This beautiful little novel is more like a peek through the window at a snippet of Baze and Chirrut’s lives. People coming for an in-depth look at their backgrounds and their time as Guardians of the Whills will probably be disappointed by this book. But, fans of the two brothers in arms, looking for a deeper look into their relationship and what makes them tick will love this novel!
Set on Jedha during the Imperial occupation, GotW tells of Baze and Chirrut’s daily lives and their struggles before Jyn and Cassian arrive. They are striking out at the Imperial resupply convoys and generally helping the innocent civilians where they can. That is, until they are offered a chance to join Saw Gerrera’s group of partisans and really take a major swipe at the Imperial force on the occupied moon. This is a tempting offer for the two men who, so far, have only been fighting the Empire on a small scale.
Rucka has such an amazing grasp on both Baze and Chirrut. I was instantly struck by their natural, easy relationship on screen and this is underpinned tenfold in this book. So much so, I could really hear both Donnie Yen and Wen Jiang in my head every time they spoke. We do get to peek below the surface of these two mysterious characters, but we also learn a lot about them through the other’s perspective.
Through Baze, we learn that Chirrut relies heavily on him, not to describe a scene at face value, but to describe the scene as Baze sees it. These moments for me are when Chirrut is at his most vulnerable. He trusts Baze’s judgement implicitly (despite their apparent conflicting beliefs) and I kept reflecting throughout this book on the scene immediately following Jedha’s destruction, when Chirrut tuns to Baze for the terrible truth about the Holy City’s fate. Through Chirrut, we learn that Baze despite losing faith in the force, never loses his faith in people. Much of what Baze says is a front, a face he must put on in order find the strength and the will to keep fighting.
I find I need the character of Chirrut in Star Wars. I need his unwavering faith that “all is as the force wills it”. Because when he has a moment of doubt in this book, my little Star Wars world shook slightly. His faith carries everyone through Rogue One just as much as faith burned strong in Luke. I hope that this faith in the force is strong in Rey too, that in the face of such overwhelming hatred of the dark side, as Chirrut demonstrates time and time again in GotW, hope is everything.
GotW is punctuated throughout with little teachings, translated or written by the Disciples of the Whills. Almost exactly halfway through the novel, when Chirrut and Baze make the decision to join with Saw’s partisans, we get a translation of the Sith code. I can’t help but feel that this wasn’t a coincidence by Rucka, that Saw’s passion for striking out at the Empire was a passion borne of the dark side. That the force moved darkly around him during those years of his life, as he moved so far away from the morals and ideals of the rebellion. Since reading this book, I really do think that it was Saw’s militancy, as much as Krennic’s ambition, that led to the destruction of the Holy City. “Innocents suffer when a bully turns angry.”
Overall: this is a delighful gem, or kyber if you will, of a book. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all and it surprised me in the best possible way. It’s not a rip roarer of an action flick (although it does have heaps of action to satiate those adrenaline junkies!) but it’s more of a small and dignified character study of Chirrut and Baze and the ties that bind these two friends together before they ultimately meet their end of days, fittingly together, in the sands of Scarif.