If you’re wondering why there hasn’t been a blog in a while… I suppose you can blame it on all these crazy SW-related happenings happening on a day-to-day basis. Between rewatching TCW episodes I haven’t seen in forever, finally seeing The Ewok Adventures movies, and all this crazy exciting new SW news in general (including a rumored Clone Wars Soundtrack… aw yeahhhh!), it’s been difficult to figure exactly what to blog about! And by the time I finally got to rereading the book I’m blogging about, writing notes about it, and getting all prepped to make a post, I just had to catch a cold! 😦 Sigh… such is life oftentimes, but now at last I’ve got my creativity regained (I usually lose some of it when I get the sniffles and have to wait until I’m well again to get it back; To make it clearer, I stink at writing and drawing when I’m sick) and everything ready to make a fantastic new blog!
So, to explain this new series of posts I’m calling Star Wars Summer Reads…
As a SW fan, I love reading SW stories. Love ’em. After I finally got acquainted with the Prequel Trilogy in 2011, I was excited to read some SW fiction for realsies, because after all, watching Episode I alone helped me understand and have a greater appreciation for the Originals. But well, there’s something rather intimidating about the section of Timothy Zahn novels at my library… I didn’t know where to begin! To me personally, I prefer SW stories that involve the characters I’m familiar with in timelines I’m familiar with, that mainly feature the good guys and keep them good guys (I’ll be honest, folks, there’s small chance I’ll ever read Dark Empire), and are legit Star Wars without being confusing (as I am still a Padawan SW fan). So I found the best place for me to start was in my library’s children’s section. Not saying I’ll never read the “grown-up” SW novels (especially considering that I really want to meet this Mara Jade I’ve heard so much about), but for now, this is where my comfort zone lies. Anyway, my library have two shelves of just their SW young readers’ fiction… and I just ate. it. up! That day, a few weeks past seeing Episode I, I grabbed ahold of Grievous Attacks (a novelization of TCW Season 1 episodes Rookies, The “Droid” 2-Parter, and Lair of Grievous) and Jedi Quest: The Path To Truth. Since then, I have enjoyed three particular series: Jude Watson’s Jedi Quest, Paul and Hollace Davids’ Jedi Prince, and Ryder Windham’s The Clone Wars: Secret Missions. I thought it’d be fun to give you guys a Closer Look and my thoughts on each series’ first book. So now if you haven’t read them, you can read them and then read the following blogs and enjoy my random ramblings and spazzings on each. I’ll eventually get to the other chapters in each series, but until then, you can enjoy the ride! I’m writing a Closer Look on each of these books in chronological order of its happening in the SW galaxy, so it makes sense to start off with the series that meets in between Episodes I and II. Now, making the jump to LIGHT READ!
Ugh that was terrible… I’m sorry… (HyperCollinsSpace?) AGAIN. I’m SORRY. I’ve got too many SW reading puns… just you wait until Star Wars Reads Day! If you’re not annoyed now, you will be… 😛
Grievous Attacks was the first SW book I ever read, (I hadn’t really seen much of TCW at the time but I knew enough to feel comfortable reading it) but as for Jedi Quest… that was the first SW fiction I ever read! Rereading this past week has been fun, especially considering I barely remembered what happened in it. Bottom line, when I first read Jedi Quest, it was right around a difficult couple of days in my life and I barely remembered the book itself. Plus, it’s been over two years, so it was overdue for a reread anywayz.
NOTE: Contains spoilers from Episode I, Episode II, Jedi Quest: The Path To Truth, and various TCW Episodes Blue Shadow Virus, Deception, The Gathering (and the episodes that follow), Revenge, and The Lawless.
Jedi Quest: The Path To Truth, is written by the awesome Jude Watson and is the kickstarter for her Jedi Quest series. The Path To Truth is sort of the #0, as it precedes the events of the following series and can be read separately from the rest of the series, so it’s simply referred to as Jedi Quest on the cover. Just don’t want us get confused when I do my next blog on the actual series’ first chapter. Upon rereading this book, I was shocked that I had forgotten so much of this story’s intense fights, daring escapes, and raw emotions! At the time I’d first read it, I had only just seen Episode I, so it was a perfect bridge to seeing Episode II several months later. Ms. Watson has some serious skills when it comes to writing; the way she gets into the minds of Obi-Wan and Anakin is astounding… so if you haven’t read this yet, go and read it! It’s nothing new (in fact, it was written a year prior to Episode II’s release, 2001), so you shouldn’t have too much trouble digging it out of your library. But still, it’s so so worthwhile!
