When was the last time you enjoyed a trip to the galaxy far, far away? There are – literally – thousands of tales told in the Star Wars universe. Beyond the movies, you’ve got an incredible TV series running right now (STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS), not to mention the seemingly endless run of comic books (thank you Marvel and Dark Horse!) and hundreds of paperbacks. Now, the novels are well on their way toward being converted into the digital format, which only means you’ve no longer any excuse to delay a return to a time long ago. And there’s something for everyone – young and old alike – that’s waiting to be discovered. All you have to do is crack open a book and read the first page to start your journey, so I ask you: has there been a better time to be a Star Wars fan?
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of character and plot. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last paragraph for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Life as he knew it has changed for Obi-wan Kenobi. The Jedi Knights have been destroyed – the inevitable outcome of Emperor Palpatine’s Order 66 – and the worlds of the Republic have fallen into chaos. All that holds the fragile union together is the might of the galactic Empire, and the ruling Sith Lords of Palpatine and Darth Vader indeed rule using their greatest strength: fear.
THE DESPERATE MISSION opens a few years after the events depicted in the motion picture, RISE OF THE SITH, with Obi-wan now living in exile on the planet Tatooine under the name of ‘Ben Kenobi.’ As he faithfully promised Yoda, Ben now spends his days watching a young Luke Skywalker grow up on the homestead belonging to his aunt and uncle, Owen and Beru Lars. However, Ben senses a disturbance in the Force when, on a chance trip to Mos Eisley for supplies, he learns that a former/fallen Jedi named Ferus Olin is still alive but appears to be in great danger. After some debate, Kenobi decides it’s time for him to take one last desperate mission on behalf of his Order; he leaves his duties on Tatooine in Qui-Gon’s hands, and he spirits off to the world of Bellassa to help his friend-in-need.
Scholastic readers have plenty to delight over in MISSION. It’s a noble entry into the worlds created by George Lucas, and author Jude Watson certainly delves deeply into the mind of Kenobi (his thoughts on the state of the Empire, his fears of what happened and what might lie ahead, etc.). The man has had to come to grips personally with whatever role he may’ve played in Anakin Skywalker’s downfall, and his meditation on the subject has left him feeling somewhat flawed. He’s gotten over questioning why he didn’t see the event coming, and, instead, he’s set himself on a course to achieve a new balance to the Force that Yoda believed could and would transpire some day (once Luke and Leia come of age). In fact, I think Watson has done a stellar job showing how Kenobi probably evolved from the events of the Prequel Trilogy and set the character well on course for the man he’d become in the Original Trilogy.
I find it no surprise – after doing some research – that many adult fans of Star Wars have ventured into these books and found some welcome enjoyment. Watson gets terrific mileage out of the existing Star Wars history – there are plenty of references to characters and events of the Prequel Trilogy, and there are cameos by even some folks who’ve not yet matured into the prominence they’ll have in STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. It’s easy to see (under Watson’s influence) how Kenobi accepted this challenge and made it a personal quest to help put the galaxy back on the road toward healing. No doubt, the last of the Jedi saw this as ‘his destiny.’
Plus, MISSION comes to an end with a smashing theatrical cliffhanger – just like the best Star Wars movies did – so major kudos are awarded for knowing exactly what the audience wants and delivering a grand set-up for things-to-come in the next installment.
STAR WARS: THE LAST OF THE JEDI #1: THE DESPERATE MISSION is published by Scholastic Paperbacks. While it’s intended for young readers (probably fifth grade and up, though I could be wrong on the age specifics), it’s still readable for teens, adults, or the Star Wars fan of any age.
RECOMMENDED. It’s nothing all that fancy, but STAR WARS: THE LAST OF THE JEDI #1: THE DESPERATE MISSION is a good read – a solid entry by author Jude Watson for young readers into the Star Wars universe. The galaxy far, far away is a much different place for Obi-wan Kenobi than it has been for years. The Jedi are all but gone, but, as he carries on waiting for ‘a new hope,’ he’s given a mission by his mentor from the beyond – Qui-Gon Jinn – that just might prepare him for events to come.
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