The Clone Wars have exploded across the galaxy as Republic forces and Separatists struggle to gain the upper hand. But while the Jedi generals work tirelessly to defeat Count Dooku and his rebels, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is hatching his own dark plans.
The Separatists have launched a sneak attack on Coruscant. Obi-Wan Kenobi, wounded in battle, insists that Anakin Skywalker and his rookie Padawan Ahsoka leave on a risky mission against General Grievous. But when Senator Bail Organa reveals explosive intelligence that could turn the tide of war in the Republic’s favor, the Jedi Master agrees to accompany him to an obscure planet on the Outer Rim to verify the facts. What Obi-Wan and Bail don’t realize is that they’re walking into a deadly trap concocted by Palpatine . . . and that escape may not be an option.
Inspired by the full-length animated feature film Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the brand-new TV series, this thrilling adventure is filled with provocative, never-before-revealed insights into the characters of Obi-Wan, Anakin, Padme, Yoda, Count Dooku, and many other Star Wars favorites.
Features a bonus section following the novel that includes a primer on the Star Wars expanded universe, and over half a dozen excerpts from some of the most popular Star Wars books of the last thirty years!
A great novel let down by some shaky characterizations
The Clone Wars era has always been a period of great interest for me due the vast amount of story and thematic potential. Authors can tackle the ethical side of war and examine whether it is truly right to use cloned soldiers to fight, denying them free will. They can address the military side of the war filling their stories with military tactics and maneuvers. Some fill their stories with political intrigue and detail all the backhanded deals behind the scenes that fuel the war. Perhaps the most popular would be the swift and uneasy shift of the Jedi from peacekeepers to generals ultimately leading to the corruption of Anakin Skywalker. Wild Space does something I don’t think I’ve seen in any single Clone Wars era novel: it addresses just about all of these aspects.
The book begins with a very strong start detailing the aftermath of the battle of Geonosis allowing us to examine how each of the characters deal with the events that just transpired. Anakin is left tormented for losing his arm to Count Dooku, the loss of his mother, and his love of Padme. Obi-wan is left trying to figure out how everything could have gotten from bad to worse and attempts to patch things up. Finally we see Yoda and Mace contemplating with apprehension the new role the Jedi will play in the events to come leaving us with a sense of foreboding for the terrors of the war about to be unleashed.
Fast forward to around the time of The Clone Wars TV series and the state of the war for the Republic has improved very little. A terrorist attack in the heart of the capital leaves numerous citizens injured or dead. Republic intelligence gathers information that the enemy will attack the critical world of Bothawui and the Jedi generals must fabricate a counterstrategy to circumvent the attack. We even see senator Bail Organa contemplating whether using clone troops is truly justified. As a result the reader can see through a wide variety of perspectives that address all parts of the Clone Wars to some degree making it feel like an actual war rather than a series of random events that don’t really account for much in the overall conflict. This makes this book a perfect starting point for newbies who want to sink their teeth into this era, even better than either of the Clone Wars TV series in my opinion.
The world building may be good but how do the characters hold up? For the most part, they are written brilliantly. Each character is unique and plays well off of each other. Kenobi is portrayed as the model Jedi, disciplined and duty-bound. Anakin is the tormented soul, a man who passionately desires that everything be set right yet finds that he is unable to do so. Ahsoka is the wide-eyed learner looking at Anakin with devotion and always trying to prove herself but doesn’t always succeed. Finally there’s Bail Organa the pacifist senator from Alderaan who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty when the situation requires it. With such a wide array of characters from completely different personalities and walks of life each interaction was intriguing and I was never left bored.
Unfortunately when the main plot starts rolling things get a little funky. Intelligence from a mysterious contact forces Bail Organa and Obi-wan to work together to uncover a Sith plot and at this point they act like bickering couple. Seriously, these two argue so much they should get a room. Avid followers of Star Wars media will find Obi-wan’s portrayal here very off from the polite, “civilized” Jedi master we usually know. While I can understand Kenobi not getting along with everyone, especially a pampered senator who isn’t used to being in front of the action, I felt that Miller should have toned it way down. Similarly Bail is in the same spot with his out of place confrontational behavior, but hasn’t been nearly as developed as Kenobi in past works so it was easier for me to take, but man these characterizations can be really hard to swallow.