The story opens in a pretty planet-shaking flashback of a younger Anakin on what began as a perfect day on Tatooine. Perfect weather, no work, and a picnic with a friend… what could possibly go wrong, right?? Well, as any SW fan knows, peace and perfection will often be interrupted by something like war, battles, bounty hunters, explosions, etc… in this case, it was a very sad thing as Anakin’s community was hit by a slave trader named Krayn (using the term “slave trader” loosely here; the guy’s horrible! But you knew that). My heart breaks for dear little Anakin as he sees his friend lose a parent and his mom in mortal fear. Poor kid… it’s hard to ignore what exactly shaped his life. Give us about six years later, and the tides have shifted; Anakin’s a Jedi Padawan and he’s helping Obi-Wan drive through… Illum, of all places. It’s funny to think that Anakin’s only twelve and may I repeat HE’S DRIVING?! Not all the way of course, but dang. How must it feel for Obi-Wan here to admit that his very young apprentice can drive better than he can? XD
It’s like poetry reading what Ms. Watson wrote from Master Kenobi’s point of view. You see this side of Obi-Wan that we don’t see a whole lot; a more vulnerable, caring side. Not that he doesn’t ever come off as such (Anakin to Obi-Wan: “How can you be so calm?!” “I’m not; I just hide it better” – TCW Season 1 episode Blue Shadow Virus), but as my theory still states, a part of him is trying to be a “perfect Jedi” after all of the mistakes he’s made in his youth and his standing as the likely youngest Jedi to have a Padawan, so of course he sticks to his “focused Jedi” guns. This book, and the other Jedi Quest books to follow, give us a lot of time to see into this awesome guy’s heart and soul. And being a huge fan of Obi-Wan, it’s TOO MUCH AWESOME!! X3 It’s really something seeing the way these two work together, especially as what started out as a lightsaber-building excursion became an intense near-death fight with a herd of vicious gorogodons (don’t you just love when stuff like this happens?! 😛 )! I think to call the battle “nail-biting” would be the understatement of the century (I don’t know how it is but I spent a whole lot of reading this book crying, gasping, and spazzing); I mean, Anakin was knocked off his feet for a long enough time for us to figure that Obi-Wan, who was already in over his head, was a goner. And then, sweet victory, Anakin makes his move at just the right moment and they both lived! Gosh, that was scary! OK OK we’re moving on from all that drama. Can you believe that it’s only been a couple chapters at this point??
So as you know, this is how Anakin made his lightsaber. It’s always interesting to note how many different ways I’ve seen lightsabers made… some make ’em hands-free (Barris Offee in the Clone Wars miniseries), some make them with friends and a cool droid (the younglings in TCW Season 5), and some just buy a SW Science Lightsaber kit from Toys R Us (that’d be me) 🙂
My guess is that methods changed after the Clone Wars started so they could get it done faster, but IDK. This method is one I’m not entirely crazy about… it’s a pretty frightening, rattling experience from what this book exposes (and btw, this was one of the first ideas about this, as Illum and the lightsaber-making process are never seen in the movies). I never said it was easy, but this whole “shadows and visions” thing… that makes it a smidge harder. This particular chapter in the book was one of the hardest to read as it hits really hard emotionally, but its being deeply emotional is one of the things that make it such a great chapter despite its sadness. Obi-Wan’s vision is so heart-wrenching to read… this is one of those parts I really teared up reading. His vision was a repeat of Qui-Gon’s death. Ouch. No Maul involved, just the feeling of helplessness as Obi-Wan once again can’t do anything to help his dear master. And the vision repeats itself until it brings Obi-Wan to his knees in tears (you read that right: tears), even more so as the vision has some sort of message in it that our awesome Jedi can’t decipher. Exposing this side of Master Kenobi, like I said before, is one of the best things about the Jedi Quest series. But boy, is it hard to not get caught up in the emotion of the moment.
