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Monday, 2 March 2015

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'HEIR TO THE JEDI'


STAR WARS: HEIR TO THE JEDI

by Kevin Hearne

Out now in UK hardback from CENTURY PUBLISHING


Reviewed by Scott Weller


Before J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan cinematically unleash a different, harder edged and more powerful Luke Skywalker than we've ever seen before this coming December with The Force Awakens, STAR WARS fans get a welcome opportunity to return to a more innocent time for the character when he was still a raw, occasionally fallible, fledgling member of the Rebel Alliance, scoring his first incredible hope-rousing victory for them, and for Princess Leia, by destroying the dreaded Death Star battle station. Kevin Hearne's eagerly awaited book, unfolding early on from these incredible events, Heir to the Jedi, originally once part of the EMPIRE AND REBELLION trilogy before instead becoming a solo vehicle made officially canon by the LUCASFILM Story Group, intriguingly puts our young hero from Tatooine front and centre of the action via a unique and well sustained first-person narrative- a first in STAR WARS Classic Trilogy book history post prequels. Overall, what follows within that structure is a brisk and entertaining read, if hardly classic, benefiting from showing us the youngster's continued efforts to understand his role as a Jedi-to-be, wanting to master its unique and spanning powers but proving a vulnerable widow to it nonetheless, especially now that he's without the guiding help of his great friend and father-figure- the recently departed into the ether Obi-Wan Kenobi, with whom he has had no more in-thought communication since the Battle of Yavin. In a case of small steps leading to bigger things, alongside lots of trial and error in his abilities (an encounter with a Rodian leads to a fun referencing to Qui-Gon and Watoo from EPISODE ONE), Luke is thankfully not without support for too long, primarily via the enthusiastic encouragement and friendship of a new rebel sympathiser, Nakari- daughter to a wealthy bioengineering magnate, pilot/custodian to a top-of-the-line starship, and talented markswoman in her own right, whom, being roughly around Luke's age, reveals a lively and instinctual personality that he can instantly relate to- the makings of their good teaming, along with the ever trusty Artoo Detoo, quickly established as they make their way across the galaxy to encounter numerous perils on planets old and new, negotiate with lifeforms large and small (whose loyalties to the heroic cause vary in scale), and face continued Imperial pursuit, unceasing bounty hunters and biological horrors from the odd lethal ALIEN-esque lifeform or two, whilst on their mission to liberate a unique hacker, capable of giving STAR TREK's Mister Spock a run for his money in the logic stakes, from enemy control and into the rebellion.

Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi Audiobook - Exclusive Preview! | StarWars.com
Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi - Exclusive Excerpt! | StarWars.com
Heir to the Jedi: Star Wars by Kevin Hearne - Book - eBook - Audiobook - Random House

Heir's story feels more likes a series of incidents strung together rather than having one plot, but Hearne's overall grasp of the STAR WARS universe, and Luke in this awkward and evolving time for him between A New Hope and Empire, is often excellent- at times I could imagine the character saying the dialogue, brought to youthful "gosh and golly" life by Mark Hamillcicra 1978- something that's no mean feat and not always the case with some of the other STAR WARS books I've read over the years. Luke's abilities at this point, paired with his wanting to know more about his father (he'd regret it later!), whilst on the cusp of entering a larger, more powerful world in the Force, ring true- his confident, crack-piloting skills particularly showcased/paired alongside his less confident, genuine inexperience around attractive, strong-willed females like Nakari (a pleasing enough one-off addition by the author) and Princess Leia (who makes the odd guest appearance alongside other notable Rebels). The adventure, which also bears celebratory shadings to some of the seventies classic MARVEL comics here and there, ends on a satisfying note with some well structured action (special kudos to Hearne for giving Artoo a portable ion cannon to play with!).

AFICIONADO RATING: It may have the notoriety of being the first official Classic Trilogy character canon title to come our way, but Heir to the Jedi retains the intimacy and downsized plot engineering of previous Expanded Universe books. Those seeking another big action Shadows of Mindor type affair for Luke will be disappointed, but Heir, notably at its best during its second half, is a deserving enough confectionery of STAR WARS storytelling that die-hard fans will appreciate, initiating an author whose talents are certainly deserving of a return visit to George Lucas's playground. Not top ten SW book material then, but a fine holiday read warm-up to to the eventual EPISODE VII. 7 out of 10.

Get hold of Heir to the Jedi here: Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi: Amazon.co.uk: Kevin Hearne: 9781780892610: Books

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