Despite these shaky characterizations it is my belief that standalone books like this one shouldn’t be judged based on how consistent they with past works but rather on their own merits. Disregarding their portrayals in past works much of the enjoyment of the book comes from Bail and Obi-wan’s relationship: these two are so different yet so much alike. While they share a fervent love of the Republic each side has a different way of expressing it. As a senator, Bail has mostly lived a pampered life of luxury yet as a senator knows of the darkness of human nature while Kenobi has actively been fighting on the front lines becoming a seasoned veteran. As a result these two naturally butt heads due to their different ideals but gradually warm up to each other as they learn more about the other which was very entertaining to read.
Ultimately I would recommend Wild Space to newbies to the Clone Wars era and veterans who can go in with the right expectations. The strong world-building and varying themes that Miller tackles in this book make it a good initial depiction of the Clone Wars era as a whole and the diverse array of characters will keep readers invested. On the other hand this novel may not appeal as much for active fans already invested in Star Wars media due to some shaky characterizations but if you can get past them you’re in for a great ride.
ALTERNATE BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS: Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover and Darth Maul Shadow Hunter by Michael Reeves. The former has a similar story structure to Wild Space with a Jedi, Mace Windu, going on a long journey in which we learn more about him and human nature. It’s also a very dark and gritty novel so the squeamish and faint of heart be warned. The latter novel is also similar in that it follows a duo of unlikely allies, one a Jedi and the other an information broker, from completely different walks of life who are placed in situations where they must team up to stop a common enemy gradually warming up to each other in the process.
"Star Wars: Wild Space" - Gettin' Wild with Organa
I enjoyed how this work slotted in with the TV series episodes surrounding the battle of Bothawui. However, if you didn't know that, you might be left feeling cheated. This is a book that promises Clone Wars action but it completely glosses over the Clone Wars action. If you didn't know that the story of the Bothan campaign is told elsewhere, you may be left scratching your head and wondering why they just skipped all the good details. There are plenty of good details in this book, though. I get that the title is largely a metaphor but I question its use and the overall art of the publication. The entire book jacket is filled with images of clone troopers in battle. With some very minor exceptions, there are no clone troopers in this book - certainly not the prominently-displayed Captain Rex. It seems a bit misleading. This is definitely a character story with a very narrow narrative thread - as opposed to a galaxy-spanning epic tale of war (which is what I went in expecting). In fact, the story doesn't even GET to Wild Space until you're 2/3 of the way through it.
Getting over all of that, this is a very enjoyable read. It serves as our first real introduction to Bail Organa. He's appeared on the fringes of many earlier tales, but this really digs in. He plays an excellent foil to Kenobi in this novel. I was intrigued by this idea of possible romantic entanglement between he and Padmé too. I also really appreciated the opening chapter that fills a critical gap between the end of the Battle of Geonosis and the final scene of Episode II. The scene between Obi-Wan and Padmé (and Obi-Wan and Yoda for that matter) are critical to the saga and I find myself wondering why they were overlooked in both the "Attack of the Clones" film and its novelization. I thought its inclusion here, though, felt a bit clumsy but it does serve to speak to a lot of the character development that appears later. I feel that perhaps this novel suffers for its lack of a concrete villain. It appeared that it might be Grievous until you realize that he doesn't really ever show up at all (watch the TV series for that). Really, Sidious is the villain (isn't he always?) though he is rarely glimpsed. When he is, though, he is viewed through the always entertaining dual lens of good-guy/bad-guy. His outward dialog is nearly all good guy Palpatine while his thoughts are all seething bad guy Sidious. I love reading those scenes. Otherwise, the only real enemy is some mysterious dark-side artifact. Or is the enemy Obi-Wan's own weaknesses and attachments? The reader is left to decide.
Having said all of this, I enjoyed this book a lot and wish it had seen better marketing. A lot of fans of the Clone Wars series would enjoy this novel I think. Looking forward to the next one.
By Far the Worst Star Wars Book EVER
First: The lesser evils. The beginning of the novel totally destroys the previous Clone Wars timeline, and that has to this day never been rectified. The characterization of Bale is horrible. The fact that Obi-Wan knows about Anakin and Padme is ridiculous.
The worst: The last two thirds of the book is the journey of Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee to Mount Doom to destroy the Ring of Power. Obi-Wan is cast in the role of Frodo, Bail plays Sam, and the evil of the dark side assualts Obi-Wan as they travel across a planet in Wild Space. Utterly obvious rip-off and not even a good one in any way.