A book by Claudia Gray
At some point in the late 1990’s I stopped reading Star Wars Expanded Universe books (now referred to as “Legends”) as I was “gifted” with a keen knack to choose easily the worst ones whenever I went to purchase them. Because of this, I never really got to read any of the ones based in or around “The Prequel Trilogy” as I had long since checked out. With the acquisition of the Star Wars license and a new determination of what was and was not “canon” I decided to read some other “Canon” books while waiting for my long delayed next The High Republic book to be available at the library. Ultimately, I settled on Star Wars – Master and Apprentice, a book that sets out to flesh out the Backstory of the relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and his master Qui-Gon Jinn. The book is by Claudia Gray, which as of this current moment is one of my favorite authors for these novels, as I quite enjoyed her work on Into The Dark. That fact coupled with an ongoing Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series that I hope has a cameo by his master at some point, I figured it was perfect timing.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi has deep respect for his Master, but struggles to understand him. Why must Qui-Gon so often disregard the laws that bind the Jedi? Why is Qui-Gon drawn to ancient Jedi prophecies instead of more practical concerns? And why wasn’t Obi-Wan told that Qui-Gon is considering an invitation to join the Jedi Council—knowing it would mean the end of their partnership? The simple answer scares him: Obi-Wan has failed his Master. When Jedi Rael Averross, another former student of Dooku, requests their assistance with a political dispute, Jinn and Kenobi travel to the royal court of Pijal for what may be their final mission together. What should be a simple assignment quickly becomes clouded by deceit, and by visions of violent disaster that take hold in Qui-Gon’s mind. As Qui-Gon’s faith in prophecy grows, Obi-Wan’s faith in him is tested—just as a threat surfaces that will demand that Master and apprentice come together as never before, or be divided forever.”
With me having a clean slate, having never read the Jedi Apprentice books, I had literally no pre-conceived notions of where the story would be going, and as such it was pretty awesome to find out about the exploits of Qui-Gon especially, considering his miniscule screentime in the films. Overall, I felt this book did some good at showing the relationship between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan while giving them an interesting story to work within involving diplomacy and a royal coronation gone wrong. While the two Jedi are sometimes at odds, the book shows why the pair are the perfect combination of rebelliousness and esotericism (Qui-Gon), and a “by-the-book” approach (Obi-Wan) due to the partnership.
I liked how it is revealed that the entire reason the two were put together was because Obi-Wan was a problem as a youngling and ALWAYS rebelled against authority, by putting him with a Jedi that never follows the rules, it would naturally force him to be the model example of what the Jedi Council expects in a Jedi Knight. We also see the seeds of one of Qui-Gon‘s more notable character hooks from Episode I, his obsession with prophecies and legends.
This book follows a similar structure that was used in Gray’s previous book that I’ve read, Into the Dark. There is a main story and a backup story set in the past that helps flesh the main story out incrementally. Both alternate throughout the novel and generally the flashback stuff, showing the exploits of a teenage Qui-Gon Jinn as he becomes obsessed with prophecies much to the chagrin of his master Dooku, goes to mirror or explain things in the present – usually showing why Qui-Gon does some of the things he does. I actually really liked this because Dooku is yet another character that was never realized well in the films despite the acting caliber of Christopher Lee, so this combined with the book based on his life Dooku Jedi Lost, one can get a sense of how he was before he was entirely corrupted. When it comes to these canon books, and even the TV shows themselves, I like these that go for obscure parts of the franchise instead of over-explaining the characters we see all the time.
I overall really liked this book, and with all of the twists and turns it was never predictable. the majority of the plot hinges on the lead up to whether or not a vision happens as predicted, so in many ways this book somewhat feels like a reverse mystery or “who done it” novel. Characters are realized well, and I can’t wait for even more stories of these two well before the exploits of The Phantom Menace. Honestly, ever since I got back into reading these novels a few years back, this is probably the best overall book in the series I have read so far.