Book review: Guardians of the Whills by Greg Rucka, a Star Wars novel

Star Wars: Guardians of the Whills by Greg Rucka, Glendale, California: Disney-Lucasfilm Press ©2017

I wrote about the movie Rogue One in my last post and how much I loved it. When I spotted this book in National Bookstore and saw that it was about two interesting characters from the movie, I bought it. The book is about two Guardians of the Whills in the city of Jedha, Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus. They were played by two Chinese actors, Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen, respectively.

In the movie, we are introduced to the two characters when Jyn was walking around and a blind monk (Chirrut) begging for alms says "Your necklace for a glimpse to your future." Jyn didn't show off her necklace with a kyber crystal pendant and haven't told anyone about it, yet this blind beggar knew about it. Cassian dismissed him as another troublemaker, but when Cassian and Jyn was surrounded by stormtroopers, Chirrut shows up and whips them with his stick. Then there was a moment where Chirrut was surrounded but Baze saved him with his gun. Chirrut is spiritual, while Baze has lost his faith long ago but is still around for his friend.

Chirrut's words before fighting was, "The Force is with me, and I am one with the Force; and I fear nothing, because all is as the Force wills it." At this time, there were no more Jedi, but his strength and skill made Cassian ask if he was one. Baze answers, "There are no Jedi here anymore. Only dreamers like this fool."

From Wookiepedia: "The Guardians of the Whills were a religious order of monks active in the city of Jedha towards the end of the Age of the Galactic Empire. They traditionally handcrafted the lightbow, a complicated form of bowcaster native to Jedha, such as the one used by Chirrut Îmwe during the Battle of Scarif. The Guardians protected both the Temple of the Kyber and pilgrims who visited it. The protectors of the ancient Temple of the Kyber, the Guardians were forced to live on the streets when the Empire occupied Jedha in search of kyber crystals and stripped the Temple bare of its many treasures, where they nonetheless remained true to their beliefs by preaching to the citizens about the Force."

Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus on Scarif
This book is about Baze and Chirrut, their life in Jedha under Imperial occupation. They try to do what they can to help their friends and orphaned children with the ongoing conflict. The rebel extremist Saw Gerrera arrives in the city and fights the Empire with his own guerrilla tactics. Baze and Chirrut form an unlikely alliance with Saw Gerrera to help the citizens of Jedha. Chirrut is quite adamant, while Baze sympathizes with Saw's cause.

Here we see the everyday life of Baze and Chirrut. In the movie, they banter a lot and there's also scenes like that in this book. If Chirrut has faith in the Force, Baze is the atheist who lapsed on his religion. This quote perfectly summarizes their relationship: "You try to keep the faith and traditions, and I try to keep you from becoming so lost in the spiritual that you forget the physical."

There are beautiful, detailed illustrations in the book and in between chapters are quotes from fictional sacred texts. Jedha is a holy place of pilgrimage for many religions in the galaxy, and its inspired by real holy cities like Jerusalem and Mecca. In this book, we are reading about Jedha being destroyed gradually by the Empire. "The Holy City was a maze of streets, of neighborhoods, some of them hundreds, some of them thousands, and some of them - if you believed all the myths - hundreds of thousands of years old. It was a city made for hiding as much as it was a city built upon self-discovery."

The book is written for a young-adult audience but can also be enjoyed by adults. This is also a good complement to Rogue One and if you're a fan of Baze and Chirrut, this book is for you. The events in the book happens before the main storyline of Rogue One. I was kind of hoping that it would be about Jedha and the Guardians of the Whills order in its halcyon days, or the story of how Baze lost faith.

Anyway, there's fanfiction out there with fans filling in the gaps of canon and the fandom for Rogue One is still quite active. A lot of people actually 'ship' Baze and Chirrut together, and its funny that their ship name is "SpiritAssasin". If you watched the movie, you can see why!

"Don't mistake his lack of eyesight for a lack of vision." -Baze on Chirrut

"You cannot lose what is inside you, you can only misplace it. The task, then, is to find it again." -Chirrut

"One did not need to believe in the Force to know right from wrong. Many who held no faith in the Force acted righteously, and he had known more than one sentient who had acted selfishly, even cruelly, and used belief to justify doing so."

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