||Truly a pleasure to read, this is a
superb tale of working together.
I liked this book from the very first page. It was refreshing to return
to this series -it has been far too long. Obi-Wan has changed since the
last book. He has been accepted, finally, by both the Jedi Council and
his Jedi Master. Now he is trying to adapt his attitudes towards the
Jedi Way. I think he is succeeding. The best way to show this is exactly
how the author does it: she pairs him with another, younger Padawan, who
knows nothing beyond her skills.
Siri is Adi Galia's new Padawan -what I
wouldn't give to be in her position -I just love Adi! She is better than
Obi-Wan is in terms of lightsaber fighting, and she seems to look down
on him, probably because he left the Jedi back in
Defenders of the Dead. Siri, however, is definitely not a team player.
The author gets into Obi-Wan's head
right at the beginning, showing his frustration at Siri's lack of
cooperation. When he finally takes a cue from her in a training session,
successfully defeating their seekers, he has, of course, failed the
It is inevitable that when Obi-Wan and
Qui-Gon are sent on a mission to check out a potential Force-sensitive
baby from a xenophobic world, that Adi Galia and Siri are sent with
them. Both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan fret about this, because they think the
Council is watching over their shoulders. It is only their insecurity,
however, as the only reason the others are along is to help cement the
new Master-Padawan relationship, and to teach Siri a little about
The planet of Kegan is really strange,
right from the start. It is easy to see that something is wrong, that
these perpetually smiling people are not happy. It turns out that the
leaders of this planet have had a vision, one of masked warriors
invading their world and a planet-destroying weapon reducing it to
rubble. I looked up Kegan in my SW Encyclopedia, but found no mention of
it, so the author is not building on previously established continuity,
that I am aware of. Undoubtedly, they will experience stormtroopers in
their future, but I don't think they will see the Death Star, so that
portion of the vision is wrong. However, the leaders probably could not
have prevented anything if they isolated themselves, either- the Empire
would have found them, anyway.
Qui-Gon and Adi Galia get a lesson on
trusting each other, as well as their Padawans. Qui-Gon has a lot of
unconventional ideas, and Adi is much more conservative. Their styles
clash, so they must learn to compromise. That's a good lesson to give in
a children's book -that adults have to work out their differences, too.
They cannot, as Qui-Gon suggests, do their own thing, ignoring the
opinion of the other person.
The two Jedi find out about a
resistance to this planet's government, which keeps surveillance on
everybody. They obviously keep everybody in one city to facilitate this.
Attempting to track down the Force-sensitive baby, as well as their
missing Padawans, they discover the Learning Circle, and gauge the
likelihood of all of the missing people to be in that "school".
I just loved the way the author managed to make Qui-Gon sound so much
like himself. Every word that was quoted to him could easily have come
from Liam Neeson's mouth!
Obi-Wan and Siri, meanwhile, having
escaped so that the Guides would search for them, leaving their masters
alone with the infant's parents for the first time. They are captured and
sent to the Learning Circle. It's hilarious to see Obi-Wan's frustration
towards Siri as she tries to correct everything the teacher is telling
the students. He knows better, that the best way to go unnoticed and to
find a chance to escape is to keep his mouth shut! Siri has never been
outside the Jedi Temple, so doesn't have enough sense to avoid
correcting the teacher, especially since it doesn't do anything to
correct the situation.
Later, however, when they form a
coordinated attack, correcting and questioning the teacher about
everything, they do a great job, because they start the students on a
questing path. They know that once the people start to ask the right
questions, others will listen and eventually the unrest will lead to
uprising. I liked the way the guards were constantly called Guides; it
makes them sound so much less threatening.
So instead of getting sent to kitchen
detailing, Obi-Wan and Siri are sent to the Re-Learning Circle, where they suspect
their only friend in this place has gone, because he kept animals as
pets. There, things are much more severe. This time, Siri's
impulsiveness coincides with Obi-Wan's as he plans to use his lightsaber
to break out of his cell just as she is cutting through his door! They
rescue their friend Davi and manage to get to the door just as Qui-Gon and Adi Galia
are breaking in.
The author writes terrific character
stories. This one even has a plot that requires the characters to be
smart. As Obi-Wan points out, there is a time to fight, but they were
not at that point until the end. Although Siri starts out lacking
respect for him, and resenting his advice through part of the story, she
eventually recognizes his wisdom.
The only weakness in the book is the
short, clipped sentences that so many of the characters use. I can't
figure out if this is because of their situation, though. Being forced
to talk through a perpetual smile, for fear of being taken away, must do
terrible things for conversation. Not to mention that they are told not
to trust their neighbors.
Otherwise, the author did a good job
depicting a society that is trying to make itself inconspicuous. Through
the conversations between the Jedi, it is obvious that such a society is
bad for the people, even if the leaders have their best interests at
heart. This is the wrong way to go about saving people, because freedom
is the most precious thing we have, and it can't be saved by restricting
So the baby is taken back to Coruscant,
and the parents seem to know that they will never see her again.
Unfortunately, this is never addressed, probably because this is a young
reader book. The
Learning Center is closed down, the leaders voted out of office, and a
new way of life is beginning for these people. I wonder why it is never
mentioned that the two leaders might be Force-sensitive, as they had
visions like the Jedi do. Of course, they would be too old to begin
their training, but the Jedi could have at least mentioned it. The
conclusion seems a little rushed, but it is really a sideline to the
story, which is about Obi-Wan and Siri. Hopefully, there will be some
repercussions, because they did interfere with the planet,
As a side note, I really liked the
sequence where Adi Galia out-flies those Kegan pilots. She's beautiful
and so skilled, too!
The story flowed very well from
beginning to end. It actually felt too short, simply because I wanted
the adventure to continue. It's definitely good to see these characters