Book Reviews · Books · Star Wars

Star Wars: Brotherhood – Review

81GcMcJNOBL-2There are Heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere.

The Clone War rages across the galaxy in the wake of Geonosis and continues to spread like wildfire. And just as it seems that things could not get worse, Cato Neimoidia suffers a terrifying terrorist attack on it’s capital city and first evidence points to the Republic being involved. Newly appointed member of the Jedi Council, Master Obi-Wan Kenobi proposes a plan to the Republic and the Neimoidians that he go to alone to investigate, with the hope of deescalating tensions and proving the Republic’s innocence.

Mike Chen’s Brotherhood brings the early days of The Clone Wars to life in stunning detail. The fog of war has already descended as hatred and extremism are already being stoked on all sides of the conflict. As these biases are enflamed, the truth seems to be becoming less important, as emotions reign. Chen’s work here is magnificent in revealing the opening lines of Revenge of the Sith, “There are Heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere.” With the malaise of war, obfuscation becomes the rule. There is so much to say here but in all honesty, it’s best left for the reader to experience it as read in the story and not have spoiled in a review!

Brotherhood also brings to life the characters of Obi-Wan and Anakin perfectly. That’s right, I said perfectly. Chen brings them to life in ways that make you feel as though you’re watching an episode of The Clone Wars. There is some fantastic character building happening for these characters as Anakin struggles with marriage, a new hand and his place in the Order after his promotion to Jedi Knight. One of the true highlights is the way Anakin and Padme’s early days as a married couple is written. It is refreshing to see this finally given the exploration it is due. And lest you think that Obi-Wan is forgotten, Chen digs into his promotion to the Council, his struggle in how to deal with Anakin as a peer and his feelings towards Qui-Gon and Satine.

There is so much good in this book, it is an example of exactly what a Star Wars book should be. Mike Chen has given fans a gift and literarily the best lead-in to the Obi-Wan Kenobi show, coming on Disney+ that one could hope for. One can only hope that Star Wars literature gives us more novels like this in the future. Brotherhood is rated 5 out of 5 sun-dragons.

This review was completed using a copy of Brotherhood provided by Del Rey Press.

This review originally appeared on The Star Wars Report.

Book Reviews · Books · Star Wars · Uncategorized

Master & Apprentice – Review

MAThis review first appeared on The Star Wars Report.

Don’t miss The 602 Club review!

I have to get something out of the way, right up front. I’m predisposed to love this book. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn are two of my favorite characters in Star Wars. I have, of course, followed their careers with great interest, reading the Jedi Apprentice series from Jude Watson for the Aggressive Negotiations Podcast that I cohost with John Mills and loving every page of it. Now, all this love of these characters as well as this time period in the Saga also made me very apprehensive as I approached Claudia Gray’s Master & Apprentice. I worried it would not live up to my own hype and expectations. Luckily, there was no danger of that at all, it exceeds them.

Gray’s tale takes place in Obi-Wan’s eighteenth year and he’s been Qui-Gon’s apprentice for some time, yet their partnership has never been a smooth one. Obi-Wan chafes at Qui-Gon’s disregard for the rules, creating a rift between them that grows even larger as a new opportunity for Qui-Gon has the potential to rip the two apart forever.


One of the strongest parts of Gray’s work is the discussion of the different motivations for the Jedi, “why do they do what they do and how far do they go to do that?”. This is a question that each of the Jedi in this book struggle with. Qui-Gon wrestles with the constraints of the Jedi within the political system of the Republic. He is frustrated over how thisseems to put the Jedi at odds with their mandate as part of the Republic and with what is right. He questions the wisdom of the Jedi becoming little more that the chancellor’s police force and in that, loosing touch with the Living Force. This, in turn, allows for things such as slavery in the galaxy to continue.

Rael Averross is a Jedi that was Dooku’s padawan before Qui-Gon. He was brought to the Temple at the age of five, much later than is normal. Because of this he’s always been an outsider, never truly feeling like he belongs and he’s only worked to foster that more. He’s never lost his accent and his manner and dress reinforce his “otherness”. The Jedi Council has consistently bent the rules for him in an effort to help him reach his full potential, and the loss of his padawan has left him more determined than ever to not repeat the mistakes of the past. Yet all this intent has actually blinded him to his own shortcomings.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is a rule follower, living his life by the Jedi Code, to the letter. Unfortunately his Master sees the Code more as guidelines, which puts them at odds more often than not. The struggle between duty and thinking for one’s self frustrates Obi-Wan.

For each of these characters, motivations drive them as do their assumptions about the universe and their place in it. Gray expertly weaves their tales together to show the ways in which our own assumptions can get in the way and lead us astray. The question of whether or not they will cling to their perceptions, even when they are challenged by new information that renders those perceptions obsolete, is instructive for the world we live in today.

On top of all of this each character has to figure out why they are following the light and what is right. Are they doing it for personal gain? Are they doing it to win some cosmic game? How do they do what is right and work inside the system? What are the principles that are paramount and therefore cannot be forsaken? The answer in the book is, “We don’t choose the light because we want to win…. We choose the light because it is the light.” What makes this answer so beautiful is not just the sentiment, but the way Gray gets the characters who believe it to this point. Each one has their assumptions challenged, they allow themselves to be open to that challenge, and they ultimately have the willingness to turn from those assumptions if they are wrong. What relevancy! In a world where sides are taken based off assumptions about the opposition and where listening is a lost art, it’s edifying to see characters choose the better path. Communication, as always, is the key. As Qui-Gon rightly thinks in the book, “There was no Jedi so wise that he could not be undone by his own assumptions.”

The Book

Master & Apprentice is a prime example of expanding the universe. The Prequel Trilogy is full of things we still know so little about and this book helps fill in some of those gaps. Gray adds to our understanding of the Jedi before Episode I, giving us insight into their relationship with the Republic and some of the reasons why they have set themselves up under its leadership. We are finally given more on Dooku and his relationship with Qui-Gon, as well as the Jedi, since he’s only left the Order a short time before this story takes place. And most importantly, Gray expounds on the core relationship of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, helping to set the stage for what we’ll eventually see in The Phantom Menace. I particularly love the way she sets up Qui-Gon’s fascination with prophecy and ancient Jedi lore which will set him on the path of immortality in the Force and the “Chosen One”.

There is so much more that I could talk about in this story, but honestly it’s best left for you to discover on your own. For my money, Claudia Gray has written a book that stands with her best Star Wars work, Bloodline and Lost Stars, which also happen to be two of the best books in the new canon. After reading this book, one can only hope that Del Ray and Lucasfilm will allow Gray to continue telling stories about these two. It would be magnificent to see the story about them on Mandalore, protecting Satine for a year, as well as more on Qui-Gon’s journey in the Force. Master & Apprentice is rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Reviews · Books · Kenobi · Star Wars · The Clone Wars · Uncategorized

Kenobi – Review

Star-Wars-Kenobi-Book-CoverThis 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?”

Tusken_SWGTCGI’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: