Carl investigates Ken Liu’s collection of stories about the stories surrounding Luke Skywalker in the years between Return of the Jedi and The Last Jedi
I had the pleasure of reading one of the new wave of tie-in books linked with the new Star Wars film with the view to reviewing it for the site. I chose this one because I’ve been a Luke Skywalker fan since 1977 when the first film arrived in cinemas.
This book is simply a collection of stories told by the crew of a ship on its way to Canto Bight about the legendary Luke Skywalker. They tell a story of how people have viewed and come to believe the legend behind the famed Jedi Knight in the many years since the destruction of the second Death Star. Some of this is revealed in the new film, as Luke himself tells Rey the story of why he’s not willing to help the resistance. How the weight of being considered a legend has been resting uneasily on his shoulders ever since he opened a Jedi training temple; his sense of devastation and loss at his nephew Ben Solo’s (Kylo Ren) fall to the dark side and the warping of his mind by Supreme Leader Snoke. Those who have seen the film know how it ends, with a group of children sitting down telling themselves stories of the legendary Luke Skywalker before the final reveal that one of the children is Force sensitive and looking up at the stars just as Luke did many years ago. The new generation of Jedi is out there, confirming what Luke says during the film’s climax, that he “will not be the last Jedi” to be true.
Under the Hood
The first story is a humorous take on how rumours and hearsay can evolve from person to person. A bar full of drinkers, reprobates and lost souls is hanging on every word of a loud braggart who recounts the events of A New Hope as a conspiracy and a game of one-upmanship between the rebellion and the Empire. According to this braggart, the Death Star’s destruction was all staged as a rebellion publicity stunt by the ‘Benny O’Kenobi’ gang. He explains how it was certainly false since the first viewing of the footage of the destruction was simply an explosion, but the second bunch of footage showed rings around the explosion, proving that it was false. Who in their right mind would change the footage into something that was unneeded! A nice little dig at George Lucas and his tinkering with the original trilogy. All this is listened to with rapture by the patrons, one of who asks questions about the braggart’s source and how they knew all this. At the end of the story, the patron asking the questions leaves the bar followed by another of the bar’s enraptured drinkers. When asked where he is going, the questioner simply removes his hood, waves his hand and instructs the drinker to go back to the bar and have another drink, which the drinker repeats and complies with. Of course, the questioner is Luke Skywalker himself, listening with amusement at the lies being told about his exploits.
The stories that follow range from tales of Luke pulling Star Destroyers out of space using the Force and crashing them onto Jakku’s surface, saving a crew member who survives the crash and his eventual departure, to tales of Luke studying ‘the Tide’ on a water-covered planet. He must take and pass trials before the people of the planet allow him to even learn about it. The Tide, of course, is their way of describing the Force and shows the cultural differences between members of different planets. It also contains a trial where Luke must spear a large fish to take back to the village; of course, this is featured in the new film. Many of the stories contain small clues to parts of The Last Jedi, however, you will need to read the book first to be able to identify them and see where they lead. I won’t give all of the clues away.
The stories told in the book are just that: stories. Tales to amuse a restless crew on their journey to Canto Bight. To pass the time and dull the boredom they all are suffering from. However, each tale that is told has an element of truth buried in it; small details that fans will grab on to. An intricate web is spun during every tale that provides little clues to events in The Last Jedi.
The Close Enough Legend of a Jedi Knight
Author Ken Liu is no stranger to writing fantasy novels and here he has created a great book that takes the reader on a journey of discovery. The tales are not overlong, the interludes between stories are amusing, but deep down within the stories lies not only small clues to events now being seen on cinema screens across the world but morality pieces. How rumours can cause untold trouble and cloud people’s views. How to embrace other cultures and their beliefs as well as our own. How we help people in trouble and go out of our way to aid them in their time of need. All of this is wrapped up in a nice book that doesn’t wear out its welcome. I recommend getting The Legends of Luke Skywalker if you can and enjoy the not completely true but close enough legend of a Jedi Knight.
My Rating: 8/10
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.