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A novel by Jude Watson (2003, Scholastic Paperbacks)
Jedi Quest, Book 6
25 years before and Star Wars: A New Hope

Anakin and Obi-Wan are chosen to help Jedi Master Yaddle set up a provisional government on a planet that has been taken over by crime lords.



Read February 6th to 10th, 2013, in paperback  
    Considering that these books are meant for young readers, they are written better than some adult books I've read. The author focuses on Anakin's fears and uncertainties in his relationship with his master, and Obi-Wan's continuing struggle to be a teacher with his own style. The author has backed off from Anakin's overly-dark persona here, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, the end of the story suffers from some questionable logic and internal consistency problems.

Spoiler review:

For much of this book, I was confused about the title, but by the end, it actually reinforces what we know about Granta Omega from the previous books. He wants to impress the Sith he knows is out there, so he baits the Jedi so he can kill one, thinking to gain favor with the Sith.

The book starts in the Jedi Temple, as Anakin gets a vision from the Force. He thinks he is supposed to free his mother and the other slaves on Tatooine, but Yoda interprets it differently. He sends Obi-Wan and Anakin to Mawan with Yaddle, in order to reach a diplomatic settlement between the three crime-lords who have taken control of the planet after the civil war.

After what happened in the last book, Anakin is unsure of how his Master feels about him, because Obi-Wan is pretty much silent about how he feels. At one point, Obi-Wan compares his behavior to what Qui-Gon used to do, even though he knows that he is not like Qui-Gon and Anakin is not like Obi-Wan was at this age. Every time he wants to comfort Anakin, things get in the way. So all throughout the book, Anakin feels like he is disappointing his master, especially when someone sacrifices her life to save the Mawans, and he could do nothing to stop it.

Obi-Wan states that he's been to this planet before, but it doesn't seem to have been recorded in any of the novels, especially not from the Jedi Apprentice series. The capital city of Nataan is really the only place of worth on the planet, and it is this city that has been divided by the crime lords. Of course, Anakin and Obi-Wan get to visit all three of them.

The first is the most benign, Feeana, a native of Mawan, who has been selling goods and security to the people. She seems like a reasonable-enough person, who was very good at stealing just to get by, then picked up followers and became a gang. It's easy enough to convince her to agree to support a provisional government and user her gang members as security forces as the Jedi try to get the power grid under their control.

Next they go to Decca the Hutt, disguised as band members for a celebration she's having (after winning a key location in the city from Striker). There's a funny moment when Anakin and the others discover that Obi-Wan can't sing -at all, so they tell him to keep his mouth shut!

An attack on the party by Striker's gang leads to Anakin's capture when a thermal detonator goes off, and Anakin ends up in Striker's bunker- and Striker, of course, ends up being Granta Omega. From here on, incomprehensibly, everybody starts calling Striker "Granta" or "Omega" -even Feeana and the others who said they knew nothing about him, and they've obviously known this mystery man as "Striker" for far longer.

Anakin is tempted by Omega's offer to actually go to Tatooine and free the slaves there, work as a freelance Force-user, even though he hates Omega for betraying him a couple of books ago. Instead, he refuses, which I think Omega was waiting for all along, because he then demands to see Yaddle, to negotiate his way off the planet. Yaddle agrees, even though she knows it must be a trap. So when it becomes obvious that Omega will not negotiate, and offers her a terrible choice, Anakin and Omega are shocked when she cuts off Anakin's stun-cuffs and charges into a launch tube to chase after the toxic bomb Omega just launched. She catches it, but Anakin watches in horror as Yaddle gathers the Force to her while she implodes the bomb into her being, sacrificing herself for the inhabitants of Mawan.

This pushes Anakin over the edge toward hate, and even though Obi-Wan doesn't blame the boy, he can only offer hollow words of encouragement, and Anakin sees through him -his disappointment. Luckily, Yoda comes to Mawan to finish Yaddle's diplomatic mission of setting up the government. He gives Anakin some good words of wisdom, which Anakin tries to take to heart, though he still feels guilty. I wonder what kind of guilt he would later feel after the battle of Geonosis in Attack of the Clones, where more than a hundred Jedi died to save two Jedi from the arena.

The story doesn't end, of course, as the three crime lords team up to overthrow the Jedi in an attempt to take back the planet. Yoda and Obi-Wan come up with a clever idea, which shouldn't have worked. They have their contacts, Swanny and Rorq, reroute wastewater into the fuel supply lines. Apparently none of Decca's people has fueled a speeder or starship before, because they don't notice that the fuel smells like waste or looks different as they do so. Of course, none of the vehicles can start, and Decca blames Striker, who sent her the fuel.

The Jedi go find Striker, who was apparently so impossible to find that nobody had ever seen him before, but Feeana has easily found him now, in order to betray the Jedi and join him with her gang members, and Decca also easily finds him. Obi-Wan and Anakin with Yoda easily defeat them all by somehow turning on all of the flame-throwers as they simultaneously upend the box the weapons are stored in. I think that's quite a feat, even for Yoda.

But we finally get a confession from Omega as he begins his escape. He is apparently the son of Xanatos, who was killed on Telos in The Day of Reckoning, when Obi-Wan was still a Padawan! Was Xanatos that old? I remember him being portrayed as only a few years older than Obi-Wan, but I could be mistaken. But to have a wife and child whom he could send into hiding when Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan hunted him down seems like stretching things a little.

The only real question that doesn't get answered in this book is a big one: how did Granta Omega know so many details of Anakin's vision? He must have spies or recording devices inside the temple, specifically in the room where Obi-Wan had been meditating. And that, for certain, is troubling, to say the least.

The tension between Anakin and Obi-Wan progresses naturally, especially after what happened at the end of the last book, and the immature relationship the two have at the moment, where they are still learning to be teacher and student. Obi-Wan needs to learn that Anakin is fragile emotionally, in that he needs to feel that he is doing things as he is supposed to, and for that, he needs lots of praise, which he is not getting. I hope they can reconcile their feelings naturally over the course of the rest of this series.


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