Star Wars Legends: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller (book review).

‘Star Wars Legends: Kenobi’ is, of course, a book about that crazy old hermit that young Luke Skywalker learns is living out in the Dune Sea somewhere. Or, alternatively, it’s about an idealistic young Jedi fleeing from the destruction of his order by the Emperor and his army.


No, it’s a book about both these people, filling the gap between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy, not so much linking up the films as providing extra depth, answering that simple question: What did Obi Wan Kenobi do for twenty years out there in the deserts of Tatooine while Luke Skywalker was growing up with his foster parents, Owen and Beru Lars.

Or at least, that’s the idea. In truth, this book doesn’t focus as strongly on Kenobi as you might expect. There are a lot of secondary characters here though, surprisingly perhaps, Kenobi’s master, Qui-Gon Jinn, isn’t among them. I say ‘surprisingly’ because at the end of the ‘Revenge Of The Sith’, the implication is that Yoda will explain to Kenobi how to speak to the spirit of Qui-Gon and he will be expected to carry on his training as a Jedi Knight even in exile. But beyond a few italicised thoughts here and there, Qui-Gon barely figures in ‘Kenobi’ at all.

That aside, we do get a much deeper look at life on Tatooine, particularly the relationship between the human setters and the native Tuskens. Both are battling against the harsh desert climate of the world but in different ways and with different sets of values. Kenobi fits in best with the human settlers of course, but he also manages to come to an accommodation with some of the Tuskens as well, explaining how he’s able to live out there in the Dune Sea in relative peace.

There’s a lovely scene where Kenobi is using the famous Jedi Mind Trick to diffuse a situation between the humans and Tuskens involving the recovery of a Tusken’s body by, as it turns out, his mother. It’s a scene that’s handled carefully without diminishing the threat posed by the Tuskens in the book or for that matter in the films.

If there’s an over-riding theme to the book, it’s that Kenobi has to learn to keep his head down and stay out of trouble, even when that means letting bad things happen. There’s a dramatic tension between his desire to fight for justice, as a Jedi Knight is trained, versus his need to watch over young Skywalker, which requires absolute discretion and patience.

In short, this is a good read, if a bit slow and without any real goal beyond not breaking with film canon in any serious way. It suffers a bit by comparison with James Luceno’s excellent ‘Tarkin’ novel that occupies a similar sort of time frame and also tries to provide canon-friendly back story to a popular character. Where ‘Tarkin’ was all about ramping up the motives and methods of the titular character, ‘Kenobi’ has to dial them back, turning the hot-headed young Jedi of ‘Revenge Of The Sith’ into the wise old mentor we see in ‘A New Hope’.

Neale Monks

August 2015

(pub: Arrow/Random House, 2014. 430 page paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-099-59424-6)

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