Del Rey released a 2014 Star Wars Sampler digitally, and it includes excerpts from the first 4 upcoming canon novels, A New Dawn, Tarkin, Heir to the Jedi, and Lords of the Sith. Check out my thoughts on the excerpts below.
A New Dawn (September 2nd, 2014) is my most anticipated of the upcoming novels so far announced, so I was really looking forward to this excerpt and it didn’t disappoint. First off, there’s some diversity with a dark-skinned female Captain Rae Sloane and then an intriguing villain in the cyborg Count Vidian. Notice how I didn’t call Sloane a villain, as she’s more interested in job advancement and not sticking her neck out, and not inherently evil. John Jackson Miller has a strong track record of well-written, three dimensional characters, most recently showing off the skill in last year’s Kenobi novel with a non-super weapon, non-Force wielding, non-maniac ‘villain.’ While Vidian is a cyborg and does have a lot of interesting enhancements, his only super weapon is his analytic brain. The Hera section was the shortest, but her mission involves studying Vidian’s methods and there were a few moments where she sounded a tad like the Cham POV parts in Lords of the Sith. The more I read about her and see of her, the more excited I get for her character.
Tarkin (November 4th, 2014) was easily the one I was least excited for, but after the excerpt I’m actually looking forward to it. While Luceno strikes again with his detailed details, he hits the Tarkin character rather well, and I could hear Tarkin’s voice when he was speaking in the novel. Plus, the situation we were dropped into, an attack on a base Tarkin is running, was full of intrigue and set up an interesting mystery that Tarkin seems to know more about than he’s letting on with his subordinates. While Luceno did a great job covering a large swath of time and material with the Legends novel Darth Plagueis, it’s still unclear on how much of Tarkin’s life this novel will cover. In the end, my expectations have certainly changed for the better regarding Tarkin.
Heir to the Jedi’s (February 17th, 2015) excerpt has left me uncertain about the novel, but cautiously optimistic. First-person is a tricky POV for a traditional novel, whereas books like Fight Club by Chuck Palaniuk have a distorted style and voice that fit first-person much easier. The previous Star Wars novel to be first-person was Legends’ I, Jedi by Michael Stackpole and featured Corran Horn as the POV character. I didn’t mind the first-person when I was 10, but now it’s a harder pill to swallow with the whin-ish nature of Luke’s more naive inner monologue. But Corran’s search for his Jedi heritage mirrors some of what Luke starts off with in the beginning of the sample from HttJ and that bit gave me the most hope. And while there are lots of corny/cheesy movie references (power converters are quite the attraction on Tatooine), the Luke on display in the novel fits pretty well with where he’d be around that time period of his life. I’ve been so used to him as a more confident and centered Jedi in all the years of Legend novels, so it was hard initially to see him as the more naïve but maturing young man. Also, HttJ proves that Luke’s way with women is still canon.
Lords of the Sith (April 21st, 2015) had a pretty awesome Vader moment and a great reveal for who its The Clone Wars character was, and it left me excited for the novel. Paul S. Kemp doesn’t agree with everyone, but I’ve enjoyed some of his bombastic material before and liked what I saw for LotS. His Vader might not be as well written as Matthew Stover, but Kemp definitely gives him some impressive moments that look to try to rival The Force Unleashed. I had been expecting LotS’ TCW character to be a Force-user (like say Ahsoka or Ventress) so I was caught off guard on it being Cham Syndulla. If there was any doubt Hera of Star Wars Rebels and A New Dawn fame is his daughter, it’d be hard to prove otherwise after this (well, there is a good theory that he’s her uncle or other relation). His rebellious work mirrors, at least somewhat, Hera’s later actions, seeing as this novel takes place prior to Rebels or A New Dawn. It makes me wonder: could she be crying over the dead body of her father and vowing to take over his place by the end of LotS? Only time will tell but Lords of the Sith looks like it could be a solid read. UPDATE 2/23/15: It’s official, Cham is Hera’s father.
If you haven’t check out the sampler, do so now! And if you have, what did you think of the excerpts? Tell us in the comments below.
Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth.
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