Here’s my latest book review podcast:
Maybe it’s because I’m excited about the upcoming Kenobi series on Disney+ (although we have to wait until 2022); or maybe it’s because, after 20 years, I’m starting to warm to the prequels. Whatever the reason, I’m really starting to love the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
So in my Star Wars book perusal, I knew I had to read this one. It takes place right after Revenge of the Sith, when Obi-Wan delivers baby Luke to the Lars’ on Tattoine, with the intention of starting his long watch over the boy.
Beyond that, there isn’t much of Luke or Owen and Beru Lars; instead, we get Obi-Wan getting involved in some local drama between moisture farmers and Tusken Raiders. It sounds a bit dull, and it did take a while to get going. But Miller was laying the groundwork for a superb story, in my opinion.
The novel isn’t told from Obi-Wan’s point of view. Rather, we see him as the strange newcomer in the eyes of the locals. After all, we already know who he is and why he’s there, but they don’t. Like any isolated, small community, they’re all over “Ben,” peppering him with questions that he expertly evades, which only makes him more mysterious.
One of the point of view characters is Annileen Calwell, a widow with two teenage children. She runs her late husband’s store, Danner’s Claim; she’s a feisty, capable woman who takes an interest in the new arrival. She runs the store in honor of her late husband, Danner, but once upon a time she dreamed of something more.
Another POV character is Orrin Gault, a moisture farmer and entrepreneur, and a family friend of the Calwells. Orrin has created a defense system called the Settler’s Call, a kind of alarm and rescue organization to help any settlers attacked by the Tusken Raiders. But Orrin has secrets, and he’s willing to do whatever he has to in order to protect them.
The third POV character is a leader of one of the Tusken clans (or “Sand People”, as the locals call them) named A’Yark. It was interesting to get into the mind of one of these beings who I never really thought about before. Through A’Yark, we get a sense of their culture, how they think, and why they do the things they do. A’Yark becomes a principal player in the story thread that is expertly woven by Miller, and I was drawn in completely.
We do get to hear Obi-Wan’s voice in the form of occasional “Meditations” at the end of chapters, where he “speaks” to Qui Gon Jinn, his former master. If you recall, at the end of Revenge of the Sith, Yoda had told Obi-Wan that he would tell him how to contact the Force Ghost of Qui Gon. These meditations are Obi-Wan’s attempts at just that, but Qui Gon never answers. Obi-Wan speaks to him anyway, telling him what’s happened to him since his arrival, and his failure at trying to remain obscure.
Notably, he’s still upset about what happened with Anakin, and obsesses about how he might have prevented Anakin’s fall. But being Obi-Wan, he doesn’t allow himself to wallow too long. He finds himself in the center of a conflict between the settlers and the Tuskens, and applies his Jedi skills (discreetly, of course) to navigate the fallout.
“Kenobi” is labelled as “Legends” rather than the new canon, but no matter. I don’t think it changes or contradicts anything that has come before or may come in the future; it can simply be seen as one of Ben Kenobi’s adventures during his long tenure on Tattoine.
I loved this book; I loved its parallels to a Clint Eastwood kind of spaghetti western; I just love Obi-Wan Kenobi. If you do, too, I recommend this book highly.