With the release of Rogue One came a bevy of new characters in the Star Wars universe. Two of the breakout stars of the popular film, Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus, are featured in Greg Rucka's , and are more fully formed as dynamic characters in the new book. Rucka beautifully shifts the third person narrative from each main character's perspective and provides important motivation for a richer understanding of their crusade against the Empire. The Star Wars universe has a rich history of ambiguity, regarding many of their characters' backgrounds, and with , an intriguing piece of the proverbial puzzle is provided.
The novel takes place on Jedha, before the events of Rogue One. Chirrut and Baze engage in guerilla warfare tactics, in the hopes of convincing the Empire that they need to find a new planet to slowly decimate. Of course, the Empire has their own agenda; something has to give. The duo, put in a dire situation, turn to Saw Gerrera and his own particular brand of organized mayhem and find their morality and ideology challenged. This template serves as background for the reflective former Guardians of the Whills.
The biggest surprise, for me, takes place within Baze Malbus. Greg Rucka has repeatedly provided nuanced character development in his work, and takes it to another level with Baze in . Rogue One gave us just enough to tantalize interest in these two heroes, but here, Baze is much more interesting and relatable. It is much clearer that he is as compassionate as he is mighty, and I found myself appreciating him on a much different level.
Ultimately, he and Chirrut fight for a better life for the people of Jedha, and more specifically, for the children of an orphanage. While this archetype could easily fall prey to cliche in some stories, in Star Wars: , it feels fresh and important. Plus, there are easter eggs that continue to show the cohesive force of nature that is the Lucasfilm Story Group. There is even pathos for Saw Gerrera, which, for my money, is pretty difficult to achieve.
In essence, Greg Rucka's is an outstanding adventure, full of nice character moments, Star Wars world building, engaging Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus banter, and a thought-provoking look at the ethical ramifications of the Emprie's reign during the Galactic Civil War. It is a nice companion piece to Rogue One and an important, character-driven story for the franchise.
5 out of 5
Note: A big thank you to Disney Lucasfilm Press for providing an advanced copy to review.Powered by Sidelines