The Jedi Apprentice series was a natural fit for a young adult novel collection just after the release of The Phantom Menace. Obviously Obi-Wan was a popular character and his teenage years in the Jedi Order provide a fertile field for adventure stories about someone the age of the target audience. Equally natural then was the decision to do a sequel series about Obi-Wan and Anakin in the wake of the events of The Phantom Menace, called Jedi Quest.
It’ll be a bit more time before we get there, but Jedi Quest was also written by Jude Watson and has two crossover specials with Jedi Apprentice. Since these books are both published under the Jedi Apprentice name, it feels appropriate to review them now.
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.
The first of our books today is Deceptions. In both special edition novels, the first half of the book is dedicated to an Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon story, and the second an Obi-Wan/Anakin story which is tied closely into the events of the first half of the book.
Deceptions takes place shortly after Xanatos’s death and attempts to bookend a few loose ends from that part of the series. The father of Obi-Wan’s rival Bruck Chun arrives with an attorney to essentially launch an inquiry into whether Obi-Wan’s killing of his son Bruck was legally culpable. Obi-Wan insists, correctly, that he didn’t kill Bruck. Instead, he argues that Bruck fell off of a waterfall in an attempt to stop Obi-Wan from rescuing a student he’d taken captive.
Meanwhile, Qui-Gon is torn between his apprentice’s need for support as he struggles with the trauma of Bruck’s death right in front of him, and the needs of his friend and love interest Tahl who is dealing badly with the trauma of having been blinded not long before.
Reading this story is a needed reminder that the life of a Jedi is a dangerous one, and not without its tolls. Even though he knows he did the right thing, Obi-Wan is plagued by nightmares and doubts about Bruck Chun’s death and the hatred levelled at him by Bruck’s father and brother aren’t helping.
Eventually, the last-minute discovery of a recording device planted on Bruck by Xanatos vindicates Obi-Wan’s version of events and charges are dropped. However, Bruck’s family makes it clear they consider him a murderer and will never forgive him.
At this point we fast forward ten years to the early days of Anakin’s training. The first mission he and Obi-Wan are officially assigned to sees them going to investigate a mostly self-sufficient spacecraft known as the Bioship.
Aboard the Bioship, they learn that the inhabitants have all given up on the governments of the galaxy, deciding that complete independence and community with each other is the only way to avoid repeating past mistakes. It turns out the leader of this group is none other than Bruck’s brother, now going by the title of Uni. Several side characters from the Xanatos arc are also aboard, and our duo quickly discover that the same person who sabotaged the Jedi fighters ten years ago is sabotaging the Bioship.
Uni absolutely refuses to believe Obi-Wan, nursing the hatred he’d developed for the Jedi after Bruck’s death. He orders the two to get off the Bioship immediately. Unsatisfied and suspicious, Anakin and Obi-Wan do some surreptitious investigations and learn that Uni’s father has betrayed the Bioship. By faking a pirate attack with the help of Xanatos’s old company Offworld, he hopes to make off with the riches of everyone aboard after they evacuate.
When presented with proof, Uni is devastated and furious with his father. However, it turns out Offworld doesn’t want to share, and Uni’s father is killed in the ensuing fight. Anakin pilots a starfighter to buy time while the Bioship is evactuated, and in the aftermath Uni admits that his hatred blinded him, and that maybe he was wrong about Obi-Wan .
Our second book for today, The Followers is a simpler story that doesn’t tie into events from earlier books. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon attend a lecture given by professor Murk Lundi, an academic on the controversial cutting edge of Sith historical scholarship. The Jedi think Lundi may be about to make a move on obtaining a lost Sith holocron, which would obviously be something the Jedi aren’t too keen on having become part of public discourse.
The pair follow him, Obi-Wan getting more and more frustrated by their lack of progress, until finally they arrive on a world wracked by intense tidal shifts. The day of their arrival marks the only time in ten years that the location of the holocron will be accessible.
The duo descend into a now exposed undersea trench to follow Lundi, whom they find completely maddened by the holocron and enraged that he was not able to retrieve it. The tides close in, and the pair haul a protesting, raving Lundi back above the water to safety.
Ten years later, a rash of wannabe Sith Cults and a number of Jedi murders refocus the Council’s attention on Murk Lundi and the Sith Holocron. Obi-Wan and Anakin are assigned to take him from the asylum he’s been in since the incident before and use his knowledge to secure the holocron before the newly resurgent Sith can get it.
Lundi is a wreck of a man, vindictive and raving by turns. Anakin is equally infuriated by his attitude towards Jedi and pitying of his obvious brokenness. The Jedi track down the holocron’s old location, but find it has already been stolen by a former student of Lundi’s.
Anakin finds the idea of power that Lundi promises seductive, even though he knows logically that the cost is too high. It makes sense, given his background that he really chafes against the inability to just right injustice under his own steam. Obi-Wan for his part feels unequipped to handle Anakin’s complicated emotions. This really resonates well. After all, he went from Padawan to Master with no break, no experience, and he’s much closer in age to Anakin, making the father-like relationship he had with Qui-Gon nearly impossible.
The pair track the holocron to a ship belonging to the thief. Anakin dodges laser fire in the ship while Obi-Wan boards the vessel to recover the holocron. He finds the thief, a man called Norval, has used it to build a very crude lightsaber. He’s no match for Obi-Wan, however, who breaks his lightsaber and steals back the holocron.
He returns to their ship to find Anakin cradling a dead Lundi. Anakin explains that Lundi was dying the whole time they’d been with him, and that he didn’t think it was right that the man die in a cage, no matter what he’s done.
Obi-Wan softens, once again struck by the contradictions of his Padawan. He is simultaneously compassionate, angry, kind, and cruel. But this moment serves to bond them together, as they both recognize the power of mercy to those that don’t deserve it. Lundi even kind of apologizes for his desire to own the holocron now that he’s seen how it broke his students.
It’s strange to read these books back to back, since where one is strong, the other is weak, and vice versa. In Deceptions, the Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan story is really strong. It has emotional pull, nuanced depiction of familiar characters, and a connection to the ongoing plot of the rest of the series. Meanwhile, the Obi-Wan/Anakin story has next to none of that and doesn’t really stand out as anything other than a way to tie a bow on a few loose ends from the earlier books.
On the other hand, The Followers features a very stock story for Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, with the biggest conflict coming from Obi-Wan learning the tired Jedi lesson of “don’t get angry.” The Obi-Wan/Anakin story, however, does a wonderful job of showing the damaging effects the lust for power has on people combined with capturing the troubled Obi-Wan/Anakin dynamic.
In the end, these aren’t essential reads by any means, but they do have some really good insights into the differences between Obi-Wan’s very healthy apprenticeship and Anakin’s more difficult one. They are worth a look if only because of the character development they provide to help bridge the somewhat jarring gap between the Anakin of The Phantom Menace and the one we meet in Attack of the Clones.
Next week we have another Jude Watson book, but this one promises to be a little different. Why’s that?
It’s about Jedi Love. Stay Tuned!