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Literature / A New Dawn

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A New Dawn is a Star Wars Expanded Universe novel by John Jackson Miller (author of previous Legends works including numerous comic books and Kenobi), and the first novel to be included as a part of Disney's Continuity Reboot of the Star Wars franchise. It serves as a prequel to Rebels. Taking place six years before the show, it details how hotshot pilot Hera Syndulla and rogue Jedi Kanan Jarrus meet, leading to a small-scale uprising against the Empire on the Death World Gorse when the Empire's efficiency expert Count Denetrius Vidian arrives for an inspection.

It was released on September 2, 2014.

On October 6, 2015, Del Rey published The Rise of the Empire, a compilation of A New Dawn, Tarkin and three original short stories.

The novel contains the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Hera of course, but even Kanan is surprised by her more than a few times.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Most if not all of the Imperials only do bad things to try gain some form of higher responsibility.
  • Anti-Villain: Compared to Count Vidian, interim captain Rae Sloane is only loyal to the Empire at large as a nation.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Kanan and Hera, though more on Kanan's side, Hera for the most part just humors him.
  • Butt-Monkey: Skelly: almost everyone on Gorse thinks he's crazy, he gets punched in the face by Kanan a few times, his prosthetic hand malfunctions frequently (not to mention said hand wasn't designed for humans) and he lives in a neglected housing complex for Clone War vets. Then he gets the crap kicked out of him by Count Vidian, which leaves him with internal injuries that are slowly killing him. He later returns the favor by blowing up the ship he and Vidian were on.
  • Call-Forward: During a minor scene, Kanan gets asked to do something. He doesn't really feel like doing it, and says this:
    Kanan: Why does it have to be me? I'm nobody.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Kanan. There isn't a female he won't flirt with, including Zaluna and Sloane; he even mentions that the rule the Jedi had about not forming romantic attachments is something he happily threw away, but he is still always willing to help anyone regardless of gender. His constant stating that he's only helping Hera because she's pretty isn't believed by anyone.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Skelly worries that using too much baradium bisulfate (or "Baby" as it's called on Gorse) in the Cynda mines could result in the moon's destruction and more catastrophic environmental effects on Gorse.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Count Vidian is willing to remove old or slow workers from employment just for the sake of work efficiency, and he's willing to intimidate other workers into efficiency with fear of death. He's also trying to gain favor with Emperor Palpatine.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover shows Kanan wielding a lightsaber but in the book he never uses it.
  • Cowardly Lion: Zaluna is initially scared to stand up to the Empire, but once she sees more of the Empire's atrocities and people standing up to it, she starts to do the same.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Skelly's worries about the mining are correct, and when the Empire came along, they are indeed trying to destroy Cynda. Only AFTER Skelly hands Vidian his plans to blow up the moon that Skelly had made to show how unstable the moon was.
  • Cyborg:
    • Count Vidian takes his cybernetics to the point that he falls into the Uncanny Valley in-universe. As described from Kanan's perspective, he looks more like a droid masquerading as a human than a human with replacement parts.
    • Clone War veteran Skelly is also one to a lesser extent, having a prosthetic hand after losing his original in the war. However, the hand he got was designed for Klatooinians since the medics were out of hands for more human-like species.
  • Darker and Edgier: The novel is a lot darker than the show it leads into; it deals more with death, sex, and drinking than Rebels ever could. At one point Vidian kills Lal Grallik by pushing her into a vat of acid. And there's a brief moment where it's implied Kanan offers to sleep with Hera.
  • Death World: Gorse is a tide-locked world (similar to early depictions of Ryloth in Legends stories) where the safest part of the planet is the perpetually night-shaded half, which suffers from occasional groundquakes due to Cynda being so close to it and playing gravitational tug-o-war with each other. The sun-baked half is hot enough to melt droids if they don't have heat shields.
  • Demolitions Expert: Skelly was one during the Clone Wars, and put his knowledge of explosives to use working as a miner for Moonglow. His knowledge is also what made him wary of the damage over-mining on Cynda could cause.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Skelly heart's in the right place when it comes to wanting to do something about the Empire, but he's not exactly smart on how he goes about it.
  • The Drifter: Kanan muses that the code of the Jedi Order deliberately shaped its members into this, as they were taught from a young age to avoid forming emotional attachments to people and places. This makes it very easy for him to maintain a solitary life on the run, leaving jobs and whatever home or companions he might have made for himself at a moment's notice.
  • Electronic Eyes:
    • Count Vidian has them, and can use them rewind things he saw and to directly receive holonet transmissions. Due to limited storage space, he has to delete unneeded images every 24 hours.
    • Defied in the case of Zaluna. After she loses her eyesight, she declines to the offer to get optical replacements, feeling that not only does she not want to be like Count Vidian, she feels she's seen enough.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: At least as far as gender is concerned. Sloane is the captain of a Star Destroyer, The Ultimatum, with several female subordinates. There are even a few female Stormtroopers, though they are unnamed.
  • Fiery Red Head: Skelly is a red-haired war veteran who doesn't always give his plans much thought.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Skelly's co-workers and employers see him as an annoying pest, and he even gets beaten up by Kanan a few times. The thorilide mine detonation accident didn't help matters either, even though nobody died in that accident. Kanan, Hera, and Zaluna later gain some sympathy for him.
