-This review contains some minor spoilers. Proceed with caution-
Read By: Ashley Eckstein
Genre: Space Opera
Runtime: 7hrs 4m
Release Date: 11/10/2016
Ahsoka Tano has turned her back on the Jedi. But as the newly founded Empire tightens its grip on the Galaxy, hiding may no longer be an option. Innocent people are suffering, and the Galaxy needs heroes . . .
I have never watched an episode of The Clone Wars or Rebels. While I’ve been a Star Wars fan for as long as I can remember, I can count on one hand the number of animations I’ve enjoyed. (Lower Decks, Love, Death + Robots, and The Simpsons). And to be quite honest, every time I hear something good about either series, I then find out some annoying childish aspect to the shows. I am not the intended target audience, and that is totally fine. I’m familiar with broad strokes of the story, but that’s about it. What this ultimately means in that my first real exposure to Ahsoka Tano came from Season 2 of The Mandalorian. To my mind, Ahsoka Tano is Rosario Dawson, and she is a jaded survivor of the Imperial Jedi Purge. Going back to look at a younger, more idealistic, Ahsoka was quite a shock.
Ahsoka provides a bridge between the events of The Clone Wars and Rebels, showing how Ahsoka goes from former Jedi in exile to being a key agent of the rebellion’s early years. It’s set around a year after Revenge of the Sith, and even though I haven’t watched any of the animated series, it’s easy enough to read as a standalone adventure. Sure there are a lot of references to past actions flying around, but none of them overpower the main narrative. I’m pretty sure there are hints at the future here too, though I only picked up on one or two. While all of these moments and Easter eggs enrich Ahsoka as part of a larger whole, everything you need to enjoy the book is contained within its pages. Or, whatever the page equivalent is for an audiobook.
One of the reasons I tend to stay away from audiobooks is the often glacial pace of many narrators. With a lot of the ones I’ve tried previously, I’m stuck between a slow reader in whom I lose interest, or the option of a fast-forward button that completely throws of my sense of pacing. How some people listen on double speed, I will never understand. Happily, there is no such problem in Ahsoka. Ashley Eckstein reads a quick and comprehensible pace, balancing dialogue and description deftly. As an added bonus, she is also the original voice of Ahsoka from The Clone Wars. This familiarity imbues her voice acting with skill honed over the best part of a decade. No one else could have performed this book so well, and I hope she is brought back to narrate further volumes. If this recent trend of getting actors to narrate books about their famous roles continues, then Star Wars is sitting on a potential goldmine.
Ahsoka is very much an entry point to the new canon of novels for younger fans, and I can’t help but wonder if that Young Adult label is what helps with the ease of listening. Certainly this book is not mired in philosophy or complicated scheming, and while it has darkness it is ultimately a very hopeful novel. Seeing the first seeds of organised rebellion being sown by Ahsoka Tano and Bail Organa might just be a bridge between two TV series, but it’s also a pure distillation of the optimism at the core of Star Wars.
If you’re a fan of the animated Star Wars series, then you cannot afford to miss out on Ahsoka. And if you’re not, then it’s still a fun adventure in its own right.