We got the opportunity to read the novel Free Fall by Alex Segura, which is due to be published on the 4th of August. It tells the story of the young Poe Dameron and Zorii Bliss. Our Editor-in-Chief and his deputy wrote about the novel.
István Kádas: Poe at his bests
I am one of the fans who were surprised about the not-so-clean past revealed in The Rise of Skywalker. He was a smuggler, one of the worst type of smuggler: a spice runner, which means he smuggled drugs. But if we think more and more about it, Abrams’ innovation fitted the character and connected to the Poe we got familiar in The Last Jedi. He was an autonomous, stubborn guy, not a compliant soldier. In Star Wars, we had an interesting romantic of spice smugglers since Han Solo, who played a character like this in The Force Awakens as well, but in The Rise of Skywalker Poe became this character.
Poe is like a mixture of Han Solo and Wedge Antilles; he became a “perfect pilot”.
In Poe, however, the desire for freedom and action coincides with the need to do well. This duality and wrestling in character can be seen perfectly in Alex Segura’s Free Fall. Poe is only 16 years old in this story, his desire for adventure is boiling in him, he is fed up with his father’s protective love, he wants to leave a mark in the galaxy. Star Wars is about family, and in this novel, the parent-child relationship also plays an important role, especially between Poe and his father, Kes Dameron. Poe is longing for an adventure, away from their farm. He evokes Luke Skywalker of A New Hope, only here it is not Uncle Owen but Kes Dameron who wants to protect the boy from the horrors of the galaxy. The book is an excellent illustration of the tensions between the two generations’ misunderstanding of each other, the contrast between parental experience and youthful desire to act.
However, the expected adventure came too fast and too concentrated: Poe joins of the most dangerous teams in the galaxy, the Spice Runners of Kijimi, whose principles and actions he may not be able to identify with. Here he meets Zori, the other main character in the novel. And while Poe’s background and family are already known in the canon, Zorii Bliss character gets a real and deep background story, making me one of the favourite characters of the age of the Sequel Trilogy. The dynamics, care and conflict between the two main characters are lifelike, lovable and exciting. Although we know the end of their relationship in Episode IX, the novel guided this very nicely: mixing intimate moments with unspoken secrets, conflicting goals, and sources of tension caused by different family backgrounds.
Another advantage of the book is that we can get to know the New Republic in its full power, what the galaxy became more than ten years after the fall of the Empire.
Well, it’s like in The Mandalorian: the central government only reaches the central planets, less the Outer Rim: here the underworld rules. An essential character in the book is an officer from the New Republic Security Bureau. In contrast, the other characters, except for Poe’s family members, are tied to the underworld. The book shows very well how the things changed after the fall of the Empire, how the Pykes were pushed back in the spice business, and how emerging bands like the Spice Runners of Kijimi emerged. Although the underworld of Star Wars movies seems to be romantic and bohemian, and Zorii’s spice runners also seemed like “Cheerful Boys” in The Rise of Skywalker, the book reveals that Kijimi is Nar Shaddaa of the Sequel Era: cruel, violent and sinful.
Alex Segura is excellent at drawing scenes, the book is teeming with action-packed moments, but it also leaves time and space to unfold the personality of the characters. The exciting and entertaining story is, moreover, nicely linked to other canonical content set in the era, be it the Shattered Empire comic series, The Mandalorian streaming series, or even the content related to Galaxy’s Edge.
The book is a real masterpiece, one of the best of the canon!
Bence Földi: Free Fall to the Underworld
Alex Segura’s Free Fall is the first story in the canon almost exactly at the halfway point of the era between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. So many things haven’t been defined in this era, and we can see the author likes this situation.
We are getting new information about the failures of the governance of the New Republic.
We will know after reading the novel how some crime gangs of the Sequel Trilogy (Guavian Death Gang and Spice Runners of Kijimi) have risen and how they are getting done their illegal deals. We know that the target audience is the adolescents, but I think they will not appreciate background info as I wrote about earlier. But these pieces of information is one of the things that make this novel likeable for the adult audience as well.
The other thing is the story itself. Officially this novel is about the early life of Poe Dameron, but the cover suggests we will know more about the past of Zorii Bliss as well. And that is how it is: we can read about Poe’s and Zorii’s motivations, spiritual struggles, and their history before the sequels. The dynamics between the two main characters are fine; they have a sometimes friendly, sometimes romantic, sometimes hostile relationship, which changes according to the pulsation of the story.
And the story pulsates well, until the end. Although it is often predictable what will happen next, sometimes the author pulls the unexpected. That’s why this novel is a good adventure of young spice runners in the galactic underworld.
If Free Fall wouldn’t be tired by the end, we could mention it among the best canon novels, but it can’t be ashamed either.
Free Fall was exciting reading material for me because of its many background info and some canonizations (for example spaceships and even some characters from Legends). Hopefully, it will be published in Hungary as well by Szukits printing house.
Translated by: Bence Földi