*This review contains mild spoilers*
When the Star Wars fans sat down last October to see the dawning of the age of the Rebellion, we knew that we would be immersed in that galaxy far, far away in all of its splendor. We were not disappointed. All of the classical elements were there – a lived-in universe, Force-sensitive beings, and so on. And in that distressed universe, a new literary world began, immersing us in the Dark Times. We met a group of rebels – the outcasts, the disaffected and the oppressed.
The Rebellion Begins by Michael Kogge is the novelization of the first episode of Star Wars: Rebels. We are treated to much more than the television episode could have ever given us. While maintaining its responsibility to be a novel for young readers, it dives into the motivations and thoughts of the crew of the Ghost. As an extra incentive for reading a novelization of the movie-of-the-week series premiere, we open with a scene not contained in the episode. The Wookiees that are about to be captured are shown as fellow fighters in the rebellion, and ties us back into the Prequel Trilogy, as long time fans will see the reflection of what happened at the battle of Kashyyyk. This is followed by a vignette from the life of Ezra Bridger – another deep dive into the larger world of Star Wars: Rebels.
In the rebellion, there is no time to wait for the next thing. So let us move on with the review. Kogge fleshes out the story in a deep manner. Not only are we getting a play-by-play rendering of the visuals, but we are treated to the thoughts and motivations of the characters. While watching the televised episodes, we may have asked ourselves: What did Kanan think about Ezra’s abilities, and when? Why is Hera calling Kanan “Love?” Many more questions come to mind to the discerning (or rabid) reader. The Rebellion Begins answers these questions through the private thoughts and the deepest longings of the crew.
Mostly told through Ezra’s point of view, this book captures the wide-eyed wonder of someone coming into a new world with fresh excitement and yet a bit of trepidation. This Loth-rat, or street urchin, has taken care of himself for many years. But now he is called to something greater. He is called to join this new family and learn about the gift of the Force that he possesses. As Hera said to Ezra, “If all you do is fight for your own life, then your life’s not worth living.”
There is an epic and cinematic element to The Rebellion Begins. As Ezra races across the highways and grasslands to evade capture, the reader can hear the score. The quieter moments when the force tingles in his innermost being is illuminated by the words. When the Force begins its work in Ezra, Kogge writes that it is “as if a little voice inside him had been released to sing… Tiny insects fluttered around him, the flutter of their wings giving him rest.” Midichlorians? I don’t know. But regardless, through the wonderful prose, we can hear the classic John Williams score and the recent additions from Kevin Kiner, which are amazing, revealing and grounded in the overarching themes of Star Wars. As Agent Kallus lures the Rebels to a trap aboard a Star Destroyer, the action is shown through a rapid succession of changes of point of view between Kallus, Hera, Ezra, Zeb and Sabine. The excitement was built into the story and conveyed by the storytelling. This faithful book immerses the reader so completely that Lothal and the wider galaxy come alive.
Another special and welcome addition are the stunning photos in the middle of the book. They are mostly shots from the series. They tell the whole story with amazing visuals.
While Ezra and his education are the center of the story, these pictures portray something even more fascinating: Hera is the heart of this group. The Twi’lek mother of the Ghost is shown with intense eyes and purity in her wisdom. Sitting calmly at the controls and with a fire for her visage, her character is clear in these renderings. This is a welcome change to how this race has been used in the past, and shows us that we are certainly in a new era.
Agent Kallus and the Imperials receive a decent treatment as well, but it seems as if there is something lacking here; this is perhaps because there is something nefarious lurking in the background which never fully comes into focus. The Empire is so faceless, save for the Emperor, that it is driven to suppress its citizens makes it that much more dangerous. The final report from Kallus in the Epilogue is made to the Inquisitor himself and we sense the danger to the Rebels aboard the Ghost. However, I think the Imperials are treated more fairly here than in their on-screen counterparts.
Through the interactions with the Rebels, many questions and ambiguities are satisfied. The motivations of the Ghost crew and the thoughts of Kanan on training Ezra are quite clear.
This book offers a stand alone story that is part of the larger world. It can be read by anyone looking for their first foray into Star Wars literature, as well as the seasoned fan who wants to explore further into the back story. It pleases both audiences as it so magically tells a story about a time when hope is beginning to dawn once again. Because of this quality storytelling and broad introduction to this newly opened era in the Star Wars galaxy, I look forward to this new journey and to witness the destiny of Ezra Bridger and the Rebels as they ignite the spark of rebellion.
Please leave comments on this and all my posts – I really look forward to it. You can find me on Twitter at @adelphotheos and email at jamesw@CoffeeWithKenobi.com, occasionally at TheForceandFaith.blogspot.com as long as I am not listening to the latest edition of the Coffee With Kenobi podcast!
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Thank you to Disney Lucasfilm Press for providing a copy of the book for review.Powered by Sidelines