Star Wars: Guardians of the Whills – Greg Rucka

The week is here! In a mere two days Star Wars: The Last Jedi will finally be released in theaters across the world. So, to celebrate I’m posting my review of the final “Rogue One” novel; Guardians of Whills.

This novel focuses on the characters of Chirrut and Baze, two characters that I found particularly interesting from the film, Rogue One. As a result, I had really high hopes for this novel. Sadly, of the three Rogue One tie-ins, this novel was my least favorite. But that being said, it’s still a decent read overall- just not as good as Catalyst or Rebel Rising. Of all the “young readers” releases, this book is one of the few actually seems to feel aimed towards a younger audience. This, in itself, is not a bad thing. But, I suppose I just expected to see these characters in a bit of a grittier setting and situation. To me, they seem better suited for a slightly more mature novel.

The book itself is a quick read. It also does a pretty decent job of providing a little backstory to the world of Jedha as well as providing some interesting info into the Church of the Force. But again, I feel there is so much more content to be explored here that was left untouched. It’s a shame and I really hope that we see some more detail in the future regarding “The Whills” and just what role the Force plays outside of the Jedi and Sith. Who knows, maybe we’ll get some of our answers in a few days.

It’s difficult to provide any more details on this book without running the risk of spoiling plot points, so I’ll end the review here.

Story: Interesting. But there is so much untapped potential around these characters that remains largely ignored.

Recommended:  For hardcore fans and young children.

Star Wars: Rebel Rising – Beth Revis

December is here! And at the time of this writing, the new Star Wars movie is only two weeks away! My current goal is to get all caught up on “pre-Last Jedi” novels in time for the new film. That leaves me with two books to review between now and then. One of those books is this one, Rebel Rising.

To date, there’s been three main novels that tie-in directly to Rogue One. Catalyst, which I’ve already reviewed on this site, serves as a prequel.  Guardians of the Whills. (A novel I will be discussing next week). And finally, this book, Rebel Rising. This novel tells the backstory of Jyn Erso, the lead character from Rogue One.

I found this book to be much more interesting than I initially anticipated. It follow’s Jyn’s life from the moment she is rescued by Saw Gerrara to the very instant she is joins the Rebel Alliance. The author does a fantastic job of letting us peek into Jyn’s mind and thereby helping us better understand her character. In the film, Jyn’s persona appears very conflicted and complicated. In some ways, her motives felt contradictory. I had always suspected this was simply the result of the rumored last-minute script change and reshoots in Rogue One, and perhaps it is. But even if that’s the case, this book does a marvelous job of reconciling that, and really brings a level of depth to her character that, in my opinion, was badly needed.

Despite being marketed as a young-adult novel, I found this book to feel more like a piece of adult fiction. It’s very well written, and even touches on some very complex themes. So, if you’re concerned about the maturity level of this novel, don’t let that inhibit you. Rebel Rising is a welcome addition to the Star Wars canon.

Story: Masterfully written, informative, and it helps improve upon one of the series newest characters. Very well done.

Recommended:  For all Star Wars fans, but especially those partial to Rogue One.

Star Wars: Catalyst – A Rogue One Novel – James Luceno

catalyst_a_rogue_one_novel

Rogue One is almost here! The first “sidestory” film in the Star Wars franchise hits theaters Thursday/Friday nationwide. This film will finally tell the official story of how the Rebel Alliance obtained the plans for the Death Star. Now, if you’re a long time Star Wars fan, you probably know that this story has been told several times before in various Expanded Universe stories. But of course, all of that is out the window now. As Yoda once said, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” This is now the official account of events. So… just forget anything you may have heard about “Kyle Katarn”.

Before talking about this book, we first need to briefly discuss a few details about the upcoming film. Nothing spoilerish… but certain details made clear by the official trailers will be discussed below.

The Rogue One film focuses on a character named Jyn Erso, who is recruited by the Rebel Alliance to help uncover the details of a new weapon that is being developed by the Empire. She was selected because the Rebels have learned that the developer of the weapon is none other than her father, the brilliant scientist, Galen Erso. The trailer indicates a perilous mission will be undertaken by Jyn and a group of rebels to uncover and retrieve the details behind the new Empire’s new battle station. We also know from the trailer that the Death Star project is being overseen by an Imperial officer by the name of Orson Krennic.  But little of his story is revealed in the trailers themselves.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding the release of Rogue One. So, to go along with the new film, we naturally have a prequel book: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel.

All I knew going into this book was that it was going to set up the events leading up the story told in Rogue One, but I had no idea just what that entail. Well, this book starts off by introducing the character of Galen Erso. In fact, the book mainly focuses on this character. It starts during the events of the Clone Wars  and extends several years into the reign of the Empire. In this novel, we learn who Galen is – his philosophies and loyalties. It is immediately clear that Galen is a good man. Not someone we would expect developing weapons for the Empire.

The book also pays a lot of attention to the character of Orson Krennic. It provides background into this character; his rise to power within the ranks of the Empire as well as his friendship to Galen. Fans wondering how someone as good-natured as Galen might end up contributing to a weapon as horrific as the Death Star will be able to see exactly how this scenario is played out. The relationship between Krennic and Galen provides quite a bit of insight here. I’m curious to see how much of this will be seen on the screen.

Having read this book, I certainly feel that I already know quite a bit about some of the characters we are going to see in Rogue One. But, it’s obvious that there’s plenty more going to be introduced in the film that’s not covered here. I suspect that fans who read this book will certainly benefit from the background information, but I do not feel that is required reading for the upcoming movie.

All in all, I found the contents of this novel to provide a lot of interesting detail, but to be overall a bit dry and slow-paced from time to time. Fans clamoring to connect the dots between clues seen in the prequel trilogy and the original film will be pleased.

Story: Detailed and interesting. But as mentioned above, a little slow a times. Keep in mind his novel is intended to provide backstory and set up for events in an upcoming movie. Despite being a prequel, it may very well end up being a better read once you’ve viewed the actual film. We shall see.

Recommended:  For older, legacy fans of Star Wars – or Rogue One specific followers.