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[ Star Wars Books & Comics ]
Staff Review.


[Heir to the Jedi]

Heir to the Jedi
Author: Kevin Hearne
Published: 2015

Reviewer: Ewan, Star Wars Books & Comics
Reviewed: 2015
Review rating: 3 / 5

Disclaimer:
Spoilers are kept to minimum however cannot guarantee spoiler-free.

Although publisher supplied copy for review purposes, all opinions are those of reviewer.

Publisher's Summary:
Luke Skywalker’s game-changing destruction of the Death Star has made him not only a hero of the Rebel Alliance but a valuable asset in the ongoing battle against the Empire. Though he’s a long way from mastering the power of the Force, there’s no denying his phenomenal skills as a pilot—and in the eyes of Rebel leaders Princess Leia Organa and Admiral Ackbar, there’s no one better qualified to carry out a daring rescue mission crucial to the Alliance cause.
A brilliant alien cryptographer renowned for her ability to breach even the most advanced communications systems is being detained by Imperial agents determined to exploit her exceptional talents for the Empire’s purposes. But the prospective spy’s sympathies lie with the Rebels, and she’s willing to join their effort in exchange for being reunited with her family. It’s an opportunity to gain a critical edge against the Empire that’s too precious to pass up. It’s also a job that demands the element of surprise. So Luke and the ever-resourceful droid R2-D2 swap their trusty X-wing fighter for a sleek space yacht piloted by brash recruit Nakari Kelen, daughter of a biotech mogul, who’s got a score of her own to settle with the Empire.
Challenged by ruthless Imperial bodyguards, death-dealing enemy battleships, merciless bounty hunters, and monstrous brain-eating parasites, Luke plunges head-on into a high-stakes espionage operation that will push his abilities as a Rebel fighter and would-be Jedi to the limit. If ever he needed the wisdom of Obi-Wan Kenobi to shepherd him through danger, it’s now. But Luke will have to rely on himself, his friends, and his own burgeoning relationship with the Force to survive.

Review:
Set shortly after the events of A New Hope, Heir to the Jedi is a character examination of Luke Skywalker told from Luke's own perspective. This first-person story tells of his new journey from hero of the Rebellion to fledging Jedi in a series of minor missions that lead to the main adventure. Throughout this story Hearne examines Luke's motives and desires to follow in his father's and Obi-Wan's footsteps as with each successful mission he uncovers new information and truths about the Jedi. And this is the strength of Hearne's writing style and choice of first person narrative: we really get inside the mind and thoughts of Luke. From his early trepidation of visiting a fallen Jedi's grave to the exhilaration he feels when he is presented with the dead Jedi's lightsaber and his attempts to rebuild it. Then there is Luke's first attempt at telekinesis - and his subsequent failure to move anything - and his personal monologue of trying to decide which actions would be considered use of the Dark Side and those of the Light.
Hearne never forgets that this is a young Luke, basically a teenager at heart and somewhat naive in the ways of the galaxy, so Luke blusters through some awkward moments giving this story its light-hearted moments, but at the end of it all Luke has actually experienced a lot more than the average teenager: the violent deaths of his Aunt and Uncle and his best friend Biggs; witnessing the death of Obi-Wan at the hands of Vader - the man whom Obi-Wan claimed killed his own father. And herein lies the story's pathos: when Luke recalls these tragic events - especially during the story's poignant moment.
However, the first person approach is also this story's greatest weakness: as we must witness everything through Luke's eyes. For Star Wars fans used to third-person narratives, this is only the second first-person Star Wars novel to be published, secondary character development, especially antagonists, can feel weak as we cannot examine their motives and drives. To overcome this, Hearne limits the number of characters Luke interacts with to a minimum and introduces only a handful of new characters - many of which make only the briefest of appearances.
Although Hearne's choice of first-person narrative makes this a more personal story for Luke's development, the lack of a major antagonist for Luke to contend with and only minor protagonists who assist Luke, meant that this story lacked some of the excitement, tension and drama that many fans expect in a galaxy far, far away story. While this story will appeal to Luke fans, especially those of the Original Trilogy, I can understand why continuity fans may find themselves disappointed at the lack of anything consequential. As the third novel in Lucasfilm's new canon, where the canvas outside the films is completely blank, Heir to the Jedi unfortunately fails to add anything substantial.


Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne is available now in hardback from Century in the UK and Ballantine in the US.


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