With several decades’ worth of secondary Star Wars content now relegated to the non-canon Star Wars Legends banner, George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away is set to be much more tightly knit in the future, with all the various multimedia stories now closely monitored and unfolding in a single shared universe with Lucasfilm’s official stamp of approval. The first major chunk of the new Star Wars Expanded Universe released this week in the form of Star Wars: A New Dawn, a novel set between the events of the Clone Wars ‘toon and the upcoming Star Wars Rebels. It tells the story of how two of that show’s heroes, the former Jedi Kanan Jarrus and the Twi’lek pilot Hera Syndula, first meet and join forces Now you can read a short excerpt from A New Dawn to decide if it should be on your must-read list.
The events of A New Dawn lead straight into Rebels, which focuses on the early origins of the rebellion against the Galactic Empire and its tyrannical ruler, Emperor Palpatine. Written by John Jackson Miller, it’s the first novel under the aegis of the Lucasfilm Story Group, whose job it is to keep track of all the assorted content which will form the new Star Wars canon. So details of the adventure Kanan and Hera share in A New Dawn may well be referenced in Rebels, or other new Star Wars content to follow, and they’ll certainly give you insights into the characters and animated series that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
You can read the New Dawn excerpt below, or head over to Entertainment Weekly to listen to it in audio form, with actress Vanessa Marshall — who voices Hera in Rebels — lending it her pipes. I just started reading the book last night — stay tuned for my review in the not-too-distant future — and I can tell you that this excerpt comes from very early in the book, only a few chapters in, before Kanan and Hera have crossed each other’s paths. I’ll provide a bit more context after the excerpt if you’re curious.
Hera wasn’t about to bring her ship into the Cyndan mining complex for an unauthorized landing. Joining the convoy, however, had gotten her close, and once out of sight of the Star Destroyer, she’d parked in orbit. Her ship’s small excursion vessel had taken her the rest of the way to a little maintenance outbuilding on the surface.
She’d studied just enough about the mining trade to know what to pretend to be: a maintenance tech for bulk-loader droids. The rest she’d thought up on the spot.
‘This is the wrong entrance,’ the guy inside the airlock had said.
‘Oh, gosh, I’m sorry. It’s my first day, and I’m late!’
‘And where’s your badge?’
‘I forgot. Can you believe it? My first day!’
The man had believed it, letting her pass with a smile that said he hoped she’d keep making wrong turns in the future. People of several different species found Hera appealing to look at, and she was happy to put that to use for a good cause.
But as she walked carefully through the mining complex, she increasingly realized how difficult that cause had become. Gorse and Cynda produced a strategic material for the Empire, yes, but they were well away from the galactic center. And yet Hera spied one surveillance cam after another — including several that the workers clearly weren’t intended to see. If Coruscant-level security had made it out to the Rim worlds, that would make any action against the Empire all the more difficult.
Another good reason to visit my friend on Gorse after this, she thought, darting lithely beneath the viewing arc of another secret cam. A rendezvous with any mystery informant was dangerous; she’d learned that quickly enough in her short career as an activist. But her contact had proven knowledge of Imperial surveillance capabilities, and she’d need that to get to the important stuff, later on.
Finding out more about Count Vidian’s methods, though, she’d have to do through old-fashioned skulking. He was on Cynda now, she knew: She’d seen him once already from afar, passing through the caverns with a tour group. It was tough to get closer. The transparent crystal columns were pretty to look at but lousy cover.
Darting through an isolated side passage, she thought she’d found a shortcut to get ahead of him. Instead, she found something else.
‘Halt!’ A stormtrooper appeared at the end of the corridor, his blaster raised.
Hera stopped in her tracks. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, putting her hand to her chest and exhaling. ‘You scared me!’
“Who are you?’
‘I work here,’ she said, approaching as if nothing was wrong. ‘I may be in the wrong place. It’s my first day.’ She smiled.
‘Where’s your badge?’
‘I forgot.’ Dark eyes looked down demurely, then back up. ‘Can you believe it? My first day!’
The stormtrooper studied her for a moment — and then saw the blaster she was wearing. She moved before he did, delivering a high kick that knocked the blaster from the startled stormtrooper’s hands. Seeing his weapon clatter away, he lunged for it. She easily sidestepped him — and pivoted, leaping onto the armored man’s back. Losing purchase on the crystalline floor, he stumbled, her full weight driving his head into the side wall. His helmet cracked loudly against the surface, and he slumped motionless to the ground.
‘Sorry,’ Hera whispered over the fallen trooper’s shoulder. ‘Charm doesn’t work on everyone.’
Weirdly, this excerpt ends exactly where I left off reading after my lunch break a few hours ago. I’m not far into the book, but we’ve been introduced to several of the major players. Kanan is working as an ore hauler, ferrying highly explosive baradium between a planet and its moon, and so far we haven’t learned much about how he came to be there. Hera, on the other hand, is infiltrating the system to learn all she can about an Imperial efficiency expert who’s been sent in to streamline the local mining industry in typically brutal Imperial fashion — he orders one unlucky cargo vessel destroyed simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Only a couple of chapters in, so far A New Dawn hasn’t really won me over, but it’s early yet. John Jackson Miller’s writing is serviceable if not particularly memorable, but all the focus on the baradium-mining industry is bringing up unpleasant memories of the trade disputes of the prequels. I’m hoping things will pick up and A New Dawn will eventually prove a worthy launching point for the new Star Wars canon, but we will see.