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SECRETS OF THE JEDI

A novel by Jude Watson (2005, Scholastic Books)
A Clone Wars Novel
Set 40 years and 20 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

While protecting a young boy with information about an assassination, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Anakin try to hide their true loves from the Jedi Order.

 

 

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Read September 18th to October 15th, 2013, in softcover for the 2nd time  
    I found this book difficult to get through. I found it a stretch back in the Jedi Apprentice series that Qui-Gon had actually fallen in love with Tahl, and now even more so between Obi-Wan and Siri -does every Jedi have to harbor this resentment against the Jedi Council? The other thing that really bothered me was that the Jedi rarely used the Force, at all, falling into standard traps, and using non-Force tricks to dodge things, when it should be second nature to them.

Spoiler review:

Most of what I mention below still stands. Rereading this to my son didn't make it any better. The author has certainly written more engaging novels. Part of it was that I never really liked Taly, in either story. The other part was of course that I had a lot of trouble believing that Obi-Wan and Siri had ever fallen in love. We read so many stories in Jedi Quest where they are obviously so at ease with each other -all the author does here is say that they both buried their feelings. I have a lot of trouble with this, even for Obi-Wan.

The other aspect that bothered me -and this happened a lot in the Jedi Quest books, especially - was that the Jedi only used the Force when the plot demanded it, and they didn't use it often when they should have. Some examples were when they were running and became trapped in the room as Taly's second in command tried to escape, or when the fuel tanks exploded on the decryptor planet.

 

 

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Read December 30th, 2006 to January 2nd, 2007  
    It looks like the author had a good idea that she could have explored, but she was constrained by the fact that the Jedi Order was bound by certain unreasonable rules. Unfortunately, instead of exploring what love means to the Jedi, there was very little exploration done at all.

This story was mainly plot, with the love story superimposed upon it. The plot involves a young boy who is a superwhiz at computers and security. Out of boredom, he taps into communications channels and overhears five bounty hunters describing their plot to assassinate twenty planetary leaders. As a result, he becomes a target of those same bounty hunters. Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Adi Galia and Siri are sent to escort the boy to a Senate hearing.

As they move from place to place, always just behind or just ahead of the bounty hunter, the Masters and their Padawans are separated. Everybody had incredible insight into where the bounty hunters were, or where the next move in this game would take place. Yet other than that, the Jedi don't use their powers at all, not to move obstacles out of their way, or to influence the fights they find themselves in.

I liked the way Obi-Wan and Siri stole the ship of the bounty hunter Magus, sneaking out from under his nose while he was watching for them to board an outbound vessel. A final trick of Magus', however, leaves them in a ship about to explode as it exits hyperspace. Other novels have shown that it is impossible to perform any communications from hyperspace -even emergency broadcasts, so the author is breaking the rules with their plan to be pulled from hyperspace. Also, if they were ready to leave hyperspace near Coruscant, then the two extra hours they waited would take them way beyond their destination.

Both Masters and Padawans magically and independently come up with the location of the conference where the assassinations will take place (though the Masters use the Jedi Archives). The boy surrenders himself when Obi-Wan and Siri's ship is boarded, knowing that he still has information that can keep him alive until the Jedi can rescue him. I enjoyed parts of the fights against the bounty hunters at the conference, yet once again, the Jedi hardly used the Force at all. They also made some idiotic decisions, like leaving the meeting undefended while two bounty hunters were still on the loose. And how in the world did Magus escape from Obi-Wan and Siri? I wish we could have had an extra chapter for that. The bounty hunters were pretty idiotic and single-note themselves, as the one who managed to attack the planetary leaders when the Jedi weren't around spent the whole time throwing fire at a table, when they were unarmed and he could have easily shot them.

Everything ended up fine, however, as the Jedi eventually prevailed. The first part of this story, which takes up the majority of the book, was not conceived well enough for my tastes. However, I enjoyed the second half much more. The same boy, now a man, has created his own security company, to nobody's surprise. He has created a miracle code-breaker, and wants to sell it to the Republic. But he is also willing to sell it to the Separatists, if the Republic doesn't meet his demands. Senator Amidala is sent to bargain for the Republic, and Obi-Wan, Anakin and Siri are sent to protect her and the device.

