“You Jedi, you lords — hungry for every war, so ready to reap each other’s children as eagerly as you send your own to be reaped.  Never daring to dream of a world where we didn’t bleed for you.  Kill for you.  Die for you.”

Star Wars continues to grow with the release of a special collection of non-canon episodes known as Visions. With the release of the first season of Star Wars Visions, all fans were treated to a special buffet of nine episodes of anthology all created by different animation studios around the world.  The very first episode titled “The Duel” stood out with its impressive visuals and its interesting mix of Japanese mythology.  In fact, it stood out so much that it received its own novel titled Ronin.

Star Wars Ronin is written by Emma Mieko Candon, who is a brand-new author to the writing scene.  This is their very first published novel, and the story length spans 331 pages.    

What is Star Wars Ronin About?

Star Wars Ronin

Star Wars Ronin follows the mysterious titular character and his loyal astromech droid companion B5-56 on their journey in the Outer Rim.  The Ronin is a man who has forsaken the way of the Jedi and has become a Sith.  However, he is a Sith like no other as he scours the Outer Rim to hunt down others just like him.  After defeating one, he takes their kyber crystals to ensure they are never used again.  A man with no loyalties, this path of the lonely has led him to take extreme precautions to never disclose his name or history to anyone.

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Ronin and the Mystery of the Disappearing Jedi and Sith

The first two chapters play out exactly like the Ronin’s episode in Visions.  The Ronin seemingly kills a Sith bandit who later is known as Kouru, who invaded a small village.  After Ronin leaves the village, Kourou is somehow resurrected and is bent on exacting revenge. 

Ronin suddenly meets a mysterious individual who is known as The Traveler.  Together they headed to the Osou Spaceport as the Ronin was being hunted down by not only an army but Kouru herself.  At the last minute, they are seemingly saved by boarding a ship called the Poor Crow.  As it turns out, the crew, Ekiya and Chie were looking for the Ronin, and The Traveler was in on it.

The crew of the Poor Crow want to enlist the Ronin’s help with hunting down the Sith Witch.  There has been a string of strange disappearances of Jedi and Sith with absolutely no information.  They believe that not only is the Witch responsible for the disappearances, but also behind Kouru’s resurrection.  The crew wants to find out why certain individuals are being brought back to life.  The Ronin relents and decides to help them, thinking he’d be killing two birds with one stone now that he has a new target to find.

Praise and Critique

Star-Wars-Visions-22The-Duel22

Emma is very good at painting a scene with numerous visionary details.  However, this can also turn into a negative point as it can be easy to spend too much time on unnecessary information.  Unfortunately, this happened to be the case in quite a few parts of the book.  A lot of time was spent describing the worlds and galaxy that Ronin takes place in when it really could have been cut down quite a bit.  Even more so when it comes to the different characters.  Too many words are spent describing their demeanor and background in between simple lines of dialogue.  This further results in too much time spent between action scenes or scenes where something significant occurs.

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Combining Japanese mythos and Star Wars together can make for one fantastical and riveting tale if done right.  However, the whole world that Ronin was set in can be very confusing to follow.  Naturally, the role of the Jedi and the Sith are completely different.  While Star Wars deals with grey areas of morality, there has always been an obvious good side and evil side; the Jedi and the Sith.  In the book, however, the Jedi are written to be self-serving, power-hungry individuals that serve the “Empire”. Whereas the Sith were ex-Jedi that didn’t agree with that way of life and yet are quite violent and deadly themselves.  As a result, it’s difficult for the reader to root for any character.  Getting through to the end can prove a real challenge with all these issues combined.

There have been well-written centralized stories on characters who walk the fence between good and bad, but in Ronin, that’s not really the case here.  The readers can’t really grasp what the characters’ motivations are or if they should even be cared for in the first place.  This may put people off from finishing the story if they aren’t invested in the mysterious Ronin already.

Unfortunately, where the book errs the most is with its central conflict and ‘antagonist’.  Avoiding any sort of spoilers here, it sets up an interesting problem that all the characters seem to agree needs to be taken care of.  However, the buildup and conclusion left too much to be desired and ultimately falls kind of flat.  If the reader already has issues trying to finish the book, they may not be satisfied with the final act.

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Should You Read Star Wars Ronin?

It really depends.  If you loved not only this episode of Visions but have a deep interest in the character of Ronin, then you may enjoy this book.  On the other hand, if this episode didn’t really stand out for you or you weren’t particularly too invested in the characters, then you won’t miss out on anything if you skip it.  There was a lot of potential in this tale, but it misses the mark with its long, drawn-out descriptions, complicated and jarring world building, mediocre conflict and not-so-satisfying wrap up.

THE GOOD
Interesting setting
Interesting cast of characters
THE BAD
Confusing world building
Long descriptions
Shallow conflict
6
Fair

Review Summary

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