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A novel by Jude Watson (2003, Scholastic Books)
A Clone Wars Novel
Set at various times in the Prequel era, including 21 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Jedi Padawan Dooku and his friend Lorian part ways after an encounter with a Sith holocron; later in life Lorian meets Dooku as a pirate, Qui-Gon as corrupt planetary leader, and Obi-Wan and Anakin while searching for protection from the Separatists.



Read August 9th to 30th, in paperback  
    Like the other Jedi Quest novels, this one was well-written, and had a lot of introspection. I found the story to be weak, even though it was done in a neat cross-over method, bringing Dooku, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Anakin into the story as Padawans with their respective masters. However, I did like how Dooku's pride is showcased, and the villain evolves through the four stories.

Spoiler review:

I have never really been a big fan of short stories. I know a lot of people love them, focusing on how an author can tell a real story in such a short span of pages, but somehow they only ever clicked a few times for me. This book reads like four short stories put together with a common villain. There is a nice twist in that the villain and hero at the beginning change places at the end.

The first story shows us Dooku as a Padawan, with his best friend Lorian, in the temple. The story focuses on Dooku's pride, as he is ever so prideful even at a young age. Lorian, not as strong in the Force, is always using trickery and subterfuge to get what he wants. From Attack of the Clones, we were led to believe that Dooku was Yoda's Padawan, but here he is depicted as having been chosen by Thame Cerulian. They break into the absent master's quarters and find a book on the Sith. Later, Lorian steals the Temple's Sith holocron. It seems to me that that device should be locked up better, in case inquisitive but untrained children try to get their hands on it. And how is it that everybody seems to know there is a Sith holocron, anyway? Wouldn't the Jedi try to keep that knowledge secret?

Lorian blames Dooku, but is reprimanded for his lies. Then, as punishment, they are given leadership of two groups in a sort of treasure hunt, where Jedi teams race each other to gather fruits from the market and tag the other team out with their training lightsabers -the punishment being forced to lead people who might not trust them. Dooku, ever prideful that he knows how Lorian will act, not even considering the possibility that his former friend would change strategies, commands his team with that thought. They do well, but because of the rivalry between them now, which gives them a clouded command sense, both teams end up conveniently losing all members except the leaders, who start to duel outside the Temple, anger swaying their battle. For his part, Lorian is kicked out of the Jedi Order.

Dooku is depicted as arrogant and willful, and this is also Yoda's warning as the story ends. His pride is magnified in the next story, where Dooku thinks protecting a Senator from pirates is beneath him and his skills. Qui-Gon, on the other hand, always puts his full effort into the missions, and this one is no exception. When Lorian ends up being the pirate attacking senators, Qui-Gon demands answers, but Dooku doesn't tell him that the man has Force-training, nor will he allow his Padawan to contact the Council. Dooku thinks he can do the entire mission on his own, and he wants to be the one to bring Lorian to justice.

They trace him to a security company, with whom he is partnered, which is making faulty starship bunkers, allowing the pirates easy access to an area where the senator thinks he will be safe. To show how evil this company is, we are shown the horrible working conditions, and that it is staffed only by children... They find Lorian, but are taken prisoner, as Qui-Gon won't allow his master to fight, because the children might be hurt. Qui-Gon becomes increasingly upset with his master that Dooku didn't share the information he had, and doesn't let Dooku kill Lorian when they get free. He is sent to the Senate for punishment, which we know will be insufficient.

Dooku is out of the picture years later when Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan stumble onto a planet which has come under the control of a dictator, taking advantage of the threat of their planetary neighbor's weapons, to cause panic and allow stricter control measures. I like the way Qui-Gon tries to keep a close relationship with his Padawan, based on his experiences with Dooku. At one point he thinks of his former master, but doesn't even wonder what Dooku is doing or how he is. He was just a teacher, nothing special.

Qui-Gon is always after Obi-Wan to observe, and they feel the fear on the planet of Junction 5. When they go to obtain their transitory permits, they find Lorian Nod. Lorian is the puppet-master for the dictator of Junction 5, always warning about the weapons the neighboring planet has. The rebel Celia has escaped, and Qui-Gon thinks they should help her. They do find her, and she convinces them to take a trip to the neighboring planet, where they infiltrate a government building, activate an evacuation alarm, and break into the computer, where they find the super-weapon is simply misinformation.

They manage to get back to Junction 5 and release the information as a public announcement, during which Lorian incriminates himself. It's hard to believe he would make such a fool of himself, but even as a boy, he lacked common sense.

So it's refreshing to see Lorian return during the Separatist conflict as someone looking for help against Dooku and his armies. Yoda believes his is reformed, but Obi-Wan doesn't believe it. They arrange to meet on Null, where the leaders of Junction 5 and three other planets are meeting. But early on, one of the leaders is killed. Obi-Wan and Anakin follow the bounty hunter, and think he is going to meet with Lorian. But they also find two bounty hunters whom they have met before, Floria and Dane, acting as the dead leader's bodyguards, one of whom is in love with the assassinated leader. Anakin correctly guesses that the leader is in fact still alive, waiting to see who sent the bounty hunter. Dooku shows up with an army, showing how he really wanted to take control of the space station around Junction 5 all along, not to negotiate. Lies and deception, just as he started the story with Lorian and the holocron.

Lorian tries in vain to stop Dooku, and their final showdown is not all that exciting, though it shows us clearly how much Lorian was actually redeemed. This is important to Anakin and Obi-Wan, in more ways than one. Obi-Wan is a rule-follower, and he broke the rules to join the cause on Melida-Daan, rejoining the Jedi just before the third story in this book. Anakin has gone through a lot in the course of the events of Attack of the Clones, and carries a secret that he won't even share with his Master -his marriage to Padmé. He will, of course, turn to the Dark Side. Dooku does not believe in redemption, and there is nobody who could redeem him if they cared. Anakin will be redeemed with love.

Here, Lorian is redeemed by time, realizing he wants to do something constructive with his life. Lorian fails to stop Dooku, and is killed in the process, but even Obi-Wan realizes that he did good in the end.

The story is larger than the four short stories that form it. It references a bunch of events in the Jedi Apprentice and Jedi Quest series, though surprisingly nothing about Granta Omega, as well as The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. There was quite a bit of action in each of the stories, but as Jedi, they fight more like regular swordsmen, except that they can do a lot more. It was good to see them use the Force, but I didn't think it was used enough. The stories themselves were good, and were used to good effect to highlight morals, but lacked the depth that I really enjoy in a book. The tie that bound them together was Lorian, and unfortunately, I don't think he had the ability to carry the story along.


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