Since the latter books in my read-a-thon are all standalone novels, as opposed to parts of a trilogy, I’ve decided to review them one at a time as I read them. John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi takes place immediately after the events of Revenge of the Sith, the third installment in the prequel trilogy. Obi-wan Kenobi has been tasked with secreting away the two Skywalker children, Luke and Leia, for their protection from the newly establish Empire. Specifically, it’s Luke he’s meant to be looking after, and he installs himself on Tattooine indefinitely to do just that. However, remaining an anonymous hermit is not as easy as he would have hoped, and he soon finds himself entangled in the lives of the locals.

 

As a matter of fact, while Obi-wan Kenobi is heavily featured in this book–we get to hear his daily meditations and learn how he chose the name “Ben” as an alternate identity–this isn’t really his story. It’s the story of Annileen Calwell and her struggle to keep her family business afloat amidst threats from the Tusken Raiders and the daily grind of economics and customer demand. She runs a combination supply shop, restaurant, and local haunt of all the rowdy–but intensely loyal–inhabitants of one of the more sparsely populated fiefdoms on the planet. But it’s a place to call home, and there’s a real sense of community. The most interesting part of Annileen’s story isn’t just what a strong-willed, natural leader she is, but the opportunity to see what daily life on Tattooine is like.

It’s also the story of A’Yark, leader of the closest Tusken tribe, who is on an personal journey as well. One of my favorite elements in Kenobi is the way it delves into the mythology and traditions of the Tuskens, who up until now had been a background feature of the Star Wars universe–at least for me. After getting used to a particular type of creature as little more than a bloodthirsty monster, it’s refreshing to see them portrayed so differently, with motivations, goals and backstories of their own. Granted, they are somewhat sympathetic in Attack of the Clones when Anakin Skywalker attacks them, but even that was motivated by them taking his mother first. This novel suggests that the Tuskens aren’t as single-minded as that–a much more complicated race than one might otherwise imagine.

As you can probably guess, these two storylines start to intersect. At first it’s just because the two cultures are at war, but it turns out the Tuskens and the Calwells have more in common than they ever would have suspected, and can even learn from each other if they put down their weapons for a while.

Kenobi is one of the Legacy books that is no longer considered part of the official Star Wars canon, but it’s a fun read regardless. Fast-paced, imaginative, and packed with new characters that I instantly loved. This is my favorite book so far, and I look forward to seeing more of Miller’s writing in the future.

Next time: Darth Plagueis, by James Luceno

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2 thoughts on “Star Wars Read-A-Thon: Kenobi

  1. Kenobi is such a good read and one part of the Legends (the old Expanded Universe) that I hope Disney mines from in the future. I thought that John Jackson Miller achieved the goal of creating a solid Star Wars stand-alone in the Western style.

    Obi Wan is that lone wanderer archetype (a la Clint Eastwood in the Man with No Name Trilogy), while the Annileen and the townsfolk are the basic Wild West settlers. Most interesting is the juxtaposition of the Tuskens with Native Americans. This translation greatly increased my enjoyment of the novel.

    As for the portrayal of Kenobi as the titular character, I found that Miller hit all of the right notes. This is a man that has lost everything he ever held dear and is forced to live a life that is so far removed from his past that it is tragic. He seeks guidance from a long gone mentor and feels that subjecting himself to another series of relationships with other people will only endanger them. His journey is really remarkable.

    I would highly recommend the audio book for Kenobi (as well as for Darth Plagueis). They capture the scope and cinematic feel of the Star Wars universe in a really impressive manner. Great review Laurel.

    1. I’m starting realize–from things like Firefly and this book–that I love space “westerns.” That might be my favorite ridiculously narrow sci-fi sub-genre. Also, when I started rewatching the movies again, I decided Obiwan is basically the perfect Jedi, and I stand by that. Best Jedi Ever, and Jackson gets that across perfectly without making it seem overdone or like he’s not a real, human character. I loved Kenobi. One of the things I appreciate about the prequel trilogy now is how much more we get to see of him onscreen.

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