Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void

January 17, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

voidDawn of the Jedi: Into the Void by Tim Lebbon

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This novel is set 25,000 years before the Battle of Yavin, and predates even the Old Republic, which came to an end between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, by about 20,000 years. Recorded human history only goes back 5,000 years, so even before I started reading the book, I expected this to be about the origins of the Jedi in ancient, pre-historical times. In my mind, I envisioned the story being one of discovering the Force as they discovered fire, developed language, etc. Sort of like Clan of the Cave Bear meets Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Imagine my surprise, then, when in the first chapter I found established societies on multiple planets, starships, droids, and the existence of the Je’daii, which had already been studying the Force for over 10,000 years. Given where we are in our own technological advancement at 5,000 years, and given where it is in the universe of Star Wars, I guess it’s not too far-fetched to imagine that all living cultures have been around and recording their history for over 35,000 years, but can you imagine what the story I thought it would be would have been like? I can’t help but think it would be so boss! Instead, though, we get a story that could be dropped into the existing Star Wars timeline without requiring much change. It even features Wookiees! It’s probably not fair to judge a book against my expectations of it, but man, now I really want to read the story I had in my head.

In Into the Void, Lanoree Brock is a Jedi Ranger given the task of finding and stopping her own brother, whom she believes to have been dead for the past nine years. Both siblings were raised by Je’daii Masters, but while Lanoree grew to embrace and use the Force, her brother Dalien hated it to the point of shunning it all together, which ultimately led to his death. Rumor has it that he’s still alive and developing a gateway, even though its construction could bring about the end of the galaxy.

Lebbon’s strong point isn’t in his characterization. He develops both siblings well enough to understand them, but not enough to care about them. He doesn’t provide much insight into why Dalien hated the Force so much, asking us to simply accept that fact. Granted, these points hearken back to the first six movies (Lucas didn’t really sell the idea of Anakin’s fall in Episode III, and we were asked to simply accept that Vader still had some good in him in Episode VI), but it still doesn’t make for a satisfactory story.

Something else that bugged me about the book was how Lebbon told the story in the present day in the past tense, and then told the flashbacks in the present tense. Present-tense stories aside (they’re starting to bug me), shouldn’t those bits have been written the other way around? It didn’t make much sense to me.

One of my goals in reading the Extended Universe Legends books is to get a broader picture of the universe as a whole. I figure that even if the books aren’t great (and I hear those are easier to find than the good ones), I can still better grok the entire mythology of Star Wars by reading these. Into the Void appears to be more a teaser for a comic book series titled Dawn of the Jedi more than anything else, and right now I’m not interested in pursuing the stories in that format, even if the major events mentioned here are covered there. There were a couple of things I thought were done well — the Je’daii training involved crossing the dangerous terrain of a planet, going from temple to temple to learn different skills, and we get a few hints at where the source of all the technology in the universe came from — but it wasn’t what I wanted to get out of the book and its setting. Here’s hoping the books will improve as I get closer to the events of the movies.

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