Star Wars is one of my favorite stories, from Episode 1 to Episode 8. The saga is only as good as it’s characters. Kenobi gives us a look at one of the coolest characters in the whole series, Obi Wan Kenobi.
I borrowed the audiobook hoping to get a deeper slice of Obi Wan’s life. I had a few expectations starting out. I’ll explain those later in a spoiler section along with my favourite elements of the story and the parts that let me down. But first, there’s a summary of the plot and my thoughts of the book as a whole. Ultimately, I want to know what you thought so we can talk about it. I love talking about this kind of stuff.
Kenobi Definitely Isn’t a Space Opera
The narrator nailed Kenobi’s (Ewan McGregor’s) voice perfectly and it helped make the story feel more authentic. The majority of the book centres around a backwater community of moisture farmers on Tatooine. Specifically, it focuses on the Anilleen Calwell and “Dannar’s Claim,” her family run business centre for the local moisture farmers.
The other family in focus is the Gaults, specifically, Orrin and his adult children, Mullen and Veeka. Orrin owns one of the bigger ranches in the area and is the local business mogul. His kids are a mess, but he seems put together. Orrin is constantly thinking risk and reward, with a contagious optimism and a big heart.
Orrin and Anilleen’s dead husband, Dannar, built the Claim from nothing. The Gaults and the Calwells are close because the two men were close. Now, the two families have a love/hate relationship that balances precariously through the book. One common enemy that unites them is Tusken Raiders. These Sand People killed Dannar and many others dear to Oasis community. But even the mutual hatred for the Tuskens unravels in the end.
Obi Wan (now known as Ben) shows up and shit hits the fan, as much as he would try to avoid it.
Kenobi involves Obi Wan, but it’s just barely about him. The book is more of a small town drama amplified by a mystical force wizard, a bloodthirsty barbarian tribe, plasma rifles, hover speeders and alien animals. In the saga of Star Wars, Kenobi barely registers as an event. I guess that’s the point. Who cares about the years that Obi Wan was on Tatooine watching over Luke? Well, a ton of die-hard Star Wars fans care. Kenobi isn’t meant to add to any of the Star Wars saga. It’s meant to give us some rowdy fun on a desert planet that we can’t escape from in the Star Wars universe. And it’s meant to give us a bit more of Obi Wan in our lives.
Even though the story felt somewhat meaningless to the greater Star Wars story, I eventually enjoyed it. It came together in a fun and intelligent way that kept me guessing.
The Good, The Bad, and the Lame
What I loved:
- One of the final battles is a fight with a massive reptile called a Krayt Dragon. I wondered how they were going to let Obi Wan use his lightsaber at all when he’s trying to hide who he really is. Defending himself from the massive beast was an exciting excuse to pull his lightsaber. And in front of the antagonist, no less. At stake wasn’t just Obi Wan’s life, but risk of his identity being exposed as well. It was an exciting sequence.
- That fight is part of the whole climactic scene set among standing rocks. It starts with a mob of farmers angrily pursuing Obi Wan, who then get stampeded by Banthas before Jabba’s goons show up. You get a shoot out, a show down, and ultimately, satisfaction.
- From the beginning, I wanted Orrin to be a good guy. I liked the business man. I liked his wheeling and dealing. He was probably my favourite character in the story, other than Obi Wan. I wish he had stayed awesome.
- How Orrin is served justice in the end made me smile. At first you think he just dies, but then you find out he’s forced to serve the hated Tuskens and it’s so much more satisfying than his death.
- There were several intentional parallels between this story and the Obi Wan’s past (the fall of the Jedi, the rise of the emperor, Anakin’s corruption). To be honest, I would have missed most of the parallels if the writer didn’t cheekily reveal each moment. None of it really seemed forced to me, so it was pleasant
What I didn’t love:
- I wish there would have been a little bit from Qui Gon. That was actually why I wanted to listen to this book in the first place. I was hoping that Qui Gon would communicate with Obi Wan a bit, but there was nothing. That was a let down.
- Female voices done by a man are not my favourite.
- The story is pretty provincial, like I said before, a small town drama on sci fi steroids. It starts with a bar brawl, then a farm raid. It was clear from the beginning that this book was not going to be an epic adventure, but mostly an interpersonal struggle that doesn’t branch far from the pokey little settlement. I had to readjust my expectation coming in. Although it picked up, I don’t know that I would have bothered with it if I weren’t listening to it on audiobook.
If you’ve read Kenobi, I want to compare notes. Let me know what you thought. What were your favourite scenes? What rubbed you the wrong way?
Aaannd – GO.