My friends over at Team Friendship Reads loved Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston, so I had to check it out. It’s been far too long since I last read/listened to a Star Wars book, so I thought it was time to give this one a try. (Now that I’m writing this, I remember that in the not too distant past I listened to Catalyst (a Rogue One novel) by James Luceno.
Although I have seen most of the Star Wars Rebels series, I guess I haven’t seen the end yet. I’ll need to go check that out on Disney+. Meanwhile, I had to turn to Wookiepedia to help explain why Ahsoka left the Jedi Order. I really should have done that before listening to the story.
In the last episode of Star Wars The Clone Wars, Ahsoka Tano leaves the Jedi. Wait… What?! Barris Offee framed Ahsoka for the murder of Letta Turmond, who, believing that the Jedi had helped to perpetuate the Clone Wars, participated in the bombing of the Jedi Temple. Offee, a Jedi Padawan herself, organized the attack on the temple, and it was she who killed Turmond.
Unfortunately, the Jedi Order did little to protect her. Instead, they took the politically favorable position that Ahsoka should face trial. However, Anakin, who was never slowed down by the decisions of the Jedi Council, could not accept that Ahshoka was guilty of murder. He solves the murder mystery, learning of Offee’s guilt. He then Ahsoka’s trial and delivers Offee, who confesses that she killed Turmond.
The Jedi Council backpedals, offering Ahsoka a place with the Jedi again, but the relationship is now sour.
I believe that Anakin sees Ahsoka’s refusing to rejoin the Jedi Order after her ordeal as a failure on the part of the Jedi Council. Although he was a whiny, little brat at that point in his life, he was increasingly interpreting the Council’s actions as a betrayal. Of course, this leads to his own decision to leave the Jedi Order.
End of Spoiler
It’s hard to know where to end a “spoiler” since, to some, this entire article could be a spoiler. If I’m spoiling something for you, I apologize. Please, just read it as an encouragement to learn more about the Star Wars universe.
Order 66 has just been executed. The Jedi Order is no more. Ahsoka Tano has put the Jedi behind her and has pressed out in the vast galaxy, running from an enemy that is daily getting stronger and more difficult to outrun. Ahsoka is a strong, young lady, and she believes that she can stay a step ahead of the Republic-turned-Empire.
On the run, Ahsoka tries to keep her head down, hunkering down with a kind family in a farming community on small, out of the way moon. Unfortunately, the moon happens to be the perfect place to grow a plant that produces a substance used by long-term space travelers to help them process oxygen more efficiently.
Suddenly, the Empire is occupying the moon and forcing the farmers into indentured servitude. There’s not much Ahsoka can do, because if she reveals herself as being a Force user, the Empire will hunt her down and kill her, along with many other innocent people around her. She makes the difficult decision to depart, leaving her new friends behind. Although they still have to deal with the Empire, she rationalizes that they will be safer if she leaves. Unfortunately, it seems that wherever she goes, the Empire is close behind. She struggles with not being able to use the Force to help her friends but works very hard to find other ways that she can help. Some of her actions gain the attention of Senator Bail Organa, who uses his position of power and influence to help the Rebellion get off the ground. After meeting up with Organa, Ahsoka finally feels there may be a way for her to help people on a grander scale again, but you’ll have to watch Star Wars Rebels to learn more about that (I don’t want to spoil everything for you!).
Ahsoka faced many difficult decisions in this story. She has a soft heart and wants to help others. She can’t stand to sit idly by and watch as others suffer. But, she’s working with both hands tied behind her back. Unable to use her most exceptional talent, the Force, she can only help in ways that other non-Force users would help, such as repairing equipment and teaching the farmers and village people how to prepare for a fight.
Inevitably, the fight comes to them. There are so many times she knows that if she just used the Force to run a little faster or to jump a little higher, she could protect more people from falling prey to the Empire. But, the moment she uses the Force, she becomes a high-priority target. Not only will she increase the danger to herself, but she puts everyone around her at risk, because she knows the Empire will stop at nothing to get to her. That includes torturing and killing her new friends to lure her out into the open.
I can’t imagine being in that position, where I have to choose between self-preservation and helping those in need. It’s an impossible choice. If Ahsoka uses her full strength, her life and the lives of others will be in jeopardy. If she doesn’t use her full power, others will undoubtedly fall to harm.
What do you think you would do? Would you choose differently? Why?
If I were Ahsoka, I suppose, I would probably make a similar set of choices. It would likely depend though on my confidence in my abilities. If I thought that I could defend myself, I think I would risk my safety to help others. If I didn’t feel that I could protect myself, I would likely conceal the power I did have so as not to draw attention to myself. That wouldn’t stop me from trying to help, though. I am confident that I would whatever I could to help without putting myself or others at risk unnecessarily.
Ahsoka not only had to hide her real strength, but she also had to lie about who she was. When she finally reveals her identity, it adds insult to injury. That doesn’t mean she isn’t justified in hiding who she is, but imagine how you would feel if you learned that your new friend could have saved your family had they used the unnatural abilities they possess. I would be angry. I understand the need for self-preservation, but I would be outraged that another’s choice to protect themselves had a hand in the injury or death of a loved one. I’m not sure how forgiving I would be in this situation.
Would you be able to forgive someone who could have saved your family member or friend, but didn’t because she withheld her power to protect herself?
Ahsoka is mindful of this dilemma and truly struggles with what choice to make. Having been betrayed by the Jedi Council, she is struggling to trust others. She had dedicated her entire life to them, and they hung her out to dry. It’s hard to hear this. The Jedi are supposed to be the good guys, and they are, but they aren’t perfect. They demonstrated this fact perfectly when they made the politically correct choice not to support Ahsoka when Offee framed her for murder. Ahsoka’s distrust now carries over with whomever she is working. If they were to find out who she really is, her new friends could easily turn her over to the Empire to save themselves.
So, here’s the bottom line for this book.
Ahsoka is an excellent read for any Star Wars fan. I didn’t find any objectionable content in the story and would have no problem with my middle-grade and almost-teenager read it. I had a little trouble following where exactly Ahsoka was as she bounced from planet to planet (moon to moon?), but the story contained the usual Star Wars action, which is always fun for us as readers. The story also connects how Ahsoka becomes associated with the Rebel Alliance in its early days.
Oh, if you listen to the story on audiobook, I think you’ll enjoy the fact that Ahsoka is read by voice actress Ashley Eckstein, who voices Ahsoka in all of the animated series.
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