From the Amazon.com listing:
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . .
A thrilling new adventure set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, and—for the first time ever—written entirely from Luke Skywalker’s first-person point of view.
Luke Skywalker’s game-changing destruction of the Death Star has made him not only a hero of the Rebel Alliance but a valuable asset in the ongoing battle against the Empire. Though he’s a long way from mastering the power of the Force, there’s no denying his phenomenal skills as a pilot—and in the eyes of Rebel leaders Princess Leia Organa and Admiral Ackbar, there’s no one better qualified to carry out a daring rescue mission crucial to the Alliance cause.
A brilliant alien cryptographer renowned for her ability to breach even the most advanced communications systems is being detained by Imperial agents determined to exploit her exceptional talents for the Empire’s purposes. But the prospective spy’s sympathies lie with the Rebels, and she’s willing to join their effort in exchange for being reunited with her family. It’s an opportunity to gain a critical edge against the Empire that’s too precious to pass up. It’s also a job that demands the element of surprise. So Luke and the ever-resourceful droid R2-D2 swap their trusty X-wing fighter for a sleek space yacht piloted by brash recruit Nakari Kelen, daughter of a biotech mogul, who’s got a score of her own to settle with the Empire.
Challenged by ruthless Imperial bodyguards, death-dealing enemy battleships, merciless bounty hunters, and monstrous brain-eating parasites, Luke plunges head-on into a high-stakes espionage operation that will push his abilities as a Rebel fighter and would-be Jedi to the limit. If ever he needed the wisdom of Obi-Wan Kenobi to shepherd him through danger, it’s now. But Luke will have to rely on himself, his friends, and his own burgeoning relationship with the Force to survive.
After my last Star Wars book review, I’m going to try and keep this one as spoiler free as possible.
Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne is a definitive look at Luke Skywalker in the aftermath of the first Death Star’s destruction. The first person narrative allows for fans to get inside Luke Skywalker’s head and hear the story of his adventure set after A New Hope set before The Empire Strikes Back. For comic book readers reading Marvel’s current Star Wars series, this book with those comics starts to make you feel like you know what Luke Skywalker was up to and what he struggled with after the rebel’s first major victory (Note: this book apparently takes place before the Marvel series if I’m reading the events correctly).
I have to admit to having mixed feelings about the first person narrative. I actually really love first person narratives. However, Luke Skywalker isn’t Holden Caulfield and he doesn’t really have that much to say about things. He really isn’t a flawed enough person to be interesting and really grapple with that many intense feelings. Of the big three, Han, Leia, and Luke, Luke is probably the least interesting of the three to get a first hand account of the personal experience. The best you can get from the book at times on that front is what Luke thinks about his father and other tiny moments that don’t really justify the execution of the novel in this way.
Sometimes the narrative was downright corny, with Luke remembering he never got those power converters. It’s funny unto itself and even kind of fun, but then you remember his family was murdered by Imperial Stormtroopers and a real person would never say that or care about something so trivial in context. However, Luke Skywalker isn’t a real person. He’s the guy from a movie who saw his mentor killed by Darth Vader and then was over it like five minutes later. It is the Star Wars way. But I don’t know if that Star Wars way really works out so well in a first person narrative with the most wholesome character in the entire saga.
A few of my favorite parts pertained to Luke Skywalker learning about his father. There are moments where Luke hears the tales of Anakin during The Clone Wars and its like “so that is when he figured that out?” I honestly enjoyed these moments a lot. My enjoyment of them was enhanced when I watched Empire in the aftermath of having read Heir to the Jedi. The big reveal Darth Vader makes to Luke has a different punch when you know what Luke knows about Anakin. As a prequel fan, its like Luke Skywalker experiences the hurt of Revenge of the Sith in one moment and this book enhances those canonical moments on screen a bit. Luke learning about other Jedi in general was also pretty interesting and informative and his questions about the Jedi in the aftermath was fun to read. Another moment, I will spoil here is Luke learning he’s not allowed to romance the ladies if he’s a Jedi.
I am really enjoying the current climate of Star Wars canon across multiple mediums. After 100+ episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars when this book name drops Orto Plutonia, we know exactly what is being talked about it. When the book takes us to Rodia, we know what it looks like. We know how it feels. Hearne does a good job of also making sure we know how it smells and adds details to the already lush environments that have not been explored or noted in animation but make sense. I felt like I was reading a unified universe, heck even the Jorgan fruit from Star Wars Rebels comes up once or twice.
Nakari did not really work well for me as a character. A woman with a ship and upgrades to make it work for Luke’s mission was cool. I dig it. But it was sort of like Hearne knew she wasn’t coming out cool enough and had to add quips about her and Krayyt dragons that just took her from a grounded hero to way too exceptional. So I have to be honest, I didn’t love her and I didn’t really care enough about her for a few important moments in the book to resonate with me. Once again, the emotional connection between Luke and Nakari was stomped out by just a bit of overstepping here and there. When she reveals something tragic from her past that links her and Luke as survivors, a music group called The Tootle Fruits are mentioned and it just loses its punch. I’m all for silly and crazy in Star Wars, more than most in fact but the proximity of this eccentricity was really misplaced. Yes, the character quips about it being silly, but none the less, it just wasn’t the correct sphere for this.
The book really does succeed as a space opera adventure novel. The action is well written and fun. I’ve often found action in books hard to follow and hard to visually interpret in my mind’s eye. I did not struggle with the action in this book. I did feel Hearne captured the spirit of Luke Skywalker rather well. This book is not perfect. But I do think this book is worth your time. I think it contributes to the big picture of Star Wars and Luke Skywalker’s life story. I do feel like, after reading the book, I got the Luke Skywalker experience. What I didn’t get were any new characters I cared about or hope to see in future books.
If you love Luke Skywalker adventures, read Heir to the Jedi. You won’t be let down on that front. A first person Luke Skywalker novel is a daring idea and I loved seeing it play out. I would like to see more interesting narrative experimentation in future Star Wars novels. I give this book a lot of credit for being unique on that front. I had a lot of fun reading it and I thought it was a fun adventure. Hearne played with existing characters well, but new characters felt a bit flat or like they were trying too hard to exist next to legendary characters like Luke Skywalker. It is no easy task. That said, I do recommend reading it.
You can order Heir to the Jedi here.