“For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justices in the Old Republic.” A thousand generations is a long time, and in Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void, Tim Lebbon takes us all the way back—more than 25,000 years before the events we see on the big screen. Before the Skywalkers, before lightsabers. Even before the Jedi Order as we know it. Instead, on the Force-rich planet Tython, we find the Je’daii Order. We meet young Lanoree Brock, one of the Order’s Rangers who keep the peace throughout the system. But a threat looms, as a group of fanatics pursues a project that threatens to unleash an interplanetary cataclysm. Much to her surprise, the Je’daii council tasks Brock to stop the group and its leader, who turns out to be the very brother she had long presumed dead.
On the planet Tython, the ancient Je’daii order was founded. And at the feet of its wise Masters, Lanoree Brock learned the mysteries and methods of the Force—and found her calling as one of its most powerful disciples. But as strongly as the Force flowed within Lanoree and her parents, it remained absent in her brother, who grew to despise and shun the Je’daii, and whose training in its ancient ways ended in tragedy.
Now, from her solitary life as a Ranger keeping order across the galaxy, Lanoree has been summoned by the Je’daii Council on a matter of utmost urgency. The leader of a fanatical cult, obsessed with traveling beyond the reaches of known space, is bent on opening a cosmic gateway using dreaded dark matter as the key—risking a cataclysmic reaction that will consume the entire star system. But more shocking to Lanoree than even the prospect of total galactic annihilation, is the decision of her Je’daii Masters to task her with the mission of preventing it. Until a staggering revelation makes clear why she was chosen: The brilliant, dangerous madman she must track down and stop at any cost is the brother whose death she has long grieved—and whose life she must now fear.
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Set 25,000 years before the time of Luke Skywalker, this novel shows us what things were like before there were Jedi and when Sith was just a species. If you've always been fascinated by the question of where this grand mythos got its start, you'll enjoy this fast-paced look at the Je'daii Order and their ways. Even though they're devoted to balance instead of serving the light side of the Force, you'll see that the tension between light and dark poses challenges similar to what we see during the fall of the Republic and rise of the Galactic Empire 25 millenia later.
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Dawn of the Jedi is a complex, entertaining, fascinating, and compelling story of the ancient beginnings of what will become the familiar Star Wars universe. That complexity doesn’t always pay off, and at times I felt alienated and confused. But it’s always refreshing when Star Wars publishing takes risks! It’s got a lot going for it, and while I was not 100% satisfied, I was at least engaged.
The story’s strong suits are its two major characters, Lanoree and Dalien Brock. The conflict between these two siblings really drives the plot and can pull the reader through the convoluted story elements. Lanoree is an extremely well-crafted female protagonist, who is undeniably good although she straddles the fence of light and dark. The idea of a antagonist who is not just another Sith Lord with daddy issues but instead is compelled to seek his destiny among the stars is a nice change of pace and really works in this case. Furthermore, the book does a good job establishing its sidekick, mentor, droid, spaceship, and home planet. George Lucas fans might even be pleasantly surprised by the inclusion and repurposing of his Ashla and Bogan ideas as the moons of said planet, Tython.
Despite its strengths, Dawn of the Jedi’s peripheral elements are distracting at times. Someone picking up this novel because it takes place early in the Legends timeline may not discover the helpful comic material published by Dark Horse that really enhance the immense amount of new worldbuilding taking place in this new era of Star Wars storytelling. Without reading the Dawn of the Jedi comics, the Tho Yor concept and the various planets in the Tythan system might just be a bit much to grasp.
There’s little doubt that had the sale to Disney not taken place, we would have seen this era receive the attention needed to flesh out the ideas introduced in this novel – but that’s an exchange I’ll make any day. As a novel, this one is good, especially if you’re willing to sink your teeth in. It’s certainly a wild ride!
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