Retro Reviews: ‘Heir to the Jedi’ by Kevin Hearne

May 26, 2020 at 5:28 am | Posted in Books, Del Rey, Random House, Regular Feature, Retro Reviews, Reviews, Star Wars, Star Wars Books | Leave a comment

Heir to the Jedi, by Kevin Hearne, is the third adult novel in the Disney Canon released in March of 2015. 

This is one of the most unique books in the canon. The reason behind its uniqueness is that it was originally written to be the third book in the “Empire and Rebellion” series that was written in 2014 for the Expanded Universe (some of the last EU novels). However, once the decision on “canon” was made, Lucasfilm and Del Rey decided to make some changes and plop this book into the canon. There are many differing views on this, but mine is that they absolutely should not have.

One good thing that I can say about this book is its pacing. While many Star Wars books try to be written like movies, this book really feels like a miniseries. I could envision Lucasfilm making a t.v. show on Disney Plus that was six episodes that followed this book’s plot. It moves from the Rodia plot, to the side trip to Fax, to the covert operation on Denon, to the escape from Denon, to the stop in Kupoh, to the final battle. I liked that pacing and felt that I could read about 50 pages at a time and feel like I was reading an episode of television.

Another positive thing about this book is its heart. Kevin Hearne I think really does a good job writing Luke Skywalker’s inner thoughts. He really makes him a sympathetic character in the awkward moments and makes him a heroic character in the action scenes. I don’t think that the writing in first person (only done in Star Wars previously in I, Jedi) was a detriment at all. I think that it actually worked for this book.

Unfortunately that is where most of the positives end. This isn’t really a bad book, it just isn’t a good book. Despite the potential of the plot, the book feels like a B-rated book that almost would be considered a good fanfiction. Some of the writing is weak at times and the scenes rush along a little too quickly. The book (in hardcover) is only 267 pages, which is really short. This could easily have been another 100 pages, with plenty of more character development and an expansion of Luke’s relationship with Nakari. I can definitely tell what the author was trying to do, but he didn’t have enough scenes or chapters with the two of them talking to establish the relationship properly.

There were also some just purely cheesy moments. The whole “Noodle Scooter” scenes weren’t horrible, but I did cringe a bit reading them. The idea was sound, but the execution of it was not. Also, Leia’s dialogue didn’t really feel like I could hear Leia saying it. While authors like Claudia Gray and Rebecca Roanhorse really do a good job of capturing Leia’s voice, I feel like that was a very obvious place where Hearne naturally lacked.

The entire scene of the “Toodle Froots” was a little too meta for me. Having a band make fun of Vader’s “Many Prosthetic Parts” was just a little too much like a joke (like poking fun of stormtroopers aim in Mandalorian, although not as funny) and just didn’t work for me. I appreciate Hearne’s attempt at humor, but it just didn’t land.

Probably one of the better concepts of this book was the execution of the Givin cryptologist storyline. I found Drusil to be a fairly well written character, although a little too much like Zaluna, and I liked Zaluna a lot better. I laughed out loud at a few of her lines, particularly “I foiled your plan”. That was hilariously written.

The skull eating creatures on Fax were a little too Star Trekky for me, and while it provided some decent action scenes, I thought that those scenes could have provided more in the way of development in the relationship of Luke and Nakari.

The final battle with the bounty hunters was very run-of-the-mill for the Star Wars novels. There was no real exciting battle and I could call what would happen to Nakari a mile away. 

The only easter egg that I caught that really worked well was the use of the Surmis Sector (Orto Plutonia from The Clone Wars) and the connections to Rodia from The Clone Wars. All the other references were either too deep cut or were not important. There is a habit of writers just mentioning planets, species, characters, or lines from the movies and hoping that works enough as a call back, but it just doesn’t work at all in this book.

Because of the lack of substance in this book, my review is unfortunately short. I really don’t hate Kevin Hearne (the only other book of his I’ve read was Kill the Farm Boy with Delilah S Dawson, and I have similar feelings about it), but his work here just doesn’t do it for me. This is definitely the weakest adult canon novel for me (excluding novelizations) and is one of the overall weakest examples of Star Wars books. In my opinion, it should absolutely have not been included in the canon, but should have been an EU/Legends book (or not released at all). I give it a 2.5 out of 5. 

Written by Jonathan Koan

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