On the other hand, Anakin had two disturbing visions: one involving his mom getting kicked around by Krayn and another where he faced… Darth Maul. Obviously, the first vision is both heartbreaking and infuriating as images Anakin had tried to forget resurface in his mind, and young Skywalker takes it about as well as he um… usually does when someone hurts someone he loves (which isn’t very good, and especially not the case when he’s a Padawan). And while I could ponder on this vision and Obi-Wan’s for weeks and still wonder about their affect on the duo’s lives, the second one really deserves some conversation. When I read this first time around, the whole “Darth Maul returns” TCW episodes hadn’t aired yet; in fact, it was entirely unknown to me at the time. So the fact that Maul is not only challenging Anakin, but he’s doing a lot of talking, is absolutely surreal. I was all “When did Maul get so chatty??” Looking back, I’m quite shocked how accurate his dialogue is as compared to say, Maul’s disgusting taunting of Obi-Wan back on TCW Season 5’s The Lawless. And back when this book was written, it was still assumed that Maul was dead. Maul’s going on and on about how awesome Anakin would be in the Dark Side, and somehow Anakin managed to win this battle… for now, as Maul makes it clear that the little dark part of Anakin will always be there. Yikes. It’s certainly not the last future-foretelling vision Anakin would have, but it doesn’t make it any less of a harsh reminder. Creepier still, the lightsaber Anakin made seemed to be a gift from our Dathymir friend, just Anakin got a blue blade instead of the red one that Maul offered up in the vision. Again, yikes… how it is that Obi-Wan and Anakin just walked out of the Crystal Cave like nothing happened?! I guess the fact that they had themselves called for a mission before they even left the Cave.
It’d be worthwhile to take a minute and mention something I’d thought about as the duo gets their mission from the Council. Man, the reputation these guys must have around the Jedi Temple! Anakin being mostly distrusted and doubted and Obi-Wan being so young and all… the briefing went well in the long run, but it wasn’t without some serious awkwardness. Of course, that’s what comes from the fact that this mission involves one of Anakin’s least favorite people, Krayn. Obi-Wan sorta thought for ten seconds that maybe his Padawan wasn’t the one for the job, Anakin totes didn’t agree (that awkward moment when a Jedi Padawan speaks up entirely out-of-turn in the Jedi Council; see also Ahsoka Tano) and Obi-Wan had to backtrack his thoughts and try to pretend he didn’t say that. Boy, that’s a sour way to kickstart a mission. That and having to ride in a lovely, cramped, boxy Collicoid ship. Sounds like a lot of fun, right? Don’t worry, it gets better. So, the ride begins and Obi-Wan has to take some time to reassure Anakin that he still trusts his abilities. You see through Obi-Wan’s thought process that it truly isn’t easy being a Jedi Master, nor is it easy living up Qui-Gon’s legacy. But the obvious (dare I say it) love he has for Anakin and for Qui-Gon is a constant motivator despite the difficulties.
We also learn a few intriguing things from Master Kenobi… a) he was once temporarily suspended from the Jedi Order at 13 (WHUT?!), b) Qui-Gon had a Padawan prior to him, Xanatos, who turned to the Dark Side, and c) An old Jedi friend of Obi-Wan’s has switched sides and is working for Krayn. I still don’t know all the deets on the first two, but the third one we’ll get into soon. Because thennnn Krayn ended up attacking the ship. You know how they say “be careful what you wish for”? Anakin’s learned the meaning of that one, big-time. Thankfully, the genius mind of Obi-Wan’s and the exceptional abilities of Anakin are on it. This is where the fun begins…
It would’ve been a much shorter, less complicated mission if Anakin hadn’t decided to go face Krayn… but I suppose it would’ve been a much shorter book then, too. Whyyyy do Padawans do this?? They just go off thinking they can fight anybody and then they get into trouble and their Master has to get them out of it! Of course, it’s not worth complaining about, but I was certainly ranting that right after Anakin did as such.
The trouble wasn’t Krayn this time, it was a girl named Zora. Obi-Wan knew her better as Siri; Adi Gallia’s Padawan and one of his best friends. She kidnaps Anakin, Obi-Wan outs her for leaving the Jedi Order, Siri fires back her distaste for the Jedi, and Anakin’s all “Master, could you just reprimand her over the internet and, I don’t know, consider SAVING ME?!”. #Awkward
So when one misplaces their Padawan and starts suspecting the Collicoids, it’s best to dig up some info, and Obi-Wan is especially good at digging up info. Somehow, he does a lot of it at eateries. We all know about Dex’s Diner in Episode II, but prior to that, he stopped at Didi and Astri’s Café. I love how Obi-Wan has so many awesome friends here and there and everywhere. We get the chance to meet Didi, a guy who initiated an unexpected mission for Qui-Gon a while back (uh yes, he is a guy despite the name), and his daughter Astri. What could be a better combo? Good food, good friends, and some good information delivered on the side 🙂 Oh, and free hugs! You’ll need ’em if the tip from your friend takes you to the seedy Coruscant underworld.
