Future of the Force takes another look at the Ahsoka novel, as Carl Roberts picks up the US paperback
Every time I get sick and tired of working for a living, I remember a saying that I conjured up many years ago: “Don’t go to work, you earn no money. No money, no Star Wars books. No Star Wars books, I can’t read them. If I can’t read them…” You get the idea. There’s nothing I like better during my breaks than sitting down alone and reading. It relaxes me and takes away the stress of the daily routine. Without having something to read, I get distracted and feel funny, like what do I do now if I can’t read? The downside is having a backlog of books to read and trying to make inroads with them while adding more to the pile. It’s fun but I will never catch up with them all, even if it’s a book I’ve been dying to read for ages, hence this much later than planned review of Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston.
Feel and Fear for
Ahsoka Tano has become a much-loved character in the Star Wars universe. Her hated first appearance in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars film notwithstanding, she has ingratiated herself into our hearts in such a way that almost all of us, even though it had to happen, didn’t really want her to take on Darth Vader in the Star Wars Rebels season 2 finale. Voiced by the extremely talented Ashley Eckstein, Ahsoka is a character we all now feel and fear for. The credit for this must go to Ms Eckstein herself for pouring her heart and soul into the character. I’ve yet to meet Ms Eckstein in person sadly, but another member of our fantastic team has on several occasions (damn you, UK Toy Collector!). And of course, huge credit must go to the writers and animators that have brought her to life. I’m not ashamed to say that she has become one of my favourite characters and every figure of her (including the Forces Of Destiny doll) has found its way into my collection. So, you can imagine my excitement in finally sitting down and reading the novel.
Old Friends Now Dead
Ahsoka, after her framing by Bariss Offee and her fateful leaving of the Jedi Order, has skipped from place to place, planet to planet in an attempt to keep a low profile after the dreaded Order 66. Even though she isn’t a Jedi, being a former Padawan of Anakin Skywalker and being Force-sensitive is a death sentence for her. She spends part of her time thinking about old friends now dead, former friends that betrayed the Jedi order, the false grave she dug and made for Captain Rex and the throwing down of her lightsabers by the grave site. Her Force powers are no longer used or allowed to be seen. She made a near fatal error when she used them to stop crates falling on several children and was seen by one young child in particular. This young child is Force sensitive too and Ahsoka has to bribe the child to keep her silence while at the same time having to try and shield the child from exposing her own powers. The Empire is still looking for any loose Jedi and Force Sensitive beings and destroying them. It’s only a matter of time before they get to hear about any Force activity and Ahsoka knows she must keep moving around, even though it means abandoning the young child to her fate.
Ahsoka’s travels lead her to the back world planet of Raada, a farming colony in the remotest part of the galaxy. Here, she can hide out from the Empire and live a boring but normal existence far from any trouble. Having met a young girl Kaeden and her sister, Miara and befriended them, she settles into a life of repairing various damaged machinery needed for the harvesting work and receiving her payment in food rations; all the while secretly storing food, water and various pieces of junk metal, just in case. She just wants to live in peace and to live her life without any trouble or having to run from the Empire. She makes friends with the locals and is accepted by them, becoming a friend to them all. And then the Empire decides to use the planet for its own ends.
What the Imperials want is to grow their own crop to feed their legions of stormtroopers. This will give them a good yield but will destroy the land for the farmers to grow their own produce forever. In addition, the Empire forces them to do the work for them, adding extra hours onto shifts and withholding food if the farmers do not cooperate or work poorly. The inhabitants want to take on their Imperial masters with violence but after seeing one of their number brutally murdered for a drunken insult to a group of stormtroopers, Ahsoka realises she must again rally the people to take on the might of the Empire subtly. However, while using a corrosive material on the stationed troop’s walkers to destroy their legs, the rest of the group, unbeknownst to Ahsoka, have constructed explosives to kill the Imperials and rid themselves of the Empire their own way. Of course, this all goes wrong, many people are killed, and Ahsoka and the remaining members of her group must flee to the caves in the hills to hide out.
A New Dawn for Ahsoka
To say much more will rob the reader of a fantastic experience. This book is all I hoped for and more. Not only does it fill in the gaps between Ahsoka’s departure from the Jedi order and her emergence as Fulcrum, a top rebel intelligence agent, but it affords us a look into her tortured world and mindset. She doesn’t know Anakin fell to the dark side. She doesn’t know that Bail Organa’s daughter is really Anakin and Padme’s offspring. She doesn’t know Obi-Wan Kenobi is still alive and is hiding on the desert planet of Tatooine with Leia’s twin, Luke. Her feeling of the Force has diminished to such an extent that she can no longer feel anybody within it. Her nightmares still come as she sleeps, believing Anakin died at the Jedi Temple and imagining his fate.
To me, this is a companion book to A New Dawn. Both show us how characters we know and love rise to become the heroes we know they are, the trials and death they go through and see on their journeys to becoming who they truly are. Both books grab the reader and hold them page after page. We already know that our heroes won’t die here, that they will go on to further and more dangerous adventures later on. Both books’ strengths lie in the supporting characters; they are the ones we know will be in dire peril and maybe even die before our heroes’ eyes. We come to care about these characters as we care about our heroes and feel sad when they die or are injured in some way. Both pull no punches on character deaths. We start to invest in these characters, feel for them and are genuinely heartbroken as their fate leaps off the written page.
All in all, I highly recommend the book as an Ahsoka fan. It does her character justice and I, for one, will be going back to re-read again at some point in the future. Our favourite Togruta has a book worthy of her.
My rating: 8/10
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!