An interesting mix of intrigue and education for the main characters, as the
mission depends on both of them fulfilling their parts. This book marks
the coming-of-age of their relationship -and I hope it's a turning point, as
Unlike the previous books, which relied on technical solutions and
gadgets, this book relied solely on the quick thinking and insights of the main
characters. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan don't spend a lot of time together in this
book, and I wonder if that makes them stronger characters.
In The Hidden Past, Obi-Wan kept whining about how he was being treated by
Qui-Gon, and that detracted a bit from the story. Here, Obi-Wan is trusted
with a potentially volatile situation, which gets out of hand very quickly -but
Obi-Wan does a good job of solving the puzzle, right up until near the end.
The most important character development in this book is the way Obi-Wan
listens to his mentor, allows the little niblets of wisdom to take root and
grow. At first he scoffs at the idea that his friend could be one of the
culprits, but later, as the pieces fall into place, he realizes that they do
fit. He could be wrong, but he takes a chance, knowing that he will never
be sure unless he confronts Jono Dunn (I can't help but put the last name in
here -my family is now in the Star Wars universe!). But he doesn't even
have to speak his thought before he can see the confession on the face of his
The mission Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan undertake is the one they were supposed to go
on in the last book, before their Phindian friends took them on a detour.
I for one was glad to get rid of Guerra -Jono was a much better friend, even
though he was acting under false pretenses all the while. Perhaps some of
Obi-Wan's trust and friendship wore off onto the boy, however. The two
Jedi have agreed to make sure the first ever elections on the planet Gala are
free of coercion. The King is dead, and the Queen is dying. She
wants to avoid civil war and decides that electing the next ruler is the best
way to do it. Her son, Prince Beju, resents her for his lost chance at the
throne. He takes every opportunity to humiliate her, as well as the two
But the Queen reveals to Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan that there is another heir to
the throne, and although the throne will not exist in another week, it is
important that Elan be persuaded to bring her people to the voting process.
Elan was the love child between the late king and his first, illegal wife, of
the hill people. (I don't know why the Yuuzhan Vong would have the same
name as somebody in this galaxy, however, as the name reappears in
I liked the way Obi-Wan covered for his master after Qui-Gon left for the
hills. He ruffled the bed-sheets, made a head imprint on the pillow, and
ate his master's food (an easy thing to do, since the Padawan is always
hungry!). Since the Jedi are forbidden from leaving the palace without
supervision, and from leaving the city altogether, because of a compromise with
the council, Obi-Wan has to stay on his toes, and always make excuses for his
master's absence. Since the Jedi spend a lot of time meditating, this is
not too difficult.
As soon as the Queen mentioned that she was dying, I suspected a slow poison.
It is only when Obi-Wan starts listening to the Queen that he puts the pieces
together. He takes some of the food to a person who specializes in testing
chemical compositions, and finds out that a poison has indeed been introduced
into her food. Even I didn't suspect Jono in the poisoning, but when
Obi-Wan realizes that Jono lived by the sea, and the poison was a natural
derivative from a plant that lives near the sea, he takes his chance, and
succeeds. Jono has the simple fear of losing his prestige as a servant in
the palace when the monarchy disappears.
Prince Beju's aide, the senior councilor Giba, is really pulling the
authoritative strings behind the scenes, and plans to take power no matter who
wins the elections. He obviously doesn't want the monarchy to disappear,
but he wants to be the one on the throne. He hopes to be in charge of Beju
if the Prince wins the elections, but has also bought his way into the main
competitor, Deca Brun.
Deca Brun is the weakest part of the story, but he ties in with the
continuing theme of the rest of the series. He is dealing with Offworld,
the company run by Xanatos, Qui-Gon's former Padawan. It is unclear why he
imprisoned Obi-Wan. It could not have been because the Jedi saw the
Offworld accounts -there wasn't enough time. I thought Jono betrayed him,
but that doesn't explain why the young man helped rescue him from the freezer
where he was being kept. (I smiled when Obi-Wan used the Force to give the
guard a powerful suggestion about needing to eat.) But Jono betrays his
friend Deca in the end, as well. Thankfully, he is not punished too hard,
though doubtless he will find it a wicked punishment: he is being sent back to
the family farm, near the sea, to live as a normal person.
I enjoyed Obi-Wan's two visits to the substance analyzer's lab. The man
was a true geezer, an unlikely ally, but it was fun to read about the
interaction between the two, especially the truth about Obi-Wan's impatience.
But it was good that with enough money, the Jedi could buy a speedy analysis.
Obi-Wan's last part of the book comes in the form of a duel with Prince Beju.
As Obi-Wan was sneaking towards the dungeons to give the now-imprisoned Queen
the antidote to her poison, the Prince stops him. Obi-Wan uses the
Prince's pride to stop him from calling the guards and joining him in a duel.
I didn't enjoy the duel much, except when Obi-Wan realized that he could use the
Force to defeat the other boy without a lightsaber. The blind senator was
interesting. I wonder if he is trained in the ways of the Force, since he
could easily see what was going on, and he knew the mark of the crown was not
upon the boy when inside that special chamber.
Qui-Gon, on the other hand, had an adventure without his Padawan. As he
traveled into the hills, he was attacked. Thankfully, as he entered a
series of standing stones, which made it difficult for speeder bikes to enter,
another group of swoops attacked the first group. They were not rescuing
Qui-Gon, in a thankful twist, but they were defending a sacred spot from
trespassers. They try to send Qui-Gon home, but with a wound he suffered,
and a harsh snowstorm approaching, they take him to their village. There,
Elan heals his wounds, but will not hear of her royal stature. Of course,
Qui-Gon's words penetrate her, but it takes an attack from Giba's army to
convince her to come to the city. But she firmly refuses to be a Princess.
Which is okay, because the monarchy will not exist after the elections.
I liked the way they defeated the army, sinking the tanks in the snowdrifts,
but even better was the way Elan rescued the soldiers from certain death.
That was part of what made her realize that she had true royalty inside her.
So she returns her prisoners, along with Qui-Gon, to the city, bringing her
entire people with her to vote. I do wonder if their names were on the
polling station lists, however...
Qui-Gon learns about his legacy, that it will continue after him in Obi-Wan,
who is learning, and in the peace and justice that he leaves behind.
Together, they defeated the corruption on Gala, and allowed the people to be
free. Qui-Gon realizes how powerful Obi-Wan can become, and how his
Padawan is already learning much from his master. I love it when
characters grow throughout a book, naturally and progressively. Nothing
about this book is forced. I hope the rest of the series is as