The main characters in a forthcoming book are familiar characters from Rogue One. The new book, Guardians of the Whills, a middle-grade novel written by Greg Rucka, follows Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus after the Empire’s takeover of Jedha and the arrival of Saw Gerrera. Coming out on May 2nd, the book takes place in the months leading up to the events in Rogue One.
In this book, we get some insights into the primary characters, Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus, and their relationship. Here are five fascinating pieces we discover:
1) Chirrut Îmwe is not a Jedi, but could fleetingly feel the Force
While I have heard some people wondering if Chirrut Îmwe was a Jedi or not, having watched Rogue One, this book definitively clarifies the matter:
Chirrut Îmwe was not a Jedi. He was not, by any definition, a Force user. But what he could do, what he had spent years upon years striving for the enlightenment to do, was – sometimes – feel the Force around him. Truly, genuinely feel it, if only for a moment, if only tenuously, like holding his palm up to catch the desert sand that blew into the city at dawn and at dusk. Be, however fleetingly, one with the Force.
Sometimes it was as effortless as breathing. Sometimes it was as hard as living. And sometimes he could feel the Force, truly feel it, moving around him, connecting him to the world and the world to him, the warmth of the light and the chill of the dark, and stretching out further and further, and he could almost see–
Then it would slip away, that sand between his fingers again, and he would be left as he had been before. But not entirely. As if a memory lingered. As if the echo-box he wore had been somehow tuned, had opened his senses that much further.
This was, in no small part, why Baze’s lack of faith caused Chirrut such pain, though Chirrut did his best to conceal this from his friend. Because Baze had lost his faith in something that was beyond Chirrut’s ability to even begin to describe, but which Chirrut knew to be manifestly true. (13-14)*
2) The suffering on Jedha affected Chirrut and Baze in different ways
There was a lot of suffering on Jedha, particularly after the Empire got involved:
The suffering was everywhere; less for some, greater for others, but touching in some way, in some fashion, all who lived on Jedha.
It made Baze, who had nursed an anger all his own for so long, even angrier.
It just made Chirrut sad, and all the more determined to keep his faith in the Force and to find a way to ease the suffering of those around him. (9)
This anger of Baze’s is part of what drives him to fight:
“I do not know what I have anymore,” Baze said. “I have a home, and will fight for it. I have those I love, and I will fight for them. I see injustice, and will fight against it. I suppose these are the best reasons to fight.” (149)
3) “No” was the word that seemed to define Baze Malbus
Baze Malbus is a negative kind of guy:
“No,” Baze said.
The word was, in so many ways, the perfect embodiment of who Baze Malbus had become, as blunt and as hard as the man himself. No was the word that seemed to define Baze Malbus these days, all the more so since the Imperial occupation had begun. No , and in that word Baze Malbus was saying many things; no, he would not accept this, whatever this might be, from Imperial rule to the existence of a Jedi in the Holy City to the suffering the Empire had inflicted upon all those around them. No, ultimately – and to Chirrut’s profound sadness – to a faith in the Force. (6)
4) Baze and Chirrut miss each other when not together
There are many moments in this book where we get to see some good interactions between Baze and Chirrut. One of these is when Baze is away for a while and comes back, with this following opening interchange (that is one of my favorites in the book:
“You were worried about me,” Baze said.
“I was growing concerned,” Chirrut said. “But only because I missed your nagging.” (176)
5) Baze needs Chirrut to be Chirrut so he doesn’t have to be
There is a scene later on in the book when Baze Malbus goes to talk to Saw Gerrera, especially about their concerns about Saw Gerrera’s insurgency on Jedha. At one point in the conversation, Baze goes into an entire paragraph of concern that sounds a lot like what Chirrut would have said, with even Gerrera noticing:
“You sound like your friend.”
“Only when he is not around.” Baze grinned. (149)
I get the sense from this brief comment of Baze’s that inasmuch as he is cynical and not as spiritual as Chirrut, he kind of needs him there to serve as his articulation of such concerns. The concern is that, otherwise, perhaps Baze might have to articulate them, himself. However, it seems safer for his own sanity to externalize that level of concern and sensitivity, leaving it for Chirrut to serve as a foil for him.
To read more about Chirrut Îmwe, Baze Malbus, and more, check for Guardians of the Whills on bookshelves on May 2nd.
*Pagination reflects that of the 2017 Disney/Lucasfilm Press hardcover version.
A copy of this book was provided to the author for review purposes.