I’m just going to say it, ‘Ronin’ is a beautiful (audio)book.
Set in an alternate timeline as part of the ‘Star Wars: Visions’ series, ‘Ronin’ adapts the first ‘Visions’ short, ‘The Duel’ and expands on the story, giving us a continuation of the Ronin’s adventure as well as backstory that really she’d light on the version of the Galaxy that the short presented us.
Ronin, along with his trusted Astromech Droid, Bee-Five wander the Galaxy. The Sith is haunted by ghosts of his past and gets drawn into a quest with a wonderful cast of characters that are each a mystery that we get to unravel as the story moves along.
Candon weaves a wonderfully rich tapestry, giving us a great amount of information to let us understand this Galaxy, all the while it feels incredibly Star Wars but at the same time it’s vastly different. The whole (audio)book feels like it’s been lifted from ‘The Duel’ short film, as the story unfolded I could see it in my head, I even pictured it in black and white, of course with the hints of colour like the short film.
There is one aspect of the book that feels inherently Star Wars, and it slowly develops throughout the story until, for the reader/listener as well as for Ronin, and that is the sense of found family. We see it throughout all aspects of Star Wars, from ‘A New Hope’ all the way to ‘The Mandalorian’, and in ‘Ronin’ it’s right there.
The crew he finds himself with, that he initially didn’t want anything to do with slowly endear themselves to him, and even more slowly for some, him to them.
What felt really good about this (audio)book is that everything felt fresh and new, it’s easy to anticipate the outcomes of some of the Star Wars novels. I’m not saying that to gloat or saying it’s a bad thing, but ‘Ronin’ was the one (audio)book where the majority of those predictions were completely off base…
…and that was wonderfully refreshing.
My one regret in terms of this novel is that I went down the audiobook route, and whilst Joel de la Fuente does a great job as narrator but the novel itself (I have seen online) has wonderful artwork inside that at some point I will have to pick up a physical copy.
I have previously gripes about the music used in the Star Wars audiobooks, specifically the ones set around the Sequel Trilogy using music from the Prequels, but I never felt the music out of place or distracting.
Overall, ‘Ronin’ could very well be the most beautiful Star Wars novel around. Candon weaves a fantastically rich tapestry that feels like it’s been ripped from an Akira Kurosawa film, only in an alternate universe where Kurosawa invented the lightsaber years before George Lucas had the thought. It’s one I will be revisiting again I’m sure and I’m already looking forward to it.
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