Published: May 10, 2022
Published by: Del Rey
Author: Mike Chen
Cover Artist: Laura Racero
Timeline: 22 BBY
Hardback: RRP $28.99/£20.00, ISBN – 9781529150209, 352 pages
eBook: RRP $25.00/£20.00, ISBN – 9780593358580, 332 pages
Audiobook: RRP $19.99/£13.00, ISBN – 9780593606278, 840 minutes
Exclusives: Barnes & Noble, Target
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker must stem the tide of the raging Clone Wars and forge a new bond as Jedi Knights.
The Clone Wars have begun. Battle lines are being drawn throughout the galaxy. With every world that joins the Separatists, the peace guarded by the Jedi Order is slipping through their fingers.
After an explosion devastates Cato Neimoidia, the jewel of the Trade Federation, the Republic is blamed and the fragile neutrality of the planet is threatened. The Jedi dispatch Obi-Wan Kenobi, one of the Order’s most gifted diplomatic minds, to investigate the crime and maintain the balance that has begun to dangerously shift. As Obi-Wan investigates with the help of a heroic Neimoidian guard, he finds himself working against the Separatists who hope to draw the planet into their conspiracy-and senses the sinister hand of Asajj Ventress in the mists that cloak the planet.
Amid the brewing chaos, Anakin Skywalker rises to the rank of Jedi Knight. Despite the mandate that Obi-Wan travel alone-and his former master’s insistence that he listen this time-Anakin’s headstrong determination means nothing can stop him from crashing the party, and bringing along a promising but conflicted youngling.
Once a Padawan to Obi-Wan, Anakin now finds himself on equal-but uncertain-footing with the man who raised him. The lingering friction between them increases the danger for everyone around them. The two knights must learn a new way to work together-and they must learn quickly, to save Cato Neimoidia and its people from the fires of war. To overcome the threat they face they must grow beyond master and apprentice. They must stand together as brothers.
I must admit, when I saw the cover for the first time, I actually thought it was taken directly from the promotional stills for Attack of the Clones. Then, I realised it was actually an artwork created by Laura Racero. She is a digital artist based in Madrid and a massive talent. It is well worth checking out her personal website to see examples of her stunning portfolio of artwork.
Now, on to the novel itself.
Mike Chen has absolutely knocked it out of the park. The end!
All joking apart, this is a book that we have all waited some considerable time for. Set at a time we know so much about due to the success of The Clone Wars animated series. But this is about “that business on Cato Neimoidia, that doesn’t… doesn’t count” in Obi-Wan’s retort to Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith and Chen well and truly makes it count!
There are some similarities around the plot to Attack of the Clones, where Obi-Wan is sent on a mission alone, but this time, it is to investigate a tragic terrorist act on Cato Neimoidia. The Neimoidian government is neutral in the war and has denounced its ties to the Trade Federation and Nute Gunray. Traces have been left to signpost the Neimoidian’s to believe that Republic is responsible for the act and the Separatists use that to their advantage.
We get introduced to amazing new characters and reacquainted with some from the past.
Front and centre of course, is Obi-Wan Kenobi. That pleases me in so many ways, but so does Chen’s treatment of our Jedi Master. We all know he is methodical and will take up arms as a last resort. While he plays by the rules, he does not fear for bending them to ensure the fairest outcome can be reached. Chen doesn’t shy away from forcing Obi-Wan to ask himself some thought-provoking questions during his mission, and this helps us understand him better and shows despite his Jedi training there is a softer side to him. In the long run, this may also be something that is picked up on in the forthcoming TV series.
You can’t have Obi-Wan without Anakin Skywalker during The Clone Wars era. Gone is his Padawan braid and we now have a mature Jedi Knight. The Jedi duo are better together but seem less effective when apart. Chen gives Anakin his early tests in the shape of an aid mission to Langston. It is far from the rip roaring adventure he has recenlty experienced and theirs Younglings, lots of them that need guidance and further teachings in the way of the Force. But, in typical Anakin style, he soon gets caught up in something far greater.
The io9 exclusive excerpt revealed the return of the galaxy’s favourite chef, Dexter Jettster. He is an unusual character and the Besalisk once again is Obi-Wan’s off the radar source for intelligence and guidance. His part in Brotherhood leaves me desperately wanting something that fills in the blanks of his former life before he took up his latest vocation.
The sassy and acerbic Asajj Ventress is also amongst the dramatis personae. Acting as an emissary for Count Dooku and the Separatists. This appearance is her introduction to Obi-Wan and the Jedi, so she is an unknown to them. They soon work out what her mission is Her taunts and banter towards Obi-Wan are simply textbook. She is the perfect foil for the mission and her part is pivotal.
Ruug Quarnom and Ketar Nor are both Neimoidian security, with shared ideals, but with very separate agendas. Quarnom is the older, rugged veteran of the Neimoidian Special Forces who finished her high-level military career and is trying to help Neimoidia find its path through The Clone Wars. Nor is the young idealist, who thinks that all Neimoidian’s have been wronged by the Republic and wants to put this right. As I say, both want the best for their people, but their agendas are quite different.
Mill Alibeth is a Jedi Youngling who is struggling to find her place within the Force. She is confused, even scared by her Force abilities, and has a tender caring side that is so well written. Her relationship with Anakin is similar to his with Ahsoka and it becomes almost paternal. It feels like his reaction and nurturing of her is the reason for him being forced to take Ahsoka as his Padawan soon after during the events of The Clone Wars movie. I would really love for Alibeth to feature somewhere in the future in way shape or form.
And from a distance, we have the involvement of Master Yoda, Padmé Amidala, Lott Dod, Nute Gunray and Count Dooku.
Chen isn’t new to Star Wars. He penned the 19th of the 40 stories in From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back anthology, Disturbance. He also links Disturbance to Matthew Stover’s sublime novelisation of Revenge of the Sith to Brotherhood. A masterstroke and beautifully executed.
Chen also uses the topography and architecture of Cato Neimoidia to his advantage. Some of the chase sequences are almost 3-dimensional due to him exploring every eventuality. He describes these actions so well, and you can almost see how he has perceived the unused original concept artwork for Revenge of the Sith.
Star Wars: Brotherhood really does feel like the missing link we needed. Chen has an extraordinary talent that allows him to almost tap in and mimic the on-screen personas and voices of our much-loved characters.
So, after a stunning debut, here’s hoping that Chen is given another chance to bring us more Star Wars literature!
To hear Mike Chen, talk about Star Wars: Brotherhood, please check out Episode 25 of our Take Cover podcast that is out today, where I quiz him about his career and his new book.