Book Review: Dawn of the Jedi

It’s highly entertaining to me that while I was reading the first EU book in over 10 years, LFL announces that all of the EU is now referred to as “Legends” and no longer canon.  It kind of seems like a waste of my time to try to fulfill my resolution of reading one EU book per year.  Should I forget about the previous books and move forward as LFL moves forward with novels?  Or should I continue to read the books of the past?

Aw, shucks that’s a hard decision!

I’m kidding.  Of course I’ll read EU books before they were “Legends”.  As long as they’re good.

But, you know, I don’t read EU books.  I’ve discussed it many times on my blog, but this past experience was a heavy reminder of why I don’t read them.

Because this one sucked.  Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh.  I hate to say any author’s hard work “sucked” because they put a lot of time and effort into it…but LFL: Please don’t let Tim Lebbon write anymore Star Wars novels!

I chose Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void because they had a sample of the first chapter in a Star Wars Insider last year.  I really, really liked the chapter and figured the rest of the book would be the same.  Plus, it’s about Jedi, my favorite!  Originally it was a comic book that was adapted to a novel, so I’m hoping that explains away the reasons I didn’t like it, but I don’t believe that’s the case.

*Spoilers below*

dawn of the jediIn a nutshell: This is not exactly an “origin” story of the Jedi, per se, like I was hoping for.  Instead, it was more of a sampling of the history of the Jedi, more than 25,000 BBY.  They live on a planet called Tython where there are nine temples.  In order to become a Je’daii, you need to travel between each of the temples to gain a well-rounded skill set to become a Master.  I had to look some of that up on Wookiepedia because all I remember was that there was a lot of traveling and temples.

The story focuses on a young Je’daii Ranger named Lanoree Brock, who is tasked with the mission to stop her brother, Dalien Brock (who was thought to be dead), from activating a hypergate.

The story goes between flashbacks of growing up with Dalien and trying to force him into being a Je’daii like herself and the real time of her mission to find him.  While on her mission, she meets up with a Twi’lek named Tre Sana who helps her.

Yup.  That’s the gist of it. Lots of plot. 😉

Pros:

  • Lanoree actually kills her brother at the end of the novel.  I know, strange that this is a pro.  But the whole novel is leading up to this climatic confrontation and you think she is going to “save” him from himself.  Possibly see him regret his actions and become a better person.  But nope, he remains foolhardy (I say foolhardy because he wasn’t necessarily “evil”) until the end of the novel where she has to kill him.
  • We get to see the Jedi as an organization years and years before the Prequels. Before they had lightsabers, they had swords.  They did everything lightsabers do, but were swords instead.  Not much detail on how they made the swords to have the exact same properties as lightsabers, though.
  • The novel was centered around a female protagonist.  Lanoree is practically a robot and it’s hard to feel supportive for her, but at least the main character is a female.  She is a Je’daii who can kick some serious butt and leads the story.  I always like to see books that are written entirely from a female perspective.
  • I learned that Sith were a species before they were the antithesis of the Jedi.  It was really confusing at first to be reading about Lanoree walking by Sith and not freaking out.

Cons:

