We take a step back in time with the newest addition to the Star Wars EU – “Dawn of the Jedi – Into the Void”.
Actually, a giant flying leap might be more accurate. This novel, a tie-in to the Dawn of the Jedi comics series, catapults us some twenty-five thousand years before the events of the original movie, to a time even before the founding of the Republic or, as it turns out, before the discovery of hyper-spatial travel ubiquitous in every other era. This is the era when ‘Sith’ meant a race, a species, not a dark-sider.
And it was utterly alien to me, largely because I haven’t read the accompanying comic books. This is not a book I’d recommend for those without familiarity with Star Wars as a whole as even with my relatively extensive knowledge of Star Wars I felt somewhat lost. The closest I can come is the Knight Errant novel, but even then there was the comfortable dichotomy of Sith and Jedi, light and dark sides of the Force.
In this time, in the place, this is not the case. But first, the story.
Sheltered on the world of Tython, a band of Force-sensitives grow and thrive, brought there by the mysterious Tho Yor. While the world is not without its share of dangers, the Force runs incredibly strongly here, the perfect origin for a Force-using Order. But to those not attuned to the Force, it is a deadly world that eventually breaks the minds of those who are blind to the Force.
Lanoree, Je’daii Ranger, knows this firsthand. Her younger brother fell prey to the madness and has been thought dead for nine years. When the Council summons her from her wanderings, she quickly learns that the truth is even worse – Dalien lives, but at the head of a fanatical group known as the Stargazers, who wish to leave Tython for the stars and are willing to use dangerous unknown technology to accomplish it, technology with the potential to destroy Tython. So she is tasked with using any means necessary to stop him.
Having just read “Legacy of the Force” and the final, terrible duel in “Invincible,” I couldn’t help but draw parallels of sister hunting fallen brother. History does indeed repeat itself in the Star Wars galaxy – art imitating life as usual.
What really separates this novel from anything else Star Wars is the philosophy (and the lack of lightsabers, but that’s just because of how far back in time we are). At this point in the Project, I’ve encountered quite a few Force-philosophies, particularly about the nature of dark and light. Sith and Jedi alike believe there is inherent dark and light within the Force, choosing to serve one or the other, Potentium followers believe there is no dark or light to the Force, only in the user, and the Aing-Tii see the Force as a rainbow (which I hope gets explored more someday).
Here, it’s not about serving dark or light. Here, the Je’daii strive for balance, walking the tightrope between dark and light while striving to keep from tipping into one or the other. This does fail eventually but it’s a fascinating idea I’ve only seen played with once in fanfiction (Davin Sunrider’s “One Missed Strike” series). The Je’daii eventually splinter into the groups that will form the basis for the modern Jedi/Sith divide in the Force Wars, which sound intriguing enough to make me want to read the comics at some point.
The novel has quotes from Je’daii masters before each chapter, and one of them really struck me. Paraphrasing, it says that to veer too far into the light is to see the dark as monstrous and to veer too far into the dark is to see the light as confining. It’s exactly the attitudes we see in modern-day Sith and Jedi, and I wonder if it’ll ever get played with in that era. Definitely brings new meaning to the Sith’ari and Chosen One prophecies! It also made me realize that, the Vong invasion aside, every major conflict in the GFFA has been due to the clash of Force-wielders. A sobering thought.
Lastly, there’s a bit of interesting linguistics. Hutts and other species have referred to the Jedi as Jeedai, making me wonder if that’s not a corruption of the original ‘Je’daii.’ Haven’t seen pronunciation of the latter anywhere, but it’s intriguing (and a cool bit of retcon if I’m right).
In short – don’t read this book unless you’ve read the comics or are comfortable getting dropped into the middle of a story. It was fascinating in sections (and as a sister, heartbreaking at times), but very hard to jump into.
Next: You’ve heard the expression “winner take all” but sometimes, the winner loses it all instead.
Title: Dawn of the Jedi – Into the Void
Author: Tim Lebbon
Timeframe: 25,793 BBY
Background required: The comics of the same name (or a willingness to be a bit confused)
Read Time: ~2.5 hours