Ricky Church reviews Star Wars: Ahsoka…
In 2008, the Star Wars: The Clone Wars film introduced fans to Ahsoka Tano, a character who polarized viewers nearly as much as Jar Jar Binks did. Unlike the annoying Gungan though, Ahsoka eventually gained a large fanbase. Over the course of the series, gone were the mentions of ‘Sky-Guy’ as Ahsoka grew and matured as she became a promising Jedi until the Council threw her under the bus, forcing her to leave the Jedi Order in what was, at the time, the series finale.
Despite her resurgence in Star Wars Rebels and executive producer Dave Filoni’s various comments, very little is known about her actions between Revenge of the Sith and Rebels. Emily Kate Johnston takes up the huge task of filling in some of the gaps of Ahsoka’s journey from exiled Jedi to Rebel leader in Star Wars: Ahsoka. She crafts a narrative that focuses solely on Ahsoka’s development during the Empire’s early reign, showing how adrift she was both situationally and personally.
Johnston handles Ahsoka so well that it is very easy to hear Ashley Eckstein’s voice in your head. Ahsoka has a very clear development throughout the story as she finds purpose in a life devoid of any except hiding. Ahsoka surprisingly begins only a year into Palpatine’s reign rather than well into it, though perhaps that’s for the best; it’s not quite in Ahsoka’s character to sit around, even if she is supposed to be laying low, a fact Johnston deals with directly. Her transition from fugitive to rebel transitions smoothly, though may be a little rushed toward the book’s conclusion.
Readers may be surprised, though, that not all the answers regarding Ahsoka’s time after her exile from the Jedi Order are given. Intermixed throughout the main narrative are quick flashbacks to the days leading up to and after Order 66, most from Ahsoka but some from various other characters. These brief flashes offer some intriguing clues about what Ahsoka was doing during Order 66, but there is a lot of room left open to explore.
This is both a negative and positive aspect of Ahsoka. Negative because fans will surely have expected a bit more to be answered and could come away wanting, but positive just for that reason. Instead of tasking herself with cramming so much into one book, Johnston offers us hints that can be explored in other media, giving us more of Ahsoka Tano in the future.
The supporting characters are fairly good, though sometimes are relegated to the sidelines in favour of Ahsoka. Of course Ahsoka should have the focus, but when the supporting characters are in a dire situation, it’s somewhat hard to feel for them. The sisters Kaiden and Miara standout and get the most focus among the supporting players and Johnston gives a real sense of sisterly bond between them.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars often dealt with how regular, young people turn to resisting an opposing force and Johnston continues that here, though she examines what hastiness and overzealousness can do to a small community. Kaiden and Miara are forced to grow up quickly in a drastic way as they confront their past mistakes in a harsh reality check. This examination plays really well, especially considering the role Ahsoka will have in the rebellion.
Though its light on a lot of answers, fans should be very pleased with Star Wars: Ahsoka’s inspection of the Jedi exile’s time in the early Empire. Johnstom nails Ahsoka’s character and makes her relatable as she struggles to find a purpose again. She really succeeds in making this book simply feel like an extension of The Clone Wars. Johnston’s style of writing is easy to get engrossed in, creating a good pace that makes it hard to put the book down. The supporting characters could have been given a bit more to do and the ending is somewhat rushed, but the focus on Ahsoka Tano is rightly the book’s biggest selling point.