Hello everyone, and welcome to a new weekly column I’ll be writing for the foreseeable future, based on one of my favourite fictional universes of all time, STAR WARS! (In case the title was somehow misleading.)
As this is the first post in the series, I’ve a double treat for you all!
Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston – The Book Review
We readers and listeners sometimes enjoy books that are not necessarily great works of fiction. Ahsoka, for example, has no shortage of small issues, the greatest of all which is its rushed pacing – and yet, I cannot find it within myself to feel more than trifling annoyance at author E. K. Johnston. Not when I had such a wonderful eight hours listening to voice actress Ashley Eckstein bring the character to life once more.
Ahsoka is a brilliant character, one of the finest additions to the Star Wars universe. Her arc in the Clone Wars animated series never ceased to capture the imagination and her fate post-Order-66 was the subject of great interest before Anakin Skywalker’s former apprentice resurfaced in the Rebels series a few years ago.
With Ahsoka, E. K. Johnston fills in the blanks and shows everyone’s favourite togruta at one of her lowest moments. Ahsoka Tano has spent the first years of the Empire hidden away, uncertain about how to make a difference in a galaxy controlled by fear and plummeting ever further in the depths of oppression. Changing circumstances force her to relocate from her hiding place on planet Thabeska to a small Outer Rim moon by the name of Raada, a settlement of only a few hundred farmers. In this settlement, Ahsoka – or Ashla, as she goes by now – befriends some of the locals, embracing the uncomplicated life of a mechanic.
It doesn’t last long, as an Imperial contingent arrives with the sole purpose of exploiting the arid lands of Raada in order to grow a crop of nutritional supplement, which has the side effect of leeching the nutritional elements inherent in the Raadan soil. The Empire forces the farmers to grow this poisonous crop, to which Ahsoka does not take kindly to; the farmers are even less happy about working at the end of a blaster, and resistance is quickly in the works.
I’m continually impressed with how dark stories involving Ahsoka tend to get, and this is no different – there’s elements of torture here, of oppression, forced labour and mass murder. Just like the Clone Wars! Y’know…for kids!*
Ahsoka Tano, the confident wisp of a girl we know, is much changed at the beginning of this novel, the full extent of the Jedi Purge weighing down on her beyond anything she’s faced previously. It’s no wonder that she’d be hesitant to find a cause to fight for, then; however, Ahsoka goes through a transformation as she witnesses the brutality of the Empire first-hand. Through luck, a few new friendships and even an old ally or two, however, we really see her find her footing in this cruel new galaxy; Ahsoka is above all, a story about hope regained.
Ashley Eckstein is a brilliant narrator; she’s truly made Ahsoka her own, to the point where thinking of anyone else taking over for her would force me and the rest of the Star Wars fanbase to rebel. She elevates an enjoyable novel to something I couldn’t stop listening to, an audiobook I want to return to despite having finished it a mere two days ago.
My other major complaint, besides the pacing which is really uneven throughout, has to do with the following: a few chapters felt out of place – especially one concerning everyone’s favourite Obi-Wan, which I can only imagine the editor forgot to delete, or perhaps the publisher inserted into the book by mistake. Bit of a weird flex, as the kids say.
My score for Ahsoka is 4/5 stars – with a recommendation to listen to the audiobook if you can, since it’s nothing short of brilliant. Please, Mister Mickey Mouse, gimme more Ahsoka stuff narrated by Ashley Ekcstein, sir!
*Though I make fun of this, I do actually believe that the adult way in which the Clone Wars, Rebels and, yes, this book too, deal with a variety of heavy topics is mature and something kids should bear witness to. The Clone Wars in particular has a depth of interesting topics, which are very relevant to the world we live in.
Talking about Star Wars on Under a Pile of Books
I’m on a podcast, y’all! *Squeals*
This is the first ever podcast I’ve done and though I was a little nervous and I did fumble words twice or thrice, I thought the end product turned out quite well! Chatting with fellow book blogger and Star Wars afficionado Calvin Park was tremendous fun – looking forward to next time! We spoke about so many different elements of the universe – the old Knights of the Old Republic Games, the original Thrawn trilogy, the Clone Wars and what we hope for in terms of what comes next for the movies!
You can listen to the podcast on Spotify:
That’s it for this edition of Saturday Star Wars! Thanks for joining me – come back next week!