Star Wars Review: Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void

Dawn of the Jedi has moved into novel form with Into the Void.  How does it compare to the comics?

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While this story leaves some of its potential out, what it does do, it does well.  The action in particular is gripping, and I have a feeling if I were to dig into his previous twenty nine novels that action would be something all of them do well.  The Great Journey and other details about the Je’daii are great reading, possibly the best in the book.  Taken as a whole with Force Storm, this paints a very strong picture of the world that these characters live in, though aside from including brief references to both Force Storm and Prisoner of Bogan, this novel can be taken easily on its own.

Set in the years prior to the foundation of the Republic, Dawn of the Jedi is in the precarious position of being lower tech than Star Wars – than Star Trek even – yet still effectively thousands of years in our future.  The Tython system was colonized millennia ago, but faster than light travel has not happened yet.  This produces the usual awkward mix of slugthrowers and laser pistols, ships that take months to get to the furthest reaches of the system, and battle droids.  This isn’t done any more poorly than could be expected, but is another thing that taking some more time to flesh out and describe would have helped with.  Still, it’s a hard level of technology to convey completely, and no points are lost for it.

Like the technology, the Force has the status of being powerful and ten thousand years into its history as well as not being as refined as it is in more modern eras.  This is coupled with the fact that, as in the comics, Tython is a vergence in the Force.  Think the cave on Dagobah, except spread across the entire planet, and filled with Jedi (or at least Je’daii).  This is portrayed by having lots of powerful techniques such as alchemy and other things that are generally considered to be either lost or forbidden by the Rise of the Empire era, but without more subtle techniques that would be virtually impossible and unstudied on a world where a minor flex creates ripples of Force.

While Lanoree Brock gains absolutely no characterization from her specifics – she and Dal could have been gender- or species-swapped and would not change in the slightest – I’m actually okay with that, though I do feel that these repeated decisions to make every protagonist a Caucasian human stink of backward-thinking editorial interference.  I do feel that at this stage of society a few characters who are female but do not push that fact in the audience’s face are needed; it’s the variety that I feel is important, and with enough variety both female characters that are informed by their gender and that merely happen to be female will both become common enough that there will no longer be a need to advocate for them.  I do like the idea of a sister taking on the role of protector of her sibling, something that is common enough for older sisters to probably not have any agenda while still acting as the barest idea for a role model for girls in a story that does not require any such thing.  Still, I want to stress these are surface aspects of the character, which I have to admit will bother certain people that want to see these aspects fleshed out as much as I want to see Lanoree’s struggle with her own pride fleshed out.

While I’m dealing with issues bigger than this book (literally, when you look at the page count), I should mention that any idea of heteronormativity in this book is purely the result of fan-’shipping; all sexualities are ignored equally and there is not a hint of romance or intimacy between any characters present.  I am now thoroughly uncomfortable and prepared for authors and fans alike to poke holes in my statements about minor issues that do not effect the story at large.

While Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void is an enjoyable book and I do not regret buying it, it is both too short and too shallow to recommend full hardcover price for it.  It is easily worth the price of a paperback, and waiting for that version is not going to damage the intentions of fans that are following Dawn of the Jedi along step by step, as both stories are fairly independent from one another aside from the areas where they tie together.

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