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A novel by Jude Watson (2003, Scholastic Paperbacks)
Jedi Quest, Book 5
25 years before and Star Wars: A New Hope

Anakin and Ferus go undercover at a school for the rich in order to investigate the disappearance of a Senator's son.



Read February 23rd to 26th, 2011  
    This series, like the Jedi Apprentice series before it, keeps getting better. The author is getting comfortable with Anakin, and I think she has highlighted a particular trait of the character and is focusing on it in these books, possibly to the exclusion of all else.

Anakin is a restless Jedi. He is not content studying problems and finding political solutions to crises. He wants to be doing things, and gets very frustrated waiting around for things to happen. This is how the book opens, and how he remains throughout, just as he has in the first four books of this series.

The first pages deal with Obi-Wan and Anakin's request for information regarding Granta Omega, based on his association with Senator Sauro in the last book. The request is denied, which is strange because they claim it is a very old law that allows them to do this, and Obi-Wan's friend claims to know all of the old laws.

They are then given their new assignment, which is to track down the son of Senator Tarturi. Obi-Wan interviews the Senator, who doesn't give him any information, not even that his biggest rival is Senator Sauro. They are locked in a battle regarding the sharing of power among the other inhabited planet in the same system. Rana Halion wants to be a second senator for that system, and feels that Tarturi is neglecting her planet. Sauro is secretly supporting Halion.

Anakin and Ferus, meanwhile, are sent to the high-security school where Gillam Tarturi disappeared. Ferus becomes popular with the high-profile students, while Anakin falls in with the less popular, scholarship, ones. Anakin discovers a boy who is able to circumvent the security, and tries to befriend him. Another student, Marit, befriends Anakin, and from her, he learns that a special group has been formed among the poorer students, which takes contracts from outside sources. Anakin thinks that Gillam was kidnapped by these students, so successfully joins them undercover.

It is interesting to note how Anakin justifies his actions. He knows immediately that the group has been involved in some illegal activity, but ignores it in the interests of his own mission. He knows he might need to do some shady stuff until he finds Gillam. It is to this that Obi-Wan later refers after Ferus disappears, saying that Anakin chose wrongly in going with the group instead of searching for his fellow Jedi, but I'm not so sure. He didn't have a chance to communicate with Obi-Wan, though he should have done so when he was left along with the fighters as they arrived. After Gillam, who set up his own disappearance, captures Ferus, he has the team leave immediately, so although Anakin had started his search, in order to keep up his search for Gillam, which was his own mission, he had to leave as well. After all, in the last book, he was told not to help a fellow Jedi, because the Padawans should be able to look after themselves.

I think Obi-Wan is being too hard on Anakin. While last book it was Anakin who felt like his master had betrayed him or not trusted him, this time it's the opposite. I think he felt betrayed when he had to hear from Ferus that Anakin had left without telling him, and came down hard on Anakin for everything that came afterward because of it. He also remembers when he left the Jedi Order to fight for a cause on Melida/Daan in Defenders of the Dead, which worries him.

He doesn't even want to hear how Anakin, when he learned that they were going to attack a spaceport instead of a flyby, disabled the weapons on the fighter. Many of the other students were betrayed by Gillam, as well. Marit doesn't know that they planned to kill Anakin to substitute for Gillam's body, in order to humiliate his Senator father, and cause a civil war in this system, giving power to Rana Halion.

Once again, we see how Anakin's connection to the Force is second to none. When Gillam and Halion find out he is a Jedi, they send in battle droids, and Anakin destroys all of them before Obi-Wan and Siri arrive, sporting Gillam's datapad with detailed plans on it. Ferus found the pad in the old abandoned tunnels below the school, just before he was locked in by Gillam, who had been hiding in the same location.

If there is any problem with this series, it's that Anakin is portrayed as too dark. He is headstrong, yes, but is shown as being too tempted by the dark side. He simply needs to be in constant motion. He doesn't like to think things through, though I thought he did a good job here.

So although all the bad guys are captured, and will presumably be imprisoned (at least the Jedi have more proof than in The Dangerous Games), the fragile trust between Obi-Wan and Anakin has been broken. Presumably that will lead into the next few books, in which they will recover and bond closer than ever.


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