Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Maya Kaathryn Bonhoff & Michael Reaves – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

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Bane of Kings reviews Star Wars: The Last  Jedi, a standalone tale written by both Maya Kaathryn Bonhoff and Michael Reaves, published by Lucas Books. 

“Another strong collaboration between Bonhoff and Reaves, but ultimately, The Last Jedi doesn’t quite get everything right. ~Bane of Kings,  The Founding Fields

The Emperor’s ruthless Order 66 has all but exterminated the Jedi. The few remaining who still wield the Force for good have been driven into exile or hiding. But not Jax Pavan, who’s been steadily striking blows against the Empire—as a lone guerrilla fighter and a valued partner of Whiplash, a secret Coruscant-based resistance group. Now he’s taking on his most critical mission: transporting a valued Whiplash leader, targeted for assassination, from Coruscant to safety on a distant world. It’s a risky move under any circumstances, but Jax and his trusted crew aboard the Far Ranger, including the irrepressible droid I-Five, are prepared to pit their combat skills and their vessel’s firepower against all Imperial threats—except the one Jax fears most. Reports have raced across the galaxy that the dark lord of the Sith has fallen in a duel to the death with a Rebel freedom fighter. But Jax discovers the chilling truth when he reaches out with the Force . . . only to touch the dark, unmistakable, and malignantly alive presence that is Darth Vader. And Jax knows that Vader will stop at nothing until the last Jedi has fallen.

I don’t normally talk about cover arts when writing a review, but holy crap – The Last Jedi has a great one. It’s got an awesome cover of the main protagonist, Jax – standing in front of a menacing Darth Vader, who is one of my favourite villains ever. The moment that I saw that cover, I knew I had to request this book from NetGalley and my choice of requesting was further reinforced by my enjoyment of the other collaboration by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bonhoff – Shadow Games. As the last Star Wars book that I read was Darth Plageuis, I wanted to read something from the Jedi’s perspective and Reaves and Bonhoff did not disappoint, creating an enthralling tale set in the aftermath of Order 66, the betrayal of the Clones and the revelation of Palpatine as Darth Sidious in a move that changed the very foundations of the Republic to its core.

the-last-jediApparently, The Last Jedi is the fourth book in the Coruscant Nights series, all written by Michael Reaves – but I had no problem reading this book as a standalone which is what it is billed as – for on the cover and blurb there is no references to the fact that this book is a tie in to that particular series. So if you’re looking for another Star Wars tale which puts the underdogs against an Evil Empire then look no further than The Last Jedi. Bonhoff and Reaves have experience of writing in the Universe and it’s a real joy to read their writing – whilst this is no Shakespeare, it doesn’t pretend to be. And neither does it need to be. If you want a fun, fast-paced, high-stakes read then look no further – The Last Jedi is your book. But it does suffer from a few key problems.

First of all, as is the case with Star Wars books featuring main characters such as Darth Vader, you know the character is not going to be killed off and therefore the book is rendered predictable.  But what will happen to Jax? How close will he get? It’s almost like watching Valkyrie, the Tom Cruise film featuring an attempt on the life of Hitler by renegade German Army Officials, because you know they’re not going to succeed  Whilst the threat to the good guys is there and the villain doesn’t have to be established, this is a flaw in the book and I really wish Reaves and Bonhoff had played with a different concept instead and created a more unpredictable outcome. But The Last Jedi, whilst its title may be misleading (we know that Obi-Wan is lurking in Tatooine around the time of this book), should not be dismissed because of its predictability.

Another thing that I didn’t really enjoy that much in The Last Jedi was the fact that Jax seemed a bit too similar to a Mary-Sue for my liking, although I would probably think less of this if I had read Coruscant Nights. Because he seems to make the connection between Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader a little too easily for my liking, even with the backstory that he was friends with Anakin at one point in their career as a Jedi. You’d thought that this would have been mentioned in the films if Jax was an important character in Anakin’s life like The Last Jedi makes him out to be, but Reaves and Bonhoff have created an addition to character’s story in an attempt to make the betrayal seem even more personal. It just didn’t work for me, but apart from that I found Jax’s character bearable as a whole even if he isn’t the most memorable one in the Star Wars Universe. The rest of the characters are even less memorable than Jax, I-Five being the only other that I can remember – as I feel that the book spends too much time taking the reader on a tour of different planets in a book that is clearly plot driven, to explore the characters more.

But this review is probably making me sound like I disliked the book. In fact, I actually enjoyed it – it was a Star Wars novel and I’ve never read a bad one yet (although my read count is few), and whenever I read a book set in this Universe I always feel like I’m having fun. The Last Jedi has some great action scenes, an awesome cover art and some very nice lightsaber battles indeed, and I believe that Reaves and Bonhoff have produced a strong, but flawed book here – hence why I am going to give it a balanced verdict of three stars.

VERDICT: 3/5

Action packed, well written, fun and page-turning, The Last Jedi is let down by its plot-driven storyline and a Mary-Sue lead character. The Last Jedi also boasts an awesome cover.

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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