Guardians of the Whills
review by Michael Fraley
Rogue One was the first in the New Lucasfilm's line of Star Wars Story movies, films not directly involved in saga of the galaxy's most dysfunctional family. It introduced us to new locales and new characters that fans have grown to love. Unfortunately, SPOILER ALERT, they didn't get the happy endind we'd all hoped for them, but Jyn and her crew live on in the new EU. Before the movie was released, we were given the chance to learn of Galen and Krennic's relationship in Catalyst. After, we learned about Jyn's journey with Saw in Rebel Rising, and even Inferno Squad had deep ties with Rogue One.
Guardians of the Whills, written by Greg Rucka, is another such novel. This one focuses on Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus whom we met in the streets of Jedha. Both are former Guardians of the Whills, who's job, before the Imperial Occupation, was to protect the Kyber Temple. After the Empire arrives and takes control of the Temple, Chirrut and Baze find themselves forming a two man rebellion against the Empire, stealing supplies for those most affected by Imperial control.
First off, I love this book. I don't mean the story inside, but the book itself. From its handpainted artwork on the cover and in each chapter to the snippets of Jedi lore before each chapter, its presentation is wonderful. Each page has an aged parchment look to it making it almost feels like you're reading a manuscript from Far, far away. I'd almost recommend buying the book just for it's design.
The story itself follows Baze and Chirrut as they join forces with Saw Gerrera and his rebel Partisans after they feel the Empire has gone too far in it's treatment of the people of Jedha. The story revolves mostly around an orphanage that our heroes have placed under their protection and how the Empire's occupation affects it.
That story itself is okay, but what sets this book apart from other Star Wars books is that it shows more of the ramifications of open rebellion on the innocent bystanders of the galaxy. Upon arrival, the Empire is more of a nuisance to every day life than a threat. As Baze and Chirrut perform their convoy raids, Imperial presence grows, but once Gerrrera's force begin openly attacking, the Empire comes down hard on the entire city. Checkpoints, curfews, random searches and seizes become the norm. The orphanage that is the main catalyst of the story, grows from twelve to over thirty. It was interesting to see that side of the story. It's been seen before in a few other Star Wars books, most notably Lost Stars, which shows that not everyone on the Death Star was evil, and that families across the galaxy were affected by it's destruction.
It's nice a change to see that there isn't just one good or bad side. Every action has some effect that usually goes unseen. For this aspect alone (OK, and plus the great book design) I can recommend this book. Base and Chirrut weren't my favorite Rogue One additions, but it is nice to get a little more backstory on not only them, but the Holy City of Jedha as well. I'll give it a 3.5 out of 5.
Guardians of the Quills is written by Greg Rucka and published by Disney Lucasfilm Books. It is available at your favorite bookstore now.