The Last Jedi
Author: Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Reviewed By: Chris Carey
It isn’t hard to see why The Last Jedi is billed as a standalone book, rather than the fourth entry in the Coruscant Nights series. Although the book does serve as a sequel to the aforementioned series, in that it uses the same characters and wraps up some dangling plot threads, The Last Jedi feels more like an epilogue to the Coruscant Nights series… and the start of a new direction for its characters. The book is marketed as a bland, by-the-numbers story of a Jedi attempting to take an important revolutionary into hiding while avoiding Darth Vader. But in all actuality, the book synopsis only covers the first three chapters of the book. The Last Jedi is a 50 chapter story, filled to the 460 page brim with outstanding characterization, twists, and humor.
The Last Jedi stars Jax Pavan, as he grapples with the fact that he may, in fact, be the last living Jedi. The story follows him as he attempts to rescue a comrade from the clutches of Darth Vader. Along the way, he will contend with treachery, the Black Sun, a Sith holocron, and death. With the Emperor and Vader ruling over the galaxy with an iron fist, Jax must find a way to succeed – and find a little hope where none exists. The Last Jedi also contains two substantial subplots. The first involves I-5YQ attempting to better itself through various upgrades to its droid body. The second subplot follows a group of revolutionaries as they attempt to assassinate Emperor Palpatine. All of these storylines intersect and diverge throughout the story, leaving the final product as an expertly crafted story.
The setting of The Last Jedi, in the years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, makes for an excellent backdrop. It’s almost unfair that the authors get to use such an established, fearsome villain like Darth Vader. Of course, there are plenty of equally great villains – such as Black Sun operatives and Imperial Inquisitors – but none of them command the presence quite like Vader. The Last Jedi also eschews the physical setting of Coruscant, the planet that played such a large role in the Coruscant Nights series. And while Coruscant does appear in a subplot that runs through the book, The Last Jedi takes the time to explore other locales. Of particular note are Mandalore and Dathomir, which the authors really flesh out and bring to life. Although references to The Clone Wars television show are made, they are not particularly detailed. For example, references to the Mandalorian language that was developed by Karen Traviss are made, and the book makes no note as to whether Mandalore is a planet that is more jungle backwater (as depicted in the novels) or home to cube cities in an arid landscape (as depicted in the television show). Obviously, many years have passed since events depicted in The Clone Wars, but it is nice to see relevant nods to the show.
Perhaps the best part of The Last Jedi is its characterization. Jax Pavan grows by leaps and bounds in this book, as he spirals down and grapples with depression, loss, and anger. He finds himself constantly at odds with his duty as a Jedi, and how he can best reach his goal. Although the Coruscant Nights series also took place in the Dark Times period, The Last Jedi is the first book in the series that really encompasses just what it means to live in dark times. Jax becomes a truly interesting character throughout the book, driven by events and emotions to become a compelling character that the reader not only wants to read more of, but connects with on a deeper level. As usual, the loveable I-5YQ returns. A sentient droid with a sarcastic wit and a heart (erm, processor) of gold, I-5 tends to steal every scene that it appears in. It is a memorable character that readers will latch on to, a single ray of light in a story otherwise filled with darkness and doubt. Other Coruscant Nights favorites return, like Laranth Tarak,Probus Tesla, Pol Haus, and Den Dhur – but these characters tend to take a backseat to Jax’s story. I was a bit disappointed at the lack of pages afforded to these minor characters, but The Last Jedi is a story that is quite personal. It makes sense for the narrative to skew to Jax.
It is highly recommended that readers check out the Coruscant Nights series before jumping into The Last Jedi. Although the book is approachable without knowledge of the events in the earlier three books, a deeper and richer experience will be had with a better understanding of the characters and certain plot points. Still, The Last Jedi is a story that fans should check out. It’s wonderfully paced, provides a deeply introspective look into life during the Dark Times, and contains some truly riveting action sequences. With a memorable returning cast, and featuring big-name favorites like Darth Vader and Prince Xizor, The Last Jedi will be sure to delight readers.