John Jackson Miller has been a longtime Star Wars author since he began working for Dark Horse Comics back in 2005. Over the past decade, he has written several critically acclaimed works such as Knights of the Old Republic, Knight Errant, Lost Tribe of the Sith, and Kenobi. When Del Rey Books announced a “reboot” of the Star Wars Expanded Universe earlier this year, it only made sense that Miller would be brought on board. Miller (alongside James Luceno, Kevin Hearne, Paul S. Kemp, and Christie Golden) is a part of the team of talented writers tasked with authoring the new line of Star Wars fiction. Miller has always demonstrated both an understanding and genuine love for the Star Wars Universe. He has the ability to capture the essence of the original films and extrapolate them in new, refreshing stories. I have been fortunate enough to interview Mr. Miller before and he has always come across as someone who genuinely loves the franchise and has exciting ideas for it’s future. Suffice it to say, when it was announced that Miller would be writing A New Dawn (which will serve as a prequel to the upcoming Rebels television show), I was exhilarated.
On September 2nd, we will see the release of A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller. A New Dawn, as the first book in the new line of “canon” stories, had a lot to live up to. Not only would it serve as an introduction to the characters set to appear in Rebels, but also as our first look the galaxy seen in the movies. It went above and beyond on both accounts. While this review will remain spoiler-free, we will discuss some of the attributes that really made A New Dawn an excellent read. Kanan Jarrus is one of the main protagonists in this story, and poses a complex situation as he is a Jedi who survived Order 66. Fans will be delighted to know that Obi-Wan Kenobi makes an appearance in this book, albeit only in the prologue. Kanan must overcome many things in this book: his past at the forefront of his issues. Its very interesting to see how Miller tackles writing a Jedi who really isn’t a Jedi. He doesn’t go around using the Force or swinging a lightsaber. Instead, we see a man who is immature and fears growing connected to anyone or anything. He brings along some definite Han Solo traits, but also is very original with his own goals and ambitions. He has a long way to go before he becomes the man we will see in Rebels. He isn’t a leader and is barely a follower. This is were Hera Syndulla enters the fray.
Hera is already well on her way to leading the rebellion we’ve previewed for this fall. Hera is a strong, capable woman who is on a mission. She also acts as a guide and mentor to Kanan to determine if he is up to the task. It’s an interesting take similar to Leia bringing Han into the Rebellion. While there are some parallels between the original films and this book, we also see a lot more. They seem to follow on the same path, but then diverge in a surprising way. Ultimately, its the perfect balance of both the familiar and the unknown. The same is true for our antagonist, Count Vidian. Vidian is a business tycoon with some interesting physical qualities that add a different dimension to the story, when told through his “eyes.” Vidian is a calculating villain and a classically ruthless Imperial.
The location of the book focuses on the planet Gorse and it’s unique moon. We see life on the frontier by way of this mining planet and all the nefarious activity that comes along with it. The book is packed with deception, betrayal, and general cut-throat behavior. The Imperials are also refreshing written, and more than a match for our heroes, both physically and intellectual. When I started this book, I wondered how much action it could really have. A few chapters in and I was on the edge of my seat. This book has it all: space battles, terrorism, evading Imperials, and physical confrontations between our heroes and villains. The supporting cast in this book is strong and they act as a strong foil for our main crew. While the whole plot line is very engaging, this book also serves as a character piece. We get to see a lot of character development that seems natural and skillfully done. We get an informative glimpse into galaxy as well an exciting cameo.
Overall, Miller has crafted an instant classic in the Star Wars universe. As someone who has followed his Star Wars entries for several years, I can safely say this might be his best work yet. A New Dawn is a dazzling, intrepid novel that will rekindle the emotions that drew you to Star Wars years ago. Thanks to Del Rey Books and Alexandria Coumbis for providing Yoda’s News with a review copy of this book. I give this book a score of 9/10 stars and highly recommend it.