Author: John Jackson Miller
Published By: Del Rey Books
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Thanks to George Lucas and his Star Wars prequels, we all now know how Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa came into existence, how Luke arrived on Tatooine and was placed in the care of Owen and Beru Lars and how a Jedi known as Obi-Wan Kenobi just happened to be on the planet when Luke came into possession of an astromech droid with a message from an old friend. But what happened to all the time between? What happened to Obi-Wan once he dropped off his charge with the Lars Family? John Jackson Miller aims to clue us in with his new novel Star Wars: Kenobi.
In the last scenes in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, we see Obi-Wan Kenobi bringing Anakin and Padme’s son to Tatooine, placing him in the care of Owen and Beru Lars. Star Wars: Kenobi begins just before that moment, starting off with Obi-Wan’s eventful arrival on the planet. For someone in hiding, Obi-Wan seems to attract a great deal of attention to him wherever he goes. That’s an underlying theme in this novel and probably a good reason for Owen Lars to want Luke to stay away from that crazy old hermit.
Fast forward a couple of months and we find Obi-Wan trying his best to keep a low profile, taking shelter in an old abandoned hovel of a home out in the Jundland Wastes. Obi-Wan is resourceful, but even a Jedi needs supplies now and then. After once again drawing attention to himself by rescuing a teenage girl and her mother from certain disaster, Obi-Wan finds himself invited to gather supplies at their local store. Realizing that The Oasis is a lot easier for a former Jedi and his eopie ride to get to and a lot less distant than the city of Anchorhead, Obi-Wan decides to take them up on their offer. After all, Annileen Calwell is an unsurmising, hardworking, welcoming woman with two teenagers to care for. What danger could there be in collecting supplies from her store?
Posing as “Ben” to the locals at The Oasis, Obi-Wan seeks out the supplies he will need for his meager existence in Tatooine while keeping an eye on Luke at the Lars Homestead. Unfortunately, tales of his heroics have been circulated by Kallie Calwell, attracting the attention of Orrin Gault, moisture farmer, investor and leader of the Settler’s Call, a militia made up of local merchants and moisture farmers who protect other members from Tusken Raider attacks. At first, Obi-Wan toys with the idea of hiring the Settler’s Call to protect the Lars Homestead, but as time passes, Obi-Wan believes that there is something about the Settler’s Call that Gault isn’t being completely honest about the Call’s abilities or their modus operandi.
To make matters worse, Obi-Wan’s recent adventures have not only attracted the attention of the settlers at The Oasis, but of the settlers that existed long before The Oasis ever came to be. That’s right, settling in the Jundland Wastes is not something that would go unnoticed by the Tusken Raiders, but moreover, Obi-Wan’s “abilities” have not gone unnoticed either. To one band of Raiders in particular, these abilities can spell danger to the tribe…or can perhaps be the mark of a new savior arriving to bring the Tusken Raiders back to a time when their greatness was respected and their warrior skills were unparalleled.
Obi-Wan Kenobi can’t seem to stay out of the limelight for very long, even on a backwater planet like Tatooine. What’s a former Jedi to do when everyone seems to want a piece of him and all be wants to do is lay low and meditate while keeping his charge safe from afar?
Star wars: Kenobi is meant to fill in the gaps between the prequels and the original trilogy by presenting us with the tale of one of its major characters. Sometimes these fill-in-the-gap tales don’t work out so well, but Kenobi is a credible exception. John Jackson Miller has perfectly captured the proud, yet humble Jedi forced to go into hiding while keeping a promise to keep the son of Anakin Skywalker safe.
I’ve always wanted to know more about Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi, particularly his feelings after the disastrous moments when he was forced to face and battle his former padawan and friend, Anakin Skywalker. Through Obi-Wan’s meditations in which he speaks to his former master Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan expresses his guilt at what happened to Anakin, his anguish at not being able to stop him from turning to the Dark Side, his pain at having to strike him down as an enemy, his indecision as to how to protect Luke Skywalker and more, thus giving the reader a unique insight into the mind of Obi-Wan Kenobi after the events of Revenge of the Sith.
Tatooine is a desert planet and just begs the story to be told in old western format. So, that’s just what Miller does. We have a damsel in distress rescued by a mysterious drifter. That drifter causes the damsel’s trusty “partner” to become jealous and suspicious. One can see the Tusken Raiders as a Native American tribe, looking on the moisture farmers and merchants as settlers on their sacred land…settlers to be turned away at all costs. George Lucas has always said that he based a lot of Star Wars on westerns he had watched as a kid. Miller takes that tidbit of information and runs with it in this novel.
Star Wars: Kenobi was a well-written fast read with plenty of action and adventure and a bit of mystery to boot. There is a lot of soul-searching by the main characters, something I like as it gives the reader a bit more perspective as to the character’s behavior and interaction with others. I’ve found that John Jackson Miller has a good handle on what it means to write a Star Wars Expanded Universe novel and Star Wars: Kenobi is no exception. Kudos on a job well done!