Book Review | Star Wars Hunters: Battle for the Arena

“Star Wars Hunters: Battle for the Arena by Mark Oshiro was surprisingly quite good, despite the circumstances of its conception,” says Max Nocerino

Usually, when a big movie comes out (if it’s part of a franchise especially), there are usually accompanying supplementarily entertainment mediums released as well such as a video game or novelization. It’s very unusual to flip the script and produce a book for the release of a video game! In the early 2000s when the Prequel Trilogy was being released, Star Wars very much did this and the tradition extended to the Sequels (at least with adult and junior novelizations.) But long gone are the days of Star Wars video games.

Out of all the mediums, video games are the least populous of the seemingly endless Star Wars content. But Star Wars Hunters is coming out later this year and Disney has released Star Wars: Hunters which is a prequel (or concurrent) to the game. Star Wars Hunters is an arena fighting game, and it has developed some colorful characters that you can play. The book Star Wars Hunters: Battle for the Arena was written by Mark Oshiro and was surprisingly quite good, despite the circumstances of its conception. It is a Junior novel but you may underestimate its length when you pick it up at the bookstore.

Star Wars Hunters - Battle for the Arena


Oshiro has written a short story for the Certain Point of View Anthology and obviously, Lucasfilm liked him as they gave him an entire story. I cannot remember Mark’s story off the top of my head. But if it was as good as this book, I have high hopes for it. Hunters introduces us to a young human named Rieve in the years after Endor. She is very upfront about being Force-sensitive and answers a Holonet ad to be a hunter on the planet Vespaara. A Hunter is essentially the Star Wars version of a wrestler as they compete in mock combat for sport and entertainment.

Rieve has a checkered past and has spent most of her young life running. I admire her eagerness to be a Hunter but she is very hard to read in the beginning. My first impression of Rieve was that she wasn’t very bright. I feel awful saying this but when you read a character, you get in his or her head and learn how they think and how they feel. Rieve is socially distant from the other Hunters and seems ignorant about a lot of things except how to fight.

Star Wars Hunters Gameplay Trailer


Her gimmick at the arena is that of a Sith Lord and she is supplied with face paint and a red lightsaber to boot. However, Rieve knows nothing about the Jedi/Sith or her powers. And I felt giving her a lightsaber so quickly wasn’t the smartest move on the Arena’s part. But safety is non-existent in this line of work. The Arena is run by a Hutt Barada. And after a lot of reading and a few spoilers, I have read a Hutt character who wasn’t half bad.

The only other Hutt with a moral backbone I remember from the vast sea of lore was Poppara from the standalone Legends novel Scourge. Unfortunately, his demeanor was the result of centuries of “mellowing” and I think that leaves Barada as the most ethical Hutt ever designed. I say this because I find it strange that an ENTIRE race of beings was rotten and I found this first to be quite refreshing. Oshiro builds the suspense at Rieve’s past up throughout the volcano and I enjoyed getting fed piecemeal the details. You should not play all your cards in one hand after all.


As the novel progressed, my opinion of Rieve’s intelligence shifted considerably. And I identified her character as possibly obsessive-compulsive due to the looping of bad memories in her mind. And the various intrusive scary thoughts she has as she feels she is being stalked by a monster from her past. Rieve was from Corellia and something horrible happened there that caused her to flee in shame. And it is heavily implied to be from her nascent Force powers.

The other Hunters are extremely kind and open to being friends with Rieve, but Rieve is too paranoid and scared, so she initially pushes them away. She loosens up a little when she plays Huttball (yes Huttball is canon now) with the Wookiee Hunter Grozz. But as her past returns, she becomes withdrawn again. I grew to sympathize with her as she isn’t a bad person at all, just angry and battered. And I felt myself rooting for her in much of the latter half of the book. I figured out the bad guy a few chapters before he was revealed. So I give Oshiro half-points for keeping the cat in the bag in the beginning. A reader smarter than me may come to the realization earlier, hopefully.


The falling action was very exciting and I loved to see how Rieve learns that she CAN make friends and open up to others. And in the end, she has a family. That made me feel good inside and hopeful for creating my own relationships as I age. Very nice work Mark Oshiro. B+

Star Wars Hunters: Battle for the Arena is published by Disney/Lucasfilm Press and is available to buy now!


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