A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller is a prequel for the cartoon series Star Wars: Rebels. It takes place 14 years after the movie Revenge of the Sith, putting it just before the beginning of the original Star Wars trilogy. Through this book, we are introduced to the main characters of the cartoon series: Kanan, a former Jedi padawan who escaped order 66, and Hera, a member of the evolving Rebellion. Hera keeps this knowledge very compartmentalized throughout the book, and Kanan manages to keep his Force Powers (and light saber) hidden – despite the cover art.
I picked up this book (and started watching the cartoon series) in order to help pass the time before the newest Star Wars movie was released. It turned out to be better than expected, with characters that are generally more complex and nuanced than we encounter in most of the Star Wars franchise. With a few unexpected plot developments, it rose above the average for the genre and proved to be entertaining, although I have to admit that there were many times when I set it aside in order to read something else.
A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller
Published by LucasBooks on September 2, 2014
Page Length: 367 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
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Ever since the Jedi were marked for death and forced to flee Coruscant, Kanan Jarrus has devoted himself to staying alive rather than serving the Force. Wandering the galaxy alone, from one anonymous job to another, he avoids trouble--especially with the Empire--at all costs. So when he discovers a deadly conflict brewing between ruthless Imperial forces and desperate revolutionaries, he's not about to get caught in the crossfire. Then the brutal death of a friend at the Empire's hands forces the ex-Jedi to make a choice: bow down to fear, or stand up and fight.
But Jarrus won't be fighting alone. Unlikely allies, including a bomb-throwing radical, a former Imperial surveillance agent, a vengeful security officer, and the mysterious Hera Syndulla--an agent provocateur with motives of her own--team up with Jarrus to challenge the Empire. As a crisis of apocalyptic proportions unfolds on the planet Gorse, they must stand together against one of the Emperor's most fearsome enforcers--for the sake of a world and its people.
- Most the major and secondary characters are more complex than expected. They have multiple, sometimes conflicting, motivations, and they grow throughout the book. Some characters, even those working for the Empire, surprised me by their choices. The author portrays many people working for the Empire as not evil people – just average people trying to live their lives.
- The plot did not go down the path I expected, although there was plenty of heroic action. The final chapters involved subterfuge and bravery from characters I’d almost forgotten about. Well done!!
- The villain in this volume is rather two-dimensional and single-minded, which stands in marked contrast to the other characters, both protagonists and antagonists. He would have been right at home in the Disney cartoon series, but fell short in a full-length book.
- I am not sure who the expected audience for this book would be. It is a prequel to a kid’s cartoon series, but it is a full-length book written for teens or older. A sympathetic character dies horribly, so I really would not recommend it to middle grade readers even if they can manage to read at this grade level.
If you really enjoy the Star Wars universe, you might enjoy this book. It is an easy read, although not necessarily gripping. The main characters are interesting although I didn’t become attached to them ….. yet. The plot twists and character development of the secondary characters are really the best features of the book, although it does serve as a way to dip your toes in to new “history” of Star Wars now that Disney has gotten involved and is changing the Extended Universe of a galaxy far, far away …..
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller
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