Coming on the heels of the completion of the final season of the Clone Wars animated series, Disney Lucasfilm has published The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark. The book is an anthology of stories that take place in the same time as the Clone Wars series with contributions from a wide range of authors including Jason Fry, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Lou Anders. Most of the authors have written for Star Wars in some capacity previously, whether it’s full-blown Disney Canon novels or shorter YA and all-ages fare. I love Clone Wars and it was fun to dive back in to stories with some of my favorite characters from the series.
Each of the stories in the anthology re-lives some of the seminal moments from the Clone Wars series from a different point of view. This naturally leads to a tone that is very in line with a typical Clone Wars arc or standalone episode. Much like the episodes they are based on, the stories have a tendency to manufacture situations and pairings that are a bit more adventurous than are typically found in the movies. This willingness to get creative and freedom from such a rigid canon usually makes for stories that I find to be more appealing. It was one of the highlights of the series, and using some of the best episodes from the series from a different angle gives the anthology the same feel. You’d never get time in the movies for an extended team up between Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Count Dooku, for example, but it makes for a compelling and funny Star Wars adventure in this anthology, and getting to see that encounter from Count Dooku’s perspective leads to both a sense of nostalgia and new enjoyment.
Most of the fan-favorites characters from the series show up in this anthology. Yoda, Anakin, Obi-Wan, Count Dooku, Hondo, Padme, Cad Bane, Ahsoka, Darth Maul, Rex, and more all make appearances. Even though these are written stories and not visual, there’s a familiar story style and cadence to most of the entries. There are unorthodox team-ups, espionage and political fare for the non-Jedi characters, a willingness to center stories on villains, and a strong focus on character building. These stylistic choices will be recognizable for any that enjoyed the animated series.
Like any anthology, Stories of Light and Dark has its ups and downs. There are some characters who I find more compelling, so I have a bias towards enjoying their stories more. Even so, on the whole this collection is of a good quality. Being able to cherry-pick from the whole of Clone Wars gave the publisher the ability to start from a higher baseline quality. Most importantly, it captures the same spirit as the show, which makes for an enjoyable read for anyone who was a fan of the series. Even for those who haven’t watched Clone Wars, there should be enough familiarity with most of the characters from the other Star Wars material out there for those readers to stay invested.
In the end, Stories of Light and Dark is a collection of very solid adventures that take place in the same period and structure as the Clone Wars series. For those who have watched the series, it was enjoyable to revisit that world, and read about some of the best episodes re-imagined from another character’s point of view. For other fans of Star Wars, there will be enough here to entertain, even if they have no previous exposure to the series. I could certainly do for another round of authors getting to re-tell some of the Clone Wars highlights.