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A novel by Jude Watson (2001, Scholastic Paperbacks)
Jedi Apprentice Special Edition #1
42 years and 25 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Obi-Wan faces a murder accusation with Qui-Gon, but still feels guilt when coming into contact with the victim's brother with his apprentice, Anakin.



Read June 17th to 18th, 2005  
    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 it.

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 The 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 The Day 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 stop.

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.


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