Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller

I received a download of this book in exchange for sharing my thoughts on Fiction State of Mind
Random House/Del Rey Books

I had such a fangirl squeal when I saw the cover of this book. Here was the book that had the potential to fill one of the mysteries of the Star Wars Saga: what did Ben do for those almost twenty years between Episodes 3 & 4 ? I imagined scenes of swashbuckling action and wonderful dialogue floating through my head in Ewan’s wonderful voice.
So my expectations were really high for this book, and in the initial 100 pages of the book I seriously began to think they wouldn't be met.
Readers of EU books come into each book with an enormous knowledge of the source material, a predilection to characters speaking or acting a certain way, and a desire to have the boundaries of their fandom  expanded with new characters and adventures.
That's a lot of pressure for an author! So in the opening Chapters of the novel when the focus is on a local trading post and a Tusken Raider village, I kept thinking where's Ben? I was annoyed a bit until I finally let go and let Miller tell his story. And quite a story it is! Ben is the new guy in town, drawing to much unwanted attention and too many questions.
The harder Ben tries to remain alone the more he gets drawn into local politics and the danger of exposure. One of the things Miller really honed in on was the loss of community Ben suffers with the destruction of the Jedi order. He has lost his brother ( Anakin), and still has the instincts of a Jedi Master( to help and mediate), with no outlet to use them on. It makes sense that despite his mission he would find himself involved in the life of a female outpost owner and her family. An involvement that may cost him dearly.
I loved the inner monologues Ben has with himself in the book and in his meditations to his former Master, though they aren't “answered” in this book. Miller really captures the essence of Ben in these moments, his pain at Anakin’s death is balanced by his faith in the Force. Characters are an important part of what keeps fans returning to the Star Wars franchise, and I found myself growing more  interested in the farming community and the glimpse into the Tuskens culture as the novel went on.
Miller doesn't answer all of the questions surrounding Ben’s time in the desert but he does give us an enjoyable story that fits very well in established continuity. Though I would have liked a lot more of Ben in this book in retrospect I realize Miller picked a brilliant way to explore Ben through the eyes of other characters . Miller also fleshed out the lives and motivations of the Tatooine populace. Really solid and enjoyable read.

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