Review: Rogue Planet by Greg Bear

rogue planet

For those of you following my journey through the Expanded Universe, in particular my reading of the New Jedi Order, I appreciate it might seem a little odd for me to take a break in the series to read a Prequel era novel but, bear with me! There is method in my madness!

I stopped reading the New Jedi Order after Destiny’s Way (the last Legends book I reviewed on here) because I had been told, by several people, that Rogue Planet was pretty important reading for the latter part of the NJO. This is because Rogue Planet deals almost entirely with the living planet of Zonama Sekot – and documents a young Obi-Wan and Anakin’s journey to this mysterious place, in search of a missing Jedi.

I can’t talk about the events of this book without dropping some serious spoilers for the NJO so, if you are on your first read through on this series too then stop reading at the end of this paragraph. I’ll simply say here that yes, I believe this was good advice to read Rogue Planet but PLEASE don’t read it until you have read up to Destiny’s Way or it will potentially spoil parts of the NJO for you! Also, for those stopping here, I’ll just say for you that not only does it tie in well with the NJO but it is also a very fun book and I highly recommend it.

Ok – NJO spoilers rampant from this point onwards!

We have of course learned that Vergere was once a Jedi and Rogue Planet chronicles Obi-Wan and Anakin’s journey to Zonama Sekot to try and track her down as she has been missing for some time. Whilst we don’t actually find out exactly what happened to her on Sekot in this book, we have enough information from Destiny’s Way to fill in the gaps and have a clear idea of what went down. I loved picking up this old thread and Bear did a great job in unravelling some of what happened with Vergere and the planet, whilst still retaining some of its mystery. We still don’t really know how the planet is ‘alive’ or whether indeed it is actually ‘alive’ or some manifestation of the Force or something! I assume this might be dealt with later in the NJO and I am grateful for this restraint on Bear’s part.

However, NJO threads aside, this was in itself a great book. To me it felt classic Star Wars, a lot of fun, action and adventure with a lot of heart. This is a turbulent time for both Obi-Wan and Anakin. Obi-Wan is still very young (I think this book is set about 3 years after The Phantom Menace) and almost totally unsure of himself as a teacher. I got the vibe he felt a confusing mix of being slightly resentful for being ‘lumbered’ with such an unruly and difficult padawan, but at the same time he feels very protective of Anakin and genuinely wants the best for him. There was a kind of dreadful irony in places, the most telling example being this somewhat chilling internal monologue of Obi-Wan’s –  “He [Obi-Wan] had once vowed, after a particularly trying moment, that he would reward himself with a year of isolation on a desert planet, far from Coruscant and any padawans he might be assigned once he was free of Anakin”. Careful what you wish for, Obi-Wan!

Anakin on the other hand is generally confused and a bit frustrated. He’s clearly looking for a father figure and he has transferred some of that onto Obi-Wan and it’s very apparent that he thinks the world of Obi-Wan – even if he does test him constantly. Their relationship was a real highlight for me in this book – despite leaving me with a somewhat bittersweet taste, knowing where the end of the line is for these two characters. I also enjoyed how heavy handed Bear was when dealing with the fact that Anakin is the Chosen One. It was clear from this book and the way that the sentient planet itself treated Anakin that he is very special and always destined for great things.

Bear used great foreshadowing throughout the novel and you are constantly reminded of where this is all heading, both with the events of Revenge of the Sith and indeed the NJO. Bear is very aware of both Anakin and Obi-Wan’s respective fates and so there is a dark undercurrent to this which I found particularly effective. The most poignant line of the whole book for me was this one, said to Obi-Wan – “The Force disappointed you, did it not, Obi-Wan? It allowed your Master to die. It could allow Anakin to die. And if it does, that will kill any chance of your remaining a Jedi” – I challenge anyone who has watched Revenge of the Sith not to have a lump in your throat after that!

That said, this is a FUN book at its core – a good old-fashioned space adventure to an alien planet with our favourite Master and Apprentice duo. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would absolutely recommend it! If you are reading the New Jedi Order then wait until after Destiny’s Way, but if you aren’t planning on reading the NJO then do pick this one up as it’s a really great Obi-Wan / Anakin novel and a great addition to the Legends universe!   

Rating 4 ½ out of 5 Death Stars!

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