hree years after the first Star Wars Canon short story collection, From a Certain Point of View, Disney Lucasfilm helps us celebrate the beloved Clone Wars television series with Star Wars: The Clone Wars—Stories of Light and Dark. For many years, after the conclusion of the Prequel Trilogy with Revenge of the Sith, the groundbreaking animated series was the only visual Star Wars media there was.
For a while, it was the only new Star Wars some of us thought we’d get to see on screen.
An entire generation of fans have grown up with the series, and many older fans followed along, some with their own children or younger siblings, others simply for the entertainment and storytelling that so enriched the fall of Anakin Skywalker and introduced us to the likes of Ahsoka, Rex, and Asajj. The fans’ passion for the show brought it back for a final season—and brought the house down at the 2018 San Diego ComiCon panel where Dave Filoni announced its return.
In Stories of Light and Dark, eleven authors (and fellow fans) give us an anthology that serves both as a wonderful introduction to the series for young readers and a fitting tribute for longtime fans to enjoy.
Unlike its anthological predecessor, Stories of Light and Dark doesn’t introduce any entirely original stories or new characters. Rather, each entry retells an episode or an arc from the show. Some writers, however, present innovative takes and fresh ways to reimagine the stories we see on screen. All of them successfully leverage the nature of written storytelling to showcase aspects of some of our favorite characters and narratives that 22-minute episodes can only hint at.
The short story format also lends itself to various degrees of experimentation and risk-taking. Some of the different decisions the authors make will land better for some people than others, but each story showcases its own strengths.
Yoon Ha Lee offers a retelling of the Umbara arc that, although relatively safe in its straightforward storytelling, nevertheless captures Rex’s emotional struggle with questions his clone upbringing clearly didn’t address. Jason Fry’s presentation of Season 1’s “Ambush” doesn’t take any wild risks, but beautifully shows Yoda’s attunement to the Force, his empathy, and his humor in a way that has us convinced that there will never be such a thing as too many Yoda stories.
The book might just be at its best when stories are told in the first person as seen in a story from Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate writer, Zoraida Córdova. Córdova presents Season 4’s “Bounty” through the perspective of Asajj Ventress, one of the breakout original stars of the series, including her ongoing tug-of-war between the light and dark side of the Force.
Lou Anders likewise indulges in first-person narrative by showing us how Count Dooku might have reported the events of his capture and incarceration at the hands of Hondo Ohnaka’s band of pirates. This story also allows Anders to highlight the Count’s highly inflated sense of superiority compared to everyone around him.
Last year’s most exciting newcomer due to her work on Resistance Reborn, Rebecca Roanhorse, gives us the haunting autobiographical account of Maul’s return from the near-dead. If you thought you had gotten enough Maul stories at this point...let’s just say we intensely disagree.
All of these stories build to three miniature masterpieces near the end of the collection. The first from Sara Beth Durst not only succeeds in giving us another chance to enjoy two of the series’ most popular original characters, Ahsoka Tano and Hondo Ohnaka, but does so in a way that’s not only creative but emotionally satisfying–especially if you’re reading with a youngling. Durst puts us in the tiny shoes of Katooni, one of a group of younglings whose trip to build their first lightsabers is interrupted first by pirates and then by the Separatist Army. This offers a unique perspective of Ahsoka, one that fans of the character are sure to enjoy. We also get a fresh look through young eyes at Hondo’s irrepressible better nature—all while a youngling learns a valuable lesson in believing in herself.
Warm feelings it will bring to your heart.
In the penultimate story, “Kenobi’s Shadow,” Greg van Eekhout pulls on the reader’s heartstrings in a way that is at once completely different and also perfectly fitting as an end to the collection. While The Clone Wars has always been, at least in part, a kids’ show and the book is certainly appropriate for younger readers, van Eekout’s look at one of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lowest points explores themes and questions we never outgrow.
It shows us that even some of the most exalted Jedi still have to contend with anger and hate. It shows us that following the Light isn’t a one-time decision, but a never-ending cycle of recurring choices—some of which have to be made in the most heartbreaking of circumstances. And in its depiction of trauma, loss, and mourning, it unavoidably invites comparison to Anakin Skywalker’s struggles with attachment and loss, some of which we see earlier in the book in Preeti Chibber’s “Hostage Crisis.”
In much the same way that the television series enriches Anakin’s arc through the prequel films, “Kenobi’s Shadow” forces us to ask how the fate of the Chosen One, and the entire galaxy, might have turned out differently.
Finally, E. Anne Convery delivers the only fully original story in the collection with "Bug." This final tale once more dives into the dark side of nightsister magic - an unquestionably favorite topic amongst canon writers - and the result is a story that lets us feel simultaneously anxious and hopeful that almost epitomizes the entire collection.
Ending Stories of Light and Dark with something wholly original was a definite risk considering the rest of the book somewhat banks on the nostalgia of the series, but "Bug" serves as a perfect treat we never expected: one more little piece of the show that we already miss so much.
Star Wars makes audiobooks not just a convenient way to enjoy the stories, but also an immersive experience. Familiar music and sound effects firmly plant you in the galaxy far, far away and deliver an even richer way to enjoy the action.
This book is no exception.
You’ll hear iconic and memorable scores impeccably timed to complement the action and the unmistakable sounds of lightsabers, blasters, and even a certain astromech droid. But Stories of Light and Dark takes things a step further by using a full cast of narrators drawn from the series itself! Who better to tell us Anakin, Padmé, and Obi Wan’s stories than Matt Lanter, Catherine Taber, and James Arnold Taylor? Corey Burton’s reprisal of Count Dooku and Cad Bane lend an impeccable authenticity to each character’s first-person account, Nika Futterman brings us Asajj Ventress the way only she can, and Olivia Hack once again captures Katooni’s youthful blend of optimism and uncertainty.
And for a real treat, the incomparable Sam Witwer returns as the voice of Maul, delivering a masterful—and at times haunting—reading of Roanhorse’s first-person account of the man who was too angry to die.
Just like the episodes George Lucas and Dave Filoni brought into our homes, Stories of Light and Dark offers something for young and old alike. The stories are well-written and accessible, and while we certainly would have enjoyed the inclusion of some original story arcs exploring bit characters or side quests, what we get is most certainly entertaining and thrilling enough to share a name with its televised counterpart.
More than eleven mere adaptations of what we see on screen, each of the authors take advantage of the opportunity to explore fresh perspectives, get inside the heads of our favorite characters, and more thoroughly explore their fears, motivations, and struggles all while giving us a fun retrospective—and fitting tribute—to a much-beloved, and much binged, part of the Star Wars franchise.
Whether you were one of those kids who grew up with The Clone Wars, one of the older fans who fell in love it with it despite the “kids’ show” label or a parent of a Padawan you’re guiding into the rich universe of Star Wars literature, this fun and fast-paced celebration is a must-read. And even if you’re none of those three, there’s never been a better time to jump into a book filled with adventure, fun, and hope.
For more info about Star Wars: The Clone Wars—Stories of Light and Dark, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help out Youtini in the process. You can also find more books about The Clone Wars to enjoy in our hand-curated collection.
You can also check out our Exclusive Interview with Rebecca Roanhorse on The Living Force where we chatted about her New York Times bestselling novel Star Wars: Resistance Reborn, and be sure to follow us for more interviews with Star Wars authors in the near future!