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A novel by Jude Watson (2002, Scholastic Paperbacks)
Jedi Quest, Book 4
26 years before and Star Wars: A New Hope

While on a planet to rescue scientists stuck amid a civil war, Obi-Wan and Anakin discover their nemesis, who is recruiting for a Sith cult.



Read February 20th to 22nd, 2011  
    Another well-written story, especially from the character point of view. The characters think about their emotions, and they evolve somewhat throughout the story.

The theme of this book is that appearances can be deceiving, but there is an undercurrent of trust, showing that Obi-Wan and Anakin have not yet bonded the way that Master and Apprentice should. Obi-Wan and Anakin have been sent to a planet to evacuate some scientists after a cease-fire was broken and they became stranded. They race through the abandoned towns, pick up the scientists, and get them to their ship.

Anakin befriends one of the scientists while they are awaiting the army's departure. It seems that the man can see what's eating Anakin from the inside. Obi-Wan actually entrusts his Padawan with protecting the scientists and an injured apprentice, Darra, as he and the other Jedi go out to destroy all resistance in the camped army that has besieged the town. Darra was injured because Anakin tried to go help her when he thought she would get hurt by blaster-fire, but she recovered in time and would have been able to deflect the shot if Anakin hadn't been in her way.

So he feels responsible, and feels that Obi-Wan is punishing him by not letting him in on the action of sabotaging the army camp.

Back on Coruscant, Obi-Wan hands Anakin over to Soara, a Jedi lightsaber-master, which is a further blow to his pride. But it's his pride that Obi-Wan wants to make his apprentice aware of. Anakin thinks he can do anything, but he has to be aware of the others around him, and to learn to trust them, not always trying to protect them from what he perceives that they cannot do.

Soara takes him all over the city-planet, having other Padawans attack him with training lightsabers, but never complementing him, especially when he thinks he deserves it, which frustrates him further. Soara sees this, and declares that she can no longer teach Anakin, because of the darkness inside him. I think the author is pressing the Dark Side within Anakin too much. He is a loving person who thinks of others all the time. But he is used to his independence and not relying on others. And he still hasn't unlearned this lesson.

Obi-Wan, for his part, finds out that Granta Omega was also on the planet, and probably scouting on his own. Using all the facilities at his disposal, including Jocasta Nu of the Jedi Archives and a visit to the always unpleasant Sano Sauro, who was the one who questioned Obi-Wan as a Padawan in the death of Bruck back in The Captive Temple.

He discovers that Granta Omega is very likely the lead scientist that they rescued, and whom Anakin befriended. Anakin finds this out a little too late, however, as he goes to visit the man, thinking he can find Omega himself, proving to Obi-Wan that he is a good Padawan. Somebody needs to tell Anakin that Obi-Wan doesn't need proof that he has good intentions, but he needs to know he can trust his Padawan to think of the greater good.

Omega drugs Anakin, and though his plans go awry (he worships the Sith and wants to kill a Jedi to gain favor with the Sith Lord he knows is out there), he does escape with Darra's lightsaber. Anakin displays incredible skill, even able to duel with a non-Force sensitive holding a lightsaber while he is fully drugged.

The Jedi want to stop Omega because he might corner the market on Bacta, since that is the mineral that will be expelled from a volcano soon, which can be used in synthetic bacta, and he owns a majority share in bacta on Thyferra. Sorry to tell you, Obi-Wan, but if he has a majority share on the only planet that produces bacta, he has already cornered the market.

They go back to the planet, where they try to tell some soldiers to leave the slope of the volcano, but they won't abandon the land they just won in war. Obi-Wan and Anakin fight Omega, but he uses some tricks (like a ship-within-a-ship, damaged swoops, and so on) to get away again. They follow his trail back to his home planet, where his home also has a room-within-a-wall, but the data is erased as they watch, meaning he has gotten away again.

The book is well written, like all the Jedi Apprentice and Jedi Quest books. I would like to see the author stop calling any disturbance in the Force "the dark side". The Dark side has nothing to do with something bad about to happen. It's a point of view, and depends on the intention of a Force-sensitive individual. Still, that's a minor gripe.

On the other hand, I'm impressed at the depth of the characters in such short stories. Now its time to start creating the larger bond between Master and Apprentice that will cause Anakin to go to his master's rescue in Attack of the Clones.


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