Book Review: ‘The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark’

September 8, 2020 at 8:44 am | Posted in Books, Disney Lucasfilm Publishing, Reviews, Star Wars, Star Wars Books | Leave a comment
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The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark is a short story collection, edited by Jennifer Heddle, and released in August of 2020.

I am taking time out of my usual bi-weekly reread through the canon to review the newest short story collection from Disney-Lucasfilm Press. As a huge fan of The Clone Wars series, I had high hopes for this book. And the authors involved *mostly* delivered. Below I very briefly review every story (including a letter rating), followed by an overall review at the end.

  1. “Sharing the Same Face” by Jason Fry (Ambush): Told entirely from Yoda’s point of view. Adds a lot of insight into how he views the Clones and his duty as a general. Explains some of Yoda’s decisions and tactics in the episode. Also has some brief revelations about what happens to the clone troopers later in the Clone Wars. Excellent story and adaptation. A+
  2. “Dooku Captured” by Lou Anders (Dooku Captured and The Gungan General): Told entirely from Count Dooku’s point of view. Makes Dooku’s decisions and tactics understandable, fixes some story problems with him. Is really funny in moments and reads like a journal entry. Leaves large portions of the episodes, out, but serves its purpose and is a really great adaptation. A+
  3. “Hostage Crisis” by Preeti Chhibber (Hostage Crisis): Told entirely from Anakin’s point of view. While it explains several aspects of the timeline for confused fans, the plot is kind of confusing, even for people who have watched the show. This would really confuse people who hadn’t watched the show. Even though the focus is on Anakin, the “coolest” aspects of this episode are ignored. The focus should have been on Bane in this story and not Anakin, but that wasn’t what the author’s intent was. C+
  4. “Pursuit of Peace” By Anne Ursu (Heroes on Both Sides and Pursuit of Peace): Told entirely from Padme’s point of view. This is a mostly faithful adaptation, but really shows Padme’s inner thoughts. The plot is easy to follow, although it omits several aspects of Ahsoka’s story and the greater story.  B-
  5. “The Shadow of Umbara” by Yoon Ha Lee (Based on the 4 episode Umbara arc): Told entirely from Rex’s point of view. This is also a straight retelling of the Umbara arc. It omits certain aspects, but does focus a lot on Rex and his inner thoughts. It’s very fast paced. I don’t believe that the short stories should follow more than 2 episodes, because covering 4 makes it daunting and omits a lot. B-
  6. “Bane’s Story” by Tom Angleberger (Rako Hardeen/Kidnapping Palpatine Arc): Told entirely from Bane’s point of view. It Added a lot of unique perspectives while also following the story. Had some really funny moments. Wasn’t just a pure novelization of the episodes. Added tons of background information to the story. A+
  7. “The Lost Nightsister” by Zoraida Córdova (Bounty): Told entirely from Ventress’ point of view. This is pretty much a straight retelling of the episode, but does have some additional insights into Ventress. Has some explanations on her direction in the galaxy. A-
  8. “Dark Vengeance” by Rebecca Roanhorse (Brothers and Revenge): Told entirely from Maul’s perspective. Told as if to a child. Very dark and chilling. Roanhorse nails the tone and feel of Maul’s character. Explains the backstory leading up and makes you feel Maul’s anger. It’s pretty faithful, although Ventress comes out of nowhere, and someone who hasn’t seen the show wouldn’t understand that moment very well. A-
  9. “Almost a Jedi” by Sarah Beth Durst (Youngling Arc: The Necessary Bond): Told from Klatoni’s point of view. While this story fits a middle-grade level book, it doesn’t work well. This story is the 4th in a 4 episode arc, and the reader would miss the context and not understand what’s happening if they haven’t watched the episode yet. The story was almost a straight retelling. I believe that the first episode in the arc(The Gathering) would have worked as a much better standalone short story. The author did not do much to catch the reader up on the events of the previous episodes, so there were several “oh yeah, this had happened” moments.Very poor. D+
  10. “Kenobi’s Shadow” by Greg Van Eekhout (The Lawless): Told from Obi-Wan Kenobi’s point of view. Excellent story. While this is the third episode in an arc, this explains all of the necessary information that it works as a stand alone. You can really feel Kenobi’s pain and anger and you really empathize with him, perhaps even more than in the actual episode. It’s well paced and very funny at times. A+
  11. “Bug” by E. Anne Convery (inspired by Massacre): This story is told from “Bug’s” perspective. It’s an original story, and while it didn’t add too much plot, it had a lot of great world building and future story potential. This story shows that the entire collection should have just been original stories inspired by episodes of the Clone Wars. It has some pacing issues, so it isn’t the best, but it has some serious potential for the author’s future. B- 

While not every story was perfect for me, it was a very enjoyable collection. Most stories added a little bit of insight and world building and background that made me love The Clone Wars even more. A few stories even fixed continuity errors and questions that I had, which added to them in my estimation. However, I must point out that I believe that the format of the stories was the wrong choice by the publisher. Rather than do 10 adaptations and 1 original inspired story, this should have been all original stories inspired by episodes of The Clone Wars. It would have added much more insight, would have been more worth it to people who have already watched the show, and would have been easier to market. But I digress.

I can’t finish without mentioning the beautiful artwork and illustrations by Ksenia Zelentsova. Most Star Wars books have good covers, but are designed that I could only display them on a shelf. In fact, I believe that this could be used as a coffee table book because of how great it looks.

Overall, this is a very good short story collection, but it could have been better. 4 out of 5. Good job Jennifer Heddle and the whole team at Disney-Lucasfilm Press.

Next week I’ll be returning to my regularly scheduled reread of Bloodline by Claudia Gray (one of my favorites).

Written by Jonathan Koan

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