This will be a slightly different review than is normally seen on this blog. For the most part, I do not write with “I”, but here I shall. “Why” you may ask will I be changing up my review style; great question. The reason I will be doing so is because this is a personal subject for me. Obi-Wan Kenobi has been my favorite character since I first watched the original trilogy a long, long time ago. There was something about this enigmatic wizard that left me wanting to know more, to see more about him. I would have to wait a long time till the prequels came and gave me more Obi-Wan and I was thrilled. Ewan played him to perfection, yet I still wanted more. So Lucas and Filoni gave us The Clone Wars, which added to the character and enriched his history. There have even been book series about him by Jude Watson for children (which I have read many) but finally John Jackson Miller has been tapped to write an adult novel all about Kenobi. Sufficed to say as a huge Obi-Wan fan I could not have been more excited about a Star Wars novel. This is the story I have been waiting to see, Kenobi after Episode III and before Episode IV; the only question was, “Can this live up to my massive expectations?”
I’ll answer the question, as not to leave you hanging too long; this book lives up to my expectations, mostly. Miller has his work cut out for him. There are so many fans who have been clamoring for this novel for so long, I cannot imagine the pressure he must have felt. First off, he creates a great feel to the novel from the very beginning. Much has been made in reviews of the “wild-west” atmosphere and they are right on target. Tatooine is the perfect setting for a Star Wars western. As you read you can almost picture Monument Valley in a John Wayne epic with the lone rider making his way across the desert. There are all the classic tropes from westerns; the outpost on the edge of the frontier, the widow raising her kids alone, the big man who everyone looks too, raiders terrorizing settlers, the list could go on. Yet in all of it, it feels fresh in Miller’s hands. He is able to give us a clear picture of what it is like to live on this desolate world from the perspective of the settlers and the Sand People. (It should be noted that this is one of the clearest and most in-depth looks at the Tusken Raiders in the Star Wars Expanded Universe and adds a lot of dimension to the story). Since I am going to stay spoiler free I will not say much more here except this is a very good book.
With the expectations that I had going into the book, there was no way it could live up to my lofty desires. If there is one downfall of the story it is that there is not enough Kenobi. I had hoped to really get inside his mind, see his interactions with Qui-Gon in meditation and feel like I was living in his shoes. Miller gives us some of this, but in my opinion, not enough. I was disappointed that the meditation time with Qui-Gon was completely one-sided, I had hoped to see more about this connection and understand how it works; really see Obi-Wan learn the secrets of the Force. I come away from the book wanting more Kenobi and from a book with his name as the title, I would have thought he would have been the centerpiece the entire story.
So, here we are, at the end of the review. I recommend this book highly, even with my frustrations. This is one of the best Star Wars books I have read in a long time. I hope that we will see more like this and of course, even more of Kenobi.
Map of Tatooine: