The story of what became of the Jedi after the rise of the Galactic Empire in the Star Wars Saga is an interesting aspect of the mythology. After the events of “Star Wars: Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith” the Emperor and Darth Vader hunt down and murder the Jedi Knights they find. Jedi are branded as outlaws. Some manage to escape the Empire. We know Yoda hid on Dagobah and Obi-Wan hides himself on Tatooine under the name of Ben Kenobi. They were not the only Jedi who survived the Empire’s purge.
A new era of Star Wars begins in the pages of “Star Wars: A New Dawn” by John Jackson Miller exploring the post “Sith” adventures of one of the last Jedi, Kanan Jarrus. The novel is the first look into the next stage of Star Wars in the time set between episodes the first two trilogies. The book provides a look into the beginning of the new Disney XD series “Star Wars: Rebels” which will debut in October.
Kanan Jarrus had not finished his apprenticeship in the Jedi order when the Empire began its systematic culling of the Jedi Knights. He escaped even as his master did not. This is where “Star Wars: A New Dawn” brings us in to a life of one whose entire existence had been training in one direction but now is a life of hiding and masking his connection to the Force.
Miller paints the picture of what a Jedi must do to survive and avoid direction of the-powers-that-be that have criminalized the Jedi Order and brought about the destruction of those connected to the Force. Kanan comes off as a mix of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, a good guy with a sarcastic devil-may-care attitude. He is a likable rogue who acts like he does not care while he secretly helping people even when he would prefer to just disappear.
The Jedi instincts are always there despite his reluctance to access the Force. It is this reluctance that Miller uses to create suspense to when Kanan will reveal himself to his new friends and if he will accept his destiny in time to stop the destruction of the mining world of Gorse and its moon Cynda.
On Gorse, Miller shows the evils of the Empire. It is government that exists only to feed itself. The Emperor wants all in his infinite greed and he could care less about the pawns that get in his way. The only thing that matters is the growth of the Empire.
The Rebellion has not begun yet, people aren’t sure yet what to think of the Empire. Their lives have not been affected too much, but it is the changes that are coming one by one add up to an oppressive society where freedom is forgone and service to the Empire is everything.
It just happens that Kanan finds himself in the center of the Empire’s power grab while working for the mining community. He may have made his escape if not for the appearance of a green-skinned Twi-lek named Hera. She is a cunning hero who may be forming the building blocks for the Rebellion but is starting out by finding just how big the Empire has gotten and its affect on the galaxy.
Hera is a leader possessing the skills of a master pilot and a super spy. She has a greater understanding of the Empire but she is reluctant to bring more people to her cause. She just wants to find out the facts to see where the real trouble is in the galaxy.
The story shows Miller’s strong affections to the Star Wars Universe. The writer clearly has a firm understanding of the transformation this Galaxy was undergoing as the reach of the Empire spread out over the Republic worlds and a the rule through fear was taking hold. The pace of the story is quick and the characters keep everything in perpetual motion. Even with the quick pace the story is well rounded and the characters are explored in depth to make them identifiable even as they are all new to the mythology.
“Star Wars: A New Dawn” is a great lead in to the “Star Wars: Rebels” series by giving the origin of the first meeting of Kanan and Hera and how the two of them set out to take on an Empire.