Canon Young Reader Review: Forces of Destiny: Daring Adventures (Volume 1)

Rey and BB-8 take on the dangers of Jakku; Sabine learns what it means to be a friend to a strong-willed acquaintance; and Ahsoka learns how far a simple act of kindness can go in the first volume of Forces of Destiny: Daring Adventures!

August 1st saw the launch of a wealth of Forces of Destiny tie-in material. While the cartoon shorts aired on YouTube at the beginning of July, we wouldn’t see the dolls themselves for another month. But the wait was well worth it: other than the dolls, Hasbro also launched role play material, including lightsabers and Rey’s Staff, and Disney Press released the first volume of the Daring Adventures. There is also a Level 2 reading book introducing children to the heroes of the series.  This focus on multi-media events, aimed ostensibly at younger girls, is very encouraging as we look forward to greater diversity and inclusiveness in Star Wars.

The first two volumes of Daring Adventures focus on three heroes. The first volume focuses on Sabine, Padme, and Rey. The second will focus on Jyn, Leia, and Ahsoka. The third volume, coming in January, looks to focus solely on Leia. In the meantime, we can look forward to a second round of episodes in a few weeks.

The book is framed as a discussion between you, the reader, and Maz on Takodana. Maz, the ultimate storyteller, sits at a fire while refreshing her tea. She introduces the stories, giving a moral lesson to glean from each of her anecdotes. These reminded me a lot of the vignettes that introduced each episode of The Clone Wars. I thought this was a clever way to group these stories rather than just throwing them together.

Her first example follows Rey on Jakku. The first six chapters was a simple retelling of the first two episodes of the cartoon, Sands of Jakku and BB-8 Bandits. The nice part about the book is that it frames the stories within The Force Awakens a bit more than the shorts did. Starting the story earlier than the episode began helped frame the clash with the creature more and help make it feel more involved in the plot of the film. Not only did it add to Rey’s currently sparse adventures, but it also gave us a deeper look into her compassion for everyone. Rey is hurt, but out of that hurt she loves. I loved the short, but I felt even more charmed by Rey in the written version.

Maz’s next tale, despite the misleading picture showing Sabine on Yavin, focuses on Sabine while the rebels are are stationed on Garel, showing an early, but massively important, meeting between Ketsu Onyo and Sabine. This short will premiere in October, according to Florian of Jedi-Bibliothek, so the book provides a sneak preview of the next round, presumably. This middle section focuses on Sabine as she is on a mission to take food from the Imperials stationed in Garel City. Ketsu really hasn’t had time to shine in Rebels, yet, so it was about time she made a cross-media appearance. Her first appearance episode, Blood Sisters, was resolved too hastily. Onyo’s dismissal of the growing Rebellion was tossed aside in the 22 minute episode. It was almost a shock to see her fly with the rebels later in the season. Featuring her here, between these two episodes, helps solidify Onyo’s place in the nascent Rebellion and elucidating a bit more of her motivations.

The few chapters devoted to Sabine actually do a great job of filling in the gaps between Ketsu’s onscreen appearances in Rebels. To combat what may be seen as a dearth of material looking into Ketsu’s motivations for joining the Rebellion, this story gives her almost as much “screen”-time as Sabine gets! I think this is a great use of limited space. I love how everything really, truly matters in the canon now.

Maz’s final tale is based on the short The Imposter, which reunited TCW veterans Cat Taber and Ashley Eckstein. A lot of the fun in the short was hearing the reunion between the voice actresses, which is obviously absent here, but there is enough to make it worth checking out. Though the story claims to focus on Ahsoka, it is really Padme who learns a lesson here about friendship. The first chapter frames the short, adding a bit of context to the dinner with the Arthurians. Padme seeks out Ahsoka’s help in making sure her meeting with Arthurian delegates goes well. Unfortunately, for us adults, the book does not delve much deeper into what this meeting would have been about. But, being a children’s book, we shouldn’t expect more than what we saw in the short: how much would children really be interested in? As we know, Cato Parisitti crashes the negotiations, hoping to make quick work of the Senator.

I liked the written version of this short a lot more. It offered a lot of insights on Padme, fleshing out a lot of her relationships. She can’t help but see Anakin in Ahsoka’s defensive moves. But I loved seeing Padme seek out Ahsoka in the Temple. Their friendship was a great part of the animated series, so I was happy we got another adventure for the both of them. Padme is sensitive toward Ahsoka’s discomfort around Senators (a theme we saw especially in The Clone Wars episodes like “Heroes on Both Sides”) and her discomfort in the world of material wealth. I loved being reminded that, even though we’ve mostly only seen Jedi as warriors, they were ambassadors and peace keepers at one time. This really gave a lot of characterization to Ahsoka without feeling heavy handed or uninteresting, even to children.

While the book has younger readers in mind, that does not mean the prose suffers. It is still well written, moving at a quick pace. I ended up finishing it in one sitting, maybe 45 minutes as I took some notes. This may make the $6 cover price off-putting, but if you have younger readers, this would be such a fun collection to read together. I really enjoyed the book and am excited for the next two volumes. I would be happy to buy these books to support an effort like this anyway, but I am pleased to see that the books were enjoyable on their own right anyway.

Chris is the Sous Chef at the Mynock Manor. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisWerms, and of course, follow the Manor @MynockManor.

Legendary Adventures:
“Lost Tribe of the Sith” | “Revan” | “Deceived”  | “Scourge”  | “Red Harvest”Fatal Alliance | Annihilation 

Canon Novel Reviews:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Star Wars Young Reader Reviews:
Adventures in Wild Space: The Escape (Prelude)
So You Want to be a Jedi? 
Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
Poe Dameron: Flight Log
Rebel Dossier
Princess Leia: Royal Rebel (Backstories)
Darth Vader: Sith Lord (Backstories)
The Force Awakens: Finn’s Story

Star Wars Comic Book Reviews:
Darth Vader: The Shu-Torun War
The Force Awakens 1-2

LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Reviews:
“A Hero Discovered” 1×01 | “The Mines of Gabralla” 1×02 | “Zander’s Joyride” 1×03 | “The Lost Treasure of Cloud City” 1×04 | “Peril on Kashyyyk” 1×05 | “Crossing Paths” 1×06 

Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide