By Kevin Hearne
The problem with Heir of the Jedi might simply come down to placement in the new lineup of canon novels being put out by new Lucasfilm overlords, Disney. Coming after Tarkin, which is a book about a character that maybe you never knew you needed a book about, Heir of the Jedi feels out of place. It’s a different author, sure, but it’s such a drastic turn from the previous book that in the early chapters it’s harder to get through that one might expect of not only a Star Wars book, but a book about Luke freakin’ Skywalker as well. Maybe this was planned from the start, in the sense that these official canon novels seem to be going, for lack of anything better to call them, good guys/bad guys/good guys/bad guys—the next book being Lords of the Sith. Then again, maybe that was only part of it.
Coming into the book, after immediately finishing Tarkin, Heir of the Jedi changes things up and offers up a first person perspective that comes off as jarring and almost off-putting in the beginning. Early on, it doesn’t quite feel like writer Kevin Hearne has found Luke’s voice and it actually takes him a good portion of the book to really catch what made Luke such a compelling character in the original trilogy. Towards the end, it feels like Hearne has mostly ironed out any wrinkles, but there’s still something nagging in the background as one reads Luke’s inner thoughts. Something about it just doesn’t feel as spot-on as maybe some of the other Star Wars offerings that have now become “Legends” in the Star Wars mythos.
Forgiving that, or at least tolerating it, Heir is a decent set of stories focusing on the Rebels and their little battles with the Empire as they scrap for every inch of ground. Heir is one story certainly, but there are a few mini-missions, as it were, that sort of lead up to the major one that’s supposed to give the Alliance an edge against the Emperor and Vader. Every little mission plays, however minimal, into the final one and almost every character met somehow helps Luke to rethink his Jedi training and his character grows and improves, but some of it still comes off as filler. It was as if the final mission and all the tasks that needed to be completed to be successful didn’t quite fill up a full novel so Hearne had to add other pieces to bump up the page count.
Again, that’s not to say that these beginning missions were entirely pointless; Hearne, as mentioned, certainly shows growth with Luke, has fun with R2-D2 and establishes the time period after the destruction of the Death Star, but when it all wraps up it somehow feels… insignificant. The ending is predictable and something that you can basically see coming from the beginning—though maybe that’s because of how Empire plays out—and all-in-all leaves a nagging, unsatisfied feeling that has frankly, lingered for a few days after reading it.
Heir to the Jedi is not the best new, canon Star Wars book and there are certainly tons of “Legends” books that are easily superior to it, but at the end of the day it serves its purpose. It answers some of those questions after Star Wars about what Luke and the Alliance got up to and begins to dive into Luke’s Jedi training, or lack thereof. The first person was jarring—and as a side note, starting Lords of the Sith and finding out it’s not first person was an oddly joyous moment—and Luke’s voice more often than not just felt slightly off and the ending was predictable, but it’s still not the worst Star Wars book available. Because it’s Star Wars and because it was Luke Skywalker, this book still comes recommended to eventually pick up and read. There just might not be a crazy rush to pick it up leading into the new movie.