Star Wars: Brotherhood Book Review
Written by Tyler Erickson for 9 To 5 Gamers
It took almost 20 years, but Star Wars: Brotherhood has finally given Star Wars fans the Obi-Wan and Anakin story they have been clamoring for.
Mike Chen, author of the excellent Here and Now and Then, is not new to the Star Wars universe. Though Brotherhood is his first Star Wars novel, he previously contributed to the From A Certain Point of View series. Chen is a noted fan of the prequel trilogy, and that love and care is apparent throughout Star Wars: Brotherhood.
Brotherhood unfolds shortly after the events of Episode II. In the story, Obi-Wan is dispatched to Cato Nemoidia to investigate an attack that rocked the neutral world. Count Dooku and his allies plot to undermine the investigation and the Jedi. And Anakin Skywalker, newly promoted to Jedi Knight, faces his first assignment and a new kind of responsibility.
More than the events themselves, Brotherhood is a fascinating look into some of our favorite characters at a time of intense instability in their lives. Fans of the prequels and The Clone Wars will feel an immediate connection with the characters. Chen writes all characters in a way that feels natural and logical. When Anakin or Obi-Wan do or say something, it feels authentic to the character.
In that sense, Mike Chen clearly understands Star Wars. Not just the characters and the universe, but its fans. Chen’s greatest strength in a book with many high points is that he writes in a way that makes the reader feel as if they are joining their favorite characters on an adventure. You’re coming with them, not just observing from afar.
Two stylistic choices Chen made are key to making Brotherhood have this quality. First, he constructed short chapters. Even the longest chapters are around ten pages, allowing the pace to be quick and events to be meaningful. A lot of exposition can give the reader the feeling that they are reading a documentation of events. Chen’s style amplifies the feeling that the reader is joining these characters on this journey.
Second, Chen writes each chapter from a main character’s point of view. This style choice gives the reader a window into what the character is thinking and feeling. In key story moments, multiple chapters allow readers to experience the same event from the point of view of several different characters. Late in the story, an important moment is explored in this way. We see the same event through the eyes of Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ruug Quarnom, one of the new characters introduced in Brotherhood.
Star Wars: Brotherhood fills in many gaps in the story of what took place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. While we see the early days of the Clone Wars in Brotherhood, the most significant developments are on a personal level for the main characters. At its core, Brotherhood is about dealing with loss, uncertainty, and fear.
During the events of Brotherhood, Anakin is only slightly removed from what took place on Tatooine in Attack of the Clones. He is balancing the pain from the death of his mother, being newly married to Padme, and the responsibility he faces after becoming a full Jedi Knight Though Anakin is still definitely good and committed to the Jedi in Brotherhood, the seeds of his distrust of the Jedi Order are planted throughout the story.
We see the beginnings of Anakin and Padme’s marriage, and what their version of normal looked like in the relationship. It is really the first time we see their love as a product of passion and connection. Prior to Brotherhood, their actions in their relationship were largely driven by the war or the tension that existed in the galaxy. We even get to see what date night looked like in their relationship, which made the relationship feel more natural and less of a plot device from the films.
Anakin’s relationship with Chancellor Palpatine is also explored more in Brotherhood. Readers will learn more about how Palpatine subtly manipulated both Anakin and the Jedi, and there are some moments where we see moments occur that were referenced in Revenge of the Sith or Attack of the Clones. For example, we learn how and why Anakin told the chancellor about how he murdered the Tusken Raiders.
Anakin develops a new relationship in Brotherhood. He encounters a conflicted youngling named Mill Alibeth. Mill’s struggles with the Jedi Order force Anakin to face his own feelings about them as he helps guide her as a mentor. In helping her, Anakin has an opportunity to find more clarity for himself in a time of heavy uncertainty for him.
At the same time, Obi-Wan is dealing with his own loss and change. Anakin is no longer his Padawan. In Brotherhood, we find that he had a harder time moving on from that relationship than we might have assumed. Though they are opposites in many ways, the connection between Anakin and Obi-Wan is deep, and that is on display in Brotherhood.
Obi-Wan is also faced with the uncertainty of a war that had just begun. While we know the Clone Wars would rage on for years, in Brotherhood there is still a high amount of optimism that the war can be ended quickly. This sentiment is a large part of Obi-Wan’s motivation throughout the novel.
Obi-Wan’s trust in the intentions of the Jedi is immovable, but it is put to the test in this story. As events unfold, Obi-Wan is confronted with the fact that average citizens around the galaxy might not see the Jedi Order in the same light as he does. It is here that the citizens of Cato Nemoidia play a crucial role in Brotherhood’s story.
A devastating terrorist attack one one of the floating cities of Cato Nemoidia has left the citizens reeling. Their fear and anger makes them want to find someone to blame and drive a further distrust of the Jedi and the Republic. Asajj Ventress uses this as an opportunity to mislead the public and manipulate their emotions.
Ruug Quarnom and Ketar Nor are the two Nemoidians that are focal points of the novel. Ruug represents the struggle between distrust and a yearning for the truth, while Ketar faces temptation the more he is prodded to respond to the attack with emotion and hate.
Ultimately, these forces converge and Obi-Wan and Anakin are joined together once again in a desperate attempt to find the truth and stop the war in its early stages.
While doing that, they each embark on a deeply personal journey where they face pain, loss, and uncertainty.
Some Star Wars novels are a nice filler story that fills in some gaps. Others, like Brotherhood, are essential reading. If you are a fan of the prequels or the Clone Wars, Brotherhood will be time well spent.
You can preview a portion or Star Wars: Brotherhood here.