The newest Star Wars book, Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne, comes out on March 3rd and lets Luke take the spotlight for the first time in a few years. It’s also in a very unique position of being the only previously announce project to make it through to the new canon. It may no longer be a part of the Empire and Rebellion series but it’s still very definitely the Luke book.
Luke Skywalker’s the pilot who blew up the Death Star but that doesn’t make him a Jedi yet or any less that farmboy from Tatooine. To the Rebellion, he’s mostly valued for his piloting skills which makes him the perfect choice to retrieve an Imperial cryptographer who wants to defect to the Rebellion. The Alliance pairs him and Artoo with Nakari Kelen, the daughter of a biotech mogul, who comes with her beautiful ship the Desert Jewel on this mission that quickly becomes far more than just a simple retrieval.
For the most part, the book is enjoyable enough. It’s the second Star Wars book to ever be written in first person but that’s definitely where the comparisons to I, Jedi should stop as these are two totally different books that approach the point of view style from different angles. Heir to the Jedi feels a bit more like you’re reading Luke’s diary than being inside of his head. That’s not necessarily a problem though as it gives readers more insight to how Luke goes from being the naïve farmboy hero to the squadron commander that we see on Hoth. It’s fun to read about the Luke who can’t quite figure out telekinesis although he thinks it’s something he can probably do. (We could’ve used a little less focus on this particular trick though.) Hearne does a good job of capturing Luke’s sense of humor; something that far too many authors have neglected in the past. Given that this is the Luke book? It’s always a good sign when the author gets the character.
Nakari Kelen is a fun addition to the Star Wars universe and it’d be great to see more of her. It’s always fantastic to see another person of color take center stage and doubly fantastic when that’s a character of color. She’s well rounded and interesting with her own motivations for being a part of the Rebellion and she works great opposite Luke. Her relationship with her father reminded me of Booster and Mirax Terrik and I’d love to see a short story where we get to see the four of them interact.
On the writing front, whether or not someone enjoys the book will definitely depend on how they feel about first person. That’s the one hurdle that probably can’t be avoided. Pacing-wise, the book does start a bit slow (although it’s something I didn’t realize until my second read through when I took a bit more time to read it.) This is yet another story that follows in the recent trend of focusing on a much smaller scale. Luke and Nakari’s work is relatively important but the FATE OF THE GALAXY doesn’t rest upon their success. It was also nice to see the Givin worked into the book and to see their love for math used throughout especially in the chapter titles. (I’m assuming those equations made sense mathematically.) A smaller scale plot paired with a diverse and interesting core cast is generally a win in my book. My biggest complaint about the writing is that things often felt a little too convenient for our heroes. For example, a brief mission Luke’s sent on at the start of the book comes into play later on. If nothing else, you can definitely tell that Kevin Hearne had fun writing this book.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem with this book is also its biggest spoiler. If you’re curious enough, the spoiler is just an easy Google search away. I find it regrettable that Hearne chose this particular route and it’s enough to significantly bring down my overall enjoyment of the book. Hopefully, this will not be the status quo for the new canon and that’s all I will say for fear of spoiler territory.
At the end of the day, I give Heir to the Jedi a 3/5.
Thank you to Del Rey for providing us with an advanced copy of the book for review purposes.