The rather anticipated novel, Star Wars: Ahsoka, written by E. K. Johnston released on October 11th and it definitely delivered on what many fans of Ahsoka and Star Wars wanted. The premature cancellation of Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, as a result of the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney, left many mysteries and unfinished storylines behind. One of those storylines, obviously, was what happened to Ahsoka Tano after she left the Jedi Order. Star Wars Rebels has begun to close some of the loops left open from The Clone Wars and we learned that Ahsoka joined up with the Rebellion at some point after Order 66 came down. Johnston’s novel fills in these gaps as well as answers some other questions.
Book Spoilers Begin Here (skip to the very bottom for a spoiler-free book recommendation)
The story begins on Empire Day, one year after the Empire came into power. We learn that Ahsoka has been living in remote systems in the Outer Rim to avoid detection by the Empire and she’s been unable to determine whether or not any other Jedi managed to survive Order 66. Right off the bat, we understand that Ahsoka has been struggling with feelings of loneliness as she struggles to find a place where she can safely hide from the Empire. Ultimately, she ends up befriending two sisters, Kaeden and Miara, on a small moon called Raada and leading resistance against the occupation of the Empire.
What we’ve learn to this point is not all too surprising. When Order 66 went down and the Jedi were wiped out by the clone troopers, Ahsoka went on the run much like Obi-Wan and Yoda had at the end of Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith. Except with Ahsoka, we find out that she never settled in any particular location and she’s been actively on the move. One great thing that was included in the novels were little flashbacks and anthology sections every five chapters. Through these, we learn about different things that occurred at different points in time through various viewpoints.
One of these flashbacks was what happened to Ahsoka on the day that Order 66 occurred. Ahsoka had, at some point in time, gained control of Captain Rex’s clone unit from Anakin and was on Mandalor. Ahsoka was engaged in battle with Darth Maul and, ultimately, allowed Darth Maul to escape so that she could save Rex. Amidst the chaos of Order 66, they dug a fake grave for Rex and buried another clone inside of it, laying Ahsoka’s lightsabers on top of the grave and crediting her death to Rex. This was just a small little detail but it explains to us how Ahsoka and Rex managed to slip away when Palpatine enacted his plan to overthrow the Jedi and the Republic by faking their deaths to create an opportunity to escape to safety. It also makes their reunion in Rebels all the more heartwarming.
On the flip side, Ahsoka dwells on the fact that she’s lost Obi-Wan and Anakin. She repeatedly attempts to reconnect with them through the Force but she cannot sense their presence at all, which makes her reunion with Anakin in Rebels all the more heartbreaking. Ahsoka’s feelings about the different characters adds a nice little touch of detail to Ahsoka’s story and it definitely has me rooting for a reunion with Obi-Wan in Rebels.
When the resistance on Raada fails as a result of very poorly planned actions by the local farmers and Ahsoka was forced to reveal that she was trained in the force, both the Sixth Brother inquisitor and Bail Organa were ultimately able to track her down. I felt this was a little bit too convenient of a plot line, particularly from the resistance side. Bail Organa managed to track her down almost entirely on a guess (based on some circumstantial evidence) while the Sixth Brother used Kaeden to bait her back to Raada. But ultimately, this spared us from a long, drawn out tracking segment so I can’t say I totally hate it. But it also gave us a great little reunion between Ahsoka and R2-D2 so there’s nothing to hate about that.
Throughout the story, Ahsoka is collecting spare parts to create new lightsabers and this might be the coolest part of the novel. We get some really great world building and lore as she travels to Ilum to find crystals for her new lightsabers. When she arrives, the Empire has already arrived and is currently mining and ripping the planet apart to harvest crystals. Connecting this with a recent tweet from the official Star Wars twitter account, has many fans theorizing that Starkiller Base, the planet super weapon in Episode 7: The Force Awakens, was actually Ilum. This would explain how the First Order was able to seemingly create this weapon in only 20 years. There is also some stuff floating around that Starkiller Base’s location is where Ilum is located on the old Expanded Universe map so if that interests you, you can find that sort of theory stuff on Reddit or something.
We also learn that the crystals call out to their particular user. We kind of learned this in Episode 6 of season 5 in The Clone Wars, where younglings each sought their crystals but Ahsoka’s thoughts explain to us that the crystals explicitly call out to the person they belong to, which allows them to find the crystal. We also learn that the reason red lightsabers are red is because they have become corrupted by a person using crystals that do not belong to them; the crystal “bleeds.” This was very cool little bits of lore to discover and ultimately, Ahsoka would have to travel to Raada to find her crystals, which were in possession of the Sixth Brother.
Ahsoka’s battle with the Sixth Brother was my favorite scene in the book. Unarmed, Ahsoka managed to outduel him and defeat him by calling to her crystals and exploding his lightsaber in his face. She then quickly whipped her new lightsabers together on the spot and whooped the Empire up and down their base to free Kaeden and the remaining farmers to escape with Bail Organa’s reinforcements and join up with the Rebellion under the alias of “Fulcrum.” Johnston did a great job of expanding on Ahsoka’s leadership role that we saw in The Clone Wars and making this book feel like another one of those episodes, which really sets up her role as Fulcrum well.
The pacing can be slow at times, particularly in the first half of the book and the jumping between perspectives is a little jerky at times but it’s not too much that it’s a big turn off. There was one particular character who got some air time that I really didn’t think needed it and you’ll be able to tell who it was while reading the book. It was usually a segment of a chapter where it really didn’t seem all that necessary.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, and more particularly a fan of Ahsoka, I would absolutely recommend this book. It’s a young adult level book that’s about 350 pages long and it’s a pretty simple read. You can easily finish it in under a week just casually reading a few chapters a day. I’m a slow reader and I knocked it out in a few days without really trying. It fills in a lot of holes, answers some questions and has some great little moments spaced out throughout it. Oh, and Ahsoka is just a straight up great character.
Ahsoka is available in hardcover, ebook and audio. I don’t really care for ebooks because I like to read the physical book so I read the hardcover and it was pretty nicely set up with some great cover art. If you’re into audio books, it’s narrated by Ahsoka’s voice actor in The Clone Wars and Rebels, Ashley Eckstein; so that’s pretty cool.