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  1. #1

    SW: A New Dawn, first of the new continuity novels - thoughts?

    At San Diego Comic Con, early reader advance copies of the first novel in the new aligned continuity were given out (signed and handed out by the author, John Jackson Miller, at the Del Rey booth). This is the pre-proofread version and I only found 5 or 6 little issues, nothing major, but it's possible there are still changes to the final so it's requested we don't quote from it.

    Anyway, it's nearly 400 pages long and took me a bit of time to finish. It starts strong, focusing on Kanan Jarrus from the upcoming SW Rebels tv show, and the story is essentially how he ends up meeting another main character of the show, Hera Syndulla. The book spends nearly all of its time on the muddy planet Gorse and its crystal moon, Cynda, concerned with mining operations and the sad lives of those who inhabit that environment. Part of my problem is how much time is spent in this always-night planet, the story takes place over the course of a few days and we spend nearly all of them on Gorse, a blatant stand-in for an old west-style town. Gorse is mildly interesting, but there's simply not enough going on there to spend this much time with.

    I was really disappointed that Hera got no character development in this story, she's an enigma moving the tale forward through her actions which are poorly defined and even less care given to their foundation. The book feels like it's about Hera and Kanan, yet only Kanan ends up with character development and a backstory, Hera is defined solely by her actions and one or two lines vaguely hinting at a tragic backstory which led her to this mission.

    Kanan gets a quality backstory and even character development, some of it feels rote and some borrows too heavily at times from existing SW archetypes ("let's put Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in a blender, adding a dash of Quinlan Vos") but overall it's at least satisfying to get this sort of Mary Sue character in an OT environment.

    The plot early on does a fairly good job building up the idea of the Empire doing things to daily lives which would lead to a rebellion, early on you get a good look at a few characters and how the Empire has changed things.

    Unfortunately, there's still 2 more parts to the book after that and they're the standard "robotic supervillain destroying the world must be stopped by infiltration" storyline that we've seen way too many times before. Once you realize certain characters are going to be in certain places, the end result is easily called and disappointing.

    A few supporting characters are thrown into the mix who we get to know a little, and it's only a shame that there aren't more character moments inhabiting this story.

    Overall, I feel like this is a 3.5/5 and not really "new" storytelling, just the first in a line of new continuity. I fear that light touch with new places and new characters is a result of that aligned continuity storytelling though, that there is too much concern over not treading too heavily so as to not inform nearly at all upon the backstory of other stories, and that's too bad because there are kernels of ideas that deserve to be developed in the audience's eyes.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  2. #2
    I'm about halfway through with it. It's pretty fun, and I really enjoy Kanan's characterization. As you said, even so far Hera hasn't gotten much to do other than be ogled and continually propositioned by Kanan, which is disappointing.

    With it being part of the new canon, I was a little put off by the reference to caf, which has always been ridiculous to me, especially after the SW Insider Blade Squadron story utilized plain ol' coffee. They also kept up the idea that Sullustans are extremely short, when all evidence in both ROTJ and TCW shows them to be of normal height. It's not a dealbreaker of course but I was hoping that things like that wouldn't escape notice from here on out. Also, Depa Billaba seems to not have gone through her Shatterpoint crisis, as she's Kanan's (formerly Caleb Dume) master. I wonder why they chose her to be his master since she's already off the Council and doesn't appear in ROTS, so maybe she was demoted or just a temporary member.
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. JabbaJohnL View Post
    Also, Depa Billaba seems to not have gone through her Shatterpoint crisis, as she's Kanan's (formerly Caleb Dume) master. I wonder why they chose her to be his master since she's already off the Council and doesn't appear in ROTS, so maybe she was demoted or just a temporary member.
    That is sort of an odd choice. Like you said, she's gone in ROTS, but had been there for at least ten years.

    I'd think the smart thing to do would be contradict existing EU when necessary and try to just sort of steer around it, because EU fans are a fickle bunch, and it's unlikely they're going to get a lot of people starting on the EU now, new or not. Best to not **** off fanboys until it's the only way.
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by El Chuxter View Post
    That is sort of an odd choice. Like you said, she's gone in ROTS, but had been there for at least ten years.

