Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Star Wars Book Club: Heir to the Jedi Review

Looking at the tail end of my previous Star Wars review reminds me not just how excited I was to be free of working at the Alzheimer home but of all the plans I had for my immediate and long-term future. It may seem like this rambling has nothing to do with a Star Wars review but this is honestly a short hand version of today's book. A scatterbrained tale that makes constant pit stops while the theme of personal development struggles to hold the the plot together.

Kevin Hearne's Heir to the Jedi has a unique history. It was originally intended as the final piece in a trilogy project from the old expanded universe. That original series has been about the individual adventures of the three main characters between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. Somewhere down the line it was decided that this final installment would be allowed into new continuity. This was probably an easy decision if the original manuscript was anything like the finished project as this is very much a contained story.

Similar to our last tale, Aftermath this has so far been one of the less well received installments in the new EU. The most common complaint is how the story feels like the fetch quests of Luke Skywalker. To certain extent this is true. In fact, I was reminded of the old game Yoda Stories, a randomly generated adventure game where players controlled Luke as he undertook a constant barrage of chores for different people in order to get items he needed for a greater goal. The first third of this novel in particular feels a lot like that old game.

When everything starts up, Luke has to go broker a deal with some shady weapons traders for the Rebellion. Along the way he intervenes in a dogfight saving a vessel. While on Rodia, and working on making a deal he goes with a new quittance to the tomb of her uncle, a former Jedi Knight and even gets to take the guys lightsaber. Upon returning to the rebel fleet, Luke is congratulated for saving that random vessel as it was actually carrying important information about a top notch cryptographer in Imperial custody. He's teamed up with a young woman named Nakari but there ship isn't equipped for such a dangerous mission. They visit the girls businessman father in order to seek out funds for upgrades which results in him sending them to recover information from a scouting crew he sent to a newly discovered moon. During this leg of the journey the pair must contend with vicious, brain-eating monsters....really. After that they continue on to have the ship upgraded, gather information about their target, and only then do they attempt the rescue mission which makes up the rest of the book with pit stops of its own.

Sounds pretty scatterbrained, doesn't it? Here's the thing, the primary theme of the book is Luke attempting to increase his knowledge of the force while navigating life as a war hero. Overall the author does a decent job of keeping these elements in focus yet there are still portions like the trip to Rodia that hardly provide anything of merit.

It's kind of a shame the storyline is so lacking as the writing isn't half-bad. Reading Luke's growing relationship with potential love-interest Nakari is charming. Not to mention Drusil, the Givin cryptographer they was sent to rescue provides some great interactions with the pair.

Still, the fun characters can't completely save the book from poor pacing as it makes one side trip after another. The portion with the brain-eating bug creatures comes out of nowhere. Similarly much of the violence within this book is way beyond the usual Star Wars laser blasts. Generally when someone gets shot with a blaster, the result is them falling over with a singe mark. Here, a blaster may well equal a cranial explosion.

What's most important though is whether the book's any good. The answer is...sorta. It's definitely a lower class of Star Wars tale, down there with Aftermath but it can still make for fun reading. As I mentioned earlier the character interactions are charming, plus there's the classic pulp adventure feel to the entire story. On the downside there's the poor pacing that holds back the primary goal of the story for far too long. Basically it's not a total waste of your time if you choose to read it but it's a far cry from being essential reading. Thanks to it's tight focus on one hero and the more adventurous tone I am going to rank it one spot higher than Aftermath. Let's look at the books so far.

  1. Lost Star by Claudia Gray
  2. New Dawn by John Jackson Miller
  3. Tarken by James Luceno
  4. Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne
  5. Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

Alright, my original intent was to have this done and posted last night. That plan was quickly derailed by the need to wake up early for one astoundingly odd day at work counterbalanced by a quick shopping trip. Got some neat article fodder while I was out. As you can probably guess from the photo at the top of this post I've got some other Star Wars stuff to talk about as well. Pretty much what I'm telling you is to keep an eye peeled for new content cause I've got things planed for here and other sites plus the Halloween season starts at the beginning of September. Before you know it, kids will be back in school, temperatures will start to chill, and the best months of the year will be ours to enjoy.

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