John Jackson Miller’s new book Star Wars: Kenobi seeks to fill an empty hole in the vast reaches of Star Wars history by telling the story of the first days of Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi on Tatooine – as he’s watching over young Luke Skywalker – with the stylistic flair of an old western novel.
The perspectives switch between a moisture farmer, a local business-owner and a Tusken Raider, yet Miller seems to transcend actually sticking to those perspectives. The only time we ever truly stay in one perspective is when Ben is meditating and trying to connect with Qui-Gon Jinn through the force. This is also the only time we ever see the world from Ben’s perspective.
Narraratively, despite how well we know Obi-Wan Kenobi, this allows us to see Ben from the perspective of those who have lived there and understand why he becomes Crazy Old Ben, the outsider that many – including Owen Lars – warn away from.
What I loved most about this book was its insight into daily life on Tatooine, understanding normal struggles of average people in a universe that has expanded for literally tens of thousands of years. So many of the stories in the Expanded Universe of Star Wars are giant epics that impact all of the universe. Here, the closest we get to that is the outsiders perspective of a man who blames himself for the fall of the Republic. A man desperately trying to not recreate his mistake.
The book plays with the theme of redemption – as Ben Kenobi refuses to take any investment in the culture around him – andnd what it means to be a member of a community. Personal responsibility plays a significant role in the sub-plot of the moisture farmer that ties in in a large way to the story as a whole.
About halfway through the book is a stunning plot twist that flips our assumptions on their head – a plot twist that utilizes the medium and flips our assumptions about archetypes on their head.
All-in-all, Kenobi is a great book that definitely fulfills my desire to know more about Obi-Wan’s exile on the desert planet. I am hopeful that we will see more on Obi-Wan and his developing a connection with Qui-Gon. Further, I would love to see a book about Yoda getting to Dagobah – I do not think that’s a thing yet.
Star Wars: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller (ISBN: 9780345546838) is available in hardcover on August 27, 2013 for $27.00 and is published by Del Rey Spectra/Lucas Books. Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC.