Review: Heir to the Jedi

Heir to the Jedi Review

Author: Kevin Hearne
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: March 3, 2015
Pages: 304 (267 of content)
Era: Rebellion

This review contains minor spoilers.

Written by franchise newcomer Kevin Hearne, Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi tells a Luke-centric tale that is more intimate and smaller in scope than many previous novels in the series. In addition to being the third novel set in the new canon–following last year’s A New Dawn and TarkinHeir has the distinction of being the second Star Wars novel ever written in first person.

Heir to the Jedi

Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi

Hearne makes great use of this writing style, delving into Luke Skywalker’s thought process and giving readers a better look into just what makes the former farm boy tick. The story is set shortly after the events of A New Hope, a time period during which Luke is nearly overwhelmed with dramatic changes in his life. He’s left his home for the first time, joined the Rebel Alliance and became the organization’s poster boy for destroying the Death Star, lost close friends and family, and started down the path of becoming a Jedi–without a teacher to guide him.

Over the course of Heir to the Jedi, Luke begins to learn how to harness the Force and act like a Jedi. Hearne explains how the iconic Jedi hand movements relate to Force usage, and in one scene near the end of the book, readers see just how different Luke is from his father Anakin. We also get to see Luke finally deal with the loss of Uncle Owen, Aunt Beru, Ben Kenobi, and his friend Biggs Darklighter, as well as struggle with how he’s perceived in the Alliance.

Throughout the book, Luke also learns a bit about the history of the Jedi. The novel ties in nicely with The Clone Wars, with references to a few episodes of the series like “Children of the Force.” A few characters even knew Anakin and Obi-Wan at one point, giving Luke the opportunity to learn more about his father and mentor, as well as begin to uncover a few truths about the fall of the Jedi Order.

With a title like Heir to the Jedi, it’s probably not too surprising that the book is primarily focused on Luke. In fact, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO are almost completely absent. Instead, Luke is joined by his trusty astromech R2-D2 and Rebel agent Nakari Kelen. Nakari is a fun addition to the series. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and she’s a crack shot with a sniper rifle. The relationship between Luke and Nakari is actually a fairly large part of the book, and it’s wrapped up in a somewhat unexpected way.

All of this is set against the backdrop of a rescue mission in which Luke and Nakari are tasked with freeing brilliant cryptologist Drusil Bephorin and delivering her to her family hiding on Omereth. While the scope of the story is relatively small, our heroes still visit a number of planets and conduct a few side missions along the way. After the limited settings in Rebels and A New Dawn, it’s almost refreshing to visit a number of locations again.

Drusil is a Givin, a species which fans of the EU know is comprised of skeletal-looking mathematical geniuses. We’ve seen Givin use complex mathematical greetings and plot hyperspace navigational vectors in their mind before, but charting new routes through unexplored systems using gravitational forces and triangulating the position of enemies based on probabilities is a fun and unique take on this concept. In fact, the importance of math to the story is conveyed right off the bat thanks to the equations which surround the number of each chapter. The presence of these equations are seemingly random and a bit confusing at first, but they eventually make sense once the Givin enters the picture.

The first person writing style is very enjoyable and a nice change from your typical Star Wars novel. Hearne’s repeated use of the word “goodly” is pretty noticeable however, even though it was actually only used a handful of times. The word is so rarely used anymore that it was surprising to see it used a number times over the course of just a few chapters. Also, at one point during the book, Drusil mentions needing to upgrade her firewalls with “lots more fire.” This comment makes little to no sense from a technical standpoint, especially coming from someone who’s supposedly an expert slicer. Of course, these are really just nitpicks. Some authors can go a little overboard quoting the films, but Hearne manages to stay away from most well-known quotes. The only exception to this is one moment where Luke quotes himself from A New Hope, but he does so in a way that’s intentionally self-referential and makes complete sense in-universe.

Overall, Kevin Hearne’s Heir to the Jedi is a very enjoyable Luke-centric novel. It’s fun to get inside the young Jedi’s head, especially when so many important things are weighing on him. But while there are some fun action scenes, the majority of the book almost feels laid-back, stripping away any sense of urgency. It also failed to grab me as much as I’d hoped, and I found myself frequently putting the book down. Then again, I’m still waiting for a Star Wars novel in the new canon to make me want to keep reading late into the night. Heir to the Jedi isn’t a book you won’t want to put down, but Star Wars fans will undoubtedly enjoy it anyway.

3.5/5 Kath Hounds

Advanced Review Copy (ARC) courtesy of Del Rey. All staff members can be contacted at contact@eucantina.net.

About the Author

William Devereux (@MasterDevwi) is EUCantina's administrator, as well as the host of the Ion Cannon podcast. When he's not talking about Star Wars, he works at Microsoft as a Program Manager.