A New Dawn: Star Wars
John Jackson Miller & Dave Filoni
This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . .
“The war is over. The Separatists have been defeated, and the Jedi rebellion has been foiled. We stand on the threshold of a new beginning.”—Emperor Palpatine
For a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights brought peace and order to the Galactic Republic, aided by their connection to the mystical energy field known as the Force. But they were betrayed—and the entire galaxy has paid the price. It is the Age of the Empire.
Now Emperor Palpatine, once Chancellor of the Republic and secretly a Sith follower of the dark side of the Force, has brought his own peace and order to the galaxy. Peace through brutal repression, and order through increasing control of his subjects’ lives.
But even as the Emperor tightens his iron grip, others have begun to question his means and motives. And still others, whose lives were destroyed by Palpatine’s machinations, lay scattered about the galaxy like unexploded bombs, waiting to go off. . . .
The first Star Wars novel created in collaboration with the Lucasfilm Story Group, Star Wars: A New Dawn is set during the legendary “Dark Times” between Episodes III and IV and tells the story of how two of the lead characters from the animated series Star Wars Rebels first came to cross paths. Featuring a foreword by Dave Filoni.
Praise for A New Dawn
“A New Dawn is a fine start to the new Expanded Universe. [John Jackson] Miller steps confidently into the unexplored territory and owns it; he’s crafted a story with pacing and dialogue that feels like classic Star Wars.”—Nerdist
“An entertaining adventure . . . with a cast of heroes that mixes laughter with intriguing depths of character. . . . John Jackson Miller packs in plenty of action and surprises.”—Roqoo Depot
“A confidently told story that gives fans a lot of reason to be hopeful about what’s to come as we move into this new phase of Star Wars . . . The book certainly got me even more excited for Rebels and to see more of Kanan and Hera’s adventures. We’re also introduced to other characters I would love to see again at some point, whether on Rebels, in another book or, who knows, in live-action at some point.”—IGN
“A New Dawn delivers a classic Star Wars experience that fans of all ages will be able to enjoy. It is extremely well-written, with an incredibly diverse cast too. Miller’s prose can easily suck readers in, and leave them speechless when 100 pages have flown by in the blink of an eye.”—Far Far Away Radio
“A New Dawn brings us into this new dawn of storytelling with energy, excitement, and characters that have become instantly ensconced into the Star Wars vernacular, and the results will satisfy Star Wars fans of many different palates.”—Coffee with Kenobi
“A New Dawn is a well-written novel full of intrigue and twists and turns that does an excellent job of letting Star Wars fans get to know Kanan and Hera.”—Tosche Station
“A New Dawn finds an era never before written about in the Star Wars universe—the years prior to the original movie, Episode IV—in robust good health. The narrative takes place on two worlds and a handful of ships in between them, but as with the best of all Star Wars moments, hints at hidden depths beyond.”—Mashable
From the Paperback edition.
Spectacular new launch of the Star Wars novels
Absolutely wonderful. John Jackson Miller is one of the best Star Wars authors, and he brings great characterization to Kanan, Hera, and the rest of the cast. Its just like his other novels, Knight Errant and Kenobi- you won't be able to put it down. Count Vidian is a great villain as well.
A great tie-in to REBELS
The first book published in the new Star Wars canon is five star. I have read all the novels in the Star Wars timeline set in the prequel era and before, and A New Dawn is easily in the top five. It is set eight years after Revenge of the Sith, and eleven years before A New Hope. It is a prequel novel to the animated series Star Wars: Rebels, which will take place six years after the events of this book. The story opens with a great flashback to a young Jedi (whom I correctly assumed to be the future REBELS hero, Kanan) during the Clone Wars.
After Order 66, Kanan grows up to be a somewhat sad, ordinary civilian, usually drowning his sorrows at the local cantina. But he can't help himself from getting involved when people need help, despite claiming to want nothing to do with sticking his neck out for people. The line which perfectly captures Kanan's character early in the book is his protestation: "I don't know who you think I am, but I DO NOT go around randomly helping people!" This was a great story point and Kanan's characterization was really one of my favorite aspects of this book.
Hera, the Twi'lek heroine of REBELS, is cautiously putting out feelers, searching for people and information that will be useful someday in a rebellion against the Empire. She has no idea that that 'someday' is not as far away as she believes and that the galaxy is slowly awakening to rebellion. Hera was so great in this book it was easy to see why Kanan was so infatuated with her. I never warmed to Imperial Captain Sloane, but it was interesting to see a female in a powerful position during the reign of the Empire.
The main villian in the book was a very interesting choice. Cyborg Imperial Count Vidian is like no other villian I have experienced in Star Wars. He isn't a force user, nor even a very powerful fighter. He has super human strength due to his cybernetic augmentation, but he rarely uses his brute force. Instead his manifests his particular brand of evil in that he is a ruthless, utilitarian businessman. He is out to make things work well for the Empire and for his pocketbook. Vidian can see no value in a person unless he is useful to his plans and the will of the Empire. The only negative about Vidian is that I never really got into the subplot about his backstory and the revelations of his history.
One of the interesting aspects of the novel is the thoughts it has to give on the surveillance state that has built up on the planet Gorse. This is especially relevant in today's world. The final chapters of the book are really the highlight of the story for me. Kanan picks up his lightsaber before heading off for what is sure to be the climatic battle of the story, all the while trying to convince himself that he has no plans to ever use it. And in the end he is forced to reveal to Hera that he is a force-user. They head off into the galaxy to slowly spark the fires of rebellion.
