Welcome to the Multiversity Star Wars Book Club! Based on a conversation in the Multiversity Slack, editors Matt Garcia and Brian Salvatore decided to start up this column, where we will be reading and discussing a Star Wars every month or so. So come, enter the ancient library and join us!
Written by Greg Rucka
Illustrated by Diogo Saito
An exciting adventure about two of the brave heroes from the smash hit movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story!
On the desert world of Jedha, in the Holy City, friends Baze and Chirrut used to be Guardians of the hills, who looked after the Kyber Temple and the devoted pilgrims who worshiped there. Then the Empire came and took over the planet. The temple was destroyed and the people scattered. Now Baze and Chirrut do what they can to resist the Empire and protect the people of Jedha, but it never seems to be enough. Then a man named Saw Gerrera arrives, with a militia of his own and grand plans to take down the Empire. It seems like the perfect way for Baze and Chirrut to make a real difference and help the people of Jedha live better lives. But will it come at too great a cost?
Brian: I guess my first question is, what were your expectations for this book? Were these characters what was drawing you to the book?
Matt: It might sound blasé but I honestly didn’t really approach the book with a huge set of expectations. I figured it would probably fill out the backstories on these secondary characters from Rogue One and would be at least enjoyable. Most of the Star Wars novels have been enjoyable and Greg Rucka’s Before the Awakening stuff was solid. Baze and Chirrut aren’t primary characters in the movie, so to give them more personalities and motivations helped enrich it. I think Rucka’s involvement overall was the biggest draw. That and Rogue One’s been on my mind lately so I wanted to dive into that universe a bit. And I couldn’t find the Jyn Erso book.
I was surprised by how much of Jedha we got to see, though. It seemed like every few scenes they were running to a different part of it, with a different vibe and a different set of people, and I thought Rucka developed a strong sense of the place and population. Certainly moreso than some of the other Star Wars novels I’ve read.
What about you? What made you dive into this one?
Brian: Well, for two reasons. First of all, I was a bit of a slow convert to Rogue One. The first time I saw it, I liked it, but I didn’t feel a real connection to it. The more I watched it, the more I dug it, and a big part of that was Baze and Chirrut. I’m a sucker for Force-sensitive characters (or, at least what the new canon term for Force sensitivity is), and while they weren’t exactly that, they were close enough for my taste.
So that was one reason – Baze and Chirrut. But my main reason sort of stems from those characters – I want to know more about the history and religion of the Force. I figured that this book would offer a little more about that, and so that’s why I decided to give it a shot.
Although, I must say, the Rucka connection didn’t hurt either.
On the note of place and population, I agree with you thar Rucka did a really nice job establishing Jedha as one of the more well formed locations in the Star Wars canon. In some ways, I have a much greater sense of Jedha than I do, say, Coruscant. That said, I might have also felt that way after seeing Rogue One, since the prequels established almost nothing about Coruscant, aside from looking fake.
Matt: Does this book feel Star Wars to you?
Brian: You know, this was one of the main complaints about Rogue One from a number of sources. But to me, perhaps because I’ve often dipped my toe into the waters of the old Extended Universe, I didn’t have that complaint. For similar reasons, I think this felt appropriately Star Wars. Sure, it didn’t feel like one of the Saga films, but I don’t have a problem with that.Continued below
In fact, I would say that the Force stuff was the most Star Wars stuff in Rogue One, so this feels as, if not more, Star Wars than Rogue One did.
How about for you?
Matt: I think one of the best things LucasFilm has done since being acquired by Disney has been trying to show there are more users of the Force than Jedi and Sith. Even people like Chirrut, who don’t necessarily have any Force sensitivity, are well aware of its presence and how it can be used. And the novels tend to stress how far the belief extends. If I recall correctly, The Clone Wars was big on this, too, but it feels like Disney’s LucasFilm has doubled down on it.
As the Saga’s about to end, I think we’re also seeing what LucasFilm thinks Star Wars is beyond the Skywalkers. They’re rooting into the old serials hardcore to find that, really going for the, like, holy ninja warriors Tarantino seems to love. So, yes, I think it’s sense of intrigue, wonder, cool fighting moves, and relationship with its life energy is all in place. It definitely feels like a Rogue One deleted scene.
Anything that didn’t work for you? I thought the Baze getting his blaster subplot was a little much and overdone. It also seemed like Rucka needed for him to do something, because, much like the movie, he’s generally following Chirrut around and blasting peeps instead of actively working toward something.
Brian: Yeah, that seemed a little silly to me, too. Was anyone really wondering how Baze got his gun? I don’t really think so.
The only part that didn’t exactly track for me, and this may just be because I haven’t watched Rogue One in a bit, was I don’t recall Baze, Chirutt, or Saw Gerrera necessarily knowing/knowing of each other. Am I just misremembering that, or was there any acknowledgment of past interactions?
Matt: I don’t remember, either. I think they were aware of Gerrera but I don’t recall them actually saying anything about him. But I think his presence in this book makes sense, since he’s such a shadow over Jedha and the Rebellion actions there. For as much influence as they have (and I think we saw some of that in the movie), I’d reason they’d know each other.
Brian: I guess my other question is whether or not you think we will ever see a book set before the release of this one, with Baze and Chirrut as active Guardians. I have this weird feeling that Lucasfilm is really weary to show that sort of stuff, and would rather show us worlds after they’ve crumbled, rather than slices of life from those time periods.
Matt: I don’t think we’ll see a novel but I wouldn’t rule out a comic series. Besides original trilogy characters, have any of these gone back to the characters after a movie’s release?
Brian: That’s a good question. In comics, yes, with both Poe Dameron and Mace Windu getting series. And, though it is different, we’ve seen an Ahsoka novel, too. And I suppose however you view Phasma would change this answer, too. Regardless, I’d like to see more about the fringes of the Jedi religion.
Matt: Did you think this was a sufficient story or that it was kind of slight? I mean these are tiny pages with big print, but did the story feel complete to you?
Brian: In a way, I’m glad that it is so slight! What I mean by that is this: we’ve all read books, especially tie-in type books, that are struggling to meet a page count, and so go on so many meandering journeys and useless side quests. This was, aside from the part with Baze’s gun, a pretty straightforward story with a beginning, middle, and end. It told us more about the characters without getting into why Jack has those tattoos (sorry, I need to work one LOST reference into almost everything I do).
What about you? Did this feel meaty enough for you?
Matt: You know, I don’t feel like it was lacking anything or giving the short shift to its characters. Like the Baze going through blasters bit, some parts did seem to go on longer than was necessary, but for a quick glimpse into what these characters were doing before the events of the movie, it was solid. Enjoyable.
Brian: And, let’s end on a positive note: what was your favorite bit from the book?
Matt: The part that sticks out the most with me was their heist of medical supplies. I also recall the throwaway line about Lothal, referencing Rebels. And the reasons for why they needed to make a stand though not with Gerrera were pretty well delivered, too.
And for you?
Brian: I really enjoyed the orphanage sequences, because I think they bring to light something we often hear, but don’t always see, about Jedi: the Force is supposed to be used to help people. More often than not, we see Force users doing things that help their specific interests in the moment, and maybe will benefit others in the long term. But here we see Baze and Chirrut acting selflessly, just wanting the kids to be okay. This is how I wanted the Jedi to act in the Prequels, but instead we got uptight bureaucrats.
Join us next month for a discussion of Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson.