Here you will find four mini reviews on the new Star Wars books that came out a few weeks after The Force Awakens entitled, Before The Awakening. These are part of the NEW official expanded universe. Of course our interests were peaked! Space Dragon contributor Matt Pellegrino was the first to dive in and give us a look into some light Star Wars reading.
THE WEAPON OF THE JEDI
Addressing my biggest concern with the last Luke outing, that being the length of the novel, The Weapon of a Jedi is a short novel about Luke discovering a ruined Jedi temple and learning how to use a lightsaber between ANH and ESB. At times dull and tedious due to long descriptions of lightsaber combat, the book still gives insight into Luke’s transformation from an impulsive farm boy to a focused, contemplative Jedi Knight. With a unique, but shallow villain and a heartwarming and heart-rending girl and her father as supporting cast members, this book is worth a look for Luke fans. Casual fans can safely skip this novel.
BEFORE THE AWAKENING
This set of three short tales takes place appropriately just before The Force Awakens. Delving into the daily lives of Finn, Rey, and Poe, the former two offer some explanations for their motivations in TFA, as well as some of their skills, while the later gives a broad overview of his career as well as the state of the galaxy.
Both Finn and Rey’s stories suffer from meandering plots, both of which have unsatisfying endings, although the explanations for Rey’s piloting skills, Finn’s doubt in the First Order, and TR-8R/FN-2199’s relationship with Finn were appreciated. Poe’s story, in contrast, is excellent with a couple of nerve wracking dogfights with real stakes, a sorely needed explanation of the state of affairs between the New Republic, the First Order, and the Resistance, and a surprise appearance from a major character.
Poe’s story alone is worth the price of the book, but Rey and Finn’s stories also offer valuable insights into their characters for TFA fans that are hungry for more on these characters.
Smuggler’s Run is a short novel about Han and Chewie on a mission to save an important Rebel on the run days after the events of ANH. Han and Chewie are spot on, characterization wise, the villain is unique and menacing, while the supporting characters vary from a fun bar owner with a unique gimmick to the mostly stock Rebel mark. With a tense ending, adventurous tone, and characters such as the villainous Commander Alecia Beck and Rebel Major Emmat almost certainly being recurring characters, this one is worth reading for any fan of a fun, adventurous Star Wars story.
Set just after the events of The Empire Strikes Back, Princess Leia volunteers for a dangerous mission to act as a decoy for the gathering Rebel fleet. With death-defying feats both on mountaintops and in space, an eclectic cast of supporting characters, a fantastic characterization of Leia as a leader and survivor, and a cheer-inducing ending, this one is a must for Leia fans and worth checking out for casual fans looking for a short, but gripping tale in the Galaxy, Far, Far Away.
Book series reviewed by Space Dragon contributor Matt Pellegrino