I haven’t posted an update in awhile, but the reading has been going at full throttle. Putting together and publishing my Fantasy Hockey Guide pretty much wiped out July and early August for me, but I’ve pounded through a bunch of Star Wars Novels and ready to share my thoughts to the, uh, five people who may or may not read this. Ah well, I enjoy the exercise.
Jedi Apprentice – Books 1-18
This is a series of young adult novellas based on the adventures of Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. Each book is maybe 100 to 180 pages long and very fun, easy reads. Mostly written by Jude Watson, but the first one was written by Dave Wolverton. I have no idea why Wolverton stopped at one and co-wrote the third book…but then moved onto other things. Adventures were broken up into three novellas. And then a year or so would pass until the next trilogy.
Obi Wan is 12 years old and looking to become an apprentice, but is running out of time. He has until his 13th birthday and then it is too late. After being baited into losing his temper by a fellow student, Bruck Chun, the Jedi assigned him to a farm planet where he would use his affinity with the Force to aid with the crops. However, before he was to leave he was given one last ‘spar’ with Bruck, this time witnessed by Qui-Gon, who had yet to choose an apprentice (and didn’t really want one). Obi-Wan emerged victorious, but Qui-Gon informed him that he would not become his apprentice. There was too much anger in him.
However, Qui-Gon’s next assignment was to the very planet that Obi-Wan was sent to. And on the journey there, the two found themselves battling together (as well as Si Tremba, an Arconan miner who befriended Obi-Wan) against a band of pirates. Later, when Obi-Wan is off to his new duties, he is reunited with Qui-Gon after he stumbles on a plot by the mining corporation ‘Offworld’. Qui-Gon’s former apprentice Xanatos is the leader (or a key leader) of Offworld and is plotting to destroy farmland in favor of a big mining contract. At the end of that second book, Qui-Gon asks Obi-Wan to be his apprentice.
Throughout much of the 18-book set, Xanatos emerges and re-emerges as a pretty solid villain. But what I enjoyed the most out of these books was the fact that Qui-Gon grew on me. And watching Phantom Menace with my four-year-old daughter I found the movie more enjoyable…and when Qui-Gon was killed, it actually made a big impact on me. Thanks to these books. Watson’s writing and story-telling improved tremendously throughout this series. Granted, there were silly shortcuts, such as the frequent ‘good timing’ of happening by a window just when the bad guys on the other side review their master plan to each other. But to move the plot along quickly in a small book, shortcuts have to be made. And the books weren’t meant to be Game of Thrones anthologies, just fun books geared towards younger teens.
I also enjoyed getting to know some of the other Jedi. Obi-Wan’s friends Bant Eerin, Siri Tachi, Garen Muln as well as Qui-Gon’s friend and the woman he falls in love with – Tahl. There is further insight on how the Jedi Council operates, which of course means frequent appearances by Mace Windu and Yoda. And you get to follow along as Obi-Wan grows into a 19-year-old and improves as a Jedi. You can breeze through these books in a hurry and I think they’re well worth it – if only for making Phantom Menace more enjoyable.
Jedi Apprentice Special Edition – Deceptions
This 188-page novella was also penned by Watson and combines two generations of Master/Padawan. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan run into some trouble with (the late) Bruck Chun’s father and brother…and then 10 years later when Obi-Wan and Annakin Skywalker are off on a mission they discover that the leader of the ship/community is Bruck’s brother, who still blames Obi-Wan for Bruck’s death. This was a fine read, but if I’m picking and choosing which books to recommend to those who want more background on the Star Wars movies, this is probably not required reading.
Jedi Apprentice Special Edition – The Followers
As with the other Special Edition, this one ties in the two generations with a story that ends and then is reborn 10 years later. This one is a little more relevant to Star Wars history because it explores the growing Sith “cult” – normal beings who aren’t Force-sensitive, yet are eager to learn the teachings of the ancient Sith. The storyline revolves around the acquisition of a Sith holocron and how it taints those who touch it.
I’m closing in on the books that directly surround the movies and at this point the buildup was getting powerful. No regrets in my decision to read all of the books in chronological order. Although I must admit that with Ender’s Game coming out as a movie – I’m tempted to take a break from Star Wars to quickly plow though those books. And I’m also eager to read the new Drizzt Do’Urden book. Stay tuned.