I initially stayed away from Star Wars: A New Dawn. The Rebels television show didn’t impress me at the start, and I didn’t want to spend more time with the characters. The book however seemed to be getting decent reviews. A New Dawn has a different tone than the television show. It is darker, but not to an extreme level. I enjoyed the book, and it was interesting to see how Hera and Kanan meet and begin their journey together.
The novel starts out with Kanan hauling explosive mining material back and forth between a moon and a planet. An Imperial Star Destroyer makes a quick appearance and our main villain is introduced. At first I thought the villain was going to be a Darth Vader clone. The character, Count Vidian, is a cyborg who had a disease which ate away most of his human body. He replaced most of his human parts with robotic ones. Eyes, ears, voice, arms, and legs are all mechanical. My worries about a Vader clone where misplaced. He has a few similarities to Vader, such as ruthlessness, but is different enough to stand alone. One reason this book has a darker tone than the show is we read about Vidian killing individuals, and one is particularly graphic. The murder truly hit home, invoking an emotional response from me. It helped that I was listening to the novel and the production added in classic Star Wars music to elicit more emotion from the scene.
Kanan at the start of the novel is in full Han Solo mode. He’s not a smuggler, but if the mood struck him he could be. He drinks and may or may not be a ladies man. No matter how hard he tries, he still does the right thing. His Jedi training is ingrained in him. No matter where he runs to, he still intervenes on behalf of those who need help. Kanan tries to limit his involvement and puts on a face of indifference, but he still acts when he must.
Hera on the other hand is already a rebel leader in some capacity. We don’t find out much about who she is working for, or where her funding is coming from. It is one complaint I had with the novel, more backstory would have fleshed Hera out. She’s still a strong character in the novel, and it’s a good introduction to her. I just wanted more, because hey, I’m greedy. Hera is meeting a contact to get information about how Imperials collect surveillance. She gets caught in the middle when Count Vidian shows up and starts wreaking havoc on the planet and moon.
Along with Hera and Kanan we get introduced to a couple of sidekick characters. One is a clone wars explosive expert who is a bit unhinged. Scully is a bit of a conspiracy theorist, and doesn’t really see the way the universe truly works. I loved his character, the author, John Jackson Miller, wrote him perfectly. Everyone dismisses the crazy old coot, but in the end he knows what he’s talking about. The other character is an Imperial surveillance expert named Zaluna. This was another great side character. It showed us as a reader just how invasive the Empire has become in the universe. Zaluna had some hard choices to make during the course of the novel, and the deliberation to act or not to act was well done.
This band must try and stop Count Vidian from accomplishing his goal. It’s a fun adventure which is a great first addition to the new Star Wars cannon. The plot is fairly standard adventure novel, but it’s Star Wars, and it fits nicely within the galaxy far far away. I did like a few of the twists and turns, and the small amount of political elements introduced into the novel. I get the feeling this novel is trying to hook me as an adult to then watch the Rebels television show. If I would have read it last year it would have done just that. The first few episodes of Rebels were rough, but I enjoyed the second half of the season and I am excited for the second season.
I would rate A New Dawn as my second favorite book, of the new canon, next to Lords of the Sith. It has great characters and a solid plot. If you are a Star Wars fan and haven’t checked this book out, give it a chance. It’s a book I can revisit and listen or read again. The characters alone are good enough for another read. This is a great start for the Rebels show, and while the show is geared more for kids, this book is meant for adults.
My Rating: Must Read for Star Wars Fans