The Ahsoka Novel: Review
The Ahsoka Novel: Review
**Mild spoilers to the Ahsoka novel**
War is terrible. Being pulled into a war that destroys the moral compass is malicious. Some say that war is a way to keep the peace. However, what happens when the liberators become the oppressors? The Jedi during the Clone War chose the wrong path in fighting the Separatists. The Confederacy of Independent Systems was never the real enemy. Corruption from within plagued the Republic.
High atop his icy throne did Supreme Chancellor Palpatine spin his web of deception turning his enemies against each other. Manipulating lies were closer to the truth than what the Jedi ignorantly told themselves. The real enemy was the dark side and it took hold of the Jedi Order. Black sticky tendrils so deep it caused the Jedi to cast one of their most compassionate Jedi from their Order. A slap on their face when they realized (much too late) their mistake. Ahsoka Tano refused to give in and walked away. Not just from the Jedi, but the Force.
While recovering from her departure, her former master Anakin Skywalker asked for one last favor-- fight in another war. That war was on Mandalore. There she reconnected, with Captain Rex (A clone soldier that was under Skywalker’s command) and select Clone Troopers to aid her in battle.
She was not mad at Anakin, but the Jedi Order. Anakin apologized to her and recognized there was no going back for her. They both cared deeply for each other. An unspoken bond. From training villagers to protect themselves from pirates, to building off each other's strengths, she was Anakin's apprentice and he was her master… Yet their paths diverged as they both went off to war. She fought in the Siege of Mandalore. He went to save the Supreme Chancellor and end the Clone War. The hero Anakin Skywalker would not live through the end of the war. Ahsoka's former life would become a distant memory as the universe was shaken by the cataclysmic devastation brought on by the dark side. All she could do was run…
Ahsoka was written by E.K. Johnston, and is available in hardcover, digital, and audiobook. The audiobook was narrated by Ashley Eckstein, who is the voice actor to Ahsoka Tano. Interestingly, Eckstein approached recording the novel as if Ahsoka was reading aloud the whole book and not just the dialogue. Mental images of the study in Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven” pop into my head as Ahsoka sits upon the chair in front of the fireplace. However, instead of a raven, there is a convor. The story is set one year after Revenge of the Sith. The focus of the novel is why she chose to join the Rebel Alliance and take up the alias Fulcrum.
In the first act, Ahsoka travels to the moon Raada (in the audiobook it is pronounced “Rah-ay-duh”), where she sets up to form a new life. Raada is an agricultural moon where she fits in by repairing the thresher machines, which the farmers use to farm their crops. She befriends the locals, and forms a connection to Kaeden Larte and Miara Larte.
The first half of the book spends a great deal of time exploring Ahsoka's adjustment to her new life on Raada and her struggles, with moving on from her past. She struggles to conform into a civilian mindset, while at the same time, recognizing the dangers that may lay ahead if she is discovered to be associated to the Jedi Order. The purpose of the long stretch of time on Raada appeared to build up a sense of escape from reality. Something the Empire ripped apart, when they brought their form of agricultural to Raada.
In the second act, Ahsoka journeys back to the former world of Thabeska. There she followed her compassion as she attempted to start over again. She takes to smuggling missions, which leads to rescue missions. Her good nature alerted not only Bail Organa, but other unscrupulous entities… The shortness of this section of the novel appeared to display how her heroic actions were too noticeable. That she would only bring down the hammer of the Empire if she did not fight in the shadows.
Ahsoka’s purpose became solidified after she reconnected with Bail Organa. Their relationship reminded me of Howl and Brand from the short story “Inbrief,” which was written by Janine K. Spendlove (Review of that short story here). Brand, like Ahsoka, were both compassionate people. They both were survivors after losing family close to them. They both gained a new family in the Rebellion. A family that needed to be pruned and tended to in order to grow.
In the third act, Ahsoka went back to Raada. The Empire was only going to destroy the locals after they robbed the moon of plantable soil. In addition, she promised to return. Ahsoka used the lessons of her past. She applied the knowledge she gained from the present. She planted the seeds of the future.
Though it may seem like a small tale to some, the novel showcased a new beginning in Ahsoka Tano’s life. A new shatterpoint, which she followed that lead her full circle in the TV series Rebels. To read more of my thoughts on this novel, check out my article The Grand Fulcrum here. If you are a fan of Ahsoka Tano, then you will enjoy this story. I found that Johnston did a wonderful job on the flow of the story.
There were many humorous and sad moments. Eckstein’s narration sounded great. I liked the angle they took with recording it. I do strongly suggest everyone watch this Ahsoka panel here, where Dave Filoni, Pablo Hildago, and Ashley Eckstein peel back the curtain on what happened to Ahsoka between Revenge of the Sith and the Ahsoka novel. This novel was not designed to fill in the blanks but scratch the surface as she starts on a new journey. I find myself thinking about this novel over and over. Speaking of which…
Visions in the Force
**Heavy spoilers to the Ahsoka novel below**
In the TV show The Clone Wars episode “Assassin” (Season 3 Episode 7) we are shown Ahsoka having Force Visions about an attack on her friend Senator Padmé. Without going into specifics on the episode we see how those visions were shown to her. How hard it was to decipher. I strongly encourage a revisiting of this episode to anyone who read the Ahsoka novel, because elements mingle together. Anyways, the reason I bring this up is because of the seven flashback/interludes in the novel. At first, I viewed them as simply flashbacks, but not all of them pertain to Ahsoka’s memory. However, they do factor into her past, present, and future journey…
In her dream, she recalled the confrontation of Maul in the Siege of Mandalore. We learn in the novel that Ahsoka had pushed away her connection to the Force. Yet.. she still vividly relives that last time she and Anakin parted ways. Her fight on Mandalore. His fight over the planet Coruscant. Her vision came to her right before Empire Day. Right before she had to quickly abandon Thabeska and make a new life on Raada.
In the second dream, she relives the moment she abandoned her lightsabers over her and Rex's false graves. She had begun to reflect on her past life before her vision. She still struggled to allow herself to open up with the Force. Her new life was on Raada. She was going to make the most of what she had. A new family.
By the time she has her third vision, the Empire took control of Raada. Keeping to the shadows, Ahsoka was helpless to interfere through the Force. This brought on her regret from leaving Thabeska and a memory of her arrival there. While she was hidden there she befriended the Fardi family. One Fardi in particular, Hedala, was a Force sensitivity child. If Ahsoka was not trying to avoid the Empire, she would have tried helping Hedala... but all she could do was run.
This is where the shift happens in the Force. The locals on Raada attempted to fight the Empire, and Ahsoka was forced to use her Force powers to save as many as she could. After she secured Kaeden’s rescue and left Raada did this vision come to pass. This was a vision or memory of Anakin Skywalker before he ever met Ahsoka Tano! Was she experiencing it, or was it just for the reader? I like to think of it as the former, where the Force is trying to guide her by showing her this moment. However, she might not have known the inner thoughts of Anakin.
By now Ahsoka had gained Bail Organa's attention after she got on everyone's radar from her return to Thabeska. She had yet to see Bail again and was on the run. This next vision was of recent past. Of Obi-Wan Kenobi reaching out in the Force to hear Qui-Gon Jinn. Kenobi reflected on his friends… His family. Ahsoka might not have heard what Kenobi was thinking, but could picture him meditating in a room, to hear the voice of Qui-Gon tell him to, “Let Go.”
Ahsoka was reunited with Bail.. with R2-D2! A plan was put in place to save the people of Raada… but one final piece was needed. Throughout the novel, Ahsoka had been unconsciously assembling the parts to her new lightsabers. Now she knew that she must make them. That is where the sixth vision came into play. Not of a person, but of a planet-- dying. A planet where she got her previous crystals from. This was a vision of the present, and she went off to Illum
Lastly, came the vision of the near future. Shortly after Ahsoka had liberated the people of Raada, built her new lightsabers (not from the shell of the former planet Illum, but from the double-bladed lightsaber of the Inquisitor hunting her), and joined the Rebellion as Fulcrum. Here this vision was of the Grand Inquisitor surveying the damage on Raada. How the fight would not be over for her. The Inquisitor sent a message to Lord Vader. Someone, who must be the one tracking down the remaining Jedi...
One Last Thing
Years ago after I binge watched the whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, I wanted to find another show from Joss Whedon to watch. Dollhouse was that show and in it, I heard for the first time the song “Everywhere I Go” by Lissie. I rediscovered this song because it felt like it fit into the novel. I pictured Ahsoka meditating on Raada. Reflecting on her frustrations. Her awakening in the Force. How she built herself back up to move forward in life. If interested the song can be found here.