I must start this review by stating that I generally buy eBooks and or audiobooks, and rarely will I pick up a hard copy. I listened to the last 20 minutes of The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark audiobook in my car, parked in my garage. I did not want to break the spell woven in that last story.
Upon finishing, I put the car in reverse, and drove to the bookstore to pick up the hardcover, where I was mildly surprised to discover it was in the children’s section. Occasionally I forget The Clone Wars is meant for children, because most of the people I know who watch it are adults.
Stories of Light and Dark is a collection of stories retelling some of the most pivotal moments in the Clone Wars series, save for the last one, which is an original story. The extra special bonus of the audiobook is that it is narrated and performed by the cast of The Clone Wars.
I enjoyed seeing some of these story arcs from a totally different point of view, especially “Bane’s Story” by Tom Angleberger, read by Corey Burton. “Bane’s Story” follows the Deception Arc, including Obi- Wan’s “assassination” and transformation to Hardeen in order to infiltrate a group of bounty hunters and thwart an assassination attempt on the Chancellor.
It was such a delight to hear this highly enjoyable tale retold from Cad Bane’s perspective and read by the original voice actor. I cannot emphasize enough how much the story gaines by having that amazing voice. It absolutely immerses the listener in the story.
“The Lost Nightsister” by Zoraida Cordova and read by Nika Futterman is similarly enjoyable. This story covers the season four episode “Bounty,” where Asajj Ventress works with a young Boba Fett. It is told from Asajj’s point of view, as she struggles with the loss of her fellow Nightsisters. If you already have feelings about Asajj Ventress, you’ll have more after this story.
There are two stories that specifically involve the clones. The book starts with “Sharing the Same Face” by Jason Fry and read by James Arnold Taylor. This story is told from Yoda’s perspective. I was drawn in by Yoda’s reflections on the clones, how they feel within the force, and how the clones interact with the world in comparison to the way he interacts was interesting and different. It was very Yoda, but not communicated in a usual Yoda way. Much more introspective and Jedi-like, for lack of a better term.
“The Shadow of Umbara” written by Yoon Ha Lee and read by James Arnold Taylor was among my favorites. I found this arc in The Clone Wars tedious. Lee’s interpretation gave it new life for me, maybe because I was already thinking about the clones differently after the first story. It is told from Captain Rex’s perspective and gives an even greater understanding to the struggles of the clones, against both their own programming and how they are seen by certain people in the Jedi Order and the Republic itself. It also shows the importance of loyalty among the troops, as well as loyalty to their commanders. This programming and loyalty foreshadows the eventual struggle Rex has in regards to Order 66 and Ahsoka.
Another standout is Rebecca Roanhorse’s “Dark Vengeance,” read by Sam Witwer. This tale is a little different, in that Maul is directly addressing the listener. He starts by saying “Tell me child, do you know who I am? Do they whisper my name in the classrooms of your academy, down the winding halls of your space station in the hollows and fields of your farming planet or across the dunes of your desert home? If they do, what do they say of me?”
It is so Maul, immediately drawing you in, and I am here for it. Maul is such a standout in both The Clone Wars and Rebels, and Sam Witwer’s performance makes this the perfect platform for this story. It covers parts of the Return of Maul arc, as Maul regains his mind and plots revenge on <insert Maul voice> “KENOBIIIIII”
Last but certainly not least is “Bug” by E. Anne Convery, read by Catherine Tabor. This final story is an original tale rather than a retelling of an arc from the show, and it’s fantastic. It follows a young girl named Bug and her interactions with a mysterious older woman. I don’t want to say anything else that might spoil the story, but I want to see (or read) further adventures of these original characters.
One of the reasons I enjoy Star Wars audiobooks is the fact that you get sound effects and music. You hear blasters blasting, engines humming, and lightsabers igniting. Some of the music is recognizable, having come from the Skywalker Saga films, and some is a variation. This book is no exception, and in Bug, one hears a somewhat disquieting modulating tone in the background that might make you slightly uncomfortable. It is not a “good guy” sound or a “bad guy” sound; it’s something very other. To me, it signaled a need to pay special attention to everything going on in that story.
Ultimately, The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark is a great book for The Clone Wars fans of any age, and is extra awesome in audiobook format because of the full cast. If, like me, it leaves you wanting more Star Wars audio goodness, I highly recommend Dooku: Jedi Lost, an audio drama also performed by a full cast.