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ALL TIMELINES


ALL TIMELINES

THE TRAIL OF THE JEDI

A novel by Jude Watson (2002, Scholastic Paperbacks)
Jedi Quest, book 2
27 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

On a training exercise to strengthen their bonds Obi-Wan and Anakin are attacked by a series of bounty hunters, and learn of a new enemy.
                                                                                     

 

 

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Read February 15th to 16th, 2011  
    While I'm ambivalent of another potential Sith cult popping up, the story that introduces it is quite entertaining.

The main adversaries in this novel, as in The Way of the Apprentice, are another young brother-sister team, this time a pair of bounty hunters named Floria and Dane. I was afraid that when they Floria was introduced, she would betray them, and I was right. Fortunately, Obi-Wan saw through it right away, and Anakin wasn't too far behind.

Obi-Wan and Anakin went to Ragoon-6 for a training mission, in order to track a Jedi named Wren, a Force-user's version of hide-and-seek. The mission is supposed to strengthen their Master-Padawan bonds as the two try to find clues to the hidden Jedi in the landscape. Unfortunately, as expected, Anakin doesn't take it too seriously -even boasting that he could find Wren in a single day. But he is so focused on what he wants that he rushes and things go wrong.

He takes a wrong turn into a pack of vicious animals, then another into a cavern that floods as they get into it. Obi-Wan lets his Padawan make these mistakes, and doesn't question the odd circumstances, either. That's when they meet Floria, who pretends to be weak and helpless. It turns out she is part of a group of five bounty hunters trying to capture the two Jedi.

One by one, they take down the other bounty hunters, using a variety of tricks, including having to rescue Wren from booby-trapped treetops. I really liked that one, mainly because Obi-Wan actually used his wits to outsmart the hunter, though I thought he should have been able to use the Force to startle the birds. With the last hunter, though, I was cringing, because they should be using the Force more. There was no need to lasso the thermal detonators, for example, when they could easily Force-push them away.

The new bad guy, with an unknown motive, but in possession of a few Sith artifacts, is named Granta Omega. He is cunning, and I liked the way he impersonated one of the bounty hunters on the mountain, pretending to have stunned legs as Obi-Wan and Anakin passed by, supposedly in the custody of the two young bounty hunters.

We also get to meet Dexter, the cafe owner from Attack of the Clones, who bought the cafe from Didi and Astri, people we met in earlier Jedi Apprentice novels, and who moved on in The Path to Truth, which was really nice continuity.

The real meat of the story, though, takes place in the heads of the two main characters. They are in a sticky situation, and had to rely on each others' power of observation to get out. Obi-Wan keeps listening to the voice in his head, hoping to hear Qui-Gon's advice, which he passes on to Anakin. It's nice to see how that advice frustrates Anakin more than anything, until Obi-Wan realizes that his student is not himself at a younger age, and that he is not his teacher when he was that age. He came to the planet because Qui-Gon brought him there, just before Talh's death (was that in The Death of Hope - I have no mention of the planet in my review of that book).

Throughout the book, Obi-Wan does things because his master did them, like withholding information, and teaching lessons instead of answering questions, things adults do often with children. But by the end, Obi-Wan realizes that his dynamic with Anakin is different from his dynamic with Qui-Gon, and I think that will make him a better teacher. He starts adapting to Anakin's thirst for knowledge, his emotional attachment to everything, including situations (where he characteristically charges right in). Anakin will never learn to think before acting, but Obi-Wan will learn to read his Padawan's mood. Anakin asks a lot of questions, mostly about why he didn't recognize the dangers that Obi-Wan did. Obi-Wan's answers are mostly "experience", which is realistic.

And so I expect that the story of the Sith follower will continue in the next book. I hope the author can keep up this kind of emotional challenge and thoughtfulness, while spinning even more interesting and intriguing stories. Based on the previous series, I am looking forward to it and expect nothing less.

 
   

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