The biggest lingering thread from this book is what intrigues me most. As Hera is contemplating the fact that Kanan must have been a very young Jedi and somehow escaped Order 66, her thoughts go to what could have happened to allow him to escape. She wonders if someone warned him about what was about to happen, and if that person is still alive today? This moment seemed to be alluding to something which will happen in the series, perhaps a reunion with this person who helped Kanan survive Order 66. I'm left wondering if this person is someone we have seen before. Could REBELS bring us the eventual return of Captain Rex? Or even more interesting, Ahsoka?
I'd give A New Dawn 9 Stars out of 10. I'm very much looking forward to the next book, Star Wars: Tarkin by James Luceno.
A New Dawn: New and old territory with just a touch of familiarity
True to its title, A New Dawn blazes nothing but new territory. Though the surroundings and trappings of the Star Wars universe are mostly still in place - very little about this book feels welcoming to a veteran Star Wars readers. There are zero characters to be recognized except for an early appearance from Obi-Wan Kenobi in the flashback prologue. The continual references to Master Depa Billaba in this flashback cause the first major ripples in canon vs EU. Billaba is said to be the master of Kanan Jarrus - the book's protagonist - when he was a young apprentice at the temple. His musings and recollections describe her gentle wisdom and guidance. Details of her death are not detailed but it is implied that she died during the purge and Jarrus feels a sense of failure for not being able to protect her - in fact the reader is left with the sense that her death was a sacrifice intended to let Jarrus escape. Now readers of the EU may recognize Billaba from her role in the novel Shatterpoint during the Clone Wars. She has fallen to the dark side when Mace Windu locates her and she ends up locked away in the temple's prison ward on Coruscant by the end of the novel. It is highly unlikely that someone with that kind of record during the war (not to mention the fact that she was perhaps permanently comatose) would be back teaching apprentices by the time of the purge. So there it is: start chalking up the differences. Depa Billaba is not a crazy fallen Jedi prone to murder (if not genocide) - she was a wise and gentle master who fell during Order 66 and the resulting purge.
So, as I said, the story feels rather foreign - much like reading Crosscurrent or Scourge - with the only familiarity coming from its surroundings and galactic events. However, not all is familiar. I can't tell if it's simply John Jackson Miller's writing style or an intentional choice by Lucasfilm's new story group, but it seems some terminology has changed. There were mentions of "hovercrafts" and "repulsorlifts." I've never heard a vehicle in the Star Wars universe referred to as a hovercraft before and the term "replusorlift" has always been used to describe a type of technology that gave anti-gravity flight capabilities to vehicles. In this novel, the term is used to describe an actual type of vehicle. Instead of a speeder equipped with repulsorlifts, for example, the speeder itself is simply called a repulsorlift. Normally such differences wouldn't be worth my attention but, in this case, I was desperately trying to find any familiarity in this new world of unified story development. The result was that these minor changes were more noticeable than they should be. I'm hoping it isn't a sign of things to come because the greatest joy of reading Star Wars novels for me is the instant familiarity of settings, technology, and terminology - even if the plot and characters are unfamiliar.
If you can get beyond the initial requisite canon vs non-canon analysis and the uncertainty it brings, the novel reads like most Star Wars novels. This certainly isn't JJM's first rodeo in this galaxy, so that's no surprise. I did find that the plot twists seemed a bit forced, unlikely, and ungainly though. Toward the end I found myself confused by who was deliberately misleading who and what the actual truth was. I'm sure some of that was intentional but I'd like to think that most author's aren't actually trying to lose their audience by confusing them completely. The same can be said for Kanan's personality shifts. He cares, he doesn't care. He's callous, he's protective. Hot and cold constantly. Some of this is certainly him trying to put on an appearance to hide his former self, but much of it is also the person he's chosen to become to avoid the pains of his past. So it can be assumed that this dual nature was intentional, but it often feels more disjointed than it should. Even in his internal dialog where the reader is privy to his private thoughts, there is a repeated inconsistency to his character. Honestly there were times where I wasn't particularly sure I wanted to root for this guy. Again, this was probably intentional to some extent but it seemed like it just went too far.
In the end, this was an adventurous story with tones of good vs evil (always), greed, conservationism, and a quest for justice in a society where the meaning of that word has been forgotten. The plot developments often seemed a bit too convenient and designed solely to bring story lines together for the climax. For all the talk of the Empire's iron fist and total control of everything and everyone, this band of renegades seems to have little difficulty slipping out of every situation in which they find themselves. So readers may rest easy knowing that even in this new galaxy of canonized unified story development, the stormtroopers (poster children for evil, efficient brutality) still are a bunch of bumbling fools who can't shoot. Never-the-less it was an entertaining read with a semi-satisfying conclusion. My biggest regret was that the only two characters we saw from the upcoming "Rebels" series are Hera and Kanan. I was hoping to see Chopper and, at least, get more of a feel for The Ghost. Instead the ship was left as a mystery for the entire novel and not really revealed at the end except in the barest of details. As a first glimpse of a new (yet old) universe, I'd say it was marginally successful. It was an entertaining enough read that showed that the new world order at Lucasfilm isn't completely abandoning the old ways (as Count Vidian would have us do). In the meantime, I'll need to read a few more before I make total judgement on this new canon.
- Category: Science Fiction
- Published: Sep 02, 2014
- Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
- Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
- Print Length: 416 Pages
- Language: English