Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review of "Heir to the Jedi" by Kevin Hearne

You've probably gathered I'm quite excited by the revival of Star Wars. While fossicking about on a Star Wars website I saw one of the Expanded Universe books recommended, so I bought the book.

"Heir to the Jedi" by Kevin Hearne was published in March 2015.

Here's the blurb

 A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . .

A thrilling new adventure set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, and—for the first time ever—written entirely from Luke Skywalker’s first-person point of view.

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.

My Review

I'll be honest – I found the first person POV disconcerting. I'm not a fan of first at the best of times, and I have my own view of Luke Skywalker, developed over many years – I saw the original Star Wars movie in the '70's and have been a fan ever since. But I girded my loins and pressed on.

I found the first few chapters difficult because it seemed to me that the first task Luke was given was a job for a diplomat, not a gun pilot. But sometimes one has to accept the premise and press on. Luke and Nakari are soon involved with the mission to rescue the brilliant alien cryptographer and reunite her with her family. Needless to say, there's lots of action and well-written battle scenes, and lots of aliens on different planets. The world building was very good

The part that's of real interest to Star Wars fans, though, is the way Luke's character is portrayed. He battles with the loss of Ben, in particular, but also the question of his unknown Jedi father and the deaths of his aunt and uncle. He's also coming to terms with being a hero and all that's expected of a hero - and not feeling like one. Nakari is a willing listener – she has her own story to tell – and she encourages Luke to develop his Jedi skills. Soon it's clear a relationship is burgeoning between the pair. Nakari is no shy violet. She can hold her own with weapons and is an adequate pilot, if not up to Luke's standard. She's very much his equal. Drusil, the alien cryptographer, is skilfully drawn, with a number of very non-human characteristics which help to make her real.

All in all, I enjoyed the read. It helped to fill the gap between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, explaining how Luke developed his skills sufficiently to do something like use the Force to draw his lightsaber from the snow in the Wampa's den. He also has a brush with the Dark Side, which was fascinating. But I did have some qualms about how the plot to rescue Drusil was conceived. 

I give it a 4.

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