E.K. Johnston’s Star Wars: Ahsoka, on sale today, begins following the adventures of the Togrutan Force user exactly one year after the establishment of the Galactic Empire. This Young Adult novel is intended for ages 12-18 and grades 7-12. However, this 40-year-old reviewer loved the book, mainly due to my unashamed love of Ahsoka Tano and The Clone Wars. Here are some of the highlights. Beware – spoilers follow!
Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano was first introduced in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series and quickly became a fan favorite. Viewers watched her grow from a “snippy,” brash padawan learner to a confident young warrior who frequently saved the day for her master, Anakin Skywalker. Thrust into the crucible of combat with the besieged clone battalion and their Jedi on the planet of Christophsis, Ahsoka had to learn quickly and be a strong warrior from an early age. Through the remainder of the Clone Wars, Ahsoka was present at several key battles and forged tight relationships with many, including Clone Captain Rex, the astromech R2-D2, and Senator Bail Organa. All three of these characters figure into Ahsoka in important ways.
The novel features many flashbacks, interludes, and scenes which answer some lingering questions since the end of The Clone Wars, raise a few more, and provide detail that help link the prequel and original trilogy. Here are some of my favorites:
- Maul and Ahsoka at Mandalore
- Ahsoka’s last interaction with Rex (until Star Wars Rebels reunites them)
- Insight into Anakin’s thoughts as “Obi-Wan’s new padawan” approaches Christophsis
- Obi-Wan’s solitude – and finding an old friend – on Tatooine
- The origin of Ahsoka’s white lightsabers and the codename Fulcrum
- Ahsoka’s thoughts about Barriss Offee
Most of the plot of the novel centers on Ahsoka’s life as she maintains a low profile to avoid attention from the Empire. She has to find odd jobs to get by, and tries not to form close relationships with others. Her connection with the Force is weakened. She thinks of the “family” she has lost due to the destruction of the Jedi Order, and searches her feelings to try to discern Anakin’s fate. Readers can feel her loneliness. Ahsoka has always been a jovial, outgoing person, quick to make friends and gain others’ trust. As it turns out, her charisma and leadership qualities have not suffered since the end of The Clone Wars; she continues to draw others to her and gain their trust, despite her efforts to live a simple life. As can be expected, she quickly finds herself at the center of a conflict. Also as can be expected, she must decide between using the Force to save the day, thus exposing herself, and maintaining her anonymity and allowing her new friends to suffer.
Towards the end of the novel, Senator Bail Organa hears rumors of activity that he knows to be consistent with Jedi. As one of the leaders of the burgeoning Rebellion, Bail begins searching for the rogue Force user, hoping to find him or her before the Empire does. Upon reviewing one section of security camera footage, Bail finds that:
“… if he paused at the exact right moment, a pair of montrals clearly emerged above one of the coils as the Jedi checked to make sure the room was empty. Bail swallowed a shout of pure triumph. He knew those markings. This wasn’t just any Jedi; it was Ahsoka Tano, and he had to find her immediately.”
I think that this is important to note because it evoked the same emotion in me, and I’d bet a fistful of Republic credits that it will affect other readers, too.
Later, Ahsoka tells Bail that she is not a Jedi, as she turned from the Jedi path. Bail poses a great question to Ahsoka: “If you’re not a Jedi, then what are you, Ahsoka Tano?” Bail asked. “Because to be honest, you still sound and act like a Jedi to me.” Bail, of course, still sees the Jedi as the best possible examples of virtue, though many in Star Wars fandom have different ideas about that. This section is a perfect set-up for what we see when Ahsoka, Kanan, Ezra, and even Maul meet in Star Wars Rebels.
Overall, E.K. Johnston absolutely matches the feel of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Ahsoka does a fantastic job of bridging the gap, though it does not account for the entire time period between Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Order and her first appearance at the end of the first season of the current cartoon series. Perhaps there are more books forthcoming – hopefully also penned by Johnston!
Ahsoka is also available as an audiobook narrated by Ashley Eckstein. Eckstein, of course, is the only actor who has ever voiced Ahsoka’s character. For what it’s worth, I could hear Ashley reading all of Ahsoka’s lines when I read the print version. It’s unavoidable.
Fans of Ahsoka Tano, The Clone Wars, and Star Wars Rebels will devour this book. Highly recommended.
Until next time, thank you for reading, may the Force be with you, and remember –
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Note: A big thanks to Disney Lucasfilm Press for providing an advanced copy to review.
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