The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark (2020)
Based on: Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2020 TV Series)
Edited by: Jennifer Heddle
On August 25, 2020, Disney-Lucasfilm Press published The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark, an anthology of 11 short stories based on 11 episodes of Lucasfilm Animation’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series. Edited by Jennifer Heddle (who is currently Executive Editor at LucasBooks), this anthology novelizes a small selection of episodes from the first five seasons of George Lucas and Dave Filoni’s 2008-2020 TV series.
The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark resembles Del Rey/Lucasfilm’s A Certain Point of View trilogy of short story anthologies in many respects. First, it features the storytelling talents of authors who have written other works set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” including Jason Fry (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Rebecca Roanhorse (Star Wars: Resistance Reborn), and Tom Angleberger (Beware of the Dark Side!). More relevantly, all of the writers are fans of the series from which The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark are derived.
An epic clash between the forces of light and dark, between the Galactic Republic and the Separatists, between brave heroes and brilliant villains…the fate of the galaxy is at stake in the Emmy Award–winning animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. In this exciting anthology, eleven authors who are also fans of the series bring stories from their favorite show to life. Relive memorable moments and stunning adventures, from attempted assassinations to stolen bounties, from lessons learned to loves lost. All your favorite characters from The Clone Wars are here: Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex, Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and more! – Publisher’s dust jacket blurb, The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark
Short story Author Based on
“Sharing the Same Face” Jason Fry “Ambush”
“Dooku Captured” Lou Anders “Dooku Captured” and “The Gungan General”
“Hostage Crisis” Preeti Chhibber “Hostage Crisis”
“Pursuit of Peace” Anne Ursu “Heroes on Both Sides” and “Pursuit of Peace”
“The Shadow of Umbara” Yoon Ha Lee “Darkness on Umbara,” “The General,” “Plan of Dissent,” and “Carnage of Krell”
“Bane’s Story” Tom Angleberger “Deception,” “Friends and Enemies,” “The Box,” and “Crisis on Naboo”
“The Lost Nightsister” Zoraida Córdova “Bounty”
“Dark Vengeance” Rebecca Roanhorse “Brothers” and “Revenge”
“Almost a Jedi” Sarah Beth Durst “A Necessary Bond”
“Kenobi’s Shadow” Greg van Eekhout “The Lawless”
“Bug” E. Anne Convery Inspired by the episode “Massacre”
On the other hand, Hostage Crisis, which is based on the Season One finale “Hostage Crisis,” retells the events of the episode that I often refer to as “Star Wars meets Die Hard” from Anakin Skywalker’s point of view. Unlike Dooku Captured, this story by Preeti Chhibber is not written in the first person, but it still restricts the narrative to events that only Skywalker was directly involved with.
The A Certain Point of View anthologies also use this storytelling approach, which gives readers a nice selection of narrative styles and, naturally, different characters’ attitudes and perspectives.
However, The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark differs from its Del Rey/LucasBooks shelf-mates in one respect: its audience.
Whereas the A Certain Point of View anthologies are aimed squarely at a general audience that includes adults, The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark is geared toward “middle-grade” readers between the ages of 8 and 12 and have reading levels appropriate for students in grades 3-7.
As such, The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark is a great read for young Star Wars fans who are getting started with the literary side of what Marvel Comics used to tout in the early years of the franchise as “the greatest space fantasy.” The writing is clear, crisp, and simple without being simplistic or sanitized to the point that older fans won’t enjoy it. And the stories are stripped down to the basic narrative core of the episodes from which they are derived, so they are fast-paced and easy to digest.
Considering that The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark is a kids’ book, I am happy to report that the authors don’t infantilize the plots and characters of the adaptations of Star Wars: The Clone Wars in this anthology. The Clone War is still a galaxy-wide tragedy as depicted in the TV series and the Prequel Trilogy it supplements. Count Dooku is still a traitorous villain, Darth Maul is still obsessed with furious revenge on Obi-Wan Kenobi, and episodes with sad endings don’t morph into ones with happy endings in which no one either gets seriously hurt or dies in battle.
That being said, I wish that Disney-Lucasfilm Press would publish an alternate version of The Clone Wars; Stories of Light and Dark for older readers. It’s not that I can’t enjoy a book written for kids; but after a while I am pulled out of the story by the literary limitations imposed on the writers by the conventions of the kid-lit genre. This isn’t a bad book, mind you, but it’s definitely not a book for grown-ups.