||A rather disjointed story that strives
to get to the core of Anakin's anxieties as a Padawan. This novel had no
less than five sequential subplots, many more than any other of the Jedi Quest
series, which made it more distracting than usual. Several of these were rather exciting, though I don't know if all of them
were necessary -but all were very well written. I'm not sure the author succeeded in dealing with
Anakin's need to prove himself, even with the revelation at the end,
which was nonetheless well presented.
When Han tells Luke in
Strikes Back that he looks "strong enough to pull the ears off a gundark",
he must mean that Luke is in even better shape than usual! In this
story, Obi-Wan falls into a nest of gundarks, and they nearly prove to
be the end of him. After Anakin joins in the fray, they barely hold
their own until they escape -certainly never wanting to see a gundark
Their mission starts, as all missions
do, with some difficulty, as they fly to a remote moon in the Uziel
system to evacuate the listening post of the Typha-Dor people before it
is destroyed by their enemies, the Vanqor. It is a little confusing how
close together these planets are. Usually in the Star Wars universe, a
system is equated with a star system. At one point, they try to hop from
one planet to another in a small shuttle that can barely take off, so
they can't be too far apart. Yet later in the story, it takes two hours
of hyperspace travel to traverse the distance between the same two
The Vanqors are a people who live on a
planet with scarce resources, and have decided to take over all the rest
of the habitable planets in that system. Typha-Dor is the last holdout,
and they request the Jedi help in evacuating their listening post before
the Vanqors can destroy it.
Obi-Wan and Anakin are detected before
they can get to the outpost, however, and have to crash on the moon at
quite a distance from the outpost. Their relationship is strained, with
Obi-Wan still brooding over Anakin's apparent betrayal in
The School of
Fear, and Anakin still blaming himself for Yaddle's death in
Trap. The two barely talk, and when they do, it is only about the
mission. The author does a good job in creating tension between the two
characters, especially from Obi-Wan's perspective, where he really wants
to talk to Anakin, but can't seem to find the right time. He keeps
making excuses for why he hasn't had a meaningful conversation about
either of those topics, but they are simply excuses.
So it's a long walk from their crash
site to the outpost.
They find the outpost to be in a state
of disarray, too, because a saboteur was found among the spies -killed,
but not before he disabled the shuttle that would allow them to leave.
It doesn't take Anakin long to fix the shuttle, but it barely has enough
power to take off. Fixing machines soothes Anakin, who doesn't have to
deal with the emotions of people while he's doing it.
It turns out that Mezdec, husband of
the outpost's leader Shalini, was the real saboteur, though, as he
launches a life pod from the shuttle before it is damaged by Vanqor
patrols and Anakin is forced to crash. Mezdec goes to Typha-Dor to
deliver fake Vanqor invasion plans. It is too coincidental, though, that
Shalini had a backup that she never told Mezdec about. She gives this
disc to Anakin as they are all captured, except for Obi-Wan, who manages
to hide in a boulder formation at the crash site.
Anakin is taken to a special facility
where he is subjected to a drug that makes him feel calm and content,
and suddenly his cares are taken away -he knows the mission to Typha-Dor
will be completed, probably by Obi-Wan, and he sees no need to escape
right away. As Anakin tries to figure out how he was drugged, he misses
one important aspect of the drug, and later, Obi-Wan makes the same
mistake, though it turns out not to be important. They thought it might
be in the food, but the technicians ate the same food and drank the same
water as the prisoners. I kept thinking that the technicians had first
taken an antidote.
Obi-Wan hitches a ride on an incoming
transport to attempt a rescue. It's a little funny to see Anakin simply
go along with the rescue, with no emotion at all -it seems to him that
this is as good a time as any to get out of the prison... And I liked
Obi-Wan's method of getting inside the facility, pretending to be an
electrical technician and walking in like it was his job to do that.
Unfortunately, the ship they decide to
escape in is programmed to explode if the proper codes are not entered
upon takeoff, so they are forced to abandon it, and it explodes in the
air above them as they fall, using the Force to break their landing. The
subsequent attack by the facility forces sends Obi-Wan into the nest of
gundarks. It takes a while for Anakin to shake the Zone of
Self-Contentment and decide that he really must go try and rescue
After leaving the gundark nest (for
some reason, I expected to see dozens of gundarks following them out of
the crater, but that didn't happen), they are rescued by Siri and her
Padawan Ferus, among other Jedi. They finally get to Typha-Dor, and find
out that Mezdec has had the leaders of that planet place their military
forces as far from the invasion corridor as possible with fake plans. He is arrested
when Anakin hands over the real plans, and Obi-Wan suggest using the
capture of the Vanqor fleet as a bargaining item, to create a coalition
and bring peace to the system.
There remains the fact that the prison
camp was being used for medical experiments, and Anakin is finally
allowed to confess that he had been subject to those experiments.
Obi-Wan is once again crushed to note that his Padawan has been hiding
things from him.
The Moment of Truth comes at the end of
the book, when two Padawans (including Ferus) ask him why he hid the
details from his Master, and they all realize he wanted to stay there.
Obi-Wan approaches him alone, and he confesses that the pressure of
being the Chosen One is often too much for him, and that he just wants
to be a normal Jedi. This seems to come out of nowhere, but it is not
even until Anakin says it that he realizes it himself. I'm not sure I'm
Incidentally, the Jedi attack the
prison camp, freeing the prisoners, and discover that the evil scientist
doing the experiments is none other than Jenna Zan Arbor, the woman who
captured and tortured Qui-Gon back in The
Evil Experiment. She's escaped the prison
planet she'd been held on The Dangerous
Rescue, and manages to escape
here, too, which will undoubtedly lead into the next mission.
I'm not sure if it was the pacing of
the different parts of the novel that I felt was distracting, or if I
simply wasn't convinced of Anakin's moods, but although the writing was
exciting and well drawn-out, I couldn't really find the theme to this
novel, as I've done with the others in this series. I think the
moodiness has been drawn out more than long enough, now, and I would
like to seem them bond again.