Ahsoka Tano is a character with a rich history in the Star Wars universe, but if you don’t explore mediums outside of the movies you wouldn’t know much about her. The Ahsoka novel by E.K. Johnson gives us a glimpse into her life after she left the Jedi Order and went on the run from Order 66.
The Ahsoka novel opens a year after the Galactic Empire has taken over the galaxy. Ahsoka is hiding on a planet called Thabeska where she has adopted the alias Ashla. She has stopped using her Force abilities and tries to keep a low profile as much as possible. Since it is Empire Day, Imperials are venturing further into the galaxy than normal. This means they are making a stop on Thabeska.
Ahsoka knows it is not safe for her to stay where she is. She can become discovered so she quickly packs her things and makes her way to the new outer rim moon Raada, which is a remote farming settlement. The novel explores what happens on this planet and the struggle Ahsoka has with keeping her identity hidden or revealing the truth that she is a Jedi.
The vast majority of characters in this novel only appear in this book. Beyond Ahsoka, there is one other key character from this novel that shows up in other Star Wars media – an Inquisitor.
Ahsoka has a very interesting backstory. In the animated series The Clone Wars, you learn that Ahsoka was Anakin Skywalker’s padawan. She worked very closely with Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi for years during the war. The timeline in this book is at the end of The Clone Wars before she has taken a central role with the Rebel Alliance. At this point, she has no idea that Obi-Wan is still alive on Tatooine or that Anakin is now Darth Vader.
Ahsoka has become very independent as a result of everything she has been through. Wherever she goes she keeps to herself and makes very few connections. One of the mistakes she makes in this novel is getting too close with a group of locals on Raada. She is very powerful with the Force but does not use her abilities. She doesn’t even have lightsabers at this point. Ahsoka comes into her own towards the end of the novel and embraces that she is a Jedi and wants to fight back against the Galactic Empire. She joins forces with Senator Bail Organa in order to become more of what we see in the animated series Star Wars Rebels.
Ahsoka starts out being afraid of who and what she has become. I loved watching her character evolve from the beginning of the book to the end. She was raised to control her Force abilities and knows no other way to live but needs to survive. At this point, Order 66 has taken place and having Force powers is a death sentence. Ahsoka spends a lot of time moving from place to place keeping a low profile but eventually embraces her connection to the Force and her larger role in the burgeoning rebellion.
The Sixth Brother, formerly known as Bil Valen, was originally a member of the Jedi Order. The Sixth Brother, along with the rest of the Inquisitors, hunted down Force-sensitive children and any Jedi who survived Order 66.
The Sixth Brother appears throughout the Ahsoka novel, but it isn’t clear who he is until the end. As the story unfolds we learn that a young girl named Hedala Fardi, who Ahsoka saved using her Force powers is herself Force-sensitive. Hedala has encountered a strange shadow several times and is visibly afraid of it. Later it is revealed that the shadow is, in fact, the Sixth Brother.
At the end of the novel, Ahsoka encounters the Sixth Brother on Raada. They get into an epic lightsaber fight. During the fight, the Sixth Brother tries to intimidate Ahsoka by making his lightsaber spin. However, Ahsoka is able to crack the cylindrical hilt, causing it to explode. The Sixth Brother is killed in the explosion. Ahsoka retrieves the Kyber Crystals from the fallen Inquisitor. Later, she meditates using the Force and succeeds in turning the crystals back to their natural color: white. These crystals are used to forge her new white lightsabers.
My only exposure to Ahsoka before I read this book was from two animated series, The Clone Wars and Rebels. This novel filled in the missing pieces to see how her character changed and became more involved with the Rebellion. At the end of the novel, she decides to work closely with Senator Bail Organa. She does not want to be a general like she was in The Clone Wars can command troops. She creates a new role for herself and comes up with the alias Fulcrum. Fulcrum is an important aspect of the animated series Rebels, particularly in Season 1.
One of my favorite parts of this novel is when the Inquisitors are introduced. Throughout the novel, a “gray shadow” being is described as this ominous creature snaking its way through the galaxy looking for Force-sensitive beings. Later on, we discover these “gray shadows” are the Inquisitors. This is an important tie to Rebels. The Inquisitors, known as Brothers and Sisters, are the main villains in the early seasons, hunting down the Lothal Rebels. They have very unique double-bladed lightsabers that spin. We are also introduced to the Grand Inquisitor, the Season 1 Big Bad. The Inquisitors also appear throughout the second volume of the Darth Vader comic series and the 2019 video game, Jedi: Fallen Order.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It started out slow but built up some momentum. I liked learning more about Ahsoka and seeing how her character evolved over time. She truly transforms herself for the better and it’s nice to see that journey unfold. The other canon ties were great as well. Star Wars fascinates me in a way that the end of the story has already been revealed but how the characters got there isn’t always filled in. This novel highlights the journey of Ahsoka from former padawan to leader in the Rebel Alliance.
I loved the book, but the beginning of it was slow and hard to get through. The chapters were short, allowing the story to move along at a good pace. I really liked the evolution of the characters, not just Ahsoka’s. I recommend the Ahsoka novel, to casual fans. As an added bonus, Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka in the animated series, narrates the audiobook version of the novel. It was a huge treat!
I give this novel a score of 8/10. It’s a great introduction to the animated series and a welcome deep dive into a popular character from outside of the movies.