The device is promptly stolen by a member of Taly's closest staff, and sent to the Separatists through Magus -but Taly placed a bug in it so that it wouldn't work. He had the real device with him as they escaped. Anakin and Obi-Wan didn't know that, however, and were "forced" to let Magus get away. This is a fine example of how the rules change arbitrarily for the Jedi. Anakin can easily find his way through a holographic screen to find the landing platform, but takes forever to find the real door in a holographic hallway. He and Obi-Wan think that by the time they get to a ship and into the sky, Magnus will be in the stratosphere. That's not far. On a nearly abandoned desert planet, they should have no trouble finding him and forcing him down or destroying him. After all, Anakin found Zam Wesell several sky lanes up in the crowded space above Coruscant in Attack of the Clones.

At a secure Republic outpost in the middle of nowhere, they turn the device over to specialists, and Padmé is sent on her way, but the Separatists traced them and attacked.

Anakin led the space battle, while Obi-Wan and Siri went to retrieve Padmé's crashed escape pod. Magus finds them, however, and  ground battle ensues, in which the Jedi finally use the Force, if only to navigate a very tough route through narrow channels. Magus, however, is also a good pilot. Siri figures the only way to destroy him is to give him a great surprise, so she jumps from her ship to his, and causes him to crash, which kills them both. Her death was both in character and a justifiable sacrifice.

The code-breaker is destroyed instead of being turned over to the Separatists, and it is doubted if Taly can ever reproduce this super-code-breaker. Convenient.

Amid these plots is interwoven the love story. Qui-Gon and Tahl's love from the Jedi Apprentice series is touched on, though I wish the author had explored the meaning of that farther. Mainly we are concerned with Obi-Wan and Siri's growing attachment. As they find themselves working together more and more as Padawans, they grow closer together, and they are, after all, in their late teens by now. But although Obi-Wan is willful in the Jedi Apprentice series, he is also made out to be a person who abides by the rules. So when he is confronted by Qui-Gon and Yoda, he relents, and both he and Siri agree that they are better off if they remain Jedi, and suppress their feelings. In the later story, they haven't seen each other for a long time, and their friendship has suffered because of their decision. But they agree that it has been better this way. Unfortunately, they don't back up their reasoning with examples or any sort of rationale. Agreeing to resume their friendship makes it inevitable that Siri would die.

The love story between Anakin and Padmé is more straightforward, because we know that it actually happened, and the author does not have to try and squeeze a love story into a character that we know believes in the way of the Jedi. I think Anakin and Padmé get to make love in this book, though it is only barely suggestive. Is this the last time they see each other before Revenge of the Sith? (Is this when Luke and Leia are conceived?) Regardless, the author managed to get both of their mannerisms and their tones of voices perfect. I felt like I was reading a transcript when they spoke. It was great.

Unfortunately, the author does not explore what it means to be a Jedi in love, and she certainly cannot express why the rule was created, at least not to my satisfaction. Distraction and loyalty to a love instead of the purpose of the Jedi is true about anything, not just love. The Jedi were easily distracted by politics and war. There must be many instances of young Jedi nurturing romances, no matter what the customs. I would have liked to see the way the Jedi deal with it properly. A promise to behave and meditate instead is not good enough. There must be some sort of training program -or something!

Siri's Padawan was Ferus Olin, but he left the Jedi order long ago. Was that in response to the Clone Wars? Or does it occur in the Jedi Quest series? The author makes it seem like a common occurrence, as Obi-Wan and Siri and Qui-Gon all consider leaving at one point. In Attack of the Clones (the novel), however, it was made clear that only a handful of Jedi ever left the Order (which doesn't make sense, either), and that Count Dooku was one of those. What do those non-Jedi with potentially lethal Jedi powers do?

This book feels more like a juvenile book than most of the Jedi Apprentice series did. Short, clipped sentences, simple solutions to complex problems, and problems that seem insurmountable but could be easily solved with more thought, (rather than "I forgot I could do this" reasoning) are plentiful. Fortunately, the second part works well enough to make up for some of the shortfalls in the first part. Is that because everybody is an adult, now?

Regardless, I am still impressed that the author manages to find (or create) such links between the three generations of Jedi to create these crossover novels. I wonder if the ideas are getting old, however.

 
   

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