    I'd think the smart thing to do would be contradict existing EU when necessary and try to just sort of steer around it, because EU fans are a fickle bunch, and it's unlikely they're going to get a lot of people starting on the EU now, new or not. Best to not **** off fanboys until it's the only way.
    The book has her dying to defend Kanan/Caleb during Order 66, but if there are more concrete details than that, I haven't yet read them. It's definitely an odd choice and there were other Jedi they could have easily used, like the under-represented Coleman Kcaj. Maybe Filoni wanted to expand on her story since they never used her in TCW.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. JabbaJohnL View Post
    I'm about halfway through with it. It's pretty fun, and I really enjoy Kanan's characterization. As you said, even so far Hera hasn't gotten much to do other than be ogled and continually propositioned by Kanan, which is disappointing.
    Hera gets more to do, but not more insight into who she is or why she's doing it, IMO. Kanan never really backs down on the other stuff though, I guess they're going to try to do a Leia/Han thing with them on the show.

    Glad you're enjoying it so far. What do you think of the main villain thus far? How about how the Empire is portrayed?

    With it being part of the new canon, I was a little put off by the reference to caf, which has always been ridiculous to me, especially after the SW Insider Blade Squadron story utilized plain ol' coffee. They also kept up the idea that Sullustans are extremely short, when all evidence in both ROTJ and TCW shows them to be of normal height. It's not a dealbreaker of course but I was hoping that things like that wouldn't escape notice from here on out.
    I've never been terribly bothered by the use of caf since "coffee" is a very Terran word, but "caf" is so short it's easy to get jumbled.

    I had forgotten that Sullustans are no longer short, that's a good catch.

    Quote Originally Posted by El Chuxter View Post
    I'd think the smart thing to do would be contradict existing EU when necessary and try to just sort of steer around it, because EU fans are a fickle bunch, and it's unlikely they're going to get a lot of people starting on the EU now, new or not. Best to not **** off fanboys until it's the only way.
    Yeah, not actively stomp on it unless necessary lest you risk the wrath of longtime fans - the type of people most likely to buy novels.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. JabbaJohnL View Post
    The book has her dying to defend ::Kanan/Caleb :: during Order 66, but if there are more concrete details than that, I haven't yet read them. It's definitely an odd choice and there were other Jedi they could have easily used, like the under-represented Coleman Kcaj. Maybe Filoni wanted to expand on her story since they never used her in TCW.
    Might want to throw some spoiler color on that, not many folks have read this book yet.

    Anyway, you make a good point that they really stomped the hell out of Shatterpoint there, and I'd argue based on what I know of it that there's simply no way for her to have come out of that coma and not be in huge trouble, certainly not enough to be happy-happy with Obi-Wan and the council to get a Padawan.

    They could have gone through most any Jedi, or made up a new one - not like I saw Depa Billaba and thought "boy oh boy, he's going to get a lot out of that experience!" Weird.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  6. #6
    For hardcore novel fans, it looks like Rebels achieved before it even has aired the same sort of EU-destroying notoriety it took The Clone Wars a season or two to accomplish.

    TCW effectively wiped out the Medstar Duology by regressing Barriss to still being a young Padawan when Anakin is already a Knight, and (I think) having her go bats*** crazy afterwards. And now Rebels has Depa Billaba not turning to the Dark Side in Shatterpoint.

    Trouble with both of those: the Medstar Duology and Shatterpoint are some of the best the old EU had, and by two of their most reliable authors. Why can't they do this crap with The Crystal Star instead and say everyone dreamed up Waru after eating too much salami right before bedtime?
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by El Chuxter View Post
    For hardcore novel fans, it looks like Rebels achieved before it even has aired the same sort of EU-destroying notoriety it took The Clone Wars a season or two to accomplish.

    TCW effectively wiped out the Medstar Duology by regressing Barriss to still being a young Padawan when Anakin is already a Knight, and (I think) having her go bats*** crazy afterwards. And now Rebels has Depa Billaba not turning to the Dark Side in Shatterpoint.

    Trouble with both of those: the Medstar Duology and Shatterpoint are some of the best the old EU had, and by two of their most reliable authors. Why can't they do this crap with The Crystal Star instead and say everyone dreamed up Waru after eating too much salami right before bedtime?
    To paraphrase Cliegg Lars: The EU is dead, son. Accept it.

    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks
    Glad you're enjoying it so far. What do you think of the main villain thus far? How about how the Empire is portrayed?
    It makes sense that the Empire would take notice of people who did well in business so I like that element of his backstory. It feels a little derivative of both Vader and Grievous to have another cyborg and I keep imagining the design of Screed from Droids. The most interesting thing about him to me is how he's worried that the other guy (can't remember his name) is jockeying to take his job; I like seeing the Empire full of driven opportunists trying to gain favor with the Emperor. Would the Empire really arrest anyone who spoke against it? Maybe, but at least it's an interesting reflection of our own over-recorded times.
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