It begins! I’ve already shared my thoughts on the end of the Expanded Universe, but I was excited to dive in and see what is going to be done to begin these “canon” novels for the Star Wars Universe. I picked up A New Dawn and read it in about 2 days.
The book is a way to introduce the main characters for the upcoming “Rebels” television series, but at no point does it feel like it’s just a set up. This is a novel which can stand on its own, and it does so on a number of strengths: characterization, story, and drama.
The characters found throughout the book are interesting and generally multi-faceted. Kanan Jarrus has a past as a Jedi but has been hiding his abilities (and himself) for some time now. He clearly also seems disillusioned with parts of the Jedi teaching, which adds some great depth to his character. Hera Syndulla is a Twi’lek who is trying to build towards a Rebellion against the Empire. She’s more interested in seeing where the seeds of dissent have been sown than she is in getting directly involved in conflict. Others include Zaluna, who acted as part of the security agencies for the Empire but has now gotten sucked into helping the other side, and Skelly, who likes blowing things up (and who doesn’t want one of those people in a Star Wars book?).
What’s interesting is that A New Dawn takes place almost entirely in one system: . Unlike many (most) Star Wars books I have read (which is around 150), there is little hopping into hyperspace to track down people and adventures. In many ways, this provides some benefit; readers are able to become more familiar with the world than they often are in Star Wars books. It almost turns the system into a character itself: readers develop an expectation of how it works and what parameters for action could be involved. It’s a unique way to develop a Star Wars novel, and one that has not been explored frequently enough.
The drama is built up in A New Dawn through a sense of impending doom, both for the planet/moon system and also for the sense of the building of the Rebellion. It is a nice tie-in to whatever comes next, for it allows the development towards Rebellion to happen at whatever pace is necessary. But what made it even better is how believable it is: the Rebellion happens through planning but also spontaneously. It’s a great way to approach the issue.
Overall, A New Dawn is a great standalone Star Wars book. It restored some of my confidence in the Star Wars book series after the abrupt end of the Expanded Universe. I hope they will write more books featuring the characters of Rebels.
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