You don’t wake up one morning, pour yourself a warm cup of caf, and become a Jedi. No. That is not how the Force works. It takes years of discipline and patience. But how does one begin, when given a flashy weapon of destruction and no manual? One step at a time. As we learn from Luke Skywalker’s tale in the novel Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne. Below is my review.
Road to Heir to the Jedi
To get into the mindset of adventure in Heir to the Jedi, I present a total of six episodes from the TV series The Clone Wars and Rebels. There are elements that transfer over into the novel. Some are a direct reference, and some give off a similar vibe.
The Clone Wars Episodes: Trespass (Season 1 Episode 15), Mercy Mission (Season 4 Episode 5), Nomad Droids (Season 5 Episode 6)
Rebels Episodes: Fighter Flight (Season 1), Stealth Strike (Season 2), The Call (Season 2)
The End of A New Hope
When it comes to looking at Heir to the Jedi, I found it to be fascinating to look at Luke from a certain point of view. To elaborate I must mention two movies.
First is Romancing the Stone. In the movie the protagonist Joan Wilder (played by Kathleen Turner) is a romance novelist that ends up being thrown into her own romantic adventure, when her sister gets kidnapped and a mystery treasure map is given to her. Much like Luke, she must take the map (Death Star plans) to Columbia (Alderaan/Yavin IV) to rescue her sister (blow up the Death Star). In addition, she met Jack Colton (played by Michael Douglas), who helped guide her through the jungle, and they fell in love. In this parallel I would say Luke met Ben Kenobi, who helped guide him through opening his mind to the ways of the Force, but left Luke alone in his journey after his death.
Second is the sequel The Jewel of the Nile. In the movie Joan Wilder and Jack Colton have started to drift apart as the story plays upon the idea of what happens after a romance novel ends. They get thrown into another dangerous adventure and eventually reconnect, but there is that uncertainty in the air if she truly loves Jack. Much is the similar fashion in Heir to the Jedi. Luke is going through the motions of working, for the Rebellion. However, he is uncertain about his connection to the Force. Unsure of if he can live up to be a Jedi, like his Father before him. Through this novel Luke does move back on track much like Jack and Joan rekindle their relationship.
Lastly, both Jewel of the Nile and Heir to the Jedi go into a vastly different direction than the story preceding (Romancing the Stone/A New Hope). This works by having the main character face the day after the happy ending. Was finding romance what she even wanted? Was becoming a Jedi a full hearty endeavour?
The Jedi Knight Rises?
When it comes to Star Wars stories, they are traditionally told in third person. This is because the story is not about just one character, like Batman, but rather an ensemble cast. By writing Heir to the Jedi in a first person perspective it shifts the narrative into a different direction, where just Luke is the focus of the story. Only he still has a lot to learn, before he will become the hero we meet in future stories. I did enjoy Hearne’s pulling back on Luke to his naive roots, because it gives him room to grow.
Never Meet Your Heroes
The famous saying, “never meet your heroes,” rings true in this novel. We imprint part of ourselves on other real/fictional people, and have long thoughts or conversations before ever even meeting them. This can cause a drastic disconnect if our perception of a character/person does not align. Take for example the episode “Pre-Teen Scream” from the show Hey Arnold! The radio station gave Phoebe, who idolized Ronnie Matthews, two concert tickets and backstage passes to his show. She even convinced her friend Helga, who could care less about Matthews, to go along. Anyways, after the concert it turns out that Ronnie Matthews was nothing like his persona, which caused Phoebe to freak out, because of the perception she built up of him. All the while Helga grew fond of Matthews, because she saw how successful he was at manipulating himself to success (he did not sing or write his own music).
What I am getting at is the use of first person perspective in Heir to the Jedi took away that bit of mystery behind Luke Skywalker. By getting inside his mind as he struggled to come to terms of his disillusionment and self doubt we are presented, with a clear perspective. This might cause people to be like Phoebe or Helga depending on how they have imprinted their perspective of Luke. I do applaud Hearne, for taking such a bold approach to Luke, as it was a different experience. Luke has a lot to learn. He is still that farm boy from Tatooine, with unpolished social skills. He is still avoiding the extend of situation to really sink in.
This Week On…
One of the interesting things about this novel is the story structure reminded me a lot of a half season of a TV series. There is even a Halloween special episode thrown into the mix. Being a huge fan of The Clone Wars and Rebels, this novel felt like a natural extension of those shows. Though, I do warn that some of the descriptions in this novel gets really graphic. Heir to the Jedi is still an adult novel, and not a TV show. The pace had a great rhythm. I do hope you watch those episodes listed above as it helped me get into the book even more.
The vibe of the story was very lighthearted. My initial review, when I first read the novel back in 2014 was that it was an awkward, dorky, and adorable bubblegum romance story that gave an interesting perspective to the Luke Skywalker we knew from the movies. With the weight of Rogue One, Battlefront: Twilight Company, and other stories it becomes apparent how ignorant Luke was during his acclimation to the cause. The Alliance was literally about to disband, before A New Hope, with many deaths just to keep the fight going, and Luke took a lot of careless risks in this novel. I can see that was meant to be the point. Luke has a lot of growing to do, and this version of Luke did not fully realize yet the gravity of the situation. He did not have a Cassian or a Dravin to wake him up. By the end of the novel he does begin to come to an initial understanding of his reality.
There is a lot to enjoy in this novel. Going to all the food locations, Luke being so charmingly glib, and having a character strong in the ways of math were nice touches by Hearne. What was great about this novel was even though this novel was light on events, there was a lot to chew by what was not mentioned.
I do have one nitpick. The way Luke goes about allowing himself to give into his emotions towards the end was very unexpected. I found it fascinating the first read, but on my second I had mixed feelings. It goes back to the idea in a lot of stories, where it takes an event happening to someone else to further the main character’s growth. It was still very well written.
Luke Skywalker Trilogy
After finishing up Heir to the Jedi, there are two stories to read next, which offer up a fun perspective of Luke. First is Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry. Fry wrote a wonderful junior novel, which involves a flashback to events some time after Heir to the Jedi. In the flashback, Luke goes to the Jedi Temple on Devaron! Second is the first six issues of the Star Wars ongoing titled “Skywalker Strikes.” Written by Jason Aaron, pencilled by John Cassaday, and colored by Lauren Martin. In that arc many surprises await, which I do not want to spoil. Let’s just say they are glass shattering!
Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne is a fun story. Hearne made some unexpected choices, which offer up a unique experience. Because it is in first person, people’s perspective of Luke Skywalker may vary to what was written. Luke does gain some introspective insight to his destiny. If you are looking, for a more lighthearted story that dips into darker waters this is a story for you. Every Jedi must go on a long journey, and it is never easy. This tale is only the beginning, for Luke. Many noodle scoodles await!