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Book Review: Stories of Jedi and Sith

I finally got around to finishing the collection of short stories called Stories of Jedi and Sith. It was really great book! I always love the short story collections that Star Wars comes out with, and I'm a big Jedi fan, so this book was extremely up my alley. I loved getting to read different stories featuring some of my favorite characters, and I thought each story had a lot of heart and was honestly really fun to read.

Spoilers ahead of Stories of Jedi and Sith!

"What a Jedi Makes" by Michael Kogge is the first story. It's about Yoda, but not really from his perspective. We meet a young orphan in this High Republic-era story who dreams of being a Jedi, who's fashioned himself some robes and a makeshift lightsaber and wants more than anything to join the Order. He makes it up to the temple, only to be stopped by a young Jedi initiate. He tries to prove to her that he can use the Force- but he can't. However, later that same girl is attacked by some gang members, and he rushes into the fight to save her life, and does. Afterwards, he finally gets to meet with Master Yoda, where he admits that he doesn't "have the Force." But Yoda finds this answer laughable, because the Force is in everyone. He allows the boy to join the Temple and learn the way of the Jedi. It's a really sweet, and inspiring story, and I think really shows off the funny, odd kindness that Yoda has. It was a great way to start off the book and I think is a story that really shows off the best of the Jedi and what they should represent.

"Resolve" by Alex Segura is the next story, and we follow Qui-Gon Jinn on a mission to rescue a captured Jedi padawan. He goes on a dangerous adventure to find her, but when he does, he's a bit surprised to find out that the padawan ran away on purpose, only to be betrayed by the spicerunner she left with (Zarah Bliss, for those familiar with the Bliss family). Qui-Gon's encouraging words to her as she laments her choice about running away are inspiring and incredibly Qui-Gon. This is a great story, and honestly I always love getting Qui-Gontent so I was glad to see this story included.

"The Eye of the Beholder" by Sarwat Chadda was probably one of my favorite stories in the book, and not just because it features Anakin and Obi-Wan (though that's certainly part of it). This story takes the perspective of a young girl and her younger brother stuck on a planet under Separatist siege. When battle droids threaten their lives while they try to hide, they get rescued by Anakin and Obi-Wan. The children are awestruck, as Jedi are fabled heroes to them, and they actually are able to help Anakin and Obi-Wan navigate thanks to their knowledge of the area. It's a really sweet (though sad) story, and I loved getting to see Jedi be heroes to common people.

"A Jedi's Duty" by Karen Strong was probably one of the most intriguing of the stories to me. I was pleasantly surprised to see a story about Barriss Offee here. This story takes place shortly before her mission on Geonosis in The Clone Wars. While the story isn't particularly eventful, I loved getting to really see the interiority of Barriss. While she's far from fallen like she is by the end of The Clone Wars, we can see where the sentiments she expresses then begin to form. Barriss hates using violence, is haunted by what she saw in the Geonosis Arena in Attack of the Clones, and feels very conflicted about the Jedi involvement in the war. She's frustrated with how she can't seem to find anyone who seems to agree with her, and has been staying in the Jedi Temple instead of going out with her master, Luminara Unduli. This story leads right up to the Geonosis episode of The Clone Wars that she's in, with us even seeing Luminara task her with memorizing the catacombs that she and Ahsoka end up going into. This was such a really cool little story about an under-appreciated character, and I'm glad that they included it.

"Worthless" by Delilah S. Dawson is another story I really liked. This one is about Ventress. She falls down a chasm, and ends up stuck at the bottom with a clone trooper who shared a similar fate. Injured so badly she can't properly focus to use the Force, and having had her lightsabers confiscated by the clone trooper (named Doc), she's helpless. The pair have to help each other to escape and get back into the battle. I am always a sucker for a forced alliance across enemy lines, and seeing Ventress and a clone trooper of all pairs was honestly a delight. While they didn't come quite to the same level of understanding we see in stories like in Rebels with Zeb and Kallus, there is still a growing level of respect. As a Ventress fan, this story was just amazing, and I hope Delilah S. Dawson gets to write for her more in the future.

