book review, sci-fi

Review: Brotherhood by Mike Chen

Star Wars: Brotherhood by Mike Chen follows newly promoted Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi after the events of Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The entire plot springs from a line of dialogue at the beginning of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith when Anakin says he saved Obi-Wan’s life for the tenth time, to which Obi-Wan promptly corrects him with, “Ninth time. That business on Cato Neimoidia doesn’t…doesn’t count.”

A brutal attack on Cato Neimoidia, a neutral planet but also home of the Trade Federation, brings Master Kenobi into a pivotal diplomatic role to solve the crime–the results of which could turn the tide of the new Clone War. We also get to experience Neimoidian culture and people beyond what we know of the Trade Federation. There was an interesting examination of how the Neimoidians often feel stereotyped or put into a box by the Republic with the thinking that all Neimoidians are the Trade Federation and are aligned with the extremist views of Nute Gunray (so, essentially, #NotAllNeimoidians, but on a serious note, akin to how not all people who follow the faith of Islam are terrorists.)

Meanwhile, Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker enjoys stolen moments with his new wife Padme Amidala. I really loved getting to see their blossoming relationship and their “date night” in the lowers levels of Coruscant. I wish we’d gotten more moments of them together, but I understand the book was meant to be a focus on the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan.

Additional POV chapters include a Neimoidian special ops soldier who becomes an unlikely ally to Obi-Wan (I could have done without her POV chapters to be honest, but I understand the narrative importance,) Asajj Ventress who has been appointed Dooku’s “agent” into the investigation, and Mill Alibeth, a youngling taken under the wing of Anakin Skywalker. I enjoyed the mentor-apprentice dynamic between Anakin and Mill because it not only showed Anakin’s compassion and growing maturity/wisdom, but it also foreshadowed his mentorship of Ahsoka Tano.

I found Brotherhood to be one of the more well-written Star Wars novels. I also really loved and appreciated the continuity with E. K. Johnston’s Padme novels, the Clone Wars series, as well as bringing back (or recanonizing) details from the Gendy animated Clone Wars series such as Mace facing down hundreds of battle droids and Ki-Adi-Mundi fighting General Grievous. We also get a cameo of Padawan Cal Kestis and his master Jaro Tapal from Jedi Fallen Order. I love when Star Wars stories, whether they’re films, shows, novels, or comics, fully utilize existing canon to strengthen that continuity and world building.