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!