Potential Spoilers for A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller and Star Wars: Rebels. You have been warned.
I really enjoy this book.
I’ve now read it three times since I got it in April 2015. That’s how much I like it. It’s the only book in the new Star Wars canon I have read multiple times. I felt compelled to read it after the Rebels episodes ‘Jedi Night’ and ‘DUME’.
Like many, this was my introduction to the story of the Ghost Crew, specifically Kanan and Hera and a new mainstay character from the new novels, Rae Sloane.
Kanan is a great character. In the book he’s a lost man who drinks too much and fights even more. He doesn’t stay in one place too long and doesn’t get attached to anyone and hiding a massive secret, he’s a former Jedi Apprentice called Caleb Dume. I really like this younger Kanan, seeing what he was like before he joined Hera.
Hera is a badass! She’s almost ninja-like with her infiltration skills which she utilises a few times through the book, which is a pity when she doesn’t do this much in the series. She’s dedicated to revealing how bad the Empire really is, almost a pre-Rebellion rebel.
The new characters are well fleshed out. Skelly the Clone Wars veteran explosives expert. Zaluna the Sullistian surveillance operative, these two help Hera and Kanan in their plot to bring down The Empire’s operation on The planet Gorse and it’s moon Cynda. Okadiah, the Obi-Wan to Kanan’s Luke, minus the Force but has plenty of alcohol. And how can we forget Captain Rae Sloane, who through the short stories/novels has moved up the ranks of the Empire from a Cadet in the short story ‘Orientation’ to Grand Admiral by the end of the Aftermath trilogy and Count Vidian, the cyborg efficiency expert who’s schemes are thwarted by our heroes.
As far as the story goes it flows quite nicely, if probably a bit by-the-book, which is not a complaint by any stretch. Through the plot we find out how far the Empire is willing to go to help fund and expand their resources, essentially strip-mining planets and even willing to go as far as blowing up moons to get the resources they need. Kanan is the reluctant hero, Hera is the idealistic Rebel. Their paths cross several times before they end up working together with their rag-tag team to stop Vidian’s plot to double-cross the Empire.
The book acts as a brilliant introduction to Kanan and Hera. My only issue there is that it’s set quite a while before the series so there’s quite a time jump between the two. On the other hand this means that there are plenty more adventures they could go on and stories that could be told to further develop them into who they are in the series. I’ve always wondered how they recruited Zeb and Sabine. Those are stories I want to read now.
Until we get them, however, I’ll be content to re-watch the whole series.