  • My main problem with this novel was that I never felt attachment to any of the characters.  Lanoree is not a very likeable character lanoree brockand her brother is just annoying, not really evil.  The closest I felt for any character was Tre Sana, but even he was kind of wooden and non-likeable.  I like feeling for characters, rooting for them, and when I put the book down, I want to feel like they were my friends and I have invested my emotions into them.  I want to feel sad when someone dies (or almost dies? It wasn’t entirely clear) as was the case with Tre Sana.  Instead, I felt nothing when he died and thought the way it was written was very strange.
  • The juxtaposition between flashbacks and real time also created a very jarring novel.  I’ve read that style before, and I know it can be done well, but in this case, it made it a lot harder to read.  Lebbon seemed to want to write a fantasy novel during the flashbacks and a science fiction novel in real time.  It seemed like he was trying to mix two genres together and I wasn’t having it.   They never really matched up.  Tython and the Je’daii were the fantasy realm, whereas Lanoree’s mission with Tre Sana was sci-fi.  When Lanoree and Dalien were traveling to the different temples together (flashback) they encountered fantastical beasts, complete with beasts that could withstand the Force.  That’s fine if beasts can withstand the Force, I remember reading of such in Heir to the Empire, but by the time we got to them, it felt like the author was running out of ideas for suspense.
  • I never understood the connection Lanoree felt for her brother.  There were never any flashbacks that gave us the siblings being in tune with each other and completely loving each other.  Each flashback had a sullen, hateful Dalien, and a Lanoree who tried to push her ideals and training of the Force down his throat.  So where was this supposed connection and love coming from?  Was it just the whole “blood is thicker than water” thing?
  • The writing was horrible and there was very little actual plot.  I felt like I was reading an airport novel.  It consistently left chapters on bad cliffhangers that didn’t make me want to turn the page.  The dialogue was bland, and though there was a lot of action packed into the pages…it felt like nothing really happened.

Okay, there was more than just these points, but I feel like I would end up complaining way too much.  I think I had high hopes for this book since I liked the excerpt from Insider so much.  It’s never good when you have high hopes, because then you are bound to be disappointed.

I gave this book 2/5 stars on Goodreads because it wasn’t HORRIBLE.  But it was forgettable and it sums up why I stopped reading EU books in the first place.  When you get a bad Star Wars EU book, it’s pretty bad.

However, I’ve had some suggestions from Mei-Mei recommending Choices of One and Null recommended Darth Plagueis, and I’ve heard good things about both.  Maybe I should just start at the beginning and read the Thrawn Trilogy again…I think it’s been enough time to revisit them.

Anyone have any other suggestions?

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Book Review: Dawn of the Jedi

  1. I found that when the Star Wars books switched over from Bantam to Del Ray the quality went down. I read tons of Star Wars books growing up, and then have gone on to read very few as an adult. Every now and then I dabble in the expanded universe, and then am reminded why I haven’t bought a Star Wars book since high school. However, when I go back and read the books published under Bantam, like the Thrawn Trilogy and Rogue Squadron series, I remember why I loved them in the first place.
    It is books like this which make me hopeful for the reboot of the entire Star Wars universe. The slate is blank, and so there is more potential for storytelling.

    • I haven’t noticed this Bantam/Del Rey divide. I’ve read some really good books from both Bantam and Del Rey and I’ve encountered some bad ones from both as well. I’ve been trying to figure out a pattern to the good vs. bad books but unfortunately it really just seems to be hit or miss. These days I download a free sample of the book on my Kindle before actually buying it, although “Dawn of the Jedi” appears to have shown that this strategy doesn’t always work, either.

      • Interesting, on both accounts. I’ve heard great things about Darth Plagueis and that’s Del Rey. I wonder if maybe as we get older, it’s easier to distinguish between good and bad EU books. I read most of my EU books from ages 11-16. I think Dawn of the Jedi would not have seemed so bad if I was reading it again at those ages.

        Maybe a good way to distinguish good from bad is taking a look at what the author has written beforehand? Lebbon claims to be a “horror and dark fantasy” writer, and maybe that doesn’t translate as well into the EU. Not sure, but I did have problems with how fantasy-driven the flashbacks were and how they also did not seem to fit well with the flow.

        I’m the wrong person to ask, honestly. Most of the EU I read was from Bantam.

  2. I would also recommend The Ruins of Dantooine by Voronica Whitney-Robinson and the Republic Commando series by Karen Traviss.

    • The Republic / Imperial Commando series is my favorite Star Wars book series and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to most people. However, I haven’t recommended it here because it might not be the kind of subject material you’re interested in, Kiri (it focuses very much on the clones and their Mandalorian heritage). Still, there is a bit of an intersection with the Jedi so it might be worth sampling…

      • Yeah, a lot of 501st peeps love Karen Traviss and her Republic Commando series. Funnily – though I’m not very interested in clones and Mandalorians, they were some of my favorite episodes in TCW…so maybe there’s a part of me yet to be discovered that loves clone history.

