Lots to catch up on here as I continue to plow forward with this project. There are 11 young adult novellas up next, under the handle “Jedi Quest”. And so, without further ado:
Jedi Quest: Path to Truth
Jude Watson is back to write this set, this time with the experience of “Jedi Apprentice” behind her. The Jedi Quest novels emulate the style of the Apprentice novels, but instead of Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, you have Anakin and Obi-Wan. And as with the other series, this one moves through the apprenticeship of the Padawan from the age of 12ish through 19ish. This first book is a stand-alone, and walks us through Anakin creating his lightsaber and then later faces his first test of anger in fighting a slaver (remember – Anakin is a former slave).
I like how these little books are not only easy reads, but builds into the plot of the movies. They make the movies better and help you appreciate the world that George Lucas created. In this first book, you get insight on Anakin’s battle with his frustration and his temper. The movie did a terrible job of this – it tried too hard and that was all too apparent.
On a side note – very cool how the cover artist blended the two Anakin actors to give us a believable picture between the boy and the man (see illustration).
Jedi Quest: Books 1-10
Ten adventures that help us get to know Anakin Skywalker, as well as the relationship between he and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Getting to know Anakin made me like him. The movie failed to do that, but watching the movie after these books really did make it better.
Anakin loves gadgets and has a knack for putting things together, building on what Phantom Menace tells us. He loves fiddling with gadgets in his spare time and that’s pretty much all he does in his early teen years. He doesn’t make friends because he holed himself in his room and tinkered with droids. Plus the kids his age were intimidated – and a little jealous – because he was ‘the chosen one’. He was exceptionally gifted and this was obvious to all.
As Anakin grows older and gains experience from the quests, he grows more confident in his abilities. His anger and impatience increase. He makes friends, but becomes extra hard on himself if/when he fails them. He blamed himself for the death of a Jedi Master, Yaddle (same species as Yoda, introduced to us in earlier books), and for a serious injury to a fellow Padawan (Darra Thel-Tanis). He takes the events very personally, which drives him to be more perfect, which in turn increases the negative reaction (read: Dark Side) whenever he fails.
Anakin makes a Padawan friend, Tru Veld, and a Padawan enemy, Ferus Olin. But Ferus doesn’t do anything wrong, he’s just a very good and focused student and Anakin feels competitive and never really gives him a chance. In the end, Anakin’s actions – or rather, his inaction – nearly cost Tru his life and Ferus left the Jedi order. Tru’s friendship ended there. Another push towards the Dark Side. As a series, if you don’t mind an easy read, this is a good one. Great for kids aged 10-14 for sure.
Written by Alan Dean Foster, who ‘ghost wrote‘ the novelization of the original Star Wars book and as such is considered one of the original authors of the expanded Star Wars universe. Approaching Storm ties in with the movie Attack of the Clones. It further paints the picture of a crumbling Republic in which Chancellor Palpatine tirelessly struggles to hold together – but is secretly masterminding the chaos. He has the Trade Federation, the Commerce Guild and the Separatists on puppet strings. It’s a 350-page novel that gives us one more look at Anakin’s relationship with Obi-Wan, as well as another Jedi Master and Padawan team, setting us up for the inner conflict that we see in the movie. The four Jedi are off to a planet which is approaching a vote to leave the Republic, in an effort to convince the council there to stay. But of course, their attempts are sabotaged by people (mainly the Hutts) hired by the Commerce Guild, who is led by a rich, cut-throat business woman named Shu Mai. We also meet Count Dooku towards the end. The events in this book were referenced in the movie when Mace Windu said that Obi-Wan had “just returned from a border dispute in Ansion”.
I like the idea of the book, but I felt as though it was stretched beyond the novella that it was meant to be, with pointless plot extras.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
We’ve made it to the second movie. This one was written by R.A. Salvatore, an author I really enjoy. In fact, based on his Drizzt novels, he is my favorite author for battle scenes. He can paint a picture of one-on-one combat like nobody else. And he did a great job with this book. While Terry Brooks, another author I enjoy, struggled to get comfortable with Phantom Menace, Salvatore had no such problems. It was seamless and effortless.
