Obi-Wan Kenobi has had a pretty rocky start to his life as an itinerant Jedi. In fact, he’s been a Padawan for all of a few weeks at best and already he’s decided to quit the Jedi Order and then changed his mind. Currently we find him learning it’s not so simple to undo such a declaration.
Welcome to Legends of the Hydian Way, the chronicle of my attempt to read through and review all the novels that make up mainline Legends canon in chronological order. May the Force be with me.
When last we left our dysfunctional duo, Obi-Wan Kenobi had finally realized that leaving the Jedi was a mistake and meekly asked the Jedi to take him back. Qui-Gon, finally remembering that Obi-Wan is a 13 year old boy, agrees to at least let him appeal to the Jedi Council. All of that took a back burner when somebody tried to kill Master Yoda.
Book 7 : The Captive Temple sees Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon return to a temple under siege from within. The petty thefts and sabotage Qui-Gon and his fellow Jedi Knight Tahl had been investigating have turned ugly as it becomes clear the perpetrator has murderous intent. Yoda was nearly killed by an intentional act of sabotage and the Council puts Tahl and Qui-Gon in charge of finding out what’s happening .
Obi-Wan, meanwhile, is still reeling from the events on Melida/Daan and although given probational re-acceptance into the Jedi Order is unsure if Qui-Gon will ever take him back as Padawan. Quickly the two realize that Qui-Gon’s former Padawan Xanatos is behind the attacks, aided by a former rival of Obi-Wan’s named Bruck Chun.
With the help of Tahl, the duo corner and confront Xanatos and Bruck, leading to a lightsaber duel in the Jedi Temple itself. Xanatos escapes, but Bruck Chun is killed when he falls from a waterfall in one of the temple gardens while trying to prevent Obi-Wan saving another student’s life.
Over the Council’s objections, Qui-Gon announces he is going after Xanatos, and Obi-Wan declares he’s going with him. The rift between the two now mostly healed, they set off for Xanatos’s home planet of Telos in Book 8: The Day of Reckoning.
Book 8 represents a turning point in the series. Up until now we’ve mostly been on a series of side adventures all circling around an inevitable final confrontation with Xanatos. In this book, however, we finally get it. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon discover a plot by Xanatos to exploit Telos’s natural resources with his company, Offworld Mining, while distracting the populace with grand gambling spectacles called Katharsis.
Unmasked and cornered, Xanatos spits defiance at Qui-Gon before leaping into an acidic pool to commit suicide. It’s…kind of an unsatisfying ending. Granted, Xanatos was never the most compelling of foes, but still, it felt less like a grand confrontation and more like the author realized Xanatos had overstayed his welcome as the villain and needed to exit, stage right.
Book 9: The Fight For Truth provides a short break in the form of a one-off story about Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan teaming up with Jedi Knight Adi Gallia and her retroactively amusing Padawan Siri to help the repressed citizens on an outer rim world. In a rather disturbing bit of foreshadowing, we learn that the leaders of this world are Forceful beings who had visions of what we as the reader clearly know to be the Empire bringing pain and suffering upon them if the Jedi were allowed to come to their world. While their response to the visions is clearly wrong, the book is pretty explicit that Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan have inadvertently delivered these people to a terrible future.
Likewise, Book 10: The Shattered Peace tells a self contained story about two planets on the brink of war over the prince of one world’s decision to abdicate and live his life on the other our heroes investigate and learn the Prince’s brother wanted to humiliate him, and framed him for a number of crimes and war is averted.
Book 11, The Deadly Hunter marks the beginning of several short story arcs that become the norm for this series post-Xanatos. Qui-Gon’s friend Didi, a diner owner on Coruscant and sometimes information broker finds himself hunted by a whip-wielding bounty huntress and appeals to the Jedi for aid when they stop by to visit him.
Obi-Wan is skeptical, clearly not thinking much of cowardly, criminal Didi, but Qui-Gon knows Didi has a good heart and agrees to help. The two embark on a surprisingly well put together mystery hunt to untangle who wants Didi dead and why. I say surprisingly because up until now in this series if there’s a question of who’s behind events, it’s almost always transparently obvious that it will turn out to be Xanatos. Here, however, I honestly didn’t see it coming that the true mastermind of the plot is Jenna Zan Arbor, a biologist attempting to recover a datapad stolen from a republic Senator which could possibly implicate her in the death of that senator’s son.
Things come to a head as Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan seek to get Didi and his daughter to safety, but are confronted by the bounty hunter, who shoots Didi with a blaster and distracts Obi-Wan long enough that Zan Arbor can wound and abduct Qui-Gon.
With Didi badly wounded, Obi-Wan is forced to return to the Jedi Temple to get medical aid for him, but he knows Qui-Gon needs his help.
Finally for this week, Book 12: The Evil Experiment reveals Zan Arbor’s the goal: to study a Jedi’s connection to the Force and understand it scientifically. Unfortunately, she’s quite mad and plans to do so by forcing Qui-Gon to use the Force and then taking all of his blood for study.
Obi-Wan leads a furious hunt alongside Qui-Gon’s friend Tahl for his kidnapped Master. Making this all more urgent is the revelation that Didi’s wound is infected with a disease for which there is only one antidote, which Zan Arbor has. This stretches belief a bit, not the least of which because it’s stated that somehow the bounty hunter poisoned a blaster bolt to cause this injury. Also of confusion is how a major biomedical firm managed to get every single dose of its product pulled from shelves, even from clinics that presumably purchased it from them already and wouldn’t be likely to just give it back. But anyway…
Eventually Obi-Wan tracks Zan Arbor down to the world of Simpla-12 and manages to rescue Qui-Gon. However, Zan Arbor claims to have a hostage, and will kill them if Qui-Gon leaves. Reluctantly, Qui-Gon chooses to remain and try to free the hostage, while Obi-Wan leaves to get more help.
Overall this week’s books represent a drastic improvement in the series’ quality. Gone is the constant manufactured drama between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, replaced with partnership and tightly written mystery. It’s a welcome change.
With the departure of Xanatos from the series the focus becomes more about the main characters and less about them chasing s villain. This allows for more insight into Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon as individuals. Qui-Gon is passionate, but finds it hard to extend trust based on his past experience. Obi-Wan is dutiful to a fault after his failure on Melida/Daan, but sometimes fails to look past first appearances to the reality of people. It’s good development for some important characters
Next week we finish off our look at Obi-Wan’s training with the last few books in this series. Stay tuned for more as we plunge ever closer to The Phantom Menace.