Due to getting busier with school, it's been a little while since I've done a book review. However, I recently managed to finish Kevin Hearne's Heir to the Jedi, a book following Luke following A New Hope, not unlike another book I reviewed, Weapon of a Jedi. But Heir to the Jedi is very different from that book- it's longer, and gives us a first person point of view from Luke Skywalker himself.
Heir to the Jedi was originally going to be a Legends novel pre-Disney purchase, but was released as a standalone following that, making it one of the first canon novels. It's a fun adventure that gives us some insight into Luke's character following A New Hope, and introduces us to a new, awesome woman- Nakari Kelen. It's a great book and I enjoyed reading it, even if I had to get used to the first person point of view (nothing against first person, it's just been a little while since I read a longer book that wasn't third person).
I will say that in my opinion, as someone who has read a lot of canon books and not so many Legends books, this book more has the feel of a Legends novel than a canon one. That's definitely not any kind of insult, and it's hard for me to really describe why I feel that way about it, but I just wanted to point it out because if you're a fan of Legends stories but want to get more into canon novels, then I think this is definitely a perfect book for you to read- especially if you're a Luke Skywalker fan.
Spoilers ahead for Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne!
I'll start with a brief (or at least, my version of brief) summary. This book follows Luke Skywalker of course, and we learn a lot about what headspace he is in. He's still reeling from all of the events of A New Hope (and who can blame him), yet there's no time to rest and process everything, as the Rebellion has to find a new base and try and gather together their resources for the fight against the Empire, which is now even more enraged thanks to the destruction of the Death Star. Luke is sent on several missions throughout the novel, the first of which takes him to Rodia.
The Rodia chapters are interesting. There's some deals made about new weapons and ships, economic information that's all well and good, but the real treat from this part is when Luke visits the tomb of a Rodian Jedi. The story goes that the Jedi (who once saved Anakin's life), was gravely injured while escaping from his clone troopers in Order 66, and though he managed to get on his starship and set course to Rodia, he died on the trip there, and the Rodians opened the ship to find his body. They buried him in a tomb in a swamp (infested by giant monsters that Luke does have to fight off). When visiting the tomb, Luke is gifted the Jedi's lightsaber. The story of that Rodian Jedi was so interesting and really stuck out to me, and I could tell that they were inspiring to Luke. A consistent thread through this novel is how Luke feels lost without a teacher, and is hunting for any information on Jedi that he can find to try and teach himself. Hearing the story of the Rodian Jedi resonated with him for those reasons, and they resonated with me too as someone who never really manages to get sick of Order 66-centered stories, as devastating as they are.
There's some more things that happen, including a sweet and funny interaction with Leia that I very much appreciated, but the next major point in the novel is when Luke, accompanied by Nakari Kelen, travels to a horrible, horrible planet named Fex. I'll get to why it's so horrible in a moment. Nakari's rich father owns a biolab company, and he scouts out different places with new flora and fauna that he can use in bioengineering projects. Nakari and Luke go to Fex after one of his teams goes missing there, and Luke considers if they should build the new rebel base there if all goes well.
All does not go well. Apparently, Fex is inhabited by these horrible creatures called skullborers. They are invisible bug things that jump onto your head and then dig through your skull (and your helmet, if it's not properly heavy enough) to get into your brain and suck out the whole brain. All of it. They are horrible and disgusting and thankfully once Nakari and Luke figure out what happened they leave and never return so I never have to read about skullborers again.
Horrible, horrible creatures. Never again.
Following that disaster, Nakari and Luke are assigned to their most important mission- rescuing a highly killed slicer named Drusil from Imperial custody. They've worked out a deal where they will rescue her and reunite her with her family in exchange for her using her abilities to help out the alliance. Nakari and Luke are able to rescue her in a tense confrontation with the Empire, but following this they have to jump around from planet to planet, being careful not to accidentally lead the Empire to where the Rebel Alliance's ships are gathered in space. They spend a little while on one planet following some damages done to their ship, staying in a hotel (and keeping two prisoners so that they don't alert the Empire) until their ship is repaired. When they leave, they jump around a little more until they go to the rendezvous point with Drusil's family- only to be greeted by a fleet of bounty hunters who were waiting for them to arrive, hoping to collect the bounty for Drusil.
Luke is able to evade the bounty hunters- at least in part due to the fact that they aren't exactly teaming up, rather competing with each other to try and get the bounty first. They crash on a small island above the mostly-water world, and split up to pick off the bounty hunters as they come to get Drusil on foot. In the process, unfortunately Nakari is killed. A mourning Luke is able to finish off the bounty hunters with Drusil's help. They steal one of the bounty hunter's ships and take it over to the island where they meet with some of the other rebels and Drusil's family, bringing us to a bittersweet end for this story.
I'd really like to talk about Nakari, my favorite character in the book (sorry Luke). Nakari is a kind, heroic woman with strong ambitions and a strong heart. Nakari was a fascinating character, being the daughter of a scientist who, despite being in a comfortable position herself, decided to seek out the Empire after they sent her mother to the spice mines of Kessel for writing an anti-Imperial song. She also used a real gun (or "slugthrower") in the book, something that makes her stand out compared to most characters. She was a fun character that I'd totally love to be friends with. She and Luke actually share a romance in the novel, and a lot of their moments together were really sweet. They form a strong bond and have many really sweet moments- and Nakari is especially encouraging to Luke when it comes to using the Force... particularly when she asks him to move noodles in his bowl at dinner. At the end of the book, Luke remembers all of the time they spent together, and though he misses her, he realizes that she showed him he didn't need a Jedi teacher to learn and grow, so her memory is not forgotten. Though I am of course said that Nakari died and wish that she hadn't, maybe some day will get some stories set before this time that she shows up in, so we can see her go on more adventures.
I'd also like to talk a little bit about Drusil. Drusil is a really interesting character. She is not just an ordinary brilliant cryptographer- a Givin, and Givin culture places a lot of emphasis on math- they even greet each other with complex equations, something Luke has to learn before meeting her. In some ways, Drusil reminded me of C-3PO- constantly calculating the odds down to exact numbers, though she is a lot less anxious than C-3PO tends to be. Drusil tirelessly works hard to help Luke and Nakari reunite her with her family- her husband and two children. She was a really interesting character to read about- very analytical and logical at all times, even in tense situations (like the various times Luke and Nakari all but directly accuse her of conspiring with the Empire), but she still has a really sweet and emotional scene at the end when she finally is able to reunite with her family, showing how their truly is a heart behind all those numbers.
Finally, I want to talk a little bit about Luke's arc in this book. I've already talked about Luke growing into a Jedi and learning that he doesn't need a teacher to develop his skills, so I'd like to focus on a slightly less prominent part of his character in the story, and that's with how he mourns. It doesn't show up barely at all until the very end of the novel, when he loses Nakari. He briefly touches the dark side of the Force when he feels her loss through the Force, and after the fighting is done and he goes to find her body he lets himself cry. In the novel, he says that he never got the chance to truly mourn Owen and Beru, or Ben Kenobi, or Biggs Darklighter, because there were always people around to watch or something else he had to go do. When he's alone with Nakari, he takes the chance to mourn them all, and it's really touching.
I would definitely recommend this book to Luke fans, as it's a really fun character study for him, aside from being a fun story in general. Heir to the Jedi is one of the first canon novels post-Disney purchase, and definitely a really great one to read!