Not long ago I watched and wrote about Rogue One and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This got me in a Star Wars-y mood, and so I decided that now was as good a time as any to get into Star Wars Legends, previously known as the Expanded Universe. Prior to the acquisition of Star Wars by Disney the EU comprised the extended canon of Star Wars, with a (mostly) consistent order of events between works. I have always been interested in the novels of the EU, and while they’re no longer canonical, they’re still good books, apparently.
Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void is the first book of Star Wars Legends, chronologically. It can be mostly taken completely on its own. Sure there are some short stories featuring the main character and it’s a tie-in to a comic series, but the story within the book itself is stand-alone.
Into the Void follows the adventure of Lanoree Brock, a Je’daii Ranger. You see, this is around 25,000 years before any of the Star Wars movies. There are no lightsabers, no hyperdrive travel, and the word Jedi isn’t even Jedi yet. It’s all confined to a single system, Tython. Backstory-wise, it seems that many Force-sensitive individuals of many races were transported from other parts of the universe and transported to the Tython system. The planet Tython is an incredibly Force-rich planet and is the birthplace of our hero Lanoree, as well as the Jedi/Je’daii order on the whole.
At the beginning of the book Lanoree is given a mission to find and stop her brother as he is suspected of intending to use dark matter to open up a ‘hypergate’, which may actually create a black hole. The problem is that until now, Lanoree was under the presumption that her brother was dead. And thus begins the chase.
This book is pretty full of action as it flits back and forth between Lanoree’s current quest around the system to find her brother and find out his motivations, and her past quest which sees her journey across Tython with her brother as part of their Je’daii training. Both stories serve to show us who Lanoree Brock is as a character and how her relationship with her brother fits in with her life and personality. Without giving much away, neither quest goes well. She is aided in her current quest by Tre Sana, a cocky and scummy Twi’lek with a penchant for sass and Dam-Powl, a Je’daii master who appears to have some secrets of her own when it comes to the mysterious ability of Force alchemy.
As an introduction into how the Expanded Universe works and is written, I feel this book serves well. Lebbon takes us to many varying locales and gives lurid and detailed descriptions of the environments and beasts our protagonist faces both during the current quest and on her training journey in the past. Her brother makes for an interesting antagonist whose relationship with Lanoree may be the most interesting part of the book. Points of humour are done well, and descriptions of the every mysterious Force are compelling. The pacing kept me reading with interest, though if I had one criticism it would be I would have much preferred it if the ‘past’ sections of the story were wrapped up before we actually meet Lanoree’s brother in the ‘present’ sections. That way we would have a full picture of the man whose actions don’t always make sense.
I’ll say this now though, Lanoree is not that likeable. She’s a self-righteous, overzealous know-it-all who seems to have little regard for consent and liberty, especially when it comes to constantly trying to manipulate and read the minds of people around her even when it doesn’t seem necessary. Watching her go up against Tre Sana, a being who can’t be manipulated or mind read, it’s quite satisfying. Their dynamic as temporary partners is fun to watch unfold.
If you like Star Wars as a series and fancy a look at where at one time, the Jedi originated, give this book a read.