Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Heard: "Kenobi" by John Jackson Miller

Heard: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller, 2013, download.

Another one I decided to try out when trolling through Overdrive.  I once received a Star Wars post-Revenge of the Jedi trilogy of paperbacks as a gift in 1993.  Christmas, I think.  I did not much enjoy them.  I had nothing else to read and read them anyway.

Obi-Won Kenobi is on Tatooine with an infant Luke Skywalker.  Obi-Won quickly deposits Luke with his Luke's uncle Lars and Obi-Won makes himself scarce.  Lars does not Oi-Won around but Obi-Won's mission is to watch over Luke.  Obi-Won ventures further away from the Lars homestead to find a desert home.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to A'Yark, a leader of a Sand People/Tusken tribe.  A'Yark leads raids on settlers and runs one on the remote Dannar's Claim where Anileen runs the only store in the area.  Anileen is widowed with two teen kids.  Oren Hault is a local landowner and farmer who organized a rapid response civil defense force to fight against the Sand People.

Miller mixes all these things up into a quasi-Western.  Kenobi is the mysterious stranger come to town.  Kenobi saves Anileen's bacon when the Sand People attack.  Anileen dug in her heels after her husband died in an effort to never give up what her dead spouse worked for.  Oren is the "rancher' who runs the range with a combination of economic might and blarney.  A'Yark and her clan are hunted by the settlers and follow a religion none of the settlers even know about.
Spoilers Below
It's a fun story.  The Western aspects take a bit of a turn as we learn how Oren has been skimming off the civil defense budge to pay his debts.  Oren owes big money to Jabba.  Oren's two grown children are rats with guns who drink too much, hate to work, and cannot follow the orders of their successful father.  Not only has Oren been skimming but he and his kids have been dressing as Tuskens and performing night raids to boost the civil defense membership and fees.  After each raid - fake or not - the civil defense will carry out deadly reprisals on the Tuskens.

Kenobi does not want to get involved.  His mission is to watch over Luke and Kenobi cannot be recognized or suspected as Jedi lest he draw the attention of the Empire.  But, Kenobi likes people and is lonely in the remote and formerly abandoned home he claimed.  Kenobi ends up rescuing Anileen and her daughter when the daughter is on a runaway animal into a dangerous area of the desert.  Kenobi is on hand when the settlement is attacked and he slays a bunch of Tuskens to save the building and people.  (Kenobi is sneaky and uses a smoke screen to hide his light saber swinging.)

A'Yark is intent on tradition, religion, and being a warrior.  She hates the settlers and how they show their skin.  (Tuskens are covered from head-to-toe at birth and are never exposed.  When their old rags and garments start to wear out or are too small they just layer on more cloth.  Any rocks or sand caught under the cloth is left to rub and wear on the Tusken.  Skin sores are common.)

1.  Touches on Obi-Won's loneliness.  He is intent on his mission but alone.  Not just because he has exiled himself into the desert wilderness to avoid detection or recognition.  Obi-Won became a member of the Jedi order as a small child.  The Order was his family.  He speaks to Qui-Gon during his meditation about how Kenobi had so many brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, and nieces and nephews.  The betrayal of Vader, and the murder of those children, left Obi-Won without a structure.  He decides to continue on as a ronin-like lone Jedi.
2.  I really liked the added sound effects and music.  Those were neat.  Mechanical sounds, store sounds, light saber hum, blaster noises.  The production incorporated music from the films.
3. Similarities of Tuskens to American Indians.  The Sand People/Tuskens are indiginous and have their own culture and religion.  They are nomads.  They kidnap settlers to increase their numbers.  They have to sneak in and raid settlements.  They have close relationships with their banthas (those big four legged things from the movies).  They know the terrain and can move around quietly.
4.  The narrator - whether he tries to or not - sounds a lot like Ewan McGregor.   I liked that.

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