The book adds quite a few extra scenes, such as Schmi Skywalker enjoying her new family and then her subsequent abduction. There is also added focus of Anakin’s visions of his mother, and increased description of his wiping out the clan of Tuskan Raiders (the movie didn’t show any of that). The book also focused a lot on his love for Padme, and hers for him. In fact, there was an added scene in which Anakin sits at the dinner table with Padme’s family. And there is plenty of talk about having kids, which Padme thinks about quite a bit throughout the novel. All of these things do well in adding to movie (in which I found Anakin to be far too immature and whiny).
Boba Fett: Books 1-4
What a great idea. At first, I wasn’t looking forward to reading about a 10-year-old kid who is capable of far more than he should. But I grew quickly absorbed in the books. The first book, The Fight to Survive, gave us side stories to Attack of the Clones. Boba and his father Jango spending time together, and how Jango trained him to be a Mandalorian warrior from as soon as he could walk. By the midpoint of the first book, Jango dies and Boba finds his body and buries him. He keeps the Mandilorian helmet, as well as a book-like datapad that Jango left for him detailing instructions on how to survive in the event of Jango’s death. Jango left him substantial wealth hidden throughout the galaxy and not to mention his many contacts.
The books didn’t make Boba an immediate success, or a prodigy, which is a good thing. He could fly a small spacecraft, but only relying heavily on auto-pilot. He could shoot a blaster and he could run and hide. But not much else. He gets taken advantage of, robbed, kidnapped (by Count Dooku – and escapes thanks to a Republic invasion) and each time is another lesson learned. By the end of the fourth book, at just 11 years of age, he wins a job with Jabba the Hutt thanks to his cleverness. As with the Jedi Quest novellas, these are quick, easy reads but very fun.
For these Republic Commando books by Karen Traviss, it’s as though I left the Star Wars universe altogether. Sure, there are Jedi. And blasters. And (very little) space travel. But otherwise, these were primarily special forces military books. It was actually a nice change of pace. Traviss really knows her military jargon and how ‘strictly business’ commandos act and speak. It’s too bad these books would be hard to make into a TV movie since most of the characters look the same. You see, the books are about the clones. This is great for letting the reader learn about how each clone has his own personality, and is capable of love, anger, fear. It’s one thing to read about the different characters since each is assigned a name, right? But in a movie, unless they were wearing neon name-tags that flash, you couldn’t tell one from the other.
Anyway, Traviss was clever in the way she painted the picture of the Commandos hunting down a lab and the scientists within, and destroying a virus that’s sole purpose was to wipe out clones. Very convincing.
In the second Republic Commando book, the same gang from the first one – Fi, Atin, Niner and Dar – again meet up with the Padawan Etain, who is now a Jedi Knight. This “Omega” group teams up with another foursome “Delta” group and another Jedi Knight and, under the leadership of the Mandorian who trained them – Kal Skirata – search, covertly, the city-planet Coruscant for Separatist terrorists who have been setting up bombs and killing clones.
We learn a lot about how the clones were raised on Kamino, and trained by mercenaries such as Skirata. We also learn about “Null” clones, the first batch of clones who were sentenced to death for having too much of a will of their own but were saved by Jango Fett and Kal Skirata. The ‘Null’ clone Ordo is featurned prominently.
Besides the actual search for, and subsequent killing of, the terrorists, the subplots really added a lot to my journey through the Star Wars novels. Sparks continued to fly between Etain and Dar, showing us that the clones could love and adding an interesting side-line for future books. Can they marry? Have children? Do the children have accelerated growth? Because clones grow twice as fast, they have half the life span. All very interesting points, many of which you wouldn’t think of when you’re just taking in the movie. Yes, this universe is as vast as the real one!