So getting back to that whole “Zora/Siri” thing… Obi-Wan, after some thought, believes now that she wouldn’tve abandoned the Jedi, and the Council proves his assumption to be true. Siri was indeed part of a mission spying on Krayn by masquerading as a pirate. Remember that Obi-Wan/Rako Hardeen craziness back in TCW Season 4? I get why the Jedi do things like this, but these are both situations when faking your death or pretending to go rogue don’t sit well with those left out of the plan. I for one was super happy that Siri was still a good guy; see, I somehow totally forgot her role in this book, but I remembered her better in her role in the first book of the Jedi Quest series The Way of The Apprentice from reading it for the first time last year, where she was a really cool, strong, and dedicated Jedi. So when I first read the stuff about Zora being Siri once, I had to question “Is this the same girl?!” She is, but she’d never truly been a bad girl to start with. Thank goodness… Siri is truthfully one of my fave SW fiction characters.
And what about poor Anakin? Yes, Siri is protecting him, but he’s also a slave in the Nar Shadaa spice mines. Under Krayn and his droids. A slave… again… that stinks beyond belief. The excellent description makes this terrible world a reality to the reader. But despite the horribleness of the situation, Anakin brings a little hope and an unexpected helping hand to the slaves around him, one of those being a Twi’lek woman named Mazie… and she was kind of a jerk to him! But that shouldn’t surprise us too much, considering what Shmi said about how generous and kind to others Anakin is in Episode I. In the long run, they become good friends. All the while, Anakin still holds out for his Master to rescue him
Not too far away, that’s what his Master intends to do, and he’s going to do so disguised as a slave trader. And he might also fight a wookiee henchman along the way (letting the wookiee win is out of the question; if he wins, Obi-Wan loses).
Meanwhile, despite getting into their own brand of hot water, unexpected friends Anakin and Siri have their own rescue to perform: that of Krayn’s slaves. I love how they mesh together; while some of Obi-Wan’s wisdom has rubbed off on her, Siri still maintains an understanding of both the awesomeness and frustration of working with him, in a way that relates well with Anakin. She has a good sense of wit and sarcasm amidst the insanity of it all.
“…He has this habit of telling you the truth just when you don’t want to hear it.” – Siri, on Obi-Wan in this chapter. That’s so true XD
So as they put their heads together to escape their cell, meet up with Master Kenobi, and free the slaves, it’s plain and evident they’re fast friends and work together awesomely, just as it seems was the case for Siri and Obi-Wan not too long ago.
Now, with the plan falling perfectly into place, you’d think everything would stay that way, right? But somehow, we find Krayn and Anakin staring each other down, and this time around, Anakin’s got his lightsaber. Hoo boy… this will get ugly… throughout the fight Anakin is fighting with himself as to why he’s doing this – for himself in anger or for others in justice. I mean, I’m personally glad he managed to defeat Krayn, but I do have to wonder if Anakin truly did the right thing. Anakin pushed away any thought that what he was doing was wrong with the thoughts that this was justice. But is his definition of justice correct? I myself am not entirely sure. D’oh, my head always hurts when I start going on these “Was this character truly right or wrong?” thoughts. I mean, we all know where Anakin ends up in the long long run in the SW universe and this had to have had an effect, but has Anakin always been wrong in his defeating of truly terrible villains? It’s worth some more thinking, but not right now.
It’s oftentimes a little jarring to have such a dark moment followed shortly by a light, victorious, satisfactory ending. Siri’s back to where she should be, the galaxy’s rid of Krayn, a ton of slaves are free, and the awesome threesome that is Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Siri are heading back to Coruscant in class and comfort by Senatorial escort. Even a sweet farewell between Anakin and Mazie. All is well for the moment. Yet we’re left with some concern from Obi-Wan, but he reassures himself he’ll continue to do his best to make a true Jedi out of his Padawan.
So of course, there had to be a whole series to follow this story, to tell more pre-Clone Wars tales of a younger Anakin Skywalker becoming a Jedi. Despite it may come off a tad dark in parts, Jedi Quest is an awesome awesome 5-star book and it remains a favorite of mine (even if all the SW books I’ve read have become favorites). And now you’ve managed to read through my longest blog to date, so that’s cool. So you can get excited for the next SW Summer Reads blog next week! Yayyyyy 🙂 Until then…
Keep The Peace,