It took me a little longer than anticipated because I was busy this past week, but I finally read Ronin by Emma Mieko Candon. It was a really interesting book, totally twisting Star Wars in a way that hasn't really been done before. While Ronin takes place in a reimagined galaxy with a different history from the one that we're more familiar with, it poses a lot of interesting questions and ideas that we could certainly incorporate into that galaxy. It's definitely a book worth picking up, especially if you liked "The Duel" or Star Wars Visions in general. Candon does a really excellent job at drawing you into this version of Star Wars that they create and making each character just as complex and compelling as the next.
Spoilers ahead for Ronin by Emma Mieko Candon!
While the full reimagined history of the galaxy in Ronin might be a little too much to explain (and I certainly couldn't do it as well as the author does), the basics that you need to know are that the Jedi swore themselves to lords (not unlike the samurai in ancient Japan), and those lords have become the Empire, which use the corrupted Jedi as their arm. One such lord is even a Jedi himself. While of course very different from the galaxy we know, where the Empire hunts Jedi, you could definitely parallel it to the relationship the Jedi had to the Republic in the prequels, though it's still not entirely the same.
The character we follow- the Ronin, or the wanderer from "The Duel" is himself a Sith that was involved in a Sith rebellion against the Jedi, where a central city of the Republic was destroyed, though he's now considered a traitor to the Sith too. He meets a crew of mysterious people who all have their own twisted relationships in the Jedi. Among them are Chie, a mysterious fighter revealed to be a Jedi spy, Ekiya, a woman who was unwillingly conscripted at a young age as a soldier in the Sith rebellion, and the mysterious masked Fox, who turns out to be a former Jedi named Izuda. Each of these characters really drew me into the story and I found myself getting invested in them, especially we learned more about their pasts. They're later joined by Kouru- the bandit leader from "The Duel."
She's mysteriously brought back to life, though now haunted by the voice of the Sith witch who once led their rebellion, a voice that also speaks in the head of the Ronin. She naturally has a quite volatile relationship with them at first, but they reluctantly join together for their greater common goal to reach the lost planet that was taken in the Sith rebellion. It's a perilous journey to get there, but they make it, where they all die and are brought back to life again.
It's here that the greatest reveal is made at the end of the book- the Sith witch that has been in the heads of the Ronin and Kouru is not the original witch, but rather her daughter- and also the daughter of the Ronin. Let me tell you, I was SHOCKED! It was such a crazy cool twist, and it made for a really sweet ending, where the Ronin tries to begin their rocky relationship by showing her how to build a lightsaber.
All of the relationships and characters in these books are fascinating, and I loved learning their stories and watching them grow and develop. I also loved Candon's writing style in this book- sometimes, it felt less like I was reading a typical novel and more like I was being told a legend. I also found it interesting how the characters, especially those without names that are known (yet) are called different things depending on which character's perspective that we're reading from. It was a really cool detail that helped to distinguish the different characters for me, and was a nice touch of flavor that I enjoyed.
Finally, the best part of the book is cute little B5-56, the droid with a hat from "The Duel." I don't really have that much to say except that he's precious and hilarious and should be protected at all costs. That's all.
I really, really recommend giving Ronin a read, especially if you enjoyed the reimagining of Star Wars from Visions. It gives us an entirely new story and gets to play in the galaxy without worrying so much about breaking "the rules" like other stories sometimes have to, and is just a really great book overall.