Star Wars publishing wasn’t going to let Disney+ have all the fun when it comes to Obi-Wan Kenobi, as Del Rey recently published Brotherhood, by Mike Chen, which explores the relationship between Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker in the very early days of the Clone Wars.
Without delving into many big spoilers, the book takes place literally at the onset of the war, in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Geonosis, and it probes deeper into the question of the Jedi’s place in this whole war. Anakin Skywalker has just been promoted to Jedi Knight, while Obi-Wan Kenobi has been appointed to the Jedi Council on an interim basis. And a bombing on Cato Neimoidia leaves both the Republic and the Separatists blaming one another, threatening to escalate the conflict to new levels.
Into that fray steps Kenobi, as skilled a negotiator as any individual in the entire Jedi Order. His job: to investigate the bombing, uncover the truth, and attempt to sway the neutral world of Cato Neimoidia toward aligning with the Republic all while seeking to bring a swift end to the mounting war. Suffice to say it doesn’t exactly go as planned, and part of that has to do with Count Dooku’s mysterious new emissary sent on behalf of the Confederacy, Asajj Ventress.
Though that crucial plotline is what drives the narrative of this book, the heart of it is a story about Obi-Wan and Anakin, exploring them individually and their relationship together. They’re apart for most of the book, but we see both of them trying to adjust to their new roles, no longer so much as master and apprentice but as brothers and equals. The developments in this book seem especially critical in them reaching a deeper understanding of one another, as well as finally realizing that they are stronger together than they are apart.
There’s plenty beyond that as well, though. Anakin and Padmé are also a key relationship that is explored throughout this book, as Anakin adjusts to his new marriage, his new mechanical arm, his new rank as Jedi Knight – all of it. This book includes some pretty significant developments, whether that’s Kenobi and Skywalker meeting Ventress for the first time, a key conversation Anakin has with the Chancellor, the Jedi being officially brought into the Republic military, and more. There are tons of connections and pulls to other Star Wars material, including movies, shows, and books – and yes, this does answer that that business was on Cato Neimoidia that didn’t count.
Some new supporting characters also make a memorable impact, especially the Neimoidian guard Ruug Quarnom and the Jedi youngling Mill Alibeth. Through their respective relationships with Kenobi and Skywalker, we get more exploration of the challenges and rewards of training younger Jedi, which ties into the larger theme of the book in the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin, but also gives them a chance to shine in their own right.
This book was incredibly enjoyable, and Mike Chen’s writing style was super easy to read and follow along with. I love the shorter chapters, each geared toward a focus on a specific character, and it felt like things moved at a really good pace that both didn’t lag nor jump too quickly to resolution. This was his first Star Wars novel, but I certainly hope it’s not his last. This was a great book that I would highly, highly recommend to any Star Wars fan, but particularly to those who love The Clone Wars series and love Anakin and Obi-Wan. It ties into so many other elements that you won’t be disappointed, but even better, you’ll get a deep dive at the growing respect, trust, and love between these two brothers – who come to realize that they’re stronger together. They always have been, and always will be.