“We didn’t know that when they first arrived. Manty thought their occupation would not last, or would be token. Most believed they had come because of the temples. We thought, they have come to crush belief, because belief leads to hope, and hope can topple monsters. They will stay long enough to crush hope, but they do not understand that hope can be a very small thing. It doesn’t need much to survive. An occasional breath of air. A flicker of warmth. Hope can live in a vacuum.” – Baze Malbus
My childhood was full of tie-in novels. I would read anything I could get my hands on, which, as a kid growing up before the internet or e-books, I was limited to whatever was in the house or on hand in the school library.
What this really meant was that I would read anything my dad did (the other reader in the household) and my dad read tie-in novels. They were his equivalent to Harlequin romance novels, he’d pick them up at the grocery store or on a long trip and then leave them lying around at home, just waiting for me to gobble them up.
I have really vivid memories of reading that first Timothy Zahn Star Wars novel, Heir to the Empire. I was sick at home and my dad brought it back from a trip and handed it directly to me. He said that he thought I’d enjoy it and he was not kidding. I read and re-read that book I don’t know how many times over. A few years later I even read it out loud to my youngest brother, one of many books I shared with him over years of nightly readings, just him and I.
I eagerly awaited the publication of the next two books in Zahn’s trilogy and even though I would, eventually, lose interest in the old Star Wars EU, those books got me through many long, lazy, middle school summers.
That nostalgia made me especially susceptible to the new canon Star Wars novels. And when you combine the allure of Greg Rucka, the art of Phil Noto, and the combined awesomeness of Baze Malbus and Chirrut Imwe, any hesitation is swept away. Of course I was going to read this book. Heck, I even pre-ordered it.
It did not disappoint. The book begins sometime during the Empire’s occupation of Jedha, after the closing of the temples, after people have begun to get used to the new normal. We’re introduced to a Baze and Chirrut who are very much like the people we meet in Rogue One but have not yet had to witness their home torn apart by violence and terror.
And no, I’m not talking about the Death Star.
It’s not a long book, and it’s a junior book at that, written for a readership that is significantly younger than yours truly. But Rucka, while he doesn’t explicitly describe the violence, he doesn’t sugarcoat it either. Bad things happen. People are hurt. War is hell.
Because occupation IS an act of war. One thing Rucka makes stunningly clear is that in a fight the innocents, the civilians, the children, are always the ones who suffer the most. Your cause might be righteous, but it’s the noncombatants in the middle who will always lose, no matter what. Innocent people will get hurt. Innocent people will die.
But, though it may seem like there are no good choices and that nothing an individual can do matters, well, that’s not necessarily true. One or two people may not be enough to save things on the macro level but what we do on the micro level can sometimes be enough.
You take the chances that come your way and you do the best you can. You hope.
And that’s enough schmaltz for this review.
I definitely recommend this book, for both junior and adult readers. It’s a nice little slice of the Star Wars universe, a universe that I can never get enough of.
PS: Baze and Chirrut are married. You know it, I know it, and Greg Rucka definitely knows it.It’s just Lucasfilm that’s clueless.