Heir to the Jedi, released earlier this year, is one of the extremely few instances in which we get to see more about Luke’s journey within the New Canon books. Initially written as an EU book, to finish off the Empire and Rebellion trilogy, it ended up becoming a standalone novel when Disney acquired Lucasfilm. Much of the novel had to change, assumedly, for it to fit in with the Lucasfilm Story Group’s plans. And it is a perfectly serviceable story, with enough intrigue to keep you interested throughout.
But nothing more really. Although I really enjoyed the book, it’s placement in the overall Star Wars story feels disconnected. It introduces a major character in Luke’s life and journey in the Force that simply never shows up again. Of course, it makes sense in the setup of the novel, but not in the bigger picture. This character, a feisty female named Nakari Kelen, helps Luke find peace with the recent deaths he had to live through, and also encourages him to build his Force abilities further.
On that front, it really works. He learns to finally manipulate small, menial objects with his mind. We also learn a little about the Force, his curiosity with the Dark Side, and so on. We see that he doesn’t actually levitate objects with his mind, but manipulates the Force around the objects, an interesting concept – and a lovely one paired with Luke’s learning journey. We also see his desire to meet Darth Vader, to learn from him and his mistakes – to better understand Obi-Wan’s sentiments about how he was “seduced” by the power of the Dark Side.
We get some interesting planets and creatures introduced in the canon here also. Of course, being that this story was almost a Legend story and not a canon one, the argument could be made that these creatures and themes may never be developed further, but I’d be interested in seeing them. Namely, the Fexian Skullborer. What the heck, what a cool concept! An invisible creature that drops from trees, onto an enemies skull, with teeth that can bore through anything, and then eats the brain. It then becomes more sentient, more self aware, and smarter. Freaky. I was hoping Luke would be able to use the Force to identify their presence, but he never did – a lost opportunity.
The issue most have with the novel is also a sentiment I hold. It feels like an extended quest line in an RPG. Luke and Nakari need to do a mission for the Rebellion, but don’t have the money. They do a side job that gets them involved elsewhere. And then the Empire get involved. And then they’re on the run from bounty hunters. And then they have to deliver a renegade to her family… It was tedious in this respect. But considering the fictional universe the book resides in, it isn’t entirely an unthinkable plot.
Ultimately an enjoyable read. Not my first recommendation for those wishing to venture into the world of Star Wars novels, but it’s in the top ten canon ones (lol). Heir to the Jedi, by Kevin Hearne, is likely an homage to the Timothy Zahn novel, Heir to the Empire, which essentially sparked the Expanded Universe. It takes place chronologically directly prior to the official Marvel Star Wars comic book series.