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A novel by Jude Watson (2001, Scholastic Paperbacks)
The Jedi Quest Prequel
28 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Anakin and Obi-Wan infiltrate a pirate's ship, where Anakin attempts to avenge a slave raid from when he was a child.




Read October 24th to 25th, 2005  
    This was a strange and depressing tale about Anakin, showing his dark side, at a time when he was trying to figure out who he was. The signs of his darkness have been shown in other stories like Rogue Planet, where he kills with the Force, or in Deceptions and The Followers, which allow him to feel frustrated and willing to embrace the Dark Side. Here, he deals out revenge without even pausing to try and be a better person.

I had complaints right from the beginning of this book, when Obi-Wan and Anakin fight the animal gorgodons on the planet where they obtain the crystals for their lightsabers. Most authors are unimaginative in the way they approach Jedi fights, and I suppose it is because the Jedi would otherwise seem invincible. However, with the Force, they should have been able to detect the dangers that were approaching them; they should not have been surprised by any of the movements. More imaginative writers would allow them to see ahead of time that danger was approaching, but not allow them to move out of harm's way in time. Surprise should not be part of the fight.

The visiting vision by Darth Maul, telling Anakin that he will become a Sith, is also unimaginative and too unsubtle for a Force vision. If Anakin got this warning so early in his training, then why doesn't he heed it- he has many opportunities to at least face the person he could become. Instead, throughout the book, when he actively searches for the pirate Krayn, he never revisits the vision.

The book centers upon revenge, for years ago the pirate Krayn had attacked the Mos Espa slave community where Anakin had lived, scared Anakin's mother more than he liked to admit was possible, and stole the mother of one of his good friends, among others. In the present, which takes place between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan and Anakin are charged with protecting a diplomatic ship from Krayn's pirates. Anakin, of course, desperately wants to go after the pirate and deal out his revenge, while Obi-Wan hesitates when he detects the anxiety that his Padawan feels. When Obi-Wan states in Return of the Jedi that he wasn't as good a teacher as Yoda, notwithstanding the fact that Yoda's Padawan also became a Sith Lord, the obvious reason is lack of communication. Obi-Wan doesn't talk to Anakin like a friend, even though they obviously become good friends by Revenge of the Sith.

The transport is attacked by Krayn, of course, and the two Jedi launch a shuttle to board his ship! It was not obvious to me when Obi-Wan said that the only way to stop the pirates was to board them. The technical hurdles they had to face were huge. Flying through the exhaust blades seems to be a very strange way of going about doing this, too. How did Anakin manage to get behind the pirates, when it was performing such aggressive and erratic maneuvers? It seems strange that the attacking craft didn't monitor a shuttle launch. The shuttle itself must be extraordinarily maneuverable, and the exhaust ports must also be huge, as the shuttle as described seemed to be similar to the one seen in Return of the Jedi.

Obi-Wan's past comes into play when we encounter one of the pirates and it turns out to be Siri, former Padawan of Adi Gallia. I wondered if I had missed a book in this series when I learned the story that led to Siri becoming a pirate, and I wondered if we would encounter the story later. After meeting her, however, I came to the conclusion early on that she was under cover. But to do it for so many years seems very tedious, and might make her sympathetic to the pirates. After all, she would undoubtedly have to do some very nasty stuff, which would bring her close to the Dark Side herself.

When Anakin is captured and made into a slave again, he takes to it remarkably well, even though both he and Obi-Wan state that he wouldn't. He tries to help his fellow slaves, resulting in slightly better morale. I wonder that he didn't use the Force except for once in his time there.

Obi-Wan still uses Astra and her father as an informant, last seen in the Jedi Apprentice series. I want to know when he meets Dex, the knowledgeable four-armed "man" he goes to see in Attack of the Clones. It seems to be a big cliché that Obi-Wan could infiltrate the pirate's organization so quickly, especially after Siri had done the same thing. I suppose that if Luke and Lando could do it, then why not the older Jedi... Fortunately, his undercover work did not require too much convincing, though. The Colicoids bought into it just by his fake referrals, and Krayn trusted their that they had researched him -which they apparently hadn't done.

The Colicoids were the ones that Obi-Wan and Anakin were charged to protect in the first place, but it turns out that they were part of the slave trade in the first place, helping Krayn process spice on Nar Shaada. I guess that's before it came under the jurisdiction of the Hutts -but doesn't it orbit Nal Hutta? Regardless, Obi-Wan, dressed as a bounty hunter of sorts, is hired to inspect the processing center, and is nearly killed by Krayn's Wookie partner because of it.

After Anakin and Siri are imprisoned when Krayn discovers that Siri was once a Jedi, they escape through the daughter of a prisoner that Anakin helped in the mines, who works in the kitchens. Their final deception in organizing a prisoner riot, while Siri convinces the Colicoids that they would be better off without Krayn, was entertaining, but way too easy.

The payoff comes when Anakin finds Krayn and kills him in cold blood, then lies about it to Obi-Wan. Anakin's first kill was in Rogue Planet, and I'm sure he has had others between that book and this one. We never got to see Obi-Wan's first kill in the Jedi Apprentice series, which is disappointing, because I think the author could have written more than one story about it. Just look at the grief the unintentional death of a fellow Padawan did in Deceptions.

I am not certain that Anakin's path is actually the one shown by these books. The Anakin that we knew in The Phantom Menace didn't have revenge in his personality. He has twisted to bad boy too quickly in these novels. I would have liked to see more of a transition of his personality between Episodes I and II, something that would lead to his conscious decision to take out revenge on the sand people in Attack of the Clones.

Based on Anakin's decapitating of the unarmed Count Dooku in Revenge of the Sith, killing a person rather than allowing him to be taken prisoner is a chronic problem that Anakin has. He is too righteous, but he is not evil (at least not yet).

Nevertheless, the book was well-written, and I enjoyed the adventure. I tend to be harder on Star Wars books, because I have a certain belief in how the Jedi acted and behaved, whether it is right or wrong. I am still not enjoying the Anakin stories nearly as much as the Luke stories, and I can't figure out why. I just don't find Anakin's adventures are as inspired. I suppose that because Luke was looking for his path, rather than knowing what a Jedi should be, makes the search more interesting. However, Anakin is also searching for his own path, trying to become a Jedi. It shouldn't be this hard to like the guy.


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