||This was a good excuse to get Anakin
into a podracer again, and he shows his true colors. The theme is about
how expectations can color perceptions.
No wonder Yoda was so afraid of teaching
Luke Skywalker the Jedi way in The Empire Strikes Back. Anakin, his
father, was full of impatience, always seeking adventure, excitement.
The moment he hears about the podraces, he can think of nothing else.
Any justification that he can think up becomes his excuse, but
fortunately the other Jedi see through him, even if they let him have
The three Jedi pairs, all of which
appeared in The Way of the Apprentice, are on Euceron to supervise the
Galactic Games, a sort of galaxy wide Olympics held every seven years,
featuring all sorts of tests of skill. The head of the games is afraid
of illegal gambling and illegal podracing. They also find Didi and Astri,
former owners of the bar on Coruscant. Astri has married Bog, a gullible
man who is arranging seating for Senators during the games.
Obi-Wan catches Didi making illegal
bets on the games, finding out in the process that some of the games are
fixed. Over the course of the book, Obi-Wan catches Didi stealing Bog's
speeder and datapad, hoping to get money back that he lost on his
betting, which he also took from Bog and Astri (that last is never
addressed in the book).
Anakin, meanwhile, finds Sebulba among
the podracers; his son Hekula will be racing in Anakin's old racer. But
Sebulba owns a slave of his own, so Anakin decides to help her two
brothers win the money in the podrace to buy her back. He is
good-natured that way, but really only when it suits his purpose.
Sebulba confronts him, and the racer is hurt, so Anakin volunteers to
race in his place.
Obi-Wan, meanwhile, meets up with
Didi's contact, and finds out some of the games which are fixed,
including the podraces. He and Anakin follow a timekeeper, who is killed
after they chase him outside. Anakin is sent back to the podraces to
keep an eye out, while Obi-Wan goes to meet Bog, Astri, and Maxi Vista,
the hero of the previous games. Bog is embarrassed that he is being used
to help set up the Senators for illegal betting, but Maxi Vista hauls
Obi-Wan off into a "demonstration match", where he plans to have the
Jedi killed. Previously, Obi-Wan recognized Maxi Vista as the person who
killed the timekeeper, and probably the architect of this plan.
He keeps Obi-Wan busy in the obstacle
course while Anakin pilots the podracer through his own course. Obi-Wan
gets through the course as fast as possible, using the Force to detect
when one of the holographic monsters turned out to be a real battle
droid, which he destroyed (why didn't he use this fact at his hearing,
as evidence that somebody tried to kill him?). Anakin's podracer is
sabotaged twice, which seems a little over-planned, since nobody but a
Jedi could possibly have survived the first encounter. It seems unlikely
that the head of the games, who was a big part of the sabotage, would be
there in person to do the dirty work.
Obi-Wan colored his perceptions of Maxi
Vista by not being interested in the past games, thinking this was a
nobody milking his fame, when he turned out to be the greatest danger on
the planet, aiming to kill thousands of spectators with a podracer
crash. Anakin let his hatred for Sebulba color his perceptions, thinking
that the Dug was responsible for the fixed timings and the sabotage,
when it was in fact the hurt driver whose podracer he raced that
arranged to win. But Maxo Vista and the head of the games wanted a
spectacular crash, and decided on these racers.
In the final insult, Maxo Vista and the
head of the games are let go free of charges after the Jedi failed to
bring supporting evidence of the crimes. They had only their own eyes as
witnesses, and that wasn't enough, since Bog lied and told the Ruling
Power that he knew nothing of illegal bets and fixed competitions.
It is a tough lesson for Anakin to
learn, but Obi-Wan thinks it typical of those in power. Maybe we'll see
these guys in a future book, where they can get justice. In the
meantime, Anakin still hasn't learned to stop and think things through
before acting (and after his unthinking attack on Dooku in
Attack of the
Clones, I guess he never really will).