As a huge fan of the Star Wars: Clone Wars series, I enjoyed watching Ahsoka Tano grow up as a Jedi Padawan, apprenticed to Anakin Skywalker. I really liked seeing Anakin through her eyes, and also seeing how Anakin himself developed because of his relationship with her, his struggles and his slow, inevitable descent to the Dark Side. Seeing the Jedi order and their rules and views from the eyes of an apprentice was a valuable way to see how events in the future could come about. By the end of the Clone Wars series, however, Ahsoka fans were in for a heart-wrenching ride, as things began to fall apart with the Jedi order and as Anakin went further and further to the Dark Side because of it. Anakin became a truly sympathetic character in part because of Ahsoka's presence in the series. But her role in the series ended on a low note, faced with betrayal and lies and deception, being stabbed in the back by the entity she had most faith in. Of course, without getting too spoilery, Ahsoka fans are offered a boon in Star Wars Rebels, but there is a huge gap where we are wondering, what on Earth happened in the years between Order 66 and the birth of the Rebellion?
E.K. Johnston answers some of these questions in Star Wars: Ahsoka.
Ahsoka takes place a couple years after Order 66 happens, after the birth of the Empire. Ahsoka has grown up, but is the same character with visible influences of her Jedi Masters Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi. Johnston manages to capture Ahsoka's personality well, from the quips to her self-dialogue. Post-Jedi Ahsoka still has a connection to the Force, but it's become dangerous--deadly--to use the Force now that the Empire is actively hunting Force-users down. Still, Ahsoka is on the side of good, and the plight of farmers on a planet where she tries to hide out for a while becomes too much for her to bear. She tries to help them resist the Empire's encroachment on their moon, but in doing so, exposes herself as a Force-user and puts herself and others in danger because of it. The book follows Ahsoka on her path of self-discovery, to find what role she is to play in this new world after the fall of the Jedi.
Part of the point of this book is for Ahsoka to be alone. For her to reach out in the Force, and for the first time in her life, to not feel the presence of her former masters and friends. We do, however see some familiar faces and have a connection to the larger world of the Rebellion, and we can see the gears turning of the events that will lead to the story lines in Star Wars: Rebels.
This is a young adult book, and I think younger readers will enjoy seeing how Ahsoka comes into her own, grows up into her own person with goals that matter to her, without just following orders that are given to her. Her struggle between taking care of herself and just surviving versus helping others do the same is genuinely portrayed, and a lot of the themes presented in the book are very timely for today's youth. Toward the end of the book, Bail Organa comments on Palpatine's actions and ploys, saying, "He kept us so busy jumping at shadows, we didn't realize which of the shadows was real." It's not just fictional rulers who do this, and I find that Star Wars in general, especially with the Clone Wars series, does a good job at portraying how evil can get the upper hand, how governments can be manipulated, how people can be tricked and betrayed by their own leaders.
Fans of Clone Wars and Rebels will find this book to be an excellent addition to the series. Fans new to Ahsoka will enjoy this tale of self-discovery and re-awakening. Ahsoka is a character many readers will relate to, and she is captured extremely well by E.K. Johnston.
Melanie R. Meadors is a writer of fantasy stories and comics, her work most recently appearing in the anthologies Champions of Aetaltis and Kaiju Rising II: Reign of Monsters. She is the co-director of the Gen Con Writer's Symposium and the publisher at Outland Entertainment. Melanie also edits anthologies, including Hath No Fury, Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology, and Tales of Excellent Cats: A Monarchies of Mau Anthology, which is set in the world of the popular role playing game, Pugmire. She is a content editor and publicity specialist at the RPG game company Mechanical Muse, and has written game settings for the RPGs Tiny Dungeons 2e and Tiny Frontiers 2e. She is a blogger and general b*tch monkey at The Once and Future Podcast. You can learn more at melaniermeadors.com