A short and sweet little story to expand on a couple of characters we see all too briefly in the Star Wars cinematic universe: upon watching Rogue One, I immediately fell in love with Baze Malbus and Chirrut Imwe, the two “guardians” of the Temple of Kyber in the city of Jedha. They act like an old married couple, one a little gruff and the other full of mysticism and hope, joining our heros in their quest to bring hope to the galaxy in defeating the empire. But you’ve all seen Rogue One and know this by now right?
Well, given the opportunity to learn a little more about these two characters through Greg Rucka’s Guardians of the Whills, I thought, why not! It’s a short and simple book, with a little bit of action in a small adventure seemingly just before the events of Rogue One. We see Baze and Chirrut in their already long-standing, established relationship, after the Empire has taken some residence in what used to be a holy city of pilgrimage for many. It is a destitute time, with many children becoming orphaned by the actions and violence of the Empire. The main story here therefore revolves around Baze and Chirrut trying to help their friends running an orphanage with survival, as well as eventual escape from the city. Along the way, the two also come in contact with Saw Gererra, who is also trying to find a way to hurt the empire. It left me a little confused because I haven’t seen Rogue One in a while, and can’t remember if there is the implications that Baze and Chirrut know Saw Gererra or not when they get taken into his base with Jyn and Cassian? Mmm, in any case, it doesn’t really matter I guess.
Ultimately, this is a story about doing what you can: about how small moves and hits can inspire hope and lead to more. And I love that. The overall mood of the book is serious and light: not super complicated and maybe a little simple with a bit of an anticlimactic ending, but really it’s supposed to be a little vignette to show life in the area before they get drawn into the bigger adventure. So, the story itself may not be the most inventive thing, but the main draw here for me (and what was most successful) was just to see a little more of the characters. What makes both Baze and Chirrut great is how they could be simple stock characters, but they aren’t: Baze could just be big and gruff, but we see a softness and caring there. Meanwhile, Chirrut could be just a sterotyped religious image of centered calm and reason, but there is also anger and conflict, and holding on to his faith despite knowing that others around him have faltered in it, yet not judging them for this. It is also these differences between the two that compliment each other so well. I love their friendship and how they work together and care about each other so much, regardless of their slightly different views on some things: it’s their major views of life that matter the most, and searching to do all they can for those who need help.
In any case, this was a short and fun read: a few little messages and tidbits in there, but ultimately nothing too crazy or complex. Still, a good and light way to start off my reading for the year! And as I said before, I love these characters, and wanted a little more of them, which is exactly what I got in the end.