Star Wars Book Review: Guardians of the Whills

  • Author: Greg Rucka
  • 234 Pages
  • Published in 2017
  • Canon
  • Placement in Timeline: Just before Rogue One

What It’s About

This is a short little book about Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus, the two Guardians of the Whills from Rogue One. Chirrut is blind but by no means sightless, as he has a kind of Force sensitivity–he can sense the Force, but can’t channel it. Baze is a big man who likes big guns, and together, with Chirrut’s deadly skills with his staff, they make a formidable team.

The book paints a very vivid, detailed picture of the state of Jedha, the Imperial-controlled planet on which it’s set. The Empire has taken control of the kyber mines on Jedha, taking the kyber crystals for its own and using them, as you might know from Catalyst, to build the weapons system of the Death Star.

The Imperials are known to ravage a planet’s natural resources to the detriment of the planet itself, not to mention to the people who may live there. They simply don’t care. And so Jedha’s air is polluted, food and water are scarce, and the people of the occupied Holy City suffer. Pockets of unorganized resistance are quickly and brutally put down.

Jedha was once known for its religious Temples, the destination of faithful pilgrims from all over the galaxy; various religions that venerate the Force were all welcome. The Temples were once inhabited by Disciples, a kind of priesthood of the Force, and they were protected by The Guardians of the Whills. But not anymore. Once the Empire moved in, the Temples were closed. Pilgrims stopped coming. The Disciples and Guardians were scattered.

Chirrut and Baze were once Guardians, and Chirrut, at least, still considers himself one. Baze, on the other hand, has lost faith. Not in the Force itself; he feels that he is with the Force, but the Force is not with him. Chirrut often repeats this mantra: I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me. Baze refuses to recite it at all.

He and Chirrut do what they can to help a former Disciple, Killi, and her sister Kaya, who run an orphanage. By day they panhandle on the streets of the Holy City, giving whatever alms they receive to the orphanage; but once in a while they will accost an Imperial supply vehicle and bring the supplies, including food and medicine, to them as well. This becomes a never-ending cycle: helping the orphans, but then the city suffers the Empire’s reprisals the next day, causing more orphans to join the group. Things get worse and worse, and the people get desperate.

Eventually they are recruited by Saw Gerrera, who has a secret base on Jedha, to help strengthen and organize his resistance efforts. The problem is, things still get worse. They hatch a plan with Saw’s help to at least get the children off the planet, but they underestimate Saw and his reckless vision.

What I Thought

I just loved this little book; I love all of the heroes of Rogue One, but these two–Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus–are especially interesting to me. When I saw Rogue One, I wanted to know more about them, and about Jedha and the Guardians, and that’s what I got in this book.

We get a more intimate picture of their friendship–they are loyal to each other unto death, but also irritate each other no end. Chirrut’s bottomless faith and circular conversational style gets on Baze’s nerves; Baze’s loss of faith saddens Chirrut. But they will never abandon each other.

I love how each short chapter is preceded by a poem, prayer, or song about the Force, by various religious figures, poets, or sages. Like this one:

I perceive, in all things, this truth:

That we are forever bound to the Force,

And that the Force forever binds us together.

What we do to one, we therefore do to all.

And thus it is upon us to grant to all

What we would wish for ourselves.

–Karyn I’Yin, Sisters of Sarrav

From Collected Poems, Prayers, and Meditations on the Force

Edited by Kozem Pell, Disciple of the Whills

The book has several illustrations as well, by Diogo Saito, black and white drawings of Chirrut and Baze amid stormtroopers, or meeting Saw Gerrera. They really add to the appeal of the book.

If you liked Rogue One and want to know more about Chirrut and Baze, this book is for you. I highly recommend it to any Star Wars fan, as well.

Rating 4 out of 5 Lightsabers

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4 thoughts on “Star Wars Book Review: Guardians of the Whills

  1. Oh I LOVE that poem – I used to do a post series called Star Wars is Poetry and I’d pay particular attention to the star wars universe in literature. There are so many beautiful poems that can be found right throughout the books etc and even just prose itself. I think I might return to that series again – let me know if you want to join in finding star wars poetry or even paragraphs from books that particularly move you and we can collab 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We could even do some arty stuff, I am happy to create some edits or even GIFs of these things and you can use them on social media – people LOVE them 😀 Have a think about some you might want to use and I’ll do the same 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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