Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing the latest Star Wars release, Brotherhood by Mike Chen. The prequel era of Star Wars is my favorite, and I was incredibly excited to get more content with some of its key characters. Did it live up to my very high expectations? Check out the review below to find out!
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker must stem the tide of the raging Clone Wars and forge a new bond as Jedi Knights.
The Clone Wars have begun. Battle lines are being drawn throughout the galaxy. With every world that joins the Separatists, the peace guarded by the Jedi Order is slipping through their fingers.
After an explosion devastates Cato Neimoidia, the jewel of the Trade Federation, the Republic is blamed and the fragile neutrality of the planet is threatened. The Jedi dispatch Obi-Wan Kenobi, one of the Order’s most gifted diplomatic minds, to investigate the crime and maintain the balance that has begun to dangerously shift. As Obi-Wan investigates with the help of a heroic Neimoidian guard, he finds himself working against the Separatists who hope to draw the planet into their conspiracy—and senses the sinister hand of Asajj Ventress in the mists that cloak the planet.
Amid the brewing chaos, Anakin Skywalker rises to the rank of Jedi Knight. Despite the mandate that Obi-Wan travel alone—and his former master’s insistence that he listen this time—Anakin’s headstrong determination means nothing can stop him from crashing the party, and bringing along a promising but conflicted youngling.
Once a Padawan to Obi-Wan, Anakin now finds himself on equal—but uncertain—footing with the man who raised him. The lingering friction between them increases the danger for everyone around them. The two knights must learn a new way to work together—and they must learn quickly, to save Cato Neimoidia and its people from the fires of war. To overcome the threat they face they must grow beyond master and apprentice. They must stand together as brothers.
This was such a great return to the Clone Wars era of Star Wars. So many of the major players from the movies and TV show appeared here, which was a lot of fun. The writing and pacing were so good that I read the book in one day! I enjoyed the mystery/detective element of the story, and it kept me engaged and interested in turning to the next page.
The author did such a wonderful job of exploring these characters. So many of the cast of this book were major players in other sources of media with extensive backgrounds. Chen did an excellent job of providing a window into their psyche’s at this particular moment while taking into account their histories and providing foreshadowing of future events and decisions. In particular, I loved the exploration of the dynamic between Obi-Wan and Anakin as they struggled to figure out how to shift their relationship to one of equal partners rather than master and padawan. Ultimately, Obi-Wan settled on the absolute wrong approach, but it was interesting to see how their relationship developed into the brotherhood of silence that ultimately results in Anakin becoming Darth Vader. Obi-Wan truly did fail Anakin (of course, the reverse is also true), and it was enlightening to see the seeds of that failure here. The many beautiful character moments were probably my favorite thing about this book, and I loved getting to see Padme and Palpatine back for some pretty powerful scenes with Anakin.
This book also explored fascinating themes and completely changed the way I perceived the Neimoidian race and culture. The militarization of the Jedi was a prominent topic throughout the book, and it provided an interesting snapshot into the decisions that ultimately led the Jedi to willingly play into the orchestration of their downfall by becoming so enmeshed with the Republic and clone forces. Additionally, the story deepened the available knowledge about the Neimoidian race. I’ve always viewed them as greedy, one-dimensional villains, but this book completely changed that view while also providing a compelling critique of colonialism. The treatment they received by those in the Republic definitely made me believe that some systems would choose to join a Separatist movement.
The main issue I had with this book was that the plot felt like an afterthought compared to the character moments and messaging. The resolution of the main mystery didn’t really make logical or strategic sense (unless I missed something…but I feel like that would be a problem in and of itself if the resolution isn’t pretty easy to spot at the end since so much of the plot hinges on it). The messaging also got super repetitive at points with the same phrases being repeated over and over. I liked the message about not acting to fight against oppression being the same as enabling/siding with the oppressors, but I wish the author had found different ways to incorporate it.
Overall, this was a great Star Wars book with tons of great moments that deepened these characters by providing new information about how they all get set on their courses we see in later shows and movies. If you are a fan of the prequels or Clone Wars, I definitely recommend reading it. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.