the first-person element smooths out somewhat over time, but it never comes across as something vital to the execution of the story.

I never really 'got into' this story. Once I was done, I kind of thought, "Is that all?" It struck me as a very 'fluff' read. Perhaps it is because this is Hearne's first Star Wars story. Maybe it is because this was really a re-worked 'other story' -- originally, this story was intended to be final installment in the Empire and Rebellion series from the Extended (Old) Universe. It was re-worked to become a stand alone 'filler' for the new universe.

Quirky note:
The novel was composed with input from the Lucasfilm Story Group, making it part of the new Star Wars canon. As one of the first releases in the new canon, the story's title is partially a homage to author Timothy Zahn's 1991 novel Heir to the Empire, which some consider to have begun the Expanded Universe.

Author Kevin Hearne has stated that Heir to the Jedi takes place prior to the Marvel comic book series Star Wars and is (at least in Lucasfilm Story Groups' mind) the beginning of the new canon universe.

*****

One 'good note' -- the author DID have an interesting slant on a moment when Luke is trying to invoke the Force to move a wet noodle. It's actually pretty good and I'll be posting it over in Esoteric as something to chew on shortly.

*****

On a scale of 1 to 5 Force Users: I give it a 2.5 :jedi :jedi :yoda
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  • Connor
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Connor replied the topic: SW: Heir to the Jedi

I will say, I just read this book. And, I had all the same thoughts you did. And, I was coming to review it... now I don't have to! Perfect. I echo everything Kol just said.

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