[Warning: Article contains spoilers for the latest Star Wars book Ronin: A Visions Novel.] Star Wars: Visions is not for everyone. Much of the heavily stylized animation, for some, just felt like too much of a departure from the franchise norm. Lucasfilm likely recognized that would be the case, making the stories of the animated anthology non-canon. One among them, however, resonated almost universally. “The Duel,” the series’ first episode, follows a lone wanderer who comes to the aid of a village besieged by bandits led by a Sith. It turns out the wanderer himself is a Sith, steeping the episode in intrigue. While “The Duel” ends with the stranger walking off with his droid, the tale continues in the masterful tome Ronin: A Visions Novel, by Emma Mieko Candon.
Far on the edge of the Outer Rim, one former Sith wanders, accompanied only by a faithful droid and the ghost of a less civilized age. He carries a lightsaber, but claims lineage to no Jedi clan, and pledges allegiance to no lord. Little is known about him, including his name, for he never speaks of his past, nor his regrets. His history is as guarded as the red blade of destruction he carries sheathed at his side.(Official synopsis)
Ronin: A Visions Novel: an exquisite tapestry of storytelling
Thus sets the stage for Ronin: A Visions Novel. Beginning with the events of “The Duel,” the story follows its lead character on his journey to exorcise his demons and at last find peace in the universe. The tale unfolds in an alternate Star Wars reality, where Jedi serve feudal lords like Kurosowa’s Samurai. The Sith rebelled, but failed, somehow taking with them the capitol planet of the Empire. The Force leads the Ronin to an unlikely band of allies who join him in his mission to return there… Though, for much of the novel, even he remains unclear as to what the true nature of that mission may be.
Candon’s writing evokes emotion after emotion as the Ronin struggles with his Sith past, a burden he seems destined to shoulder forever. The story, though, tells us as much about his companions as it does him, each as compelling as the next. Kouru, the Sith bandit from “The Duel,” is as deep and complex as Ronin: A Vision Novel’s titular character. For these two, and others, the journey is one of self-reflection and discovery; each character comes enveloped in secret and mystery, driven by the Force to a singular, unspoken goal.
Though non-canon, the taledraws heavy influence from greater Star Wars lore. At its heart, the story is one of balance in the Force; righting past wrongs and finding redemption. Still, the Dark Side shrouds everything. As Sheev Palpatine once told a young Anakin Skywalker, “the Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” That notion is on full display in Candon’s story.
Ronin: a Visions Novel from Del Rey Books is on sale now at booksellers everywhere. Canon or not, it truly is worthy of the Star Wars name,