A NEW DAWN
A New Dawn was the first novel to come from the new canon story group about a year ago. It stars Kanan and Hera and tells about their first adventure together.
When I first read this book I was a bit disappointed not to learn a bit more about Hera. Because of my expectations, I was expecting a Kanan/Hera book (more like what Dark Disciple actually is) but it’s really a Kanan book that has Hera is in it. While it doesn’t take away from Hera character at all it also doesn’t delve as deeply into her thoughts and convictions. That being said it’s still a great story. Having the chance to review this after watching a season of Star Wars Rebels and reading an arc of Kanan: The Last Padawan is actually very interesting to place and helps put context to characters and their growth.
Kanan in this book is a pilot and bartender on the mining world of Gorse. The day by day idea of Kanan ready to move on to some other corner of the galaxy is a great place that picks up after the young Caleb’s adventures and where we last saw him, trying to live with no ties and willing to do what it takes to survive. I really like that when Kanan starts to think about risking his anonymity to help others he blames it on Caleb. This Kanan fits pretty perfectly in between the Caleb from the comics and the Kanan from the show. He’s lost everything in his life and started over to hide everything he was but there’s still a tiny bit of the hero he once aspired to be in him. And although he has to suppress that part of him for survival we all know and will one day he will find his way back to Caleb again.
Hera is also great in this book. While she seems a bit more evaluative than in Star Wars Rebels we also don’t have the luxury of knowing anything about her previous life. Until this book. (While it’s not much, we do see a few her adventures in Mercy Mission.) It’s also valuable to know now that her father is Cham Syndulla, who was a leader of the Free Ryloth Movement on Ryloth from The Clone Wars. With that information, it’s interesting to see her evaluating everyone she meets to see if they’d be a valuable part of her ideas of rebellion. It’s something her father was good at. Seeing his team’s strengths and weaknesses and trying to guide them in the best way possible.
The other characters I’ve always enjoyed in this book: Skelly I never really liked but I think he was written that way on purpose; Zaluna is adorable and heartbreaking to watch as her safe, ordered life falls apart before her eyes; Vidian is a physical representation of the evil the Empire represents–a man who forfeits his humanity for power and efficiency is a solid metaphor for Imperialism. Rae Sloane was such a cool character introduced here. An acting captain of the Ultimatum assisting Vidian, her attitude and wits were a great foil for Kanan’s attitude and wits. Alone this book makes that character shine as a great enemy for our heroes; but now, one year later, we see from her appearance in Aftermath and other stories that she is a central figure in the new canon. I’m certain she has a bright future in the Star Wars mythos and I can’t wait to see where she shows up next… Star Wars Rebels maybe?
Looking back on this book now with all the information we have about these characters kind of sheds new light on what is already a great “origin” story (so to speak) of Kanan and Hera’s adventures together. I always liked this book but giving it a re-read now shows how well the story group had planned things out from the very beginning!