On sale today, A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller is the first novel that is part of the Lucasfilm Story Group approved timeline. Set in the dark times between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and several years before the upcoming Rebels cartoon, it’s a tale of how two of the show’s main characters, Hera and Kanan, first encounter each other and eventually decide to team up. As someone excited by Rebels, I enjoyed the novel and found it interesting to see the characters before they united for a common cause.
Miller brings his skills in combining likable characters with clashing viewpoints, in a story setting that he has mastered before in Kenobi and Knight Errant: a Jedi alone in hostile territory. Only this time, the Jedi’s not interested in being a Jedi, or even be on the hero’s path at all – while someone else is sorting out what type of people are and aren’t needed for a rebellion to the Empire’s rule. And as with Knight Errant and Lost Tribe of the Sith series, where various Sith philosophies were being forged and tested against each other, the villain, Count Vidian, has his own philosophy being pushed to the extreme, and we witness it in practice.
Minor spoilers beyond this point.
Overall, I found the cast of characters to be interesting, including our two show stars. While we see a glimpse into Kanan’s former life as a Jedi youngling before he becomes the loner and drifter, we learn very little about Hera’s backstory, but it is her mission that keeps the plot moving along, and keeps connecting to the other characters, such as Skelly, the crackpot miner who just wants someone to listen to his whistleblowing theory, and Zaluna, the surveillance agent discovering that she’s now the eyes and ears of a regime that makes people disappear. Count Vidian is definitely sinister as the Empire’s efficiency expert, willing to murder to remove obstacles from faster productivity, and Sloane, in her role as acting captain of Vidian’s Star Destroyer, has to decide how far she’s willing to hitch her wagon to Vidian’s star.
The plot feels like a Star Wars plot, and maybe it is a little bit predictable – Kanan doesn’t fully step up to invest himself in the cause until his only friend gets killed by an uncaring Empire. Also, Kanan keeps popping up on the everybody’s radar but this gets used to good effect in the end. Hera could have used a little more depth, but I think there might be some show reasons why we don’t go more into her motivations here. A New Dawn is entertaining and enjoyable and definitely got me even more pumped for Rebels.
A New Dawn is on sale today, September 2, in hardcover, ebook and audio versions. Want to check it out before you buy? Try the first fifty-some pages for yourself. Or check out the interview with John Jackson Miller at Comic-Con in July.
An advance copy of this book was provided by Del Rey/Random House for review.