Let’s just get this out of the way: Kenobi is one of the best entry points to the Expanded Universe available to readers.
That’s really saying something, because in the last year there have been some great additions to EU bookshelves in that regard. I can’t emphasize this enough; anyone can pick up this book regardless of how much Expanded Universe content they have. Whether you’re a new reader or a reader of twenty years, you can enjoy this book and not feel in any way lost. So with that in mind, go buy this book right now.
Kenobi features an extremely deep and fully realized original cast of characters. Despite the fact that the scope for this book is much more contained and limited than other books we’ve seen over the years, the characters help give this book the sense of grandeur and adventure a Star Wars tale needs to have. As a bonus, it features one of the best written female characters the EU has seen in years. Annileen Calwell and her family are sympathetic, relatable, and compelling. Traits that are sometimes difficult to find in original characters in a universe like Star Wars that’s filled with such iconic individuals.
What truly surprised me about this book, however, is that it manages to explore the depths of Ben Kenobi but still maintained the aura of mystery around his character. We see him through the eyes of settlers in a small desert wasteland community. Through their interactions with him, readers see the progression of how he transforms from General Kenobi to Crazy Old Ben. This, for the most part, isn’t a story that’s told through his perspective. It’s from the perspective of others trying to figure out just who this Ben Kenobi is.
That isn’t to say there’s nothing from the perspective of Kenobi, however. Some of the book’s most poignant moments are the first-person meditations at the ends of some of the chapters where Kenobi is trying desperately to communicate with his former master Qui-Gon. Through these scenes we see how broken Kenobi is and how he’s somehow managing to keep it all together while protecting the Lars homestead, helping the Calwells, and trying to reconcile the terrible tragedy that had just befallen the Jedi Order and the Galaxy as a whole.
I could keep gushing with this review for paragraphs more, but suffice to say this is a book that should be on every Star Wars fan’s bookshelf. I suspect that some of you may be reading this review and are off put by the idea that this isn’t a book that’s told from Ben Kenobi’s perspective. Believe me when I say that telling this story through the perspective of the settlers is a huge benefit to the book. Don’t let that stop you from reading this, because you will be missing out on one of the best Expanded Universe novels to release in the last decade. This is one of the rare books that actively enhances the films.
I give Kenobi a 5/5. This is going to be on the regular re-read rotation for me.
Note: Thanks to Del Rey and Random House for providing an advance review copy.