Heir to the Jedi: Star Wars Book Review
Another addition to the official canon, Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne is typical of what seems to be the normal addition currently. That is, it follows a well-known character in the time between two of the movies. This one follows Luke Skywalker shortly after Episode IV. However, most Star Wars novels, even those from the legends canon, were in the third person. Heir to the Jedi is written in the first person from Luke’s point of view, almost as if it were a journal. In fact, if it were set up as a journal it would be reminiscent of the style of writing in Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. As it is, it leads to some interesting insights into the psyche of one of the most beloved characters in Star Wars.
I don’t know why so many authors like to write about Luke’s love interests. The Truce at Bakura and his short lived affair with their prime minister, the numerous adventures with Callista, his strange relationship with Akanah, his marriage to Mara Jade, etc. I could go on. It seems to be a very popular topic. This one is no different in that aspect. Assigned to procure a source of weapons on the planet Rodia, Skywalker is loaned use of a sleek custom yacht owned by one Nakari Kelen. A new character, it is reassuring that this new canon is already working hard to establish plotlines and relationships that vary from what is shown in the movie. There seems to be a chemistry right off the bat, with even Leia warning Luke to “be careful.” (Remember, this is set well before Return of the Jedi and the revelation that Luke and Leia are twins.) The willingness of authors to explore the romantic undertones of that relationship is also refreshing, as I found it lacking in the legends canon.
Of course, there must be more to the story than just a love affair. Following Skywalker’s mission to Rodia, he is assigned to extract an Imperial defect with Nakari. As exciting as this adventure is, and as endearing as the growing romantic interest between Luke and Nakari, the whole story serves a different purpose. Remember, in A New Hope Ben Kenobi dies before teaching Skywalker much in the ways of the Force. Then in Empire Strikes Back he uses the Force to recall his lightsaber to his hand in the ice cave of the wampa. Just where did he learn to use the Force for telekinesis? Heir to the Jedi explains his first delving into this aspect of his newfound powers. Adorably enough, Nakari helps by encouraging him, serving as confidant and friendly support. Of course, Hearne couldn’t stop there. In Empire Strikes Back Skywalker loses his lightsaber, yet in Return of the Jedi he has built himself a replacement. Where did Skywalker learn to do this? Yoda didn’t teach him in the films (imagine how boring that scene would have been). The ghost of old Ben Kenobi didn’t either. This novel starts the story of how he learned this technical feat as well. I can only hope that future novels expand on this bit, following the continuity which is in part why I love the Star Wars novels.
The characterization of Skywalker is also well done. With only brief interactions between anyone else we know, he is the only character Hearne has to worry about matching with the films. This is wise on his part; with every character we are already familiar with it becomes that much more difficult to provide adequate continuity. Hearne nails Skywalker’s naiveté with women, with the Force, and with the galaxy in general. As this is his first foray into the Star Wars canon, it is good to know that the love and care that is a trademark of the old Expanded Universe is apparent in this addition.