I really should have seen this coming. Today’s book really could have been a part of last week’s look at Jedi Apprentice Special Editions because although it does not bear the Jedi Apprentice branding it most definitely is a third special edition for that series. What makes this one different? It’s all about Jedi in love, at least ostensibly.
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.
I’ll say up front that after four weeks and more than twenty books, I was really ready to be done with this series. It’s had ups and downs, but this one really clinched my desire to move on.
Secrets of the Jedi by Jude Watson bills itself as a compare and contrast between how Obi-Wan and Anakin handled falling in love. That seems like a decent concept on the face of it, however at this point in Legends Obi-Wan had never fallen in love and thus Secrets invents and then discards a love story for him.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Our story begins with an eighteen-year-old Obi-Wan accompanying Qui-Gon, Adi Gallia, and Adi’s Padawan Siri on a mission to escort a ten year old witness to the Senate. The boy, Taly, overheard and recorded a group of bounty hunters planning an assassination. These same bounty hunters are now after him. The Jedi escort him off of his homeworld, but are ambushed, crash landing on a secluded planet lacking much in the way of space travel options.
The group holes up in a cave to take stock. The next morning, Qui-Gon and Adi instruct Obi-Wan and Siri to guard Tally while the two masters attempt to procure transport off-world.
You may remember Siri from a few appearances in Jedi Apprentice. She was always depicted there as a pretty no-nonsense, actions first sort of person. Obi-Wan and she worked well enough together but I never got the impression anything more was hinted at. In this book, however, it takes very little time for the two of them to suddenly become infatuated.
Despite struggling with these forbidden feelings, they manage to sneak Taly off the planet, while Qui-Gon only manages to get stranded in a bounty hunter’s escape pod with Adi. Fortunately the two of them figure out the assassination targets and somehow use the escape pod to get there.
Meanwhile, Obi-Wan and Siri are trapped in hyperspace by a booby trap placed on their ship. If they revert to realspace, they explode. Faced with seemingly certain death, they confess their very sudden attraction to one another. Taly, however, comes up with the idea that the booby trap probably won’t blow up if they are forced out of hyperspace by pirates. With no options left, they turn on a distress signal and hope to get attacked. Some pirates take the bait, and fortunately Taly’s guess was correct and they are not killed.
This leaves Obi-Wan and Siri in the awkward position of being Jedi involved in a romantic relationship. They talk it over and decide to keep it a secret, since neither wants to leave the order and neither wants to give the other up. In the aftermath of foiling the assassination plot, however, Qui-Gon notices the two talking, and somehow figures out that they are in love from watching them talk by a pool.
In a fit of hypocrisy after what happened with Tahl, Qui-Gon informs Yoda of the relationship and essentially the two of them have an intervention with Obi-Wan, which leads to Obi-Wan and Siri making the oh so emotionally mature choice to bury all memory of the incident and move on as though it had never happened.
Fast forward to the Clone Wars, and we join Anakin, Padme, Siri, and Obi-Wan on a mission to negotiate with the now famously brilliant and reclusive Taly for a codebreaking device he has developed. It’s clear both Obi-Wan and Siri are in s state of uncomfortable denial about the events of their whirlwind romance but Anakin is at this point married to Padme. This is where I expected to find some interesting compare and contrast going on, but Anakin and Padme’s relationship is barely touched upon. At most we learn that Anakin is frustrated he can’t order his wife to stay at home and be safe (um…duh?) and that Padme doesn’t like it when Anakin tries to. Thrilling.
The real focus of the book remains on Obi-Wan and Siri. Much ado is made about the codebreaking device and the book eventually comes to a head with an attack by the CIS fleet to steal the device from the Republic. In the end the device is destroyed and Siri sacrifices herself to save the rest of the cast, leading to a tearful goodbye from Obi-Wan, who finally realizes that denying the emotions he felt was a mistake. It is unclear, however, what he thinks the right course of action should have been.
I have to admit, this book really seems like it was going out of its way to avoid having any kind of impact on the rest of legends canon. Obi-Wan’s relationship with Siri is introduced and discarded over the course of three days, and Siri herself doesn’t survive the novel. The codebreaking device is likewise destroyed by the end of the book and honestly nothing of great importance is accomplished by anyone.
But the bigger question at hand: does this book deliver on the examination of Jedi in love that it promises?
Technically it does look at Obi-Wan’s decision to deny his feelings vs. Anakin’s decision to embrace them, but only in a “technically” sense. There’s no real comparison, no real evaluation of their choices. There’s not even really any resolution on whether either person made the right choice.
It’s really a shame because this topic is one that, done better, could have been fascinating. For proof, just watch The Clone Wars TV show and see how this exact topic is handled there between Obi-Wan and Duchess Satine of Mandalore.
I’m disappointed to leave Jedi Apprentice behind on such a low note, but I’m not all all disappointed to be leaving it behind. I need a change of pace. Something definitely not aimed at young teenagers and definitely not about Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Something like…Darth Maul! Check back next week for a look at the complete opposite of Obi-Wan’s training years.