Character origin stories have become fairly commonplace in the Star Wars universe– not only in the publishing sphere, but also on the big screen. 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story gave fans an entertaining (though maybe ultimately superfluous) look at our favorite space-faring scoundrel’s youth as an up-and-coming smuggler, dramatizing his first encounters with Wookiee sidekick Chewbacca and frenemy Lando Calrissian, among other newly introduced personalities that helped us get a better sense of where Han came from and why.

In that tradition, the new novel Star Wars: Poe Dameron – Free Fall takes readers back to the period between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens and reintroduces us to a roughly 15-years-younger version of the character played so charmingly by Oscar Isaac in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Author Alex Segura (Silent City: A Pete Fernandez Mystery) capably fills in the gaps of what we know of Poe’s early adventures during the time before he joined the New Republic defense fleet.

A key scene in last year’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker brought Poe Dameron and his friends to an underworld planet called Kijimi, where the audience (not to mention Rey and Finn) learned of Poe’s previous life as a spice runner and met his former flame Zorii Bliss, played on-screen by Felicity actress Keri Russell. Anyone who left the theater wanting to know more about that stretch of Poe’s upbringing will definitely want to pick up this novel, as the bulk of its narrative is spent detailing how the wayward son of two Rebel Alliance soldiers came to become entangled with the Spice Runners of Kijimi and why that wasn’t the career he would ultimately pursue.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron – Free Fall begins with Poe in a similar situation to where we find Luke Skywalker at the beginning of the original Star Wars film and Han at the outset of Solo: A Star Wars Story— growing up on a backwater rock (this time Yavin IV- once home to the rebel base we see in A New Hope and Rogue One) and yearning for adventure among the stars. Our young hero finds himself at odds with his father and family friends in the wake of his mother’s untimely demise and falls in with the wrong group of visitors at a local cantina. He makes his way off-planet under unseemly circumstances and sets off on a series of capers, each more dangerous than the last, all the while wondering if he’ll ever have another chance to reconnect with his past or return back home.

Naturally (and as indicated by the cover) Zorii Bliss is a major player in these escapades, though we aren’t introduced to her by that name, exactly. We also spend some time on Kijimi and even bump into that adorably diminutive droidsmith Babu Frik for a few chapters, but the bulk of this yarn takes place in space, as Poe and his adoptive crew planet-hop between missions for the Spice Runners. Together they go up against a variety of competing criminals and ne'er-do-wells while working for a mysterious boss, who isn’t revealed until considerably late in the game. There’s also a “villian” of sorts in the form of a New Republic officer with a personal vendetta against Zorii’s gang, though affiliations and allegiances are rearranged by the story’s end– obviously Poe needs to be steered away from a life of crime and toward his previously established future path somehow.

Alex Segura is a terrific writer, and Poe Dameron – Free Fall bounces along at a good clip across nearly 400 pages. The cartoonish cover illustration for this book made me think it would be targeted toward a more young-adult readership, but as an older Star Wars fan I quite enjoyed it as well and feel it would be appropriate for just about any age group, though there are occasional character deaths and somewhat mature coming-of-age themes throughout. It’s substantial enough to satisfy those looking for a deeper dive into Poe Dameron’s past, while written at a level accessible to anyone, say, 12 or above, who has an interest in A Galaxy Far, Far Away.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron – Free Fall will become available tomorrow, August 3, wherever books are sold.