  • The Heavy: While Palpatine is ultimately the Big Bad, Count Vidian is the main antagonist of this story.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Near the end, Skelly destroys the Expedient with him onboard to kill an escaping Count Vidian.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Skelly initially thinks the Empire will listen to his concerns about Cynda's mining operations just because he served with them when they were still the Republic during the Clone War. Even when he's a wanted fugitive, he's still trying to get an audience with Count Vidian when everyone else is already wary of him. It takes getting beaten up by the Count when he gives the information to change his opinion on him.
  • Ironic Episode Title: Or Ironic Book Title, since dawn on Gorse would be fatal to most living beings. This was noted by John Jackson Miller.
  • Irony: Zaluna spent most of her life seeing a lot of things as a surveillance agent. At the end of A New Dawn, she can see nothing.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Kanan will flirt with anyone or thing female, but upon just hearing Hera's voice he falls head over heels for her.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: A New Dawn is a pretty apt title for the first novel to take place in the new Expanded Universe.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Skelly's attempts to meet with and kill Count Vidian aren't exactly well-thought out. The other characters have to take make measures to keep him from jeopardizing their plans.
  • Mythology Gag: The first line of the book is the same as the last line in another Star Wars book by John Jackson Miller, Star Wars: Kenobi, but with one word changed.
    • Kenobi: "It's time for me to go home."
    • A New Dawn: "It's time for you to go home."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Skelly inadvertently gives Count Vidian the idea to blow up Cynda. Lampshaded by both himself and Kanan.
  • Noodle Incident: Kanan's throwaway thought of the bar owner's daughter that "suddenly wanted to marry him."
  • No OSHA Compliance: Thorilide production and mining weren't exactly safe jobs to begin with (especially the part about baradium-bisulfate being transported between Gorse and Cynda), but they at least had safety procedures. However, once Count Vidian came to the system and started prioritizing efficiency over safety, things got worse (but given the Empire's track record with this trope, it's not all that surprising). For instance in the mostly-abandoned Moonglow mining facility, the Count suggests that living beings work around exposed acid pools without safety rails (and note that this is on a planet where earthquakes are frequent) - when Moonglow's comparatively sane boss works around the facility's otherwise blatant lack of safety regulations by having droids do the mining. There are even protests for better worker safety on Gorse. Ironically, Vidian used to be a safety inspector when he was Lemuel Tharsa, but became disillusioned with the job after being in too many non-OSHA compliant facilities and exposed to many dangerous chemicals that ate away his body. In the two-chapter epilogue, most of the miners leave the Gorse system and Vidian's rival, Baron Lero Danthe decides to just have heat-shielded droids mine the thorilide on Gorse's uninhabitable sunny side.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Alongside Hera and Kanan, other opponents of the Empire appear as part of the Ghost's crew, though they have not been confirmed to appear on Rebels itself. Justified in that Skelly sacrificed himself to kill Count Vidian and Zaluna Myder is now blind (refusing cybernetics) and decided to settle down.
  • Red Herring: Kanan keeps a close eye on his lightsaber and it is repeatedly brought up during the story. He even carries it with him into battle in the climax, but in the end, he never uses it.
  • The Reveal: Kanan being a Jedi is not much of a reveal to the reader, but to Hera it was quite the surprise, though she isn't completely convinced, as she is aware there are Force-users other than Jedi and that it isn't outside the realm of possibility for a normal person to use the Force once in a desperate situation.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Defied, at first. Zaluna's job at Transcept Media Solutions was originally for advertising purposes, and as time went on, she mostly used it to keep track of mining accidents and such. However, once the Empire and Count Vidian came along, her job was playing this trope straight and once Hetto's arrested, she starts to use her surveillance knowledge to help the Gorse rebellion.
  • Skewed Priorities: Sloane is A Lighter Shade of Black, but that by no means makes her a heroic character, heeling save the day largely out of self-interest. After figuring out Vidian's plan, she notes
    he would destroy Gorse's population in the process. And worse, we would ruin Sloane's career.
  • Title Drop: "Not exactly the new dawn she'd had in mind."
  • Uncanny Valley: Thanks to how his cybernetics are presented, Count Vidian comes off as this in-universe (we have yet to get official artwork to go along with this). He doesn't even seem remotely human anymore. He only has his face left, he doesn't move his mouth when he talk and instead speaks through a vocabulator attached to his throat. The most human thing he seems to ever do is breathe. As the story describes him from Kanan's perspective, he looks like "a war droid playing a human at a masquerade party" instead of a typical cyborg.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Skelly is one, as he tries to stop the mining on Cynda by planting explosives in one of the mining zones to convince people that the zone is unstable.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: At the beginning of the story, Hera is the only character who's actually trying to do something about the Empire. However, she's very picky about who she recruits for her cause.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Kanan figures that Obi-Wan is definitely dead, as there's no way he would hunker down on a remote planet and do nothing. Which would be completely accurate, if not for some unusual circumstances.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Count Vidian is a fan of this trope, whether it's blowing a cargo ship up to clear an interplanetary traffic block or ruthless murder.