Luke Skywalker returns for an all-new adventure in this thrilling upper middle grade novel. Set between Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the story finds Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and R2-D2 stranded on a mysterious planet, and explores a dangerous duel between Luke and a strange new villain. Hidden in the story are also clues and hints about the upcoming film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, making this a must-read for fans old and new!
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Not As Good as 'Smuggler's Run'
Coming off of Smuggler’s Run, I was looking forward to diving into Jason Fry’s The Weapon of a Jedi. Having read Jason Fry’s nonfiction fiction work like Star Wars: The Essential Atlas and The Essential Guide to Warfare, I was expecting good things. However, in the end, I was a little disappointed. It’s an okay book overall, but not quite on par with Rucka’s Smuggler’s Run.
That said, the story has a strong start with some fun X-wing combat. Unlike Aftermath, Jason Fry knows how to use Wedge and quickly puts him and Luke in a dogfight against some TIEs. The starfighter combat had me nostalgic for Michael A. Stackpole’s X-wing series. Jason not only did a great job with the action scenes, but also with portraying the relationship between Luke and Wedge. The story plants seeds on what they’ve been up to since blowing up the Death Star, the amount of missions they’ve been on, and how they’ve both grown as a team. It’s kind of sad when they part ways and I can’t help but wonder if the story would have been stronger if Wedge partnered with Luke for the entirety of the book.
Alas the story trades Wedge for R2-D2 and C-3PO as Luke goes on another mission for the Rebel Alliance. While Jason did a great job with Wedge and Luke, he doesn’t do quite so well with the droids. Granted 3PO is a hard character to make interesting, but with this character being his choice for the story, I would think he had something up his sleeve. Personally, 3PO just didn’t turn out to be that fun of a character. On the other hand, Jason did a great job of capturing 3PO’s more annoying characteristics as he bickers a lot. Perhaps the more brutal blow was the lack of role for R2. He’s there, he beeps, and I think he moved a few things, but overall he’s really insignificant. R2 could be completely removed from the story and it wouldn’t effect the plot. In the films, R2 and C3PO make quite the pair, but in The Weapon of a Jedi, their role leaves a lot to be desired.
As for the story, Luke goes to Devaron and finds an old Jedi temple where he practices with some remotes and refines his lightsaber skills. That’s pretty much the core of the entire plot. Along the way, a young Devaronian girl gets involved and a strange alien hunter named Sarco Plank (who shows up later in The Force Awakens and who already has an action figure). Mix in a couple encounters with Imperials, and you have the entire story. There’s not a lot to the plot, so much of the story focuses on Luke, his reflections on the Force and what lessons he managed to learn from Obi-Wan. While that could have been fertile ground for storytelling, there’s not a lot of depth to it. Much of the story feels dumbed down, from Sarco Plank being your typical mustache twirling villain, to the heavy handed anti-hunting theme in the book. It definitely has a kid’s story vibe to it.
Aside from the characters, I thought one big missed opportunity was the lack of integration with the other canon stories. I think this book could have been a lot more interesting and more significant if it would have tied into Kevin Hearne’s Luke Skywalker novel Heir to the Jedi. Both tackle similar ground with Luke hunting for Jedi knowledge and trying to learn about the Force. This would have been the perfect place to show Luke taking what he’s learned and building upon it. However, this story made Heir to the Jedi feel like it didn’t exist. Luke talks to Obi-Wan a lot, deflects blaster bolts left and right, and feels much more experienced than the Luke we saw in Hearne’s story. There’s also no mention of the events from the comics. In fact it would be rather difficult to determine where this story takes place in the timeline. The Marvel Star Wars comic, Heir to the Jedi and The Weapon of a Jedi all take place in the same time gap between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, but there’s nothing to show how this story fits into the others. The complete isolation of the story was a bit of a drawback for me. On the other hand, it does tie into The Force Awakens with the inclusion of Sarco, hoggsquattle (aka happabore) and a red armed C-3PO recounting the entire tale. But since none of us have seen the movie, the importance of those tie-ins loses a lot of their value.
While I had high hopes for Jason Fry, The Weapon of a Jedi fell short of the mark. It’s not a bad story, and it is enjoyable, but there was a lot of missed potential. It had a strong start but mellowed into an average story. The prowse is skewered more toward a younger audience with it’s plain and straightforward style. The dynamic between Luke, 3PO and R2 lacked the punch the story needed to stay fun and exciting. As is, I give it a three out of five. You might not want to skip it, but it doesn’t need to be at the top of your reading pile.