Kevin Hearne’s Star Wars novel, Heir to the Jedi, was intended to be one installment of a novel trilogy of sorts, with each revolving around one of the “Big Three” characters in the Classic Trilogy. Heir to the Jedi was to be the “Luke” installment in this trilogy of books, but with the purge of the old Expanded Universe and the rebranding of the old EU material as Star Wars Legends, this was the only novel of the three to be rendered canon for the new official continuity being established by the LucasFilm Story Group.
Heir to the Jedi is set not long after the original 1977 Star Wars film (AKA A New Hope) and Luke, despite having destroyed the Death Star with the guidance of the Force, is still clueless on how to start down the proper path of becoming a Jedi. He also still believes Ben Kenobi’s stories that his father was always a benevolent, goodhearted Jedi who was betrayed and murdered by Darth Vader. This is a difficult time for Luke, as he is trying to establish himself both as a Jedi to be, and a part of the Rebel Alliance in their fight against the Empire.
The novel sees Luke joining up with Nakari, a girl who is the daughter of the head of one of the galaxy’s most prosperous development and exploration companies. The twosome, with R2-D2 on board, embarks for a world to retrieve a genius alien woman in Imperial captivity, who is sympathetic to the Rebel Alliance. It is up to our heroes to retrieve her and bring her back to the Alliance and her family, but they will have to contend with the Empire and a number of deadly bounty hunters along the way.
The “gimmick” behind Heir to the Jedi is that it is from Luke Skywalker’s first person point of view, as opposed to the omnipotent third person narrator employed in the majority of Star Wars literature. Sadly, the entire novel just falls flat and, for the most part, is a huge disappointment. This gimmick fails because Luke still acts just like a typical third person narrator, using ridiculous words and language the character would never use in the films. Likewise, this prevents us from exploring the point of view of the other characters, which is a major wasted opportunity, especially considering a few of the new faces had long term potential.
This is one of the most scattershot and uneven Star Wars novels I have ever read. Interesting scenes include Luke’s visit to the grave of a fallen Rodian Jedi and the exploration of a planet with a derelict ship and deadly alien creatures that have escaped (does this remind anyone of a certain non-Star Wars science fiction film?) Both of these plot points are interesting enough, but are quickly discarded in favor of the plotline of rescuing the mathematically-focused genius and bringing her back to the Alliance.
Too much time is wasted on scenes like Luke eating and acting borderline flirty with Nakari; the Nakari character is admittedly one of the better aspects of the novel. Scenes that should carry a lot of weight and get more emphasis, like the actual action and fight scenes, tend to get the shaft (I want to see Luke in action wielding a lightsaber, not eating!) Some of the transitions from one scene or planet to the next are far too abrupt, and feel forced and unconvincing. As was previously stated, the poorly executed first person perspective really prevents us from getting insight into non-Luke characters. Even a scene near the end of the novel that should carry dramatic weight falls flat because of these very same problems.
Unlike a number of fans, I was actually in favor of the decision to do away with the old Expanded Universe and rebrand it as Star Wars Legends, resulting in a newer, more streamlined and consistent continuity. But novels like Heir to the Jedi are a disgrace to the work of the more proficient and prolific novelists that have written Star Wars stories, old and new alike. It is not the worst Star Wars novel I have ever read, but it plods along at a snail’s pace, wasting its first person format, aborting its more interesting plot points and swapping them for uninteresting and laughable ones. Unless you are the most die-hard of a Star Wars fan who wants to read and view everything in the new continuity, skip it.