Series: Star Wars
Published by LucasBooks on August 27, 2013
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Western
Source: Amazon Vine
The greatest hero in the galaxy faces his toughest challenge yet: He must stop being Obi-Wan-and become Crazy Old Ben. For fans of movie-related novels like Darth Plagueis!
In this original novel set between the events of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi comes to the aid of the residents of Tatooine during his exile. But he struggles with his new mission when he realizes that protecting Luke Skywalker-the last hope of the galaxy-means setting aside his compassion and his Jedi warrior training, for the future of the galaxy lies not with Obi-Wan Kenobi, but with a mystical desert recluse known only by the name of Crazy Old Ben.
In honor of Star Wars Reads Day II on October 5, 2013, I’m finally posting my review of STAR WARS: KENOBI. I almost did a video review for this one, but went for a written one in the end. I would have forgotten about Star Wars Reads Day if Jenna hadn’t Instagrammed photos of Yoda cookies. So yay to her for reminding me!
I want to start this review off by saying that I’ve been a Star Wars fan for a long time, more than half my life (14+ years). The Expanded Universe is my preference over the movies, because I like to read my adventures, but in the past few years, I haven’t really been excited by most Star Wars books. Some of my all-time favorites are the Thrawn trilogy, the Jedi Academy trilogy, and the X-Wing series. I’ve liked some of the recent offerings (the Darth Bane novels, DECEIVED, DARTH PLAGUEIS), but have skipped or not liked others. So, I’ll admit it: I was apprehensive but tentatively excited about KENOBI. I wanted so much for the book to be good…
And it was! WOOT!
The start of KENOBI is slow, but once I got past the setup chapters, I was hooked. John Jackson Miller has a very smooth, easy to read writing style, and I thought he had an excellent grasp on Obi-Wan. I could see traces of Ewan McGregor, fresh from REVENGE OF THE SITH, but more importantly, I saw Obi-Wan start down the path to becoming the strange old hermit Luke knows.
The author also does an amazing job with his original characters. One of the things I like most about reading EU books is to see the Star Wars universe from the point of “normal” people — not the big name heroes. In KENOBI, my favorite parts were from the perspectives of Annileen Calwell, human, and A’Yark, Tusken Raider. Annileen’s story is one a lot of readers can identify with: mundane job (storekeeper) and raising two rambunctious teenagers while occasionally wondering about her own shelved dreams. As for A’Yark, I liked his story because through it, I got to learn a lot about Tusken culture. Amateur xenobiologist in the making here — I love learning about the different alien cultures of the Star Wars universe.
KENOBI is a lot like a western. Well, I can’t say for sure, because I don’t actually read westerns, but it was a good guys versus natives fight, eking out life in a hostile land, that sort of thing. Although I like that KENOBI is a standalone, I think I’d like another book in the same style (same author too, please!), detailing more of the time Ben spends on Tatooine before the events of A NEW HOPE. I know there’s more story there.
The main story behind KENOBI is the increasingly savage attacks of Tusken Raiders, who raid moisture farms and kill settlers. A group of moisture farmers, led by farmer/entrepreneur Orrin Gault, have formed a protection group to fight the Tuskens. Ben, intending to start his life as a hermit, arrives in the middle of this, and as a newcomer, he’s instantly the talk of the small “town.” Watching a Jedi try to fit into small town life is comical, as you know despite Ben’s best efforts to be no one, he can’t help but get into the middle of everything.
If I liked KENOBI so much (and I did), why didn’t I give it a full 5 stars? Two main reasons. One: the book is titled KENOBI, giving the reader the impression it is a book solely about Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s not. Now, I didn’t mind that once I got into the story, because as I said above, I really liked certain characters, such as Annileen and A’Yark. KENOBI is told from the points of view of four characters: Annileen, A’Yark, Orrin, and finally, Ben. All points of view are crucial in showing how all the story threads connect, and in setting the overall atmosphere of the book. But if you’re hoping for a book all about Obi-Wan, you might be in for a disappointment. Oh, I should also say there’s not really any lightsaber action or a lot of usage of the Force.
Two: I thought the ending of the book was a tad rushed. There’s a lot of setup in the beginning, and then a fair amount of back and forth between all the characters, as well as fights between the farmers and the Tuskens. Then the ending’s just squished in there.
If you’re looking for a laid back, relaxing read, or a good entry to the Expanded Universe, KENOBI might be the book for you. I know I’ll want to reread it a year or two, which is always the mark of a good Star Wars EU book for me.
Review on Amazon.
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Do you like “franchise” books like Star Wars or Star Trek?