Star Wars: Brotherhood is a new prose novel that takes place after Attack of the Clones during one of the earliest adventures of The Clone Wars. Written by Mike Chen, it will be available to read on May 10th.
The friendship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker is core to Star Wars, going back to some of the first lines of dialogue Sir Alec Guinness read. It is a foundational relationship to the saga in general. Unfortunately, it’s a relationship that has mostly never really worked for me, primarily in the prequel films, and The Clone Wars.
Part of it has simply been that the leaps the narrative took between films made their relationship progress in a way that didn’t feel good to me. They hardly interact in The Phantom Menace, are at each other’s throats in Attack of the Clones, but suddenly, in Revenge of the Sith—and maybe more bizarrely, The Clone Wars—they’re partners, comrades, brothers. There’s a lot of weirdness in those choices to me, from the choice to not cover that maturing friendship in the anthology series that covered the gap between films, but also by defining that friendship, not in the period of time where they were master and padawan, but in the three year period leading to Anakin’s fall, which is, uuuh, shorter.
The dissonance between the importance of their Brotherhood and the quality of the relationship’s development has been a missed opportunity in this franchise I love. My highest hopes for Brotherhood as a story didn’t even really involve this being the subject in all honesty: I’d not considered it previously, and almost gave up on Star Wars feeding it to me. Thankfully, I was wrong. Brotherhood is the exact kind of story I’ve wanted for years. While that’s primarily because of its titular relationship, it constantly acts as a bridge, making perfect use of its setting between stories.
I’m most surprised by how much I enjoyed Anakin in this book. In general, I don’t like Anakin Skywalker much. The tragedy at the core of his character doesn’t work that well for me because of many reasons, including the love story falling flat from lack of chemistry, to his turn to the dark side working even less so. There are moments in The Clone Wars where it clicks, but it isn’t consistent, and in some places, makes me less sympathetic toward him. Like how he finds who he is as a person through war.
Brotherhood takes Anakin at his rawest and presents him in a way that finally made sense to me fully. The inferiority that prose affords the project was key to this, obviously, but it made for an experience where I think it’s my definitive Anakin Skywalker story. This is a story that—without leaning on nostalgia—made me understand the tragedy at the heart of the character. And how the friendships and romance all interact to make it so. It didn’t fix any problems I have with other pieces of Star Wars, and that’s okay, because it told a great story about the most important character in the saga.
Anakin aside, the book itself introduces a couple of amazing characters in Mill Alibeth and Ruug Quarnum, both of whom I already love and would like many more stories featuring both of them, thank you. Both inhabit space in Star Wars that I would like to see more of, though, as original creations for this book, they serve it extremely well.
The book is really tightly written, focusing on just a few themes and plot lines, and allowing time to really dig into them. It slows a bit with the action, like most Star Wars novels do, but thankfully, it doesn’t have too much of it. And while the work done with Anakin is exemplary, it’s work with Obi-Wan is less so, but that’s in part because it’s dealing with a character that barely changes between his first and last appearances. These complaints are ultimately meager compared to the enjoyment I got from the book.
Star Wars: Brotherhood may be my favorite story from the Prequel era. It isn’t quite my favorite Star Wars novel, but unlike many others, it is one that I can see myself returning to, if not for the bromance, then for the much needed work with the Nemoidians. Right now, prose is where I’m consuming most Star Wars content, and Brotherhood belongs at the top of that list.
For more information on Star Wars: Brotherhood, click here.
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