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A novel by Jude Watson (2001, Scholastic Paperbacks)
Jedi Apprentice, book 14
42 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Searching for an overdue Jedi, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan come across a plan to topple a government.



Read on January 11th, 2004  
    Decent enough, but not truly engaging.

Once again, I felt like Obi-Wan was tagging along for the ride, but I suppose that was true for both main characters. For the most part, they were reacting to what was around them. I don't expect them to be in control of the situation all of the time, especially in an investigation where they know nothing at first. However, Qui-Gon went in without a plan, and Obi-Wan simply followed him.

The planet they visited is New Apsolon, a world where Qui-Gon and Tahl oversaw the first free elections only six years before. The society doesn't seem to have evolved much since then. I wonder how much of that is because of the wealthy Civilized part of the population. Not to say that the other part is not civilized. They are simply Workers, and the distinction is still made. If they truly wanted to grow as a society, the distinction should be abolished.

It's no wonder the former head of state was murdered, as both sides seem to have had reason to hate him, even though he was elected for a second term. The Civilized probably disliked him because he rubbed his victory in their faces, with all the parks and monuments to the fallen Workers from the revolution. That is no way to treat the population, even if they didn't do anything to relieve the oppression of the Workers. The Workers probably disliked him because, although they were given the right to vote, their lifestyles don't seem to have changed. They still live in cheap, run-down houses, and most of them still cater to the Civilized. Only people like the security officer and a few others have been able to get prestigious jobs. This isn't the first time in this series that we've seen memorials to the fallen so publicly displayed; we saw it before in Defenders of the Dead, for one.

Of course, the population loved their former leader, for the most part. The most monumental thing he did was abolish the secret police, the Absolutes, so citizens -probably both Civilized and Workers- felt safer.

The author barely mentions much of this, but it is fit into the descriptions and moods of the people and places throughout the book. This is how well the author writes, even when the story is less appealing to me, so that it is an enjoyable read, anyway.

Tahl is actually sent to this place alone, because of a plea from the twin girls of the former, murdered, leader. They felt that the new leader, Roan, was the murderer, and that they were no longer safe in their own palace. However, when Tahl fails to report in after three weeks, Qui-Gon decides that he must follow. He goes against the wishes of the Jedi Council, and this once again shows how he can take actions into his own hands, defying the Council, as Obi-Wan said in The Phantom Menace. It's a wonder that he did say something like that, though, because he is just as headstrong as his master, and disobeys the Council just as often! Obi-Wan is not the play-by-rules type that we (later) see in the movie.

Qui-Gon is in love with Tahl, which, because it is unfulfilled and uncertain, is what has been causing the tension between them lately. I don't remember too much tension from previous books, except that Qui-Gon did seem to fawn over her a little too much when they were together. It's good to see that the authors of the Star Wars universe think as I do on this matter- that there is no reason for a Jedi to be forbidden love. It seems like an illogical plot machination for Attack of the Clones.

Tahl managed to infiltrate the Absolutes, the survivors of which have regrouped. There is a similar group on the side of the Workers. Both have plans on replacing the head of the government by force.

I don't understand why Roan was opposed to calling new elections, since he was not the elected leader. The author appears to be too caught up in an American style government, where the second-in-command can take over unilaterally if the President is killed. In British and Canadian systems, the new leaders are normally expected to call for elections if they unexpectedly take power (though they don't always do so). It lends credibility to the new leader.

The main point of the book is the relationship between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, though that is not at the forefront. While Qui-Gon is distracted, it is very nice to see Obi-Wan giving suggestions and his master accepting them. He also makes up for Qui-Gon's lack of attention by his exceptional observation skills, so that they don't fall into obvious traps.

Obi-Wan still jumps to conclusions, though, something he has to work on. I like the way Qui-Gon is slowly teaching him to keep multiple perspectives, reminding him to be patient, while he can't be patient himself.

For a good part of the later book, I wondered if the Jedi were being played by the twins, or by somebody else. I recognized this before the Jedi did, and it appears that the chief of security, Balog, is responsible. They might still be wrong, though I doubt it. I still think the twins, sixteen year old girls, have a part in the plot, but I can't even speculate about how. I wondered if Tahl was found out in her position among the Absolutes because the twins either told somebody, or were tortured using some devices similar to what was in the museum. Nobody asked how the twins escaped.

The author also often points to somebody who might have the means to be guilty, but who is simply innocent, and I think that belongs to Roan's brother, Manex, though I have my doubts about him, too. He was pretty funny in his luxurious apartment, wanting only wealth, and enjoying it fully.

And so this book ends as a cliff-hanger, once again. Balog obviously lied about the meeting, and Tahl was once again taken prisoner. It is up to Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to rescue her. I wonder how much of Qui-Gon's vision will come true, though. Judging by the titles of the next couple of books, I wonder if the author is going to kill her off. Only time will tell.


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