Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller – review by Emrys Merlin

“This was a well-plotted, action-packed tale. The author kept a brisk pace moving between characters and situations and handled it smoothly.” – Amazon Reviewer


“The book is a great back story for those of us who are Star Wars Rebels fans. You really get to know Kanan and Hera and what motivates and drives them.” – Amazon Reviewer


Plot Summary:

Ever since the Jedi were marked for death and forced to flee Coruscant, Kanan Jarrus has devoted himself to staying alive rather than serving the Force. Wandering the galaxy alone, from one anonymous job to another, he avoids trouble – especially with the Empire – at all costs. So when he discovers a deadly conflict brewing between ruthless Imperial forces and desperate revolutionaries, he’s not about to get caught in the crossfire. Then the brutal death of a friend at the Empire’s hands forces the ex-Jedi to make a choice: bow down to fear, or stand up and fight.

But Jarrus won’t be fighting alone. Unlikely allies, including a bomb-throwing radical, a former Imperial surveillance agent, a vengeful security officer, and the mysterious Hera Syndulla – an agent provocateur with motives of her own – team up with Jarrus to challenge the Empire. As a crisis of apocalyptic proportions unfolds on the planet Gorse, they must stand together against one of the Emperor’s most fearsome enforcers – for the sake of a world and its people.

Initial Thoughts:

While this book wasn’t spectacular by any means, it’s got it where it counts and overall makes for a fun read!

The Plot:

The storyline of this novel is rather simple – Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla are trying to stop the Empire from blowing things up. Did I mind this? No, not particularly. Lack of plot isn’t something that’s ever bothered me much. I’ve always thought well-rounded characters are much more important to the overall story than plot.

The Characters:

I’ll be honest, I read this book purely out of a desire to learn the story of how Kanan and Hera met. I’m not a major shipper, but I’m a pretty big fan of these two, so I was very curious to learn more about them and the circumstances that threw them together. I was very delighted to find that this story more than delivered on that account!

Kanan, in particular, is the character who I think really stood out in this book. He has some added complexity in this that is relatively untouched on in Star Wars Rebels. After the events of Order 66, he has lost all his trust in the Force to the point where he refuses to use it whatsoever. He’s also deeply afraid of becoming comfortable again, so much so that he keeps himself at a steady distance from all other inhabitants of his current homeworld, Gorse.

He’s a bit younger and more immature in this, too, which I know might put some readers off, but I personally liked it and thought it was realistic. (After all, this does take place several years before Rebels, so he’s bound to be this way at least a little bit.)

However, while Kanan was very well-rounded, Hera left… something to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, she still had the same personality as she did on the show, but we didn’t get any sort of backstory or motivation from her beyond, “I hate enforced control and the Empire wants to control everything so I must stop them.” I just wish that she had some sort of arc to deepen her character a bit. I’m not saying she was terribly written, she just paled a bit in comparison to Kanan.

Character Development:

The character development is another thing I thought this novel did exceptionally well! Kanan undergoes a lot of change and growth throughout the novel. He becomes a little less selfish and arrogant by the end of it, showing flashes of the Kanan we get to know in Rebels.

I also really liked how Kanan and Hera’s dynamics were built up! It was a very slowly built up thing, which I realize might turn some people off, but I personally thought it was very realistic! Dynamics aren’t built overnight, after all.


Despite its flaws, this turned out to be a very solid book! It’s a fun, classic Star Wars novel that I would recommend to any fans of Star Wars Rebels.

Editor’s Note: as a matter of course, The Elven Padawan always provides a list of content on the books it reviews. Here is the content review for A New Dawn, from Shay.


Kanan works in a bar at night and lives in a room rented to him by the owner of it. It’s understood that he drinks heavily, though most of that isn’t shown.

Kanan also flirts with pretty much every female thing he sees, and Hera is no exception. It’s very clear that Kanan is smitten with Hera from the moment they first meet. But she’s quite busy with her job of rebelling, and always has a short-and-sweet way to push him back when he tries to get too close.

Language tops off at two uses of “h—“.

It should be noted that as far as Kanan goes, although this book does mark the beginning of an amazing character transformation for him, the last pages of it in no way mark the ending of that growth. He’s still quite a flawed, disillusioned man by the end of A New Dawn. He’s on the right path, but he’s still quite a way away from anything that could be considered faintly “Jedi”. But that makes sense; if his whole story was told here, what would be the point in watching Star Wars Rebels??

A huge “thank you” to Emrys Merlin for writing this review of Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller for The Elven Padawan! Please check out his blog at and give him a follow on Twitter at @EmrysMerlin15.

Have you read this book? Did you have a favorite moment or character from it? Do you have another favorite Star Wars book? Let us know below, we always love chatting with you all!!

4 thoughts on “Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller – review by Emrys Merlin

    1. Thanks, Amelie!! A New Dawn is pretty much my favorite New Canon book I’ve read so far, partly because I just love Rebels so much and love getting all the backstory on all the characters that I possibly can. And it’s a book all about Kanan and Hera, with all kinds of foreshadowing about later on in their story. So yeah, I guess it’s predictable that I would love it! 😉


      1. Oh definitely! One of my favorite parts was the very end when Kanan fell in love with the Ghost. I thought it was so great, also because they’ve had SO many adventures and character-building tests with that ship. Also it made me think about how much Kanan has grown since then. In S4, he has just changed so much and become this disciplined, wise Jedi and Spacedad. Oh, and could you say hi to the gals on The Club for me? I haven’t been able to get on there in a while.
        So yeah, AND is definitely a great book. It would be great if we could get a book about, say, Zeb and Sabine’s backgrounds too! Zeb has an interesting story since there was the part about him being guilty about not being able to do more for his people. And we find out some about Sabine over the course of Rebels.

        Liked by 1 person

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