Star Wars EU novel: Dawn of the Jedi – Into the Void (25,793 BBY)

After having read the Dawn of the Jedi comics trilogy, I was very excited to discover that there had also been written a novel with a storyline from that same ancient Star Wars period. I decided to try it in audiobook format, because in this very busy daily life, who has time to sit down and actually read a book? Life is short, many things have to be enjoyed, and if possible, combined 🙂

The novel Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void was written by Tim Lebbon and narrated by January LaVoy. As an audiobook, it will take you 10 hours 27 minutes to finish, which is including an extra short story at the end of the novel, titled Eruption, which actually takes place before the storyline in the novel.

Publisher’s summary

On the planet Tython, the ancient Je’daii order was founded. And at the feet of its wise Masters, Lanoree Brock learned the mysteries and methods of the Force – and found her calling as one of its most powerful disciples. But as strongly as the Force flowed within Lanoree and her parents, it remained absent in her brother, who grew to despise and shun the Je’daii, and whose training in its ancient ways ended in tragedy.

Now, from her solitary life as a Ranger keeping order across the galaxy, Lanoree has been summoned by the Je’daii Council on a matter of utmost urgency. The leader of a fanatical cult, obsessed with traveling beyond the reaches of known space, is bent on opening a cosmic gateway using dreaded dark matter as the key – risking a cataclysmic reaction that will consume the entire star system. But more shocking to Lanoree than even the prospect of total galactic annihilation, is the decision of her Je’daii Masters to task her with the mission of preventing it. Until a staggering revelation makes clear why she was chosen: The brilliant, dangerous madman she must track down and stop at any cost is the brother whose death she has long grieved – and whose life she must now fear.

©2013 Tim Lebbon (P)2013 Random House Audio

My thoughts: Great narration but the story disappoints

What can I say, this story fell short for me. It was pretty anti-climactic after the thrilling adventure that was the Dawn of the Jedi comics trilogy. The characters felt very two-dimensional and the supposed heroine was, frankly, rather annoying and unsympathetic. Je’daii (pronounced correctly by the narrator with the emphasis on the second syllable) Ranger Lanoree Brock came across as endlessly harassing and nagging her brother, not accepting his making a different life choice. Now, this concept in itself I could understand, it is very human to struggle with choices close family members make that we maybe don’t get. And yes, we sometimes fall short and start nagging to them about it. However, the author did not succeed in writing a gripping story about it, nor did he give his heroine anything remotely resembling an interesting internal monologue; she simply kept repeating how the Force was with her, how much she constantly was aware of it, and, frankly, how awesome it made her. Quite boring. And intensly annoying.
The author fails to explain what it’s like to keep the Force balanced within you, since that is what it’s like to be a Force wielder in these ancient times. There are no Jedi and Sith as we know them, no Light and Dark side force wielders; everyone keeps Light & Dark in balance within them. Lanoree talks the talk but we never see her actually walking that walk, it’s only the Light side that she wields. Only in the bonus short story Eruption, that is included in the audiobook, we finally see a Je’daii choosing to wield the Dark side for a certain purpose, but still not Lanoree – and that short story is by a different author… What I liked about that short story as well, is that we meet Hawk Ryo again, we know him from the Dawn of the Jedi comics, where he was a master, but in Eruption he is still a Ranger, which I guess could be compared to what we know as a Jedi Knight.

As for the “bad guy” in the novel, Lanoree’s brother, the novel does not make clear at all how he reaches his point of Super Villainy. It starts out as him choosing not to have anything to do with the Force, and how he longs to explore the rest of the universe, which seem to me to be quite reasonable thoughts and wants. But why this is not acceptable in these Early Days is never explained (would have been interesting!), nor if he is even Force sensitive. It seemed to me he was not, or not much, which makes Lanorees harassing him even more irritating. Be that as it may, how all this turns him into a full-blown psychopath in the end, is never explained and therefore to me as a reader he is not believable as a villain.

Then there was the sidekick to the heroine. A supposed ‘real’ bad guy with whom she partners out of necessity, but somehow he turns out pretty darn ‘good’ for a criminal. Why he stays loyal to Lanoree confounds me, as she openly uses him and does not seem to care about his well-being at all. For instance, when he’s injured she promises him that he’ll get medical treatment once they reach her ship, but when they finally do, he doesn’t get any treatment whatsoever (sigh). Had I cared for this sidekick character at all, it would probably have bugged me.

However, I did not care for any of them. I finished the novel because I kept hoping it would get better, it being Star Wars after all, but when it finally reached its so-called climax, I felt robbed – of time I would never get back…

In conclusion, if you’d like to find out more about the early Je’daii, skip this novel and get your hands on the comics, for they are truly awesome examples of ancient Star Wars lore, with gorgeous graphic artwork.

Narration was good however, and I also liked the Star Wars music and sound effects, although it was a bit weird to hear the same sound effects for the Light side of the Force as were used for the Dark Side in Darth Plagueis and Darth Bane.

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