|It is nice to return to this author,
although the Qui-Gon part of the story was less than engaging, and the
plot left some very loose ends.
This book represents a different kind of story, told from two points of
view, one when Obi-Wan is the Padawan, and later when he is Master to his
own Padawan, Anakin. It is difficult to tell a story in half a book,
which is essentially how this novel was set up. The link between them is
Obi-Wan's guilt at having let Bruck die back in
The Captive Temple.
Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon's work in freeing
the planet Telos from Xanatos in The Day of Reckoning put Bruck's father
in prison, but now he is out, and wants revenge on Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan did
a good job at trying to give the truth of the story, but Bruck's family
didn't want to hear it, and kept twisting his words. He always got
flustered, but who wouldn't! During the hearing, the lawyer was very,
very good at twisting his words, and those of Bant, his Mon Calamari
friend. Most adults would wilt before an onslaught such as Obi-Wan's
cross-examination. A twelve-year-old, even a Jedi, would fare worse. I
think Obi-Wan did an admirable job.
For Bant's part, I think she should
have simply mentioned that everybody knows their limits; would the
lawyer know when he was out of air under water? Surely a Mon Calamari
would also know! More experience would hopefully give her that edge.
The author never had the characters
talk logically about their emotions. Sure, the Force is something that
the Jedi use to trust their feelings. But Bruck's actions reinforce
those feelings. When asked if they knew or felt that Bruck was evil,
Qui-Gon should have simply said that based on experience and the actions
of the people involved, they could tell how they would act and react.
Bruck spoke of doing evil things, and actually did evil things,
justifying Obi-Wan's feelings towards him.
There is a small subplot involving Tahl
and a Jedi starfighter training center. We know that the Jedi become
good starfighter pilots, as Obi-Wan does an amazing job in
Attack of the
Clones (and both he and Anakin are terrific pilots in
Revenge of the
Sith). But it seems that at this point in the Republic, there is
reluctance to give the Jedi their own flying craft. Qui-Gon helps
investigate some sabotage, which appears to be coming from an operative
working for the Senate.
While Tahl figures out that the
saboteur is using the name of a dead person, Qui-Gon realizes that
Bruck's lightsaber contains a recording device so that Xanatos could
keep track of his apprentice. Qui-Gon uses this to end the proceedings
against Obi-Wan. Meanwhile, the starfighter saboteur gets away...
I have a lot of trouble believing the
end of the first half of the book, allowing Obi-Wan to stand idle as
Bruck's brother drove at him with a deadly rod. He was waiting for
death, which is uncharacteristic of him.
My biggest complaint about this half of
the book is the lack of use of the Force. Tahl shouldn't need a droid or
Qui-Gon to tell that there were objects strewn around, or that the
saboteur was "to the right". She shouldn't need to rely on her sense of
smell to identify the grease. As a Jedi, at least based on the stuff
we've seen Luke and his followers do, she should be able to see the room
in detail through the Force -or at the very least the living parts of
The second half of the book, dealing
with young Anakin, left me in awe. If the Jedi Quest books are written
like this, I'll take more, and quickly! I was so very impressed with the
interaction between Obi-Wan and Anakin. Their relationship is complex
because of what we know from The Phantom Menace. Would Obi-Wan have
taken Anakin as a Padawan if Qui-Gon hadn't asked him to? Anakin asks
himself this question, too. He has great secrets buried deep within
himself, and they will haunt him until he becomes Darth Vader.
Whenever Anakin encounters sadness
because people had to leave their homes, he is reminded of his mother.
Any injustice he sees reminds him that he was a slave. Obi-Wan must
understand this and get Anakin to let go of it, but we know that he will
never quite succeed. This should allow Obi-Wan and Anakin's relationship
grow even more than the one between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.
Even though Yoda doesn't call it a
mission, the two Jedi are definitely being sent on one. There is a ship
going from world to world, its inhabitants trying to retreat from
civilization, and the Senate wants to make sure that the people aren't
being coerced or brainwashed.
Obi-Wan is surprised when the leader of
the group turns out to be Bruck's brother. The father is there, too, but
is scheming and brooding all the time. A couple of characters from
Day of Reckoning show up here, too. One is brainwashed, while the other
is trying to unravel the subterfuge. He already has some things figured
out, and he steals the personnel file of one mechanic, which causes the
Jedi to be deported. Before that can happen, however, they find out that
the mechanic is using the name of a dead person, and it turns out that
it is the same mechanic who was sabotaging the Jedi starfighters in the
first half of the book.
The mechanic and Bruck's father were
going to steal the community's treasury and destroy the ship, but the
mechanic betrayed all of them, and decided to leave beforehand. The
raiders who attack the ship, part of the Underworld company from
of Reckoning, are driven off by Anakin and another Jedi in their own
fighters. Obi-Wan defends the ship from the boarding droids.
Unlike Obi-Wan, who never killed
through the Jedi Apprentice series, Anakin gets his first kill in his
fighter. Its after-effect is barely mentioned, as Anakin feels sort of
guilty, but we really needed more of a follow-up. Of course, I think his
first kill occurred in Rogue Planet.
Anakin really is somewhat like Qui-Gon
at times. He is more intuitive, letting the Force (but sometimes his
emotions) take him where it will. Where Obi-Wan was always worrying
about what people thought, Anakin is very direct, asking questions when
he doesn't know answers, and just going to be on his own when he knows
that the other kids don't know what to do with him.
There are a lot of parallels with
Anakin's future in this book. He wonders how a Padawan can betray his
Master. He wonders how Bruck's brother can forgive his father for doing
so much evil. Anakin's anger and loss can't allow him to understand such
things at the moment. He will, of course, eventually ask his own son for
such forgiveness at the end of Return of the Jedi.
In the end, the mechanic shoots and
kills Bruck's father, and gets away again! Are we to assume that Darth
Sidious put him there, or just that there is corruption in the Senate. I
don't expect to see the guy again in the second Special Edition. It is a
very strange thing to leave hanging. It also seems strange that Bruck's
father would have a list of places the world-ship would be stopping for
the next six months if he was planning to blow up the ship at its next
Bruck's brother forgives Obi-Wan after
seeing the lust for power his father and brother had. This eases
Obi-Wan's guilt, and allows him to pull free from it.
While the first half of the book was
not all that interesting, with problems solved too easily and hanging
plotlines (setup of course for the second half), I was very much engaged
by Obi-Wan as a Master. He is learning why Qui-Gon did many of the
things that he did (even small things like feeding the growing boy!).
Although the Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan stories have started to get stale, I
look forward to more Obi-Wan and Anakin tales.