AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
4 out of 5
Star Wars: Heir To The Jedi
0 ABY (by EU reckoning). This is the story of a Rebel mission to recruit a slicer whose unparalleled abilities could prove decisive in the war against the Empire, told in first-person by Luke Skywalker himself.
I had read a lot of negative reviews of this book and since it's part of evil Disney's rebooted canon, not to mention set in the tedious 'just after the Rebels blew up the Death Star' period, I was ready to hate it just as much. I was therefore very pleasantly surprised to find this a perfectly enjoyable Star Wars adventure with some genuinely interesting elements.
This book's biggest downfall is its plot. There's nothing wrong with the basic outline of Luke and his new friend Nakari having to extract a vital asset from Imperial space, but there's nothing particularly remarkable about it either. In fact, it's a little too close to the dreary plot of James S. A. Corey's 'Honor Among Thieves' for comfort. Added to this unremarkable story is the way it is written as a series of shorter adventures linked into the ongoing plot. Whilst I will give the author credit for capturing the episodic feel of the adventure serials which inspired Star Wars in the first place, I have to say that it doesn't really help with the readability of this book. It gets a bit tedious as Luke and Nakari have to go here and have a mini-adventure and then go there and have a completely different mini-adventure before they can go somewhere else and, eventually, actually get on with the mission they're supposed to be undertaking. This is an especially bitter pill to swallow in a book whose title evokes the brilliantly-plotted 'Heir to the Empire' by Timothy Zahn.
However, if you can swallow a not-terribly-inspiring plot, then you're actually in for some truly great individual Star Wars moments. What I found most interesting and original was Hearne's approach to Luke's exploration of his Jedi powers. Until reading this book it had never actually occurred to me that in 'The Empire Strikes Back', Luke uses telekinesis without it ever having appeared in 'A New Hope'. There are some Jedi powers that forty years of Star Wars has left me taking for granted but which in-universe, Luke would have no actual knowledge of. This is also explored in his first attempts to use the Jedi Mind Trick, the name of which Luke can't even guess at. My fears with stories set in the post-Episode IV timeframe is that very little character development can happen for the likes of Luke, Leia and Han, but here Hearne actually manages to find something significant to say about how the Luke of ANH ichanges into the Luke of ESB.
Other highlights include Luke visiting a Jedi tomb, some genuinely horrific brain-eating parasites, a nice display of the axiom that no plan survives contact with the enemy (not to mention Han's take on it: shoot everything and have a Wookiee) and Luke showing why he's considered the galaxy's best pilot by single-handedly attacking an Imperial Interdictor cruiser.
Overall, far better than I expected but let down considerably by somewhat sloppy plotting.
4 out of 5