It has been ages since I have dived into the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and in the time that I have earned my bachelors and masters degrees, the chronology of the EU has expanded significantly, fleshing out the little bits and pieces of Luke, Leia and Han’s timeline that have not previously been addressed, moving forward with each of their childen and watching the regrowth of the Jedi Order. Likewise, the Clone Wars – an untouched subject last time I read any EU – is now filled with graphic novels, young adult books and full-novels, not to mention eBooks and a Cartoon Network Television show.
With all this timeline, it seems like there is so much to understand about before and after and questions like, do I read in chronological order, or order of publication? Which works are actually worth my time, and which add no value to this universe for me?
When I saw Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void by Tim Lebbon on the shelf at the library and realized it was essentially a stand-alone novel, set over 35,000 years before we meet Luke Skywalker in A New Hope, I realized this was the book for me.
The book ties into a current comic book series under the Dawn of the Jedi label, which I have placed on hold at the library and look forward to reading. It takes place in a time when Jedi are known as Je’daii, when lightsabers are not in common use, and when travel beyond the starsystem is unthinkable, when users of The Force are largely from families – whom they stay in contact with. There is no light side and dark side – Je’daii are expected to balance the good and the evil within themselves to be the best they can be.
The story revolves around one Lanoree Brock, an experienced Je’daii ranger, who ends up traveling with a three-tailed Twi’lek troublemaker whom she does not seem to trust further than she can throw. Their mission? To prevent Dalien Brock, Lanoree’s brother, from unleashing a destructive force on the system.
Lebbon’s cinematic writing pace is a bit slower than many of the Star Wars EU books I have read in the past, but allows us to pan around an unfamiliar environment, to truly understand what is happening, and where we are. While much of the setting is familiar, it is 35,000 years before.
In flashbacks, we see Lanoree’s journey to become a Je’daii – she is, essentially, this millenia’s Padawan Learner – with her younger brother. Lanoree’s internal struggle in these flashback sequences mirrors that of her internal struggle during the main action of the book – her conscious evolution of self, the development of an internal capability to balance good and bad. She battles how her arcane force talent could be perceived, which reveals her utter humanity.
While there is no further work scheduled in this series of novels, I will definitely be checking out the comic books to further delve into this setting in the Star Wars universe, and have a deeper understanding of the timeline.