Slowly the Star Wars community is gearing up for the release of Star Wars Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker. And you know what that means – books. Novels, young adult stories, conceptual design books and visual dictionaries. The first in such a series of books is Star Wars Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray.
I have not read anything before by the author, but the premise was good enough for me to pick it up. And I have not regretted it.
One of those ‘let the Jedi solve it’ stories
Master and Apprentice ostensibly is about a mission Jedi Master Qui-Gonn Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi take to the planet Pijal. There a dispute has broken out that threatens to ingulf the planet in a civil war. What makes the situation harder is that the current ruler is a Jedi. Master Averross had been installed to smoothen the planets administration until the current royal ruler comes of age.
So far so good, it sounds rather average for a Star Wars story. And it is, but Master and Apprentice is a multi-layered story. Averross has a past, the death of an apprentice, and he also plays loose with the rules regarding celibacy. This just gives one small idea of what the backdrop of the story is. The situation on Pijal is so complex it tests the bonds between the rebellious Jinn and his by-the-book apprentice Kenobi.
The story is interspersed with chapters on Qui-Gonn’s apprenticeship to Dooku, providing a second meaning to the title. These sections read ominously, as the reader is already aware of the dark path that Dooku would take. And yet, before Dooku became a Sith lord he first had to fall to the dark side, and before that leave the Jedi Order.
From this story you could a good sense why Dooku left, had the Jedi been different in this time period events may well have gone down differently. What connects Dooku’s and Qui-Gonn currently is Rael Averross. With instructions from Yoda to ask Averross why Dooku left the Jedi Qui-Gonn is thus on a duel mission.
Author Claudia Gray has thus managed to create a complicated story that is surprisingly rewarding. Often the new canon plays it safe – or it feels like that. Master and Apprentice does not and is deft at showing the slippery slope that can lead from the light to the dark side.
What could have been a straight-forward Star Wars book manages to surprise the reader. The backstory of the relationship between Qui-Gonn Jinn and Ob-Wan Kenobi adds meaning to