SW Summer Reads: A New Dawn

The pressure’s on my friends… because today I’m writing my first SW Summer Reads post on a full-size undoubtedly-canon book! I apologize in advance if this comes off like a big fat mess of fangirling. Then again, that’s pretty much what all my posts come out like! But it would be a crime not to write about the amazing book known as A New Dawn. We’re talkin’ some serious action, adventure, heart, and of course all the deliciously delightful Kanera banter :3 So let’s go ahead and cut to the chase to see what interesting things I found in reading John Jackson Miller’s exciting SW tale!
NOTE: Contains spoilers from Episode III, A New Dawn, and Rebels episode Fire Across The Galaxy

Cover art for A New Dawn

Every saga has a beginning, including that of the saga of the Ghost crew and the Rebel Alliance. And it all starts with a young, scoundrely guy working in a mining facility. That guy would be Kanan Jarrus. I’ve gotta tell ya, I never thought the term “scoundrel” would apply to him. Han, yes. Lando, naturally. But Kanan? Kanan the strong, selfless, wise Jedi master? Never! I mean, sure, he’s as quick with his sarcasm as he is with his blaster, sure he doesn’t fit the role of a conventional Jedi, but he’s not a scoundrel or anything! But before he was a rebel, before he was a master, he was a gunslinger, a drinker, a big-time flirt, and could punch your teeth out if you got on his nerves. At this juncture, the bro’s left all traces of his former life behind and drifts from one job to the next, just aimlessly doin’ whatever. But though he puts on this tough act, Kanan’s heart of gold still shines. He quietly lends a hand to his fellow workers every now and again and helps out his sweet old landlord Okadiah. It takes a few unexpected turns, a few new friends, and the Empire’s craziness to help him find a new purpose and a new ‘tude that eventually turns him into the Rebel we know and love. Mr. Miller does an excellent job at writing from Kanan’s perspective, bringing out that fun side of his as well as his heart in just the right way.
Of course, the second player in this game would be Hera Syndulla. While Kanan’s changed quite a fair amount since this story took place, Hera really hasn’t changed a bit. Perhaps she’s become a little more learned since she’s seen and done a lot since then, but otherwise, she still has her epic piloting skills, her drive for change, and her kind heart for others. And Miller does an awesome job telling us about her but not telling us everything. We don’t know what she was doing beforehand and how many other rebel-sorts are out there working with her, all we know is that she dropped by to Gorse and Cynda to meet up with an informant. And turns out she came back with more than she expected… including a new crewmember.
Oh, and then there’s our chief villain, Count Vidian. The guy’s relentless, calculating, and did I mention a human cyborg? I absolutely love what a great villain he is! He’s a perfectly creepy guy who will do anything to stay on top and keep his high political standings, even destroying Cynda. I love that he’s a more political-based baddie than most we see in SW, but yet he’s still a genuine threat. Heightened senses and a mostly robotic body are quite a deadly combination for our Rebs. Plus, the fact he talks through a computer and not his own mouth is the icing on the terrifying villain cake! Before Kallus and The Inquisitor were problems, and before our heroes ever tangled with Darth Vader, Vidian was the Imperial-nasty-of-the-day. And Miller played him out and wrote for him perfectly. I could only dream of creating a bad guy such as him!
But the good thing is, villains have this bad habit of not winning, and aside from Kanan and Hera, we have two others to thank for that, Skelly and Zaluna. Skelly is a slightly-messed-up Clone Wars veteran, and one of those guys who made the mistake of getting on Kanan’s nerves. He does the demolition work for the Cynda mines, but he’s strongly against the methods they use, as he fears it will destroy the moon. Bro does some nutty stuff to get the Empire’s attention, and maybe doesn’t think through his plans as clearly as we would, but sometimes a wild card who knows how to throw around explosives is useful when you’ve got an Empire to fight 🙂 Zaluna was once one of the Empire’s eyes and ears — and not just because she’s a sullustan. She was quite content to go about her day watching people and alerting the Empire to potential troublemakers, but when her friend gets arrested and needs a hand getting some info where it needs to go, it sends Zaluna right to Hera. And she soon finds herself on a path she can’t return from as she joins up with these would-be rebels to save their world. And I suppose we could count a third person who helped bring down the Count, someone not even on our side, Rae Sloane. Rae’s an up-and-coming captain for the Star Destroyer Ultimatum who finds herself driving Vidian around a lot. And though she’s still an Imperial through-and-through, she don’t really like the guy’s moon-destroying plans. She’s a fascinating character and I would really like to see where her story goes, ’cause it almost seems there’s a chance her destiny won’t lie with the Empire. Mr. Miller created quite a wonderful batch of new characters for this story, who complement well our primary heroes.
Now let’s just talk about Kanera for the rest of the day, OK? Obviously I wasn’t about to not fangirl over discuss this wonderful element of the story. Yessss that meetcute I can’t even… ^w^ She’s pretty and she can fight thugs with the best of ’em! Kanan defs be crushin’! Hehehe who am I kidding of course I’m going to fangirl over this. He’s generally a pretty smooth operator but his flirts fall flat around her, and a few times her own charm leaves him with nothing to say. Their banter is music to my ears, something I absolutely eat up in the show, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg in regards to what makes their thing so great in this book. It’s ultimately Hera’s determination and spirit that makes Kanan decide he’d follow her anywhere. And while Hera isn’t impressed with Kanan’s “smoothness”, she is a bit impressed with his generous, kind Jedi heart. It’s interesting to look at their relationship from this angle and then look at it from Rebels around eight or ten years later. They’re much more in sync as they both have a similar focus to helping those affected by the Empire. Kanan’s more of a nice guy now, and Hera does most of the flirting, which I find adorably hilarious XD Their bond is comfortable and has a unique chemistry all its own. But mannnn when that hug happened… you can see that Kanan doesn’t see Hera as just another girl, she’s someone worth treasuring :3 And Hera might be a little more impressed with her copilot these days 🙂 I’m sorry but AWWWW! This book has heightened my love of these twosies to a ridiculous level that I had no idea I could achieve since I already loved them so much! So yeah I can’t wait ’til Rebels comes back so I can fangirl over them some more!
Really everything about this story is amazing. I love just how much we get to experience the inner thoughts of these characters, how much more of the galaxy we see, how multifaceted the plotline is! It was hard to put down, as it felt like I was watching a really long episode of Rebels and every time I had to take a break from it (because it was maybe a little bit late and I needed to go to bed) it felt like I had to keep putting the episode on “pause”. And of course, the amazing coolness that is the fact it’s undeniably 100% canon, that our characters lived through these events and that these elements Miller invented for the book really exist and could easily show up in another show or movie. My only big question regarding its canonicity (which is weird considering I don’t usually have these kinds of questions with the stories I personally consider canon) is that it nods to Kanan having been 14 at the time of Order 66, which is odd considering I’m pretty sure Kanan is 34 and would’ve been 19 when it happened. The big question now is who is right… official SW social media or this book? I’ll stick with what I know firsthand for now, though it would be interesting if Kanan ended up being a bit of a street kid at 14 just like Ezra was. But regardless, A New Dawn is one incredible book. Now I really want to hear more stories about Kanan and Hera’s adventures! I want to know what their first few missions were like and how they met Zeb and Sabine and how Chopper came to be and if they ever sang along with the radio while in hyperspace! (Sorry I know that last one is weird) Until then, I’m definitely very excited to read more Star Wars stories in the future! Guess I better go look into getting Tarkin now…

Keep The Peace,
– Twilight

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