For the first time, a canon Star Wars tie-in novel has been released and it is a beautiful thing. The inaugural canon Star Wars book effort, A New Dawn, was penned by John Jackson Miller, who wrote Kenobi and a small handful of other Star Wars books now branded as Legends.
For the first time in years, reading a Star Wars book is not an effort of trying to place characters in the context of a myriad of events set forth in dozens of other books. It is not an effort of trying to figure out who is who, and how they are all connected to each other. This book takes the Star Wars universe as essentially a blank slate, outside of the events we know from the films, and moves forward with completely new characters.
Reading this book is like reading Shadows of the Empire, or Heir to the Empire, or Star by Star. It is good, old-fashion fun, featuring twists and turns, set in a universe that is familiar to some. This book opens up to doors to new readers while inviting readers of the former Expanded Universe to take a seat and engage. A New Dawn is a new chapter in the Star Wars universe, a chapter guided by a unified Storytelling Group that is dedicated to the quality of the texts, a group that is passionate about telling all of the right stories and having them line up.
A New Dawn introduces two characters we will be seeing in the new fall TV show, Rebels. Kanan Jarrus was training to be a Jedi when Order 66 was executed. Forced into a life of fear and hiding, he has gotten by with odd jobs and watched the Empire spread across the galaxy. Hera Syndulla is a Twi’Lek that seems to be at the heart of the rebellion. Their coincidental meeting on the planet of Gorse happens at the same time an Imperial consultant arrives on-planet to determine the efficacy of thorilide mining operations. Thorilide is essential for a large number of parts that go into Star Destroyers, which the empire is trying to churn out as fast as they can. More thorilide, more Star Destroyers. Kanan and Hera join forces with a small handful of locals in an effort to overthrow a plot.
The spirit of Star Wars is alive in this book. Filled with action, self-questioning about identity and the full range of Star Wars mythos, this might be one of the best Star Wars books in the last decade. Let us hope the next few books are just as good!