Book Review: Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston

ahsoka-cover-06-17-final-758x1024A longtime favourite of the Star Wars universe, Ahsoka Tano first appeared in the animation, Clone Wars, before joining the cast of Rebels in Season 2. This book is set between those two series: although once a Jedi, and Padawan of one Anakin Skywalker no less, when we meet Ahsoka here, she is neither. She is but a fugitive, operating on her own, trying to stay one step ahead of the Empire following the lethal Order 66.

One of the things I look forward to most when delving into a Star Wars book is the world-building. It brings enrichment, a deeper sense of immersion in this galaxy far away, perhaps, than the films and animations can offer. E.K. Johnston’s Ahsoka does not disappoint on this level with new planets and scenarios to explore. In fact, we’re very much placed within the mind of Ahsoka herself as she comes to terms with new environments and cultures and customs as part of her assimilation into new societies. It’s definitely a strong suit of this author and one which, if anything, I would have welcomed even more of.

So too did I welcome the theme of revolution, a central theme to the whole Star Wars franchise but very much done differently here with talk of the small farming community Ahsoka becomes part of organising themselves into a resistance. This was something that was very well realised by the author to begin with but then somewhat dropped. I found characters such as barman Selda, an older, canny veteran with wounds that suggested he was no stranger to tyranny, and farm leader, Vartan, something of a union boss and a deft hand when it comes to organisation, wonderfully engaging but ultimately underused. Part of the reason, you could argue, is Ahsoka’s own reluctance to work as part of a team. She’s been burned before in that way and it certainly affects some of the choices she makes in this story, too. She could be seen as abandoning the people that she’s come to trust and be trusted by, just when they need her the most, a very real flaw in her character but one which is essential to her development. Certainly, when we meet Ahsoka in Rebels, she has evolved somewhat beyond that – although not entirely.

Overall, Ahsoka is a great read. A step away from the spectacular space battles and infantry clashes of Clone Wars to the smaller pockets of resistance, the sparks of rebellion we see igniting further within Rebels and, indeed, the sequel trilogy of movies.  As for Ahsoka Tano herself, this book offers greater insight into her character and, on that level alone, succeeds brilliantly.