I absolutely love this book, Star Wars the New Rebellion. It’s by far one of my favorites of the post Return of the Jedi era. All the heroes of the movies have a part to play with the same sense of adventure, danger, humor and heroism. This isn’t always so in the books, Lando is out of sight on business trips, Chewie and 3PO are relegated to baby sitting and R2 is lucky to even get a mention. But this one uses them all and each one is not only in character but in their element.
The background characters are pretty good for the most part as well. Mon Mothma is here and shows an almost motherly love to Leia, an interesting reflection given that unbeknownst to either (or the author when it was written), she was colleagues with her birth Mother as well. The senators are appropriately aggravating and Leia has some just reaction for being outraged with what is basically outright slander. There are many new characters introduced here (though later used in other stories). Cole Fardreamer, is a simple mechanic who finds himself in an unexpected position to be a hero but finds red tape in the way.
The only background characters in the New Rebellion I didn’t care for were those from other stories, namely Karrde and Mara. While they did serve a purpose, it seems a waste to bring such popular characters in for such a minor role, barely a cameo.
The greatest pleasure for me was the role of the droids in the New Rebellion. I have rarely seen either of them, let alone both, used so well in books. This is the R2-D2 of the movies, showing initiative and a heroic determination to save his friends even when they don’t know he’s doing it. C3PO is his usual timid, reluctant self, not eager to go into danger but neither does he dare ignore Artoo’s discoveries. Their initiative here had me on the edge of my seat with concern for them and laughing in spots. It reminded me of the Droids cartoon from the ’80s, when both were in over their heads but creatively saving themselves and their allies.
Perhaps the most poignant moment on rereading the New Rebellion comes of the realization that the droids are in danger from more than physical damage. They are in danger because many just see droids as machines, but these two have personalities. We don’t want them lost or memory wiped and it’s a very real risk here. If like me one read this or saw the Droids cartoons before the prequels, that moment a memory wipe was ordered on C3PO had some real distress on top of the other tragedies in Revenge of the Sith.
Cole Fardreamer is newly introduced in the New Rebellion. He is on this journey with the droids and he is learning that a droid without a memory wipe is more than a sum of it’s parts. C3PO expressing how his master values him (and he them) because they would never erase his memory is really the first time we get to see him share his feelings on the subject. Little does he know that at one point, after his creator Anakin was lost to the Dark Side and his Mistress Padme died, that he himself did lose his memory.
If you read the Han Solo Trilogy first, you may already have met some of these, but they started here since the New Rebellion was published first. Having Han, Lando and Chewie face their past like this is interesting because in other stories there might be a certain romanticism to the memory. But many smugglers really are just in it for the money, and unlike Solo they don’t all have limits. Some even hold long grudges. These people are not all semi honorable like Han, or Talon Karrde. And that makes them dangerous. I was rather shocked by the twists to these relationships Han encountered.
Luke and Leia
Luke’s pursuit of his former student Brakiss reveals the same kindness and compassion he had for his father. He doesn’t want to leave anyone lost. His strength and weakness are shown as well. He isn’t immune to injury and threat and even a Jedi has limits. Luke has to face his here, not least of which is his greatest fear of losing a student as Kenobi lost his father. Leia is amazing in this. Juggling the politicians that anyone would want to Force choke, a threat to her family and her Presidency, she handles it with wisdom. In this case that is asking Mon Mothma for assistance and this proves invaluable.
Our mysterious Force using bad guy of the New Rebellion is using the Dark Side and increasing his power with all the panic and fear of the deaths he causes. But he isn’t as clever as Palpatine, nor as well educated. He has a weakness, overestimating himself and underestimating all those endangered who aren’t directly named Skywalker or Solo. He is narcissistic enough and blinded to assume that no one who disagrees with them has ever suffered pain or loss as he has. This villain shows that it’s an extremely dangerous view for someone to has who actually has power to abuse beyond a keyboard.
The New Rebellion comes right after the Black Fleet Crisis and before the Corellian Trilogy.
The smugglers in the story were used in the later published Han Solo Trilogy.
Brakiss goes on to be seen again in the Young Jedi Knights series. He was also written into I,Jedi as one of the formerly nameless first class of Jedi Academy students.
Cole Fardreamer, sadly, does not appear again. It’s too bad, as I figure he should’ve ended up promoted eventually and could’ve used at least an off hand mention. I can well imagine him as Luke’s go to mechanic whenever he came back to Coruscant after this incident.
The Droids, as I said earlier, if you want another look at them at the peak of action the only other novel that really jumps to mind is Planet of Twilight. I know for some the author isn’t popular, but they have an excellent role in that. They have several comic books turned graphic novels and omnibus however, as well as the Animated Droids cartoon which actually has references that show up in the prequels.