(2014) Tim Lebbon, Century, £19.99, hrdbk, 263pp, ISBN 978-1-780-89257-3
Okay, true confession time, unlike some of my friends (and they are adults) who sleep beneath Star Wars duvet covers on Star Wars pillows, probably wearing Star Wars pyjamas, and who have read every Star Wars book and comic in the known universe and even in some that are far, far away, I've only seen the six films (so far) and read the books based on the original (second) trilogy of films and the sort of sequel book Splinter of the Mind's Eye that Alan Dean Foster wrote that might have been filmed as a low-budget sequel had Star Wars: A New Hope bombed at the box office, and what a strange different reality that might have created given its impact on science fiction films ever since. What attracted me to Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void was that it was written by Tim Lebbon one of my favourite writers of the last fifteen years or so, since his first novel Mesmer appeared and who writes his own unique brand of horror and dark fantasy, interrupted by official film novelisations, like The Cabin in the Woods or books set in the Hellboy or Alien or 30 Days of Night universes.
The clue is in the title, I suppose because Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void goes way, way back before the Republic (in-fact, thanks to the handy three-page 'novels timeline' which appears before the narrative starts we learn that we are somewhere between 25,000 to 37,000 years before the fourth (first released) Star Wars film, and it is based on the Dawn of the Jedi comic series where we visit the planet Tython where the order of the Je'daii have been established and where Lanoree Brock learns the ways of the Force, unlike her brother, Dalien, whose training has ended in tragedy. Years later, Jedi Ranger Lanoree is summoned by the Je'daii Council and given a mission to stop the leader of a fanatical cult who is hell bent on using Dark Matter to open a cosmic gateway to travel beyond known space, even though it would mean the destruction of several star systems. It's an important mission, and a surprise to Lanoree that she should be chosen to undertake it, until she learns that her brother did not die in his Je'daii training after all and he is the cult leader, and so her great adventure to save part of the universe begins.
What is interesting are the whole array of creatures, alien species, and hardware (covering weapons, vehicles and droids) that populate the novel, many original to these pages while others have been mentioned elsewhere in the many, many other Star Wars books that have been written, and it would be interesting to known how many of these story elements Lebbon had to devise himself or if there was some sort of series 'bible' he could dip into.
As expected by a writer of Lebbon's calibre, this is a typically, slick, professional read, but you would have to ask a Star Wars follower for their opinions as to how it fits within the 'canon' and ultimately how good it is, although some might be put off by the lack of recognisable film characters, and whizzing space battles, even light sabres have not been developed at this early stage of the proceedings and Lanoree has to rely on a normal sword. Apart from Lebbon's novel, there is a also a great cover illustration by Torstein Nordstrand and a 30-page bonus short story called 'Eruption' by John Ostrander, possibly because the powers that be have figured out that paying £19.99 for a story that runs just over 260 pages might not seem worth the cost of admission after all.
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