Welcome to Book Reviews. In this series I will look to review any canon books that come out in the Star Wars galaxy. I am no expert in book critic or expert in writing (as you may be able to tell from this blog), so this is very much from a fan’s point of view. I will generally try to give a quick idea of what the story is about but avoid any spoilers. In each review, I will also try to point out a few “Moments in Canon” – moments that link into the wider canon and references to other canon stories – and also give my opinion if it is worth reading. Today I will be looking at E. K. Johnston’s novel Ahsoka
Though she was almost universally hated by fans when originally introduced in The Clone Wars movie and TV show, Ahsoka Tano became a favourite for many people, which is a credit to Dave Filoni and voice actor Ashley Eckstein. When Ahsoka chose to walk away from the Jedi Order at the end of Season 5, I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one who felt heartbroken at the time, only to be thrilled to see her appear again in the Season 1 finale of Rebels. Fans finally knew that Ahsoka had survived the Jedi Purge, but did not know exactly how. This novel helps to answer that.
She thought she had gone far enough. She thought she had more time. But she was trapped again, and she would need to figure out what to do next.
The Empire had arrived.
The majority of the story is set about a year after the fall of the Jedi Order and the Rise of the Empire. Ahsoka is looking to find a new place to live and hide from the Empire, however the Empire arrives on the moon for unrelated reasons and the former Padawan is forced to use her experience from the Clone Wars to help the locals, which draws out a greater enemy…
Ahsoka is the main point of view throughout the novel, but there are also a handful of other character viewpoints we see: 2 locals Kaeden and Miara Larte, Bail Organa and a couple of Imperials.
As well as the main story, there are also a series of interludes throughout the novel. Some of these are flashbacks, showing what happened to Ahsoka in the final days of the Republic and the beginning of the Jedi Purge, while a couple also show what is happening to a couple of other characters who are not directly associated with the story but will be a nice surprise for fans of the films and TV shows.
It was almost too easy, which made Ahsoka nervous. She pushed the feeling away. She needed to focus on what was in front of her, and nothing else.
I will start by saying that Ahsoka is one of my favourite characters in the whole of canon, so I was always going to enjoy a story centred around her if it was wrote well. While it is not one of my favourite books, I think E. K. Johnston does a great job with this novel. The way she writes Ahsoka feels true to the character, to the way she is experienced beyond her years. Her memories of Anakin, Obi-Wan and other Jedi are fond and tinged with sadness at their fates. There is also a lovely moment where she realises she is talking to herself, a leftover from when she would speak what she was thinking out loud to R2-D2. She is by no means perfect in her actions and makes mistakes, which she regrets when she realises. Bail Organa is the only other established character to feature heavily in the novel and again he feels very similar to the character we have seen in the films and TV shows. He is balancing his duties as a member of the Imperial Senate with his building of a Rebellion and it is very clear that the danger to his family and his people holds him back from being more openly active Little moments like these work so well to make the story and characters feel realistic and tied in to the wider canon.
The other characters created for this story also feel genuine, with Ahsoka’s new allies trusting her to various degrees and for their own personal reasons. I have heard some people unhappy with Kaeden’s feelings towards Ahsoka. In truth, I completely missed this the first time I read the book and when I read the novel again I did not have any problems with it as it felt natural for a teenager to feel like this: an attraction to someone new and different to everyone else around you, which leaves you more willing to trust them. In my opinion, people think it feels wrong because the only characters we have had around this age before have been part of the Jedi Order like Ahsoka or in a position of responsibility like Padmé Amidala, which would force them to act differently to other people their age.
The main plot of the story is a common trope of an experienced warrior training farmers to fight back and protect their homes from an invading force, similar to the The Clone Wars episode “Bounty Hunters”. What makes this one different is that Ahsoka is doing everything that we can to hide her identity, knowing that it will only put her new friends in more danger. I also really like the way we get to see more of the beginnings of Rebellion, with Bail Organa slowly filling the crew of his ship with people loyal to the Rebellion and Ahsoka becoming the first Fulcrum. The plot feels natural and realistic and it truly feels like a part of Star Wars.
This story also gave some important knowledge regarding lightsabers and the colour of their blades, showing how red blades are caused by the corrupting of crystals that were previously another colour (called “bleeding”) and how this can also work the other way, giving an explanation for how Ahsoka has the first white blades ever seen in canon by the time she appears in Rebels. What is good though is the way this is not over-explained, but more left in that area of fantasy by explaining the feelings Ahsoka gets, how she feels herself drawn to “her” new crystals – think of the wand choosing the wizard in Harry Potter – while we also get a section that hints at how the kyber crystals really are alive. Its the fantasy story in a space setting that makes me love Star Wars so much and these sections encapsulate it wonderfully.
Should I read it?
Now the weight of her lightsabers in her hands was reassuring, but she would have traded them both for Anakin’s presence in a heartbeat.
If you’re a fan of Ahsoka, then this is definitely worth reading. The writing and the story does the character justice and I feel that it works as a good bridge between The Clone Wars and Rebels. With many stories in canon currently focusing on characters who are not Force-users, this is also one of the better stories I have read at bringing in that mystical side. While it does follow some familiar tropes, the way that they are used in the story helps the novel work well.
Hopefully we get another Ahsoka novel in the next couple of years, either following on from this or set after her appearance in Rebels.
Moments in canon
- The bleeding of lightsaber crystals was first covered in this novel but has also been shown in the early issues of the comic book Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith
- There are plenty of references to Ahsoka’s life as shown in The Clone Wars, from memories of Obi-Wan and Anakin’s bickering to Barriss Offee’s betrayal of the Jedi Order, which led to Ahsoka leaving
- Bail Organa thinks that Ahsoka knows about Anakin and Padmé’s relationship from the way she speaks about them. This was hinted in the Season 5 finale of The Clone Wars and all-but confirmed with the Forces of Destiny episode “Unexpected Company”
- The novel gives an idea of how quickly the Empire tried to change its army and navy away from that of the Republic: despite being only a year after the Clone Wars finished, the clones are being aged out and replaced with regular troopers. However, not everything has been updated yet by the Empire and the prefabs brought to Raada are of the same design used by the Republic during the Clone Wars
Have you read Ahsoka? What were your thoughts on it? Thanks for reading and May the Force be with you…