Along with the recently released Canto Bight, Phasma, and Princess: Leia of Alderaan, The Legends of Luke Skywalker was released as part of the “Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi” media push. Also, similarly to the recently released Canto Bight and From a Certain Point of View, this book is a series of short stories compiled into one book. But The Legends of Luke Skywalker by Ken Liu differs in significant ways from them. For one, this book is all written by one author, as opposed to a series of authors writing each short story. This book is also set up with a framing story, where the characters within that frame are relating stories that they had heard about Luke Skywalker over the course of the novel, making it unique among the short story compilations.
The premise of the book is that a series of deckhands are on a ship traveling towards Canto Bight, and on the course of the trip they start trading stories, usually second-, third-, or even beyond-hand accounts all about Luke Skywalker. There are six total stories within the book and each one takes a different perspective on the life and legend of Luke Skywalker.
The first story, called “The Myth Buster,” is set during A New Hope, however this story is told from the perspective of someone who is a conspiracy theorist and that everything we “know” about Luke during this time is wrong. The author of the story claims that Luke was really a con-artist known as Luke Clodplodder who was a member of the O’Kenoby gang. If that sounds stupid to you, you would be right. There is one thing about having stories set in an “Infinities” universe, where the author explores “what might have been”, but this was a complete fabrication of the movies distorted and altered as if they never happened. It was basically infuriating. It felt like a complete waste of time. Not only was I not getting new Star Wars stories, I was having to listen to a fake conspiracy theorist, people I loathe to listen to in real life.
And that is how the entire book basically reads. The stories are either completely out of continuity or so stupid that they made me mad. This first one made me mad for both reasons. But there are several stories where Luke is just so inept at everything that he does that it is absolutely painful to get through.
There is one story, probably the worst of the bunch, called “The Tale of Lugubrious Mote,” where Lugubrious was a flea that lived within the hair of Salacious Crumb. Well, this flea decides to help out the Rebellion. At first she starts talking with Leia, and then eventually Luke. However, Luke doesn’t realize that the voice he hears is the flea. He thinks it’s the Force talking to him. This causes the flea to just take control of Luke through biting and pulling his hair, much in the way the rat from Ratatouille controls his human. This proceeds throughout the entire Jabba’s Palace portion of Return of the Jedi. So, not only does this story make Luke look like a clueless, bumbling idiot, but it takes away from Luke’s entrance in Return of the Jedi. Reducing Luke in that movie to a tool (both in the physical tool aspect and the adjective). Gah!
The best story of the bunch though, and really the only one that’s not awful, is “Fishing in the Deluge,” which may actually be the story of where Luke got his giant fishing spear from The Last Jedi. It’s a story about Luke wanting to learn various aspects of the Force, much as he did in the early Expanded Universe (Legends) days. So Luke went from planet to planet gaining knowledge and eventually made it to this water world. He elects to undergo this series of trials to learn different aspects of the Force and in the process learns how to work with the Force as opposed to against it. Overall, like I said, it’s the best story of the bunch and would work for me as a standalone short story.
The other stories in the book aren’t really worth my effort to go through. One talks about a biologist who is so clueless to not realize that a “lake” in the body of a space slug just might be acidic. Well what do you think it could be? It’s like the author is trying to be much cleverer than the writing really warrants. Yes, I figured it out before the characters, I’m so smart (eyeroll). And the rest of the stories are much the same.
I managed to suffer through this book in audio format and this one was read by January LaVoy, who also read Phasma, however I didn’t feel this one was as ideal a fit for her. I really liked her reading Phasma, but here I felt that her Luke Skywalker voice was off-putting and didn’t ever make me think that Luke was talking. I assume that’s one of the problems of making character voices for people that we all know so well, but still it didn’t work for me. I could also have just been in a grumpy mood from the story to begin with.
Overall, this is the first audiobook I have listened to that I actually didn’t want to listen to. I despised getting back in the car for my long commute, knowing that this story was what awaited me on the drive — I hated it that much. It’s one thing to make a not good book, but this is a book doesn’t actually tell any “real” stories in the Star Wars canon. Who thought this was a good idea? The only redeeming value for this book was that it was short; only ~6 hours on audiobook. You could say “but this is a YA book,” however in this new publishing world, that doesn’t really hold water since many of Lucasfilm’s best books have been under the YA banner (Leia: Princess of Alderaan and Lost Stars immediately come to mind).
So would I recommend this book? Oh god no. To anyone. Ever. This book is not even recommended for those people who have to read all the Star Wars stories since all the stories in this book are essentially “fake”. I haven’t hated a book this bad since The Glove of Darth Vader series, which almost got me to quit reading Star Wars books altogether.