Heir to the Jedi – a review

I can’t really say any better than this, but this book was awesome!

As has been mentioned here before, I’m a pretty slow reader, preferring to savour the experience as I go through the movie-in-my-head. However, this book has changed all that, utterly capturing me, and propelling me through the story right to the end.

Spoilers ahead – you have been warned!

The book is set some time between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, where Luke is still not really much of a Jedi, and is still pretty much the hero of Yavin. Originally planned as the third of a loose trilogy that feature the Big Three prominently in turn, Heir to the Jedi became part of the new canon when all that happened around this time last year, and as such exists outside of Razor’s Edge and Honor Among Thieves.

It’s also told entirely in the first person – Luke, naturally – which makes it the second Star Wars novel ever to use this (after 1998’s I, Jedi). I have to admit, I’m really not a big fan of this device. For starters, as a reader it forces me to follow one person around and, if I don’t like that person, I’m instantly turned off from a book no matter how engaging the story around the narrator may be. I’ve also never felt a sense of excitement coming from reading these things – no matter what happens, there’s a basic meta-assumption made that the narrator survives the events in order to be then relating them to me, the reader. I imagine first-person, present-tense books would be a much better read (and have tried to do this myself a few times), but anyway.

Full disclosure, Luke Skywalker is my all-time favourite Star Wars character from all media, Legends or Canon. So to start with, you can imagine that I’d be fairly invested. However, Kevin Hearne succeeds in making Luke such a likeable person, I feel like I really want to get to know him more – as if I haven’t already from the films. In fact, he makes Luke the kind of person I’d like to hang out with, generally! Far from being the noble hero, he’s just an all-round nice guy!

We get some time with Leia of course, and given the timeframe of the book, there are some confused feelings around that whole issue, though it’s not the hash that is Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Hearne introduces a new character, Nakari Kelen, who evolves into a love interest for Luke entirely naturally, in my opinion, which is a refreshing change from previous stories. Back in the day, the Bantam plan had always involved Luke ending up with Mara Jade, of course, so anyone he met in the meantime (Callista, I’m thinking of you!) never had a shot, and always flitted out of his life by the end of that particular trilogy or whatever. Now that the EU slate has been wiped clean, however, I enjoyed the possibility of seeing more of her – right up until the moment she was killed (I did warn you about the spoilers!)

The reason I’m spoiling this for you here is that it’s an important part of how effective this book is. Nakari is a really, really interesting character, and one that you really care about – partially because we’re seeing her from Luke’s perspective, I suppose – and when she dies, it elicits a really emotional response. I mean, I almost felt a similar sense of personal loss, that she wouldn’t be in any more Star Wars stories, for instance (though she is in a short story from January’s Star Wars Insider). I was really surprised by this, which led me to really appreciate just how effective the writing is – and in turn, just how amazing this book is!

As among the first of “the new batch” of Star Wars novels, I was particularly interested to see what elements of the established lore has been retained, and am pleased to note that the answer to that is: a lot. The Givin feature prominently, and they’re still the mathematicians we know from, for instance, Edge of Victory Rebirth. Admiral Ackbar still has a mistrust of smugglers, and so on. It’s pretty heartening to see the galaxy isn’t irrevocably changed, and I still feel reasonably at home here!

Considering the novel is called Heir to the Jedi, I had expected we’d see Luke begin to use the Force more than we do. He does grow in his ability and his confidence, but it’s not as much as I’d expected going in. It’s a minor quibble, of course – we only really need to see Luke learn some telekinesis, given that’s the only thing we’ve now seen between the Ben tuition and the Yoda tuition. And we get that here, so it’s fine. However, there’s an earlier sequence on Rodia where Luke learns something about his father, and is given a lightsaber, which he tries to figure out how it works, but then packs away and never mentions again. It would have been interesting, perhaps, but in the event it’s not incredibly important.

All in all, this is an awesome book, and I am so glad I bought it in hardcover (another new departure for me!)

Cannot recommend it enough – buy it now!

New Star Wars stuff!

Hey everybody!

After the heady excitement of my Birthday Week, and the exploration of the Indiana Jones franchise, it’s back to Star Wars, my original true love, and some exciting news for gaming, following the Anaheim shenanigans last weekend!

X-Wing Wave 7

Let’s start with Wave 7 for X-Wing! Releases for this game continue apace, as we get new ships for all three of the current factions. The K-Wing makes an appearance for the rebels, something I’ve been particularly pleased about since I’m a big fan of the Black Fleet Crisis trilogy. It also gets a new move, SLAM, which basically allows it to move twice, so long as both movements are at the same speed. The Imperials get the TIE Punisher, though most people will probably know it better as the TIE Interdictor from the Galactic Battlegrounds game. It’s basically an advanced version of the TIE Bomber (from Wave 3), and both this and the K-Wing have some pretty snazzy ordnance they bring to the table. Very useful is the Advanced Ordnance card, which lets you use missiles and bombs twice, so that’ll most likely become a staple!

Scum takes up half of this wave, which makes sense, given they’re still quite far behind the other factions so far. Black Sun’s Kihraxz fighter makes its appearance, which has got me excited to build a Black Sun squadron, and Trandoshan bounty hunter Bossk’s ship Hound’s Tooth rounds out the experience. He has the ability to escape his destroyed ship in the headhunter Nashtah Pup, which is a nice addition – I was surprised at first that we don’t actually get a headhunter model, but it would most likely drive the price of the expansion up to include it and, as was pointed out to me, most Scum players will have Most Wanted anyway.

So it’s a pretty exciting release, and since I’ve started to play this game, I’m really looking forward to it!

X Wing Imperial Raider

Speaking of X-Wing, we’ve also had a more in-depth look at the Imperial Raider, which I feel has been on the horizon for months already!

Announced back in December (I think – it seems longer!), it’s something that I’m pretty excited to get my hands on, even though I don’t foresee any epic play on the cards anytime soon. There are some interesting bits and pieces there, though – and who knows, now that the Imperials have a big ship as well, maybe we’ll see more epic play games…

Imperial Assault reinforcements

More reinforcements have been announced for Imperial Assault, too. As someone mentioned on facebook, this is where the skirmish game really begins, and I can definitely see that. Up to now, we seem to have been having the lieutenant-like expansions similar to the Descent model, which basically replace tokens from the base game with actual miniatures, but with new chaps that we can bring to the table, it begins to feel much more like a miniatures battle game, much like the previous Star Wars Miniatures games from Wizards of the Coast and West End Games. Even though I haven’t been able to play with the base game yet, I’m hoping I can sell the idea to Tony with the skirmish side, then hook him in with the scenario-driven game. We shall see!

Imperial Assault Reinforcements

The miniatures do look great, though I’m not going to paint them – the manager at the local store has done his store copy, and that looks fantastic, but they’re too small and detailed for me!

Again, I’m pretty excited for these guys, even though I’ve yet to play the game. Star Wars Miniatures was one of my favourite games, back in the day – which is surprising, given that it’s got basically no story to it, and you’re just trying to wipe out your opponent before he wipes you out. But I played a lot of that game back in the day, and it’s really exciting to think we might get that sort of experience again, though on a much more sensible scale (as opposed to the blind-buy from Wizards).

And finally…

Making splendid use of my amazon vouchers, I’ve decided to go for the latest novels in hardcover. It seems Del Rey is moving to all their books coming out in hardcover now, so it’ll help to distinguish them from my now-Legends novels.