I love Star Wars.
Like many science fiction fans, I grew up enamored of Jedi and The Force. As a kid, I religiously watched the original trilogy with my family (we are a family of re-watchers). As a teen, I bought into the prequel trilogy: I braved the lines for each film premier showing, collected the video games, the Pepsi Phantom Menace character bottles (my mom was not pleased), I cosplayed Padme Amidala. I also recognize the many, many problems with the prequel films, and despaired the bad dialog and the lack of emotional connection or gravitas to Anakin’s portrayal. The prequels are not good movies—and that's ok.
Then, there was The Clone Wars animated film and television series. A mea culpa for the entire prequel era, The Clone Wars iseverything I so desperately wanted from the pre-Empire era: nuanced discussion of the corruption and collapse of the Republic, the fear and inefficiency of the Jedi Order, the ethical question of breeding clones to fight and die on the behalf of the Republic, and so on. It gave Anakin and Padme the depth they deserved—and a large part of that is because of Anakin’s padawan: Ahsoka Tano.
Ahsoka does not get Order 66’d, like the rest of the Jedi. Instead, she walks away from the Order before the final battle, having been betrayed and disillusioned by the Council. And so, Ahsoka lives to fight another day.
In Ahsoka, the story begins with the fomer Padawan on the run from the Empire’s ever-increasing reach. Now going under the alias “Ashla”, Ahsoka spends her life jumping from planet to planet along the Outer Rim of the galaxy. Whenever the Empire gets too close, she leaves a system for a new one. Such a life, however, is not enough for Ahsoka, who is traumatized by the loss of the Jedi, especially her mentors Obi-Wan and Anakin—every time she closes her eyes to meditate, the emptiness in the Force haunts her. When Ahsoka arrives to farming moon Raada, she hopes to make a home away from the Empire’s grasp. But soon enough, the Empire arrives, eager to exploit the planet’s food sources for its own gain. With her new friends’ lives at stake, Ahsoka must finally take a stand—and threaten to reveal that she is the Jedi who got away.
Ah, Ahsoka. This is the Expanded Universe book I was so hungry for. Ahsoka has long been one of my very favorite Star Wars characters of all time, and knowing that she survives the Purge and lives long enough to make it to the Rebels era, I needed to know what her story leading up to becoming a Rebel leader was. Ahsoka tells this story—how the rootless, lost Padawan becomes a resistance fighter. Even better, Ahsoka reunites us with several favorite characters, including Bail Organa, Obi-Wan, Captain Rex (quickly), and Darth Maul—but also introduces us to so many memorable new faces. Best of all, Ahsoka feels true to the Ahsoka Tano of The Clone Wars—she’s impulsive (she didn’t get the nickname “Snips” for nothing), but thoughtful and compassionate; she’s empathetic to the struggles and thoughts of others, but able to think tactically to preserve their competitive advantage on the battlefield. And on a personal note, I love that Ahsoka unveils a potential romantic storyline in the form of Radaa farmer Kaeden (I would really love to get confirmation that Ahsoka is bisexual in the future, should there be a new book).
In short? I loved this book. I only wish that it was a little longer, or a confirmed Book 1 in a planned series. My only other regret? I didn’t listen to the audiobook—which is narrated by Ashley Eckstien (who voiced Ahsoka for The Clone Wars and Rebels) herself.
In Book Smugglerish, 8 malfunctioning droids out of 10.