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2024 marks the 25th anniversary of The Phantom Menace, and to celebrate there is a whole host of content from Star Wars coming, such as books, comics and the re-release of the film in theaters. With all this comes the chance to revisit and expand on the era of the first movie in the Star Wars timeline. The Living Force by John Jackson Miller is a new adult Star Wars novel, and is set roughly one year before The Phantom Menace. The book provides a deep dive into the Jedi Council at the time of the start of the prequels. It is wonderfully hilarious, heart-warming and gripping, and really gives readers a good look into the state of the galaxy and the Jedi Order as a whole.

It is the end of an era in Star Wars: The Living Force. Jedi outposts from the time of the High Republic are being closed down across the galaxy. The common people are losing touch with the Jedi and what they stand for, as the order becomes increasingly isolated to Coruscant.

The book mainly follows the Jedi Council, who are tasked by Qui-Gon Jinn to get out of their temple tower and “Help one person” in any way they can. They all agree to visit Kwenn, a collection of islands who’s Jedi temple is the latest to be under threat of closure. The Council arrives and begins helping the citizens, but that is just the start of their troubles. Can the council work together to help the people of Kwenn and themselves?

[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Random House for the purpose of this review.]

 The Jedi Council is the focus of The Living Force

The Living Force’s greatest strength lies in its characters. The Jedi Council is quite large with its 12 members, and John Jackson Miller did an admirable job in splitting them all into pairs for the majority of the book. The Jedi pairings are excellent and all serve a great purpose in really getting to know more about the individual Jedi and the Council as a whole and how they operate. The idea of helping one person really helps the Jedi to get back to their roots, and it is interesting to see just how people are helped on Kwenn.

The Jedi pairings are also hilarious. Comedy is a big part of The Living Force, and seeing how the pairs of Jedi react to one another and also amongst the wider range of characters in the novel makes for a very entertaining read. You will most likely come away with a new favorite Jedi reading The Living Force and each of them stays true to who they are.

Along with the Jedi Council pairings, there are also a plethora of other side characters in the book that the Jedi meet and team up with throughout. These characters, as well as being hilarious in their own rights, also help showcase how the Jedi of the prequel era interact and deal with the common people of the galaxy (Whether it’s the owner of an old bookshop or the captain of a ship).

The book manages to show the strengths and faults of the Jedi Order as a whole, and whether they have truly lost touch with the galaxy as so many people in the book believe. There are of course, a wide range of side characters, some new to the book, others that have appeared in other books and yes, even a few fan favorite characters (who I won’t spoil, but trust me your face will light up). They have the charm and wit and humor that so much of this book brings, and each challenges the Jedi in one way or another.

Star Wars: The Living Force by Josh Jackson Miller
Challenging the Jedi the most in The Living Force is the villain of the novel, a Nautolan called Zilastra, the head of an intergalactic gang who also has a strong ingrained hatred for the Jedi. She is a very interesting character in the book and while she is nothing like a Sith or the Nihil, she is in every right a serious threat to the Jedi, and especially the Council.

The great thing about the novel is really getting deep into the corruption and depravity of the wider galaxy, where gangs are rife and the Jedi and Republic have little presence. Zilastra is a cunning villain in the novel and there are plenty of allegories surrounding her and a famed pack of Sabacc cards (a fictional card game in Star Wars). That really let us deep into her psyche and how she ticks as a villain. She is a great addition to the novel and one of the more threatening Star Wars villains.

A fun new Star Wars book for all levels of fans

John Jackson Miller’s The Living Force works really well as a first Star Wars book for new, interested readers. Reading it as a seasoned fan, I noticed that you don’t need much prior knowledge outside of the films to truly enjoy this book. There are some connections to other books and media, of course, but none of it takes away from being able to enjoy it on its own. Most of the characters being well known is a big draw as well, and fans of all types will really appreciate getting to know the Jedi of the era better.

The humor, as I have mentioned, is another great part of the book. Miller has packed the book with many light-hearted moments, witty side characters, and has successfully managed to make the Jedi Council into some of the funniest characters. It may be a little jarring to some to read about the Jedi having such fun and poking fun at each other, but it adds a lot to the feeling of closeness between them.

Especially between some of the older Jedi, such as Yoda and Yarael Poof, who have centuries worth of bad jokes to impart on the rest of the Jedi. The Living Force is truly one of the most hilarious Star Wars books ever, and it works in every way possible.

Final thoughts on Star Wars: The Living Force

If you’re a newer fan and have never read a Star Wars book before, The Living Force should be your first. If you are a big Star Wars fan and have read plenty of the books, make this book your next purchase! It is filled to the brim with humor, heart and amazing Jedi action. The book is perfect, the characters are amazing, the era is a new and exciting one to read about and the ending will have your jaw dropping.

Miller’s book may well end up, to some, as The Phantom Menace we wish we had to start the prequel era. The book compliments the film in every way and is a great, grand adventure that will be sure to capture the hearts and minds of fans of all levels. Be mindful of The Living Force next time you are in a bookshop!

My Rating 10/10

Star Wars: The Living Force by John Jackson Miller is now available in most places books are sold. Are you planning to pick this one up? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord!

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