Up until now in our look at Jedi Quest the series has largely followed Jedi Apprentice’s pattern of one or two off books with an overarching villain lurking in the background. Much to my surprise and delight, the latter half of the series becomes a continuous storyline dealing with the hunt for villain Granta Omega.
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 Obi-Wan and Anakin, the pair were brooding over their own respective doubts following a mission where Anakin accidentally joined a youth hit squad. As we pick up in book 7, Anakin awakes from a vision of danger and cryptic messages, which the Council believes involves Master Yaddle (a briefly seen Jedi Master in The Phantom Menace and female member of Yoda’s species).
Yaddle accompanies Obi-Wan and Anakin on a mission to restore order to a planet in the grip of 3 crime bosses. Over the course of the mission, Anakin is knocked out and captured by one of the bosses who turns out to be none other than Granta Omega here to lure in and kill Yaddle. Using Anakin as bait, Omega forces Yaddle to make a terrible choice – let him kill her or he will unleash a bioweapon on the innocents of the planet.
Yaddle takes a third option, grabbing the bioweapon, which Omega arms to go off, and launching herself into the atmosphere with a compressed air tube. She uses the Force to contain the weapon as it goes off and becomes One With The Force in the process. I was actually quite surprised reading this because I was definitely not expecting to see a character introduced in one of the films killed off in a YA series. However the execution (ha) of the scene is well done and shows Yaddle to be a hero even when she must give all for people she doesn’t know.
Yaddle’s death rocks Anakin to the core. He feels responsible no matter what anyone says to the contrary and realizes he was a fool to think he would be better off without Jedi Masters to tell him what to do. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan chases Omega and learns that he hates Jedi because he is the secret son of Xanatos, Qui-Gon Jinn’s wayward first Padawan.
Soon after, the duo are dispatched to help mediate a war and Anakin ends up captured again (he seems to make a habit of this, and not just in this series of books.) While at a prison camp, he’s experimented on by none other than Jenna Zan Arbor, mad bioscientist and recurring villain from Jedi Apprentice.
Zan Arbor, as it turns out, is working with Omega on a plot involving a new drug she’s developed called the Zone of Self-Containment. This drug creates an emotional detachment in the subject, rendering them placid and easily controlled. Anakin finds that under the drug’s effects he’s finally free of the burden of his own towering emotions and the pressure he’s always felt at being labeled “the Chosen One.”
Zan Arbor escapes as Obi-Wan rescues Anakin, and once free of the drug’s effect Anakin finally breaks down and admits to Obi-Wan that he doesn’t want to feel anymore, that his emotions drive him to recklessness and he is in constant pain over the many tragedies he’s suffered. Obi-Wan is taken aback but embraces Anakin and assures him that no matter what happens, he will not abandon him.
This event brings the two closer than they’ve ever been and leads to some impressive emotional growth from Anakin as he realizes he doesn’t have to hide his feelings from Obi-Wan and can discuss things openly instead of bottling them up until an explosion. In fact, as they chase Omega and Zan Arbor from planet to planet, Anakin even smoothes things over with his rival Ferus Olin and the two form the beginnings of a friendship.
It soon turns out that Omega and Zan Arbor plan to rob a huge Coruscanti fund following a speech by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. The Jedi move to stop them, but learn almost too late that the heist is a diversion for the real plot: an assassination attempt on Chancellor Palpatine! Seriously, I think Palpatine needs like, a punch card or something. “Survive 10 assassins’ attempts and get your 11th for free!”
While Ferus manages to protect Palpatine, the attack still kills around twenty other members of the Senate in a shocking display that rocks the entire Republic. Omega and Zan Arbor escape, but the Jedi send a strike team to Korriban to catch them.
Jedi Quest comes to a finale as the Jedi corner Zan Arbor and Omega inside the tombs of the Sith on Korriban. Anakin spends much of the last book going through some pretty serious character regression after he learns that Ferus is being considered for early elevation to the rank of Jedi Knight and feels it should be him up for that promotion. He’s pretty, cruel, and honestly unlikeable for most of the book and erases so much of his own development. He even ignores his friend Tru’s lightsaber having a potentially deadly fault because Tru asked Ferus to fix it and not Anakin.
This decision proves disastrous as during the confrontation with Omega and Zan Arbor (who command an army of blaster slinging “Sith Zombies,” weirdly enough) Tru’s lightsaber fails and leads directly to the death of another Padawan named Darra.
Zan Arbor escapes to plague us another day, but Omega finally meets his end as a weapon he’s using overheats and explodes, killing him. The victory is hollow for our heroes in light of the death of a Jedi. Things get even worse when Ferus declares he is leaving the Jedi Order. He accepts responsibility for Darra’s death because he attempted to fix Tru’s lightsaber instead of alerting their Masters that Tru’s weapon was not battle-ready. This mature, if severe reaction is a sharp contrast to Anakin, who completely misses the point, taunts Ferus, irreparably damages his relationship with Tru, and determines to become the most powerful Jedi ever and prove everyone wrong about him.
Jedi Quest ends on a depressing note. Anakin loses much of his character growth throughout the series, the Jedi are despondent, and Ferus Olin, one of the only people willing to actually call Anakin out on his crap, is gone.
Don’t mistake this melancholy for me disapproving, as I found the latter half of Jedi Quest to be the best of any of Jude Watson’s work we’ve read this far. It’s exciting, engaging, and tragic. Anakin’s trademark terrible decision making has realistic, lasting, and predictable consequences and just like real people often do he learns exactly the wrong lessons. He willfully ignores the truth to avoid having to admit he was wrong. It’s heartbreaking in an all-too-true-to-life sort of way.
Jedi Quest actually takes place over the course of a number of years and for the sake of not breaking up the review we’ve gone a bit ahead chronologically. Next week we jump back two years to when Anakin was 14, Obi-Wan was still using Qui-Gon’s lightsaber, and a very ambitious project prepares to depart for Unknown Space. See you then for another Legend From the Hydian Way!