Ricky Church reviews Star Wars: Guardians of the Whills…
Since its release last December, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has been named by many Star Wars fans and those in the mainstream audience as a great adventure in the galaxy far, far away. One aspect that people seem to love the most from Rogue One are the characters, and two of them have now got their own adventure in book form.
Guardians of the Whills, written by Greg Rucka, follows Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus shortly before the events of the spin-off film, showing what life was like on Jedha under the Empire’s cruel reign and how rebel extremist Saw Gerrera came into the picture. The book details a period in their life where Chirrut and Baze chose to get more involved in the fight against Imperial tyranny, but are forced to look at the depths they’re willing to sink to in order to succeed.
First of all, this is not an origin story. Fans of Chirrut and Baze may be a bit disappointed that more questions about their past go unanswered; how was their friendship formed? How did Baze lose his faith in the Force? Was Chirrit always blind? While the answers to questions such as these are hinted at, none are fully answered.
Rather, Guardians of the Whills focuses on their place in Jedha’s society before its destruction. Rucka paints a tragic picture of Jedha, showing a peaceful, accepting and culturally different society compared to what it is like under the Empire’s rule. He also goes into some great description of the various neighbourhoods of the Holy City and the Temples within. Knowing what happens in Rogue One adds to the tragedy.
The story is well paced, making this a fairly quick read. Guardians of the Whills is billed as a book for young readers, so the level of writing isn’t too difficult for anyone of any age to follow. The content still retains some of the mature tone of the film as Chirrut and Baze debate Saw Gerrera’s tactics and the loss of innocent life, unsure if Jedha is better or worse because of their actions.
The insight into Chirrut and Baze’s mindsets is well done. Rucka alternates chapters between the two and cuts to the core of who these characters are. Despite their differences in personality and faith, they’re both fairly similar and are able to read each other easily. Chirrut’s perspective is particularly interesting as Rucka describes his senses and how attuned he is to the Force.
One thing that was interesting about Guardians of the Whills was how there wasn’t as much typical Star Wars excitement in the book. There’s not much action and no big bad behind the Empire’s rule on Jedha. The book is a more introspective look at Chirrut and Baze as they consider joining Saw’s rebel group, examing their choices and devotion not just to each other, but to the community at large. It gives a greater sense to the moment in Rogue One after the Holy City’s desctruction where Chirrut asks Baze how much of it is gone.
With Rucka’s examinaiton of Chirrut and Baze’s place in Jedha’s society and the growing insurgency, Guardians of the Whills adds some more depth to two of the most beloved character from Rogue One and hopefully opens the door for further adventures with them