With recent events leading to a backlog of recorded episodes and episodes to record very soon, Star Wars Beyond the Films‘ Nathan P. Butler will be posting short, non-spoiler reviews for new releases. Spoiler-filled discussion will follow in the weeks thereafter on the podcast. (In the case of minor releases, that discussion may be kept for a Year in Review series of episodes.)
The Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry (hardback, 2015)
On Force Friday, amid a massive Star Wars: The Force Awakens marketing blitz, several new novels hit store shelves. Often lost in the excitement (and controversy) over that day’s adult novel, Aftermath, were four junior novels (three character-focused adventures for the “Big Three” and Lost Stars). All of these five new stories were billed as part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry, billed as “A Luke Skywalker Adventure,” features Luke on a mission with C-3PO and R2-D2 for the Rebel Alliance in the period shortly after A New Hope. That mission is quickly derailed, sending Luke on a more personal journey to an abandoned Jedi Temple on Devaron. Along the way, he meets a young Devaronian girl named Farnay and the mysterious masked scavenger known as Sarco Plank.
The story features Luke becoming a better young Jedi, as he learns a bit more about lightsaber combat and the like at the old tempe. The novel is, in fact, touoted in Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know and elsewhere as including Luke’s first true duel with a lightsaber. (The circumstances of that duel and whom he duels are spoiler material, so I will refrain from specifying his opponent.)
In general, the story does not include many shocking twists or turns, perhaps owing to its younger intented audience, but seeing Luke undergo training that is now considered Canon on par with the films is a welcome scenario, espeically given how haphazzardly Luke seemed to learn Jedi skills in the Legends Continuity due to decades of disconnected stories that tried to fill in the 0 – 3 ABY time gap (espeically pre-1991 tales never meant to fit together that were later shoehorned into continuity).
Does the Label Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Actually Fit the Book?
Some will argue that a story set in this era is far too early to count as part of any kind of “journey to The Force Awakens.” I would agree if we are considering only the main story itself. However, one should note that the tale does introduce Sarco Plank, who will appear in The Force Awakens (albeit to an unknown extent), and also features a prologue and epilogue in which C-3PO relates the primary story of the book to pilot Jessika Pava (AKA “Blue Three”), another character from The Force Awakens. (These “framing” segments would seem to take place just before or during the film itself.)
A Chronological Note
With so many of the Stroy Group’s new canon stories already being set in the era immediately after A New Hope, especially in relation to Luke, it is perhaps important to note where this story fits chronologically.
In Heir to the Jedi, Luke has not yet heard Obi-Wan’s voice through the Force since A New Hope. He does so here, putting this story after Kevin Hearne’s novel (which also makes telekinesis available to Luke in The Weapon of a Jedi).
With this being Luke’s first combat with a lightsaber, it also puts The Weapon of a Jedi prior to the events in the first Marvel Star Wars storyline, Skywalker Strikes.
In short: Heir to the Jedi then The Weapon of a Jedi then Skywalker Strikes.
The Weapon of a Jedi is another important step in Luke’s evolution between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The extent to which the book will impact The Force Awakens has yet to be seen and is likely negligible, but the introduction of Sarco Plank and Jessika Pava should bring a smile to moviegoers’ faces when seeing characters they now “know” on the big screen.
Recommended for: Those curious about Luke’s evolution between ANH and ESB, or those interseted in what are likely background characters for The Force Awakens.
Not recommended for: Those looking for significant page time for Original Trilogy characters other than Luke, or those hunting a story that is set in the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens that the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens concept seems to imply.
I purchased a copy of this book on Force Friday, though Disney Lucasfilm Press later provided a copy for review.
As an additional disclaimer, I have previously worked with Jason Fry on elements of Star Wars: The Essential Atlas and consider him a friend, though not a close one. That affiliation had no impact on the content of this review.
POST-TFA EDITORIAL ADDITION
I would suggest that Jessika Pava’s TFA era segment in the prologue and epilogue are almost certainly set during TFA, rather than shortly before the film. Unfortunately, Sarco Plank is relegated to a background character in a “blink and you’ll miss him” role, making the focus on him as a link to TFA tenuous at best.