REVIEW: Star Wars – Dawn of the Jedi – Into the Void (2013)

A Book by Tim Lebbon

This year I have been reading a lot of the “Canon Star Wars books” due to the fact that a lot of them fill in gaps in between movies and flesh out things that the current showrunners may not like about where the movies took the plots. Overall, I have enjoyed this endeavor, and even though not every book is a classic they are generally entertaining. I have yet to go back into the original “Star Wars Expanded Universe”, now dubbed “Legends”, because my experience with them in the past was that they were incredibly hit or miss. I have mentioned the fact that I apparently had a keen knack for purchasing some of the worst regarded books in the entire series, and without access to anything that had a large storehouse of review scores, I was somewhat left in the dark and word purchase books based solely on how cool the cover looked.

I have decided to go back into these so-called “Legends” novels for some of the books I feel won’t be a complete contradiction to the established lore post-Disney acquisition. In the future I plan to read some Old Republic material that I never read in the past and other books of that nature. To kick things off, I decided to try a book billed as “the origin of Star Wars”, taking place some 24,000 years in the past, LONG before The Skywalker Saga. Was this a bad idea, or had these books redeemed themselves long after me “checking out”?

“On the planet Tython, the ancient Je’daii order was founded. And at the feet of its wise Masters, Lanoree Brock learned the mysteries and methods of the Force—and found her calling as one of its most powerful disciples. But as strongly as the Force flowed within Lanoree and her parents, it remained absent in her brother, who grew to despise and shun the Je’daii, and whose training in its ancient ways ended in tragedy.

Now, from her solitary life as a Ranger keeping order across the galaxy, Lanoree has been summoned by the Je’daii Council on a matter of utmost urgency. The leader of a fanatical cult, obsessed with traveling beyond the reaches of known space, is bent on opening a cosmic gateway using dreaded dark matter as the key—risking a cataclysmic reaction that will consume the entire star system. But more shocking to Lanoree than even the prospect of total galactic annihilation, is the decision of her Je’daii Masters to task her with the mission of preventing it. Until a staggering revelation makes clear why she was chosen: The brilliant, dangerous madman she must track down and stop at any cost is the brother whose death she has long grieved—and whose life she must now fear.”

For something that is marketed as an “origin story” for the entire Star Wars franchise, Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void somewhat falls flat on its face with the weight of actually trying to do that very thing. This book is by no means a terrible book, it is just painfully mediocre, a completely competent and yet utterly unremarkable book that was given so much fanfare by reviewers that I was immediately confused with it. Was this the same book everyone used to recommend to me? I will admit that I have yet to read the comic books that this book is a novel tie in for, and if those are written like this I don’t think I ever will. I also take exception with the idea that I need to read a series of comic books in order to understand and appreciate a book that should stand on its own.

So what’s my big problem? I think honestly my biggest issue is that this is literally NOT an origin story for the Jedi, or in this case – The Jed’aii. All we really learn is the fact that the Jed’aii are originally from one particular planet, Tython, and are the masters of utilizing The Force to do some astonishing things that are somewhat similar to what we see later on. When they become a certain age, Jed’aii children have to go through a series of trials that ultimately grants them access to the title of being a Jed’aii Ranger – a vaguely described Job title that is astonishingly different than what we see later on with The Jedi. In fact, the entire religious aspect of the Jedi is completely unseen here, and everything is more of a dualistic vague notion of a tribal religion that is not elaborated on in this book.

This takes place 24,000 years before the movies, but I never really get a sense of a passage of time in this book. Seemingly, The Galaxy has had basically the exact same technology for upwards of 25,000 years. Everyone has starships, similar droids, and the basic weaponry that we see in any of the Star Wars material from the so-called Skywalker Saga. The only thing missing is a lightsaber. You honestly could have taken this exact story changed around some terminology and released it as a book that takes place in your typical Star Wars setting and it would honestly be almost the same with minimal alterations. I’m not sure what I was looking for here, like some sort of primitive caveman story where people discover The Force, or something akin to a Medieval Era for this Galaxy? I’m not sure, but whatever it was it wasn’t this. If this was written with the goal of being something that answers a bunch of questions from fans as to how The Jedi Order got started and how the wars between the Sith and the Jedi started it up – this is not it. In fact, this honestly raises more questions then answers and seems to kind of fly in the face of established lore.

One thing I was left confused about was, if this is pre hyperspace travel, considering the book is entirely about the Jed’aii trying to stop it as if some sort of space luddites, how did all manner of other races end up on the same planet? In this book, we see The Sith, The Twi’leks, Wookies and more. Perhaps I am misunderstanding something from the comics, but it’s not like all those races are in the same solar system, they only seem near to each other in later material because of hyperspace travel. Well, after a glance at Wookipedia, I have discovered that the comics explain how, but if I’m going at this as somebody that has NOT read the comics, this book does a poor job of handling this.

That isn’t to say that I hated everything here. The Jed’aii are interesting to me, and operate more like the idea of a “Gray Jedi” in some of the comics and books throughout the years, they borrow from both Light and Dark to secure a balance between them, in fact Jed’aii apparently means “mystic center” in their native tongue. How this became corrupted as all one or none for both The Jedi and The Sith would be interesting to explore, but that’s not in the scope of this series. This dualism reminded me of the book Ronin, which in itself lies outside of continuity, but operated on the same sort of “Yin and Yang” idea for The Force.

Star Wars – Dawn of the Jedi – Into the Void is a missed opportunity, plain and simple. Rather than actually show the “origin of the Jedi”, we get a different era of their past that does little more than complicate their history. The book has continuity issues if you have not read a myriad of additional comics and other books, all of which should not be mandatory to understand what is supposed to be a stand-alone novel. I may actually look into some of those because I am curious, myself, but I doubt many others would. I haven’t even mentioned the actual story of the book in this entire review, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, although not a whole lot stands out after finishing this. I feel like I was misled by a series that promised the moon, and delivered far less.

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