- Star Wars Visions Ronin
Author: Emma Mieko Candon
- Series: Star Wars: Visions
- ISBN: 9781529101959
- Published: October 2021
- Pages: 331
- Format reviewed: Hardback
- Review date: 09/11/2021
- Language: English
As a fan of the expanded Star Wars Universe of novels, I pinch myself with the amount of quality content there is. These are not just novelisations of the films, or even expansions of the most well-known characters, the novels are cutting deep and exploring corners of the universe that have not even heard of a Skywalker. Emma Mieko Candon’s Star Wars novel, Ronin, is based on the Disney + anthology show, Visions, that allowed animators free reign. In this parallel universe the Jedi are akin to Samurai and the Ronin is a stranger that roams the planets, but why?
The Sith are all but gone having been destroyed some twenty years ago. The planets are at peace, but this is ending as the various Jedi Lords and their Knights are at loggerhead and raising tensions. The only safe place from the politics is the Outer Rim planets. Here we find Ronin and his droid companion B5-56. Why are they on this distant planet, seemingly looking for trouble, and what is contained within Ronin’s scabbard?
When is a Star Wars novel not a Star Wars novel? When it is set in a parallel universe that has many of the traits but is its own thing. On paper the elements are the same – a war between the Sith and the Jedi to balance the Force. However, in Ronin, the structure is quite different. The Jedi are warriors who align themselves to a Lord. These factions are not against fighting one another. The Sith are a different animal, these warriors are from everywhere, drawn by the power of the dark side. Where does this leave the character of Ronin? Finding out is the highlight of the book.
No character in Ronin can be taken at face value. The fluidity between right and wrong is greyer in this world. If Jedi can do bad things, does this mean that the Sith could do good? The core Star Wars cannon sometimes adheres too closely to Jedi good, Sith bad and it can hamstring some of the stories. By setting this book in the Visions-verse, Candon can explore far deeper the pull of the force as it moves people from good to bad, and back again.
The exploration of the true nature of the Force was a highlight for me in Ronin, but there is also an adventure story that sits on the surface. The story begins as a classic silent stranger cleaning up a remote village, but soon evolves into a planet spanning race between different forces. Along the way the reader gets to meet some truly complex and interesting characters. A mysterious traveller, an undead Sith and an older woman strong in the force but unbound by either Sith or Jedi allegiances. The start of the tale may rest solely on the shoulders of Ronin, but it becomes an ensemble piece and benefits from these varied viewpoints. As the action progresses, you are also given a glimpse into the characters’ pasts.
Like any good Star Wars book, action plays a significant role in keeping the story moving. There are some good fight set pieces, but the best action is best when you witness the full power that the Sith have to offer. It is always nice to read about a powerful Jedi, but sometimes bad is even better. The raw power of the Sith and their disregard for life opens the possibility for far larger and deadly action.
It feels a privilege to read yet another Star Wars book that is not simply constrained by the rules of the Universe. Del Rey understands that the potential for the full Star Wars IP is massive and not just about one family’s saga. Taking the principles of Star Wars and viewing them through a Visions novel allows for a vastly different feeling book, but also one that reflects on the core. Those that enjoy thrills will like the action in this book, but there is an added layer of interest to those Star Wars fans who want to see how the Force could be interpretated in a parallel universe.
Written on 9th November 2021 by Sam Tyler .