Book Review: “Heir to the Jedi: Star Wars” by Kevin Hearne

Heir to the JediIt’s been very interesting to see how the new Star Wars canon is beginning to come together after Disney removed the entire Expanded Universe from being and official part of the lore not that long ago. The first two books put forth some interesting backstory for Grand Moff Tarkin and the two lead characters of the new Star Wars: Rebels cartoon, but they did not deal at all with any of the big three characters of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, or Princess Leia. With Heir to the Jedi, Kevin Hearne introduces us to a Luke Skywalker from just after the destruction of the first Death Star, when he is a hero of the Rebellion, but is still trying to figure out what the Force actually does and how he fits into the big picture of the Rebellion in the future.

Luke makes his way through two missions during the course of the book. First, he is sent to Rodia to do some research about a new arms deal for the Rebellion. There isn’t a lot of money to go around, but Admiral Ackbar thinks that fostering a relationship with one Rodian clan in particular would be useful. To successfully complete the mission, Luke can’t take his usual X-wing because the Imperials would recognize it, so instead he uses a ship called Desert Jewel, which is owned by a woman named Nakari, a woman who also happens to be a rather accomplished sniper and is also bankrolled by a fair amount of family money if the need arises.

The mission to Rodia is relatively successful and upon returning Luke is asked to rescue a very talented slicer from Imperial captivity. This time he takes the Desert Jewel, but brings Nakari along with him as they’ve fostered a budding romantic relationship and seem to work well together on the whole. Ultimately, Luke and Nakari are able to help the slicer escape their Imperial captivity, but with some dire consequences along the way that will likely shape Luke significantly in future books.

Heir to the Jedi is doing a lot of work in establishing what kind of personality Luke Skywalker is supposed to have, and it does a pretty good job of setting him up as a man who wants to do the right thing, discover the secrets of the Force, and aid the Rebellion in whatever ways his skills work best. The problem for me comes when I realized that the Luke Skywalker in this book is very different from the Luke Skywalker we see in The Empire Strikes Back. This book is official canon, so I hope we get some more screen time with Luke in another book or two that will help flesh him out as a character while still letting fans of Star Wars love the character he is in the official movies. As it stands, after reading Heir to the Jedi, I don’t believe the Luke Skywalker from this book fits with the Luke Skywalker from The Empire Strikes Back.

I also had a tough time with feeling like Heir to the Jedi every really got started. Yes, there are action scenes, and yes, there are some interesting characters, but despite all of that, I felt like I was spinning my wheels a little bit as a reader. Maybe it had something to do with the first person viewpoint, a rarity in the Star Wars books, or maybe it was just the story that had been chosen for the author to tell. I’m not really sure. I’ve read other work by Kevin Hearne and never felt like I was spinning my wheels, so I found it a little strange to have it happen this time. Regardless, I hope that Kevin Hearne continues to get opportunities to work with Luke Skywalker as a character because I think he’s got a lot of good things in place at this point and I would hate to see it ruined by someone else.

So far the new Star Wars canon books have been solid in what they have done, but none of the three have really blown me away. I hope that they can get to that point sooner or later because some of the non-canon Expanded Universe has some really great moments that are not being matched by the new canon to this point.

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Looking Back at August 2014

I knew going into August that it was going to be a very busy month outside of reading and blogging, so I have to say I’m rather proud of myself for still getting seven books read at the same time I was starting a new job with not nearly as much downtime during the day and moving into a new house. I really wish I could have gotten all ten books on my list for the month finished, but it just wasn’t meant to be I think. Without the new job and the move I probably would have pulled it off, but it is what it is and I’ll spread those three books into the remaining four months of the year.

Here are the things I read during August:

My favorite book of the month was Lock In, followed closely by The Circuit: Executor Rising. I also felt like Hounded was a really interesting book and I’m interested in continuing that series at some point in the future. I really feel like Lock In is doing something new and interesting with the genre while at the same time calling attention to some compelling social commentary that often goes unnoticed in the background of everything else society thinks to talk about. The Circuit: Executor Rising hearkens very closely to my love of The Expanse series, and so it hit me in just the right spot at the beginning of the month.

Anthem’s Fall was decent, but still a bit rough round the edges and a little too reliant on some typical cliches and plot tropes. I will likely read the sequel because I think the author has some potential and he gave a few glimpses into an interesting world he didn’t quite reveal with the first book. The Trilisk AI is the sequel to a book I read earlier this year and I also found it to be engaging and fun, if not anything overly unique. There is a special place in my heart for books that tell a fun tale without getting too fancy about things from time to time. I bought the remaining three books in the series to keep on hand for when I want something light and fun over an afternoon or lazy evening.

Blood Moon and Black Moon were the real curveballs for me this month. I was asked by the publisher to review Black Moon for it’s impending release in a couple of weeks, which meant I needed to read Blood Moon first so I wouldn’t be lost in the story by starting with the second book. These books fit into a relatively new genre space known as “new adult” and they definitely sit on the fringes of my reading habits. However, Teri Harman does a few interesting things with them and her characters are all very grounded and real, so I think I’ll probably read the final volume in the trilogy when it comes out.

At the moment I’ve completed 61 books out of my 100 book goal. I’m still behind pace by about six books, give or take, which means in order to hit the mark I’m really going to need to buckle down and make up some ground. I may even need to see if I can convince my wife to let me take a Saturday or two and shut myself off from the world to push my way through two or three shorter books all in one day and make up some ground accordingly. If I don’t make it all the way to 100 I still think I’ll easily beat last year’s mark of 84 books read, which is impressive in its own right.

Looking forward to September, I’ve got some good books on deck. One of the highlights is the first new book in the official Star Wars canon reboot, Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller. I’m also excited to read Sarah J. Maas’ newest installment to the Throne of Glass series, Heir of Fire. There are a total of 9 books on my list for September, and now that I’m settled into the new job and the move is complete my hopes are high I can get all 9 finished and maybe sneak in an extra.