        • Be advised that the Mandalorians as portrayed in the Republic Commando series are much more Spartan than in TCW (this was partly the reason why the second Imperial Commando novel was canceled). I actually liked their portrayal in the Republic Commando series much more than in TCW (it’s more concordant with the Mandalorians’ culture and actions in the KOTOR and TOR time periods), but you may not like it. The Republic Commando series has great camaraderie between the clones and with some of the Jedi — which you’ll probably like — but you might find a significant difference between the clones in the Republic Commando series vs. TCW (I’m not sure, though, due to my limited knowledge of TCW).

          • You seem convinced I will not like it, which makes me just want to read it anyway to prove you wrong! But if I do not like it, I will feel like I wasted my time. You’ve followed my blog for a while and have a general gist of what I like/don’t like, so I may take your advice on this and not read it. I’ll sleep on this one.

    • Ruins of Dantooine? I have not heard much about that but looks like it could be an easy read. What makes you recommend that novel? It looks like a spin-off to Star Wars Galaxies (a game I tried to get into, but could not. I have serious issues with gaming not holding my interest).

  3. Life is too short to read bad EU novels!!
    What kind of stuff are you interested in reading about? I’m sure we can come up with some suggestions along those lines. Do you want more of the original characters, or maybe some non-Jedi stories? Aliens, action, or Jedi/Sith philosophy?
    I think Darth Plagueis is actually the next EU novel I’m going to read because I’ve heard such good stuff about it.
    And thank you, now I know not to waste my time with this book. 🙂

    • Hmmm good question. I think I’d love some stories about bounty hunters, smugglers, underworld Star Wars stuff. If there were any good novels about the Jedi pre-Prequels with no original characters, I would like that as well.

      I’m kind of staying away from post-ROTJ because my only memories of that is that it’s a jungle out there! That’s why I may reread the essentials and the ones I knew I loved, but not sure I’ll delve into anything else.

  4. Ruins of Dantooine is a spin-off of Star Wars Galaxies which made me a little reluctant to read it at first. What I liked about it was the characters were well written, like you I want to grow attached to the characters in a book and with this one I did. I also sometimes like reading other storylines within the Star Wars realm that aren’t necessarily focused on the main characters of Star Wars (though those ones are still my favorite by far:)).

    That’s just my prospective on it and though it may not be a book for everyone, it was one that I really enjoyed.

    Oh, and thanks for the Dawn of the Jedi review. Most likely one I will pass on.

  5. I always forget that the Sith were a species first myself, even though I’ve known that a while. As I haven’t read many of the EU books, I’m looking forward to the new EU books. As for suggestions, I like Scoundrels. It’s a SW take on Ocean’s 11, and has a bit of a surprise ending. It’s set not long after A New Hope and Lando, Han, Chewie, and Winter are among the characters.

    • I’ve heard good things about Scoundrels and I had a guest post on here over a year ago where Nathan reviewed the book. I guess I’m trying to stay away from original characters for right now, but it’s so hard! Since most of the EU was written so that people could find out what happened to their beloved characters, it’s not easy to get away from them.

  6. Pingback: Five Epic Steeds To Ride Into Battle | The L. Palmer Chronicles

  7. Pingback: Book Review: Choices of One | Star Wars Anonymous

  8. I think that you should check out the Legacy of the Force series, I finished reading Apocalypse by Troy Denning, and it was great, one of the best EU books I’ve read, I learned a lot from it about the Star Wars Universe. And the New Jedi Order Series.

    I just finished reading the Dawn of the Jedi book today, I admit it was a change from the star wars books I am use to, I think there were too many flashbacks, and the characters could have been developed better. But, I liked the messages in the book…”There are depths..”

Use Your Comlink...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s