Book Review: Star Wars Dawn of the Jedi Volume 1

Force Storm (Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi, #1)Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi Volume One – Force Storm is a compilation of the first 5 comics in the Dawn of the Jedi comic series by Dark Horse Comics. I hadn’t read the comics before but was interested in reading them so jumped at a chance to review this book. I’ve been a fan of Star Wars for some time, though not to the extremes that some have gone. I enjoy the original trilogy, some of the video games, and appreciated the novels set in the era after Return of the Jedi.

Spoilers Below

Dawn of the Jedi takes place approximately 36,000 years prior to A New Hope in the Star Wars universe. The artwork is great and the artists tell a great story through the pictures. We are introduced to some familiar races in the Star Wars universe, including Wookies and Twi’leks. As the story opens we see how several races encounter a strange pyramid-like ship. That ship calls to the races and takes selected representatives to the planet Tython. Here they are joined as one in the Force. They begin to learn more about the Force and master the abilities granted through it. They begin to realize the dual aspects in the Force – Dark and Light. Above all, they seek to maintain balance because Tython reacts violently to imbalance in the Force. These creatures brought together take on a new name of “Je’daii”, translated in the book as “mystic center”.

We fast forward through hints of millennia passing with the Je’daii learning different skills as they gather around those pyramids. We also see the beginnings of those without the ability to manipulate the Force being sent away, with much sadness and hurt. All of this still takes place within a single star system. We’re given a quick history of the “Despot War” with Queen Hidaya. This war took place 12 years before the main story begins and there are rifts between the Je’daii and those who fought against them. We see children being taught not to hate and then are taken to Tatooine (then not a desert world) to meet our antagonists from the Infinite Empire and their “force hounds” who can also manipulate the force, though they are not trained with the Je’daii. These force hounds fight with force sabers as well, our first glimpse of what will become the light saber. One force hound, Xesh, can find the world of the Je’daii and is sent off to find them.

Xesh arrives and the Je’daii feel an imbalance in the Force as Trython reacts violently to his arrival. We then follow the tales of several young Je’daii as they attempt to restore balance and track down Xesh. We encounter the various factions within the planets around Trython, see the Je’daii grow together as a team, and encounter the Dark side of the Force in Xesh as he is consumed by his anger and darkness. We also encounter Daegan Lok who appears to be a Dark Je’daii exiled from Trython. He apparently can feel the battle going on and the darkness growing.

Xesh grows confused because his time fighting the Je’daii reveals a side to the Force that is unknown to him – teamwork, selflessness, no fear. He appears to change his predisposition towards self-centered survival and joins the team in fighting a threat to all of them. He then reverts back to form and a huge Force Storm ensues that threatens to tear the planet apart because Xesh will not turn from the darkness in him.  One of the Je’daii sacrifices himself to restore balance and Xesh is healed to be exiled in order to learn the ways of the Force better away from the Je’daii. This appears to set the reader up for a pairing of a Dark master and apprentice, but the story ends here.

 

Who will like this book?

If you like Star Wars, you’ll probably like this book. The exploration of the origins of the Je’daii is handled well and some questions are answered while others remain unrevealed. I enjoyed the artwork blending well with the text to tell a compelling story. The characters are Star Wars characters, but each is developed pretty well along the way. They have their own struggles and backgrounds that affect them throughout the adventure.  If you enjoy reading any of the expanded universe stories or the comics, you’ll probably like this.

Who won’t like this book?

If you don’t like Star Wars or pretty much insist that the only Star Wars worth knowing about happened in the movies (or in episodes 4-6), you can probably give this a pass. If you don’t care for graphic novels or comics at all, you probably won’t enjoy this.  If you’ve read Dawn of the Jedi issues 1-5, you have already read this. You’ll be able to read the story straight through without ads or other interruptions, but you’ll already have read the story.

 

My Take

I liked it. I definitely prefer this to the comics, if only because the story is uninterrupted by any ads or other distractions. The artwork is well done. The story is engaging. I care about the characters and their struggles. I find my self wanting to know what happens next. What becomes of Xesh in his exile? How do the Je’daii move beyond their current planetary system to take on the role as peace keepers in the galaxy? How does Tatooine become a desert planet? I look forward to the next volume (or picking up the comics) so I can continue the story.

 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of this book with no expectations on the part of the publisher. I was not influenced in any way by the publisher and received nothing in return for this review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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