ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Star Wars: Brotherhood’ Gives a Story Worth Telling

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Star Wars Brotherhood - But Why Tho

As the Star Wars lore has expanded past the silver screen fans have gotten the answer to a plethora of questions that were laid out by the films. Who was Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas? Why are Sith lightsabers red? Who were Poe Dameron’s parents?  Through books, comics, and television series, light has been shed on these types of questions among many, many others. Now in Star Wars: Brotherhood, writer Mike Chen gives fans the answer to one of the most unlikely stories yet to be told in Star Wars canon. What’s the deal with that business on Cato Neimoidia?

Published by Del Rey, Star Wars: Brotherhood takes readers to the early day of the Clone Wars that predate even The Clone Wars animated series. Following the events of Attack of the Clones, the political landscape is tumultuous, to say the least. As the Republic and the Separatists clash in open war, many entities attempt to maintain their neutrality. This is a theme that is rampant in the early seasons of The Clone Wars. This leaves many systems in the crosshairs of the Clone Wars combatants. Star Wars: Brotherhood tells the tale of one of the first of many conflicts such as this.

As early as the first episode of The Clone Wars, the Separatists led by Count Dooku and the Republic with aid of the Jedi Order attempt to sway neutral systems to join their side, usually at the expense of innocent lives. Cato Neimodia, the homeworld of notable characters like Lott Dod and Nute Gunray, found itself in the middle of this struggle for supremacy in the war’s infancy. Following an explosion that sent part of a city down the planet’s surface, Cato Neimodia, the heart of the Trade Federation, has its position of neutrality challenged within the Neimodian government. Insidious as ever, Count Dooku stirs the flames of dissension by implying that it is the Republic who is responsible for the disaster and offers the support of the Separatists if they offer theirs in return for the war effort. An offer that the Republic cannot stand.

In an effort to bring a peaceful resolution to this matter, the Republic and the Jedi Order send newly minted Jedi Council member Obi-Wan Kenobi to investigate the bombing to find who is truly responsible. However, through Dooku’s meddling, Kenobi must complete his investigation alone and without the help of the Republic or the Jedi Order, lest it invites bias into the Jedi’s search for the truth. As an additive measure to ensure good faith, Dooku also sends a representative from the Separatists, the mysterious Asajj Ventress. Cut off from all of his resources, including his former padawan, Kenobi must find a way to uncover the real culprits of the attack while balancing the delicate political implications that could lead to further bloodshed.

With the stage set, Star Wars Brotherhood flows almost as if I was reading an arc from The Clone Wars animated series. The story follows the perspective of only a handful of characters as chapters flip back and forth between them. The focus on a small number of characters gives the story a very intimate feeling as readers get a deep look into the minds of Kenobi and Skywalker during this period. Further, it allows for never before seen characters to be fleshed out in a meaningful way that makes them integral to the overall narrative.

Chen brings two new characters to the universe that prove to be just as capable and important as Kenobi and Skywalker, including Ruug Quarnom, a former elite commando of the Neimodian Defense Legion. Despite her dedication and service to her homeworld, Rugg now serves as a royal guard after her challenging of the Trade Federation status quo. If her position did not demand it, Ruug set out to investigate the bombing with her overzealous partner. On the flip side of duty to one’s position, Jedi Initiate Mill Alibeth would find herself unknowingly entrenched in the conflict after being unable to participate in the Gathering, a trip to Illum where younglings find their Kyber crystals for their lightsabers.

At its heart, Star Wars: Brotherhood’s driving force is the decisions one must make when their entire way of life is challenged.  Ruug must grabble with her dedication to her people and how best to serve them when the situation surrounding the disaster on Cato Neimodia isn’t as black and white as Dooku led them to believe. Can she serve her people if she helps Kenobi or is this a calculated risk she needs to take? Mill, who struggles with even wanting to continue on her path as a Jedi, must find a way to use her unique Force gifts to help people even if it isn’t in the way the Jedi Order has laid out for her. Will shutting herself off from the Force bring her the quiet she seeks or is there another way to serve the Force? This throughline is present even for characters like Kenobi and Skywalker who have numerous stories told about them already.

Obi-Wan Kenobi, usually stoic and self-assured, struggles with the weight of his new position as a Jedi Council member and balancing the relationship with his former padawan. As newly knighted Jedi, the dynamic between Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker has begun to shift and leads Kenobi to question his decisions in his training and his former padawan’s growing attachments. Is he worthy of the position his former master turned down on the Council, and can he intervene in the entanglement that he was almost in with Duchess Satine of Mandalore? Skywalker himself struggles with his new knighthood and how best to serve the galaxy and bring that peace he so desperately yeans to bring. Is he truly the Chosen One and can he have the best of both worlds with the Jedi and Padmé?

Chen challenges the reader to look at the different perspectives present during the Clone Wars. Even in my own bias, I have always thought of the Neimodians as Separatists adjacent, secretly supporting Dooku and his efforts despite their calls for neutrality. Various episodes of The Clone Wars hint at this; however, Star Wars: Brotherhood shows that is just a product of thinking of Star Wars as black and white. The people of Cato Neimodia have received their own mistreatment at the hands of the Republic and it’s hard to argue against the various pushes for their people to join the Separatists. The Republic itself would likely benefit greatly from its own introspective look at its motives in a time when its own way of life is challenged.

Overall, it is these existential crises within characters both new and old that truly make Star Wars: Brotherhood a story worth experiencing. While there are few nuggets of fun easter eggs and callbacks to other media, the outcome of the story is all but a foregone conclusion as the Trade Federation’s neutrality is a topic of contention even into Revenge of the Sith. However, the character moments bring a new perspective to the prequel’s biggest characters Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker. What started as fatherly mentorship morphs into a brotherhood that all starts with that business Cato Neimodia.

Star Wars: Brotherhood is available May 10 wherever books are sold and with our Bookshop.org affiliate link.


Star Wars: Brotherhood
4.5

TL;DR

Overall, it is these existential crises within characters both new and old that truly make Star Wars: Brotherhood a story worth experiencing. While there are few nuggets of fun easter eggs and callbacks to other media, the outcome of the story is all but a foregone conclusion as the Trade Federation’s neutrality is a topic of contention even into Revenge of the Sith. However, the character moments bring a new perspective to the prequel’s biggest characters Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker. What started as fatherly mentorship morphs into a brotherhood that all starts with that business Cato Neimodia.