"The Ghosts of Maul" by Michael Moreci was a really interesting story. If you guessed that it follows Maul, you'd be correct. It's really following Maul's spiritual journey as he enters a long-abandoned Sith castle. As he walks through the castle, searching for secrets that will grant him immense power, he is met with phantoms of his past, and sometimes literally fighting them. He sees Savage Oppress, General Grievous, and Qui-Gon Jinn. Each encounter reveals another guilt or insecurity of Maul's, and they all anger him greatly. It was really cool to see a Dark-side character go through this kind of journey, as I feel like it's something typically reserved for Jedi. Seeing a character react to it with pure, unapologetic rage was so interesting, and I really liked it (especially as a Maul fan).

"Blood Moon Uprising" by Vera Strange was a Vader story and man, I love a Vader story. In this one, he comes to a factory that has been facing great delays. He expresses some anger with the officer managing the factory, but ultimately sets out to find the rebel saboteurs he feels are responsible. He finds a young Wookiee girl who he senes Force sensitivity within. He comes close to killing her, but she receives backup from her fellow rebels and is able to escape. As always, it's cool to see Vader doing Vader things, and I also found the force-sensitive Wookiee girl to be really interesting. I certainly wouldn't mind her popping up again somewhere.

"Luke on the Bright Side" by Sam Maggs was a really cute story. It takes place while the rebellion is establishing itself on Hoth, and Luke gets trapped in an ice cave with a sergeant who is displeased to be stuck with him. He doesn't get what makes this Skywalker guy so special, yet that doesn't bother Luke one bit. His relentless optimism and hopefulness are infectious. Seeing a Luke story where he just insists on being kind and helpful, no matter what, really warms my heart. I love getting to spend a little time with Luke in moments like these, and seeing him have faith in himself and his peers is always great.

"Masters" by Tessa Gratton is about Palpatine. It is mostly him ruminating in the before we see Luke confront him in Return of the Jedi, and recalling back to his fight with Yoda from Revenge of the Sith. We learn that Palpatine had sent Inquisitors far and wide, searching for Yoda- but nothing. This was really interesting to me. It's so easy to think of Palpatine too detached for that kind of personal vendetta, but it's moments like these that remind us that he's still a Sith like the others- vengeful and proud. Though Palpatine justifies it through his victory over the Jedi as a whole and how he's made Yoda's existence miserable, his failure to kill Yoda is still that- a failure. And it makes a part of him angry. It's really interesting to me to explore Palpatine's interiority this way, as we don't get that often. Later in the story, he senses Yoda's passing in the Force, and is amused by it, thinking that this is finally put to rest. But Yoda appears to him as a Force ghost, and Palpatine taunts him. Yoda simply tells him that he cannot win before disappearing. And then... we know the rest. This story was honestly really fun, and I hope we get to see more explorations of Palpatine like this.

"Through the Turbulence" by Roseanne A. Brown is the final story, and a really fun one! This one is about Rey, but Poe is also heavily featured. It's between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, and Rey and Poe are bickering just like they do in the beginning of IX. BB-8 gets stolen, and they have to work together to try and rescue him. My favorite parts of this story are when they start to lay their feelings out instead of just snapping at each other over small things like which parts to buy for the Falcon or what food to get. Rey feels like she's failing at being the Jedi that the Resistance needs because she's struggled to access the Force since Luke passed, and Poe feels insecure and that Rey is taking Leia from him. It was really sweet to have them not only communicate their feelings, but to comfort and encourage each other. And of course, once they rescue BB-8 they have to steal a ship to catch up with the Resistance- one that just happens to require both pilots to work in sync. This story was really sweet, and reminded me of how much I love and miss the characters of the sequel trilogy, and I hope we'll get to see more of them on-screen someday.

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