Star Wars: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller – Advance Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings writes an Advance Review of John Jackson Miller’s latest star wars novel, set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, entitled Kenobi – following, as one would expect, the adventures of Obi-Wan on Tatooine, published on August 27.
I’ve had the chance to read a lot of the more recently published Star Wars novels – but for the past few books that I’ve shared my thoughts on have felt, well – somewhat average. They’ve never really stood out from the pack, despite being entertaining books – they’ve often felt like your average blockbuster film. You’ll enjoy it – but there will be some inevitable problems that you can’t ignore. However, whilst I did have one problem with Kenobi, that one problem was all that I had – the rest of the book was really enjoyable and I’m pleased to say that it’s one of the best Star Wars novels that I’ve read in a while.
Tatooine—a harsh desert world where farmers toil in the heat of two suns while trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the marauding Tusken Raiders. A backwater planet on the edge of civilized space. And an unlikely place to find a Jedi Master in hiding, or an orphaned infant boy on whose tiny shoulders rests the future of a galaxy.
Known to locals only as “Ben,” the bearded and robed offworlder is an enigmatic stranger who keeps to himself, shares nothing of his past, and goes to great pains to remain an outsider. But as tensions escalate between the farmers and a tribe of Sand People led by a ruthless war chief, Ben finds himself drawn into the fight, endangering the very mission that brought him to Tatooine.
Ben—Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, hero of the Clone Wars, traitor to the Empire, and protector of the galaxy’s last hope—can no more turn his back on evil than he can reject his Jedi training. And when blood is unjustly spilled, innocent lives threatened, and a ruthless opponent unmasked, Ben has no choice but to call on the wisdom of the Jedi—and the formidable power of the Force—in his never-ending fight for justice.
The book itself feels like a western novel as opposed to a Star Wars one. Maybe because, despite its setting in a futuristic universe, the book itself takes place entirely on a desert planet. If you were looking for cameos of Darth Vadar and others that you’re familiar with from the original Star Wars trilogy, then you’re also going to be disappointed – as the attention is focused mainly on Obi-Wan and several other characters. The book itself delivers an excellent look into Obi-Wan, exploring his character and provides some great depth for him. There’s still some way to go for this Obi-Wan before he becomes the one that Luke meets in A New Hope. He’s still dealing with the consequences of Order 66 and his actions against Anakin on Mustafar, and I’ll be pleased to say that Miller handles this very well indeed. This book started life as a graphic novel, and like Darth Plageuis, another one of the best Star Wars novels recently, they’ve both undergone long periods of development to get to where they are today. Darth Plagueis was cancelled after it was announced, and then brought back again – and along with Kenobi, show that time and effort pays off a lot more than writing a book on a whim.
However, Kenobi is a very different book to Darth Plagueis. Exploring the middle period between Episodes III and IV, Kenobi not only gives a great insight into Obi-Wan as a character, but also the various culture of Tatooine. We see a greater exploration of what it’s like to live on a desert planet, and its setting allows for an interesting take on a Western Star Wars novel, with the overall premise being familiar to fans of the genre. Alongside Obi-Wan himself we get viewpoints from other major characters, who play a pretty big role in Kenobi’s life during this period as they’re shaped by his arrival. POV characters range from a shopkeeper to a Tusken Raider Warlord, and they’re all pretty much entertaining characters to read about – and you get the added unpredictability that comes from the fact that they’re new characters, even if you know that Obi-Wan will make it out in one piece, every other character is fair game.
The book itself however does suffer from one problem, and that it didn’t grip me in right at the start. Sure, once I was immersed in Kenobi I couldn’t put it down, but the book lacks the pull at the opening for me, as it’s a bit slow off the ground. However, I advise not putting it aside because of that – because once Kenobi kicks off, it really soars. The action, the characters – the setting and the tone are all engaging and I thoroughly enjoyed this standalone tale. This is the first John Jackson Miller novel that I’ve read, and if Kenobi is anything to go by, then you can count me in for Knight Errant and any other titles that Miller has written for certain.
This is one book you won’t want to miss out on if you’re a fan of Star Wars, and a welcoming return to form for the franchise when it comes to tie-in novels, especially when you consider the upcoming Razor’s Edge novel by Martha Wells, which I’ve also read (review coming later) through NetGalley like this title, is enjoyable as well. Count me in for any more books by John Jackson Miller in the future, and I hope he returns to the Star Wars setting soon.
PREVIOUS STAR WARS NOVEL: Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno | NEXT STAR WARS NOVEL: Jedi Twilight by Michael Reaves (Coruscant Nights #1)