Review written by Clark Valentine.
A question that I have long pondered is “So, between blowing the Death Star to smithereens in Star Wars and getting his face washed by a wampa in Empire Strikes Back, what did Luke Skywalker do, anyway?” Yes, I’m serious. If you immerse yourself in the canon that’s the sort of question that comes up.
(Hey, quit laughing, I spun that sort of thinking out into a nice little side-job designing games.)
It turns out that this sort of question is fertile ground for novels, books like Jason Fry’s The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure. It’s s a fun little middle grade story about Luke Skywalker’s side quest to learn more about the Force, lightsaber combat, and (of course) himself. (For more continuing adventures, check out Princess Leia’s story in Moving Target and Han & Chewie’s story in Smuggler’s Run.)
Readers need to have seen the movie Star Wars (aka A New Hope) to understand what’s happening, but otherwise no deep knowledge of the Star Wars universe is necessary.
SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid
Violence and Scariness
It’s a Star Wars novel called The Weapon of a Jedi, so you can probably guess there’s going to be a donnybrook or two with deadly consequences. Stormtroopers get blasted and hit by lightsabers, TIE fighters get vaporized, civilians (including a little girl) get roughed up and bullied by Imperial troops. It’s very video gamey—there’s no explicit description of the injuries the weapons cause. There’s also no examination of the effect this violence has on those who inflict it—Luke doesn’t pause to consider what he’s done and it doesn’t seem to bother him. This is very much in line with the Star Wars universe, but adults might want to talk with kids about it. Real violence has real cost, to everyone involved.
A character of ambiguous morality turns out to be the bad guy you suspected he probably was. Betrayal is a trigger for some kids, so you might want to give them a heads up.
Profanity and Rudeness
The language is squeaky clean. I suppose it’s possible a curse or two slipped past my notice, but I’m pretty sure you could read this aloud in church without offending the choir.
Patience and Determination
Through the book, Luke demonstrates patience and an unwillingness to give up despite setbacks and frustration.
Did I mention patience? Because Luke is one patient dude, because C-3PO is one seriously obnoxious droid throughout the book, and Luke never says an unkind word to him. I would have lightsabered him into bits of scrap metal so small the Jawas would have turned up their noses at it.
Wait, do Jawas have noses? I sense more pondering in my future.
The main plot is simple and straightforward—the Rebel Alliance sends Luke on a milk run to pick up some intelligence data, and he gets sidetracked learning about the Force. But the entire story is told in flashback by C-3PO, in a completely different time (after the events of Return of the Jedi). I have to wonder why the author bothered—I suppose to say that the story is technically set during the time leading up to the movie The Force Awakens. And hey, “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is part of this book’s full formal title, so that might be a thing. (Turns out all three books in the series are told in flashback.)
But I wonder if the complexity might confuse a younger reader? Might be no big deal even if it does.
This is a fun little Star Wars adventure story featuring well known characters and some cool lightsaber action. Just about any Star Wars fan 10 or older should be able to handle The Weapon of a Jedi, and a lot of precocious 8 year olds will like it too. If the on-screen violence of the Star Wars films doesn’t bother them, the violence in this book shouldn’t, and that’s the only thing that might stand in the way.
The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure by Jason Fry
Published in 2015 by Disney/Lucasfilm Press
Part of the Journey To Star Wars: The Force Awakens series, including Moving Target and Smuggler’s Run
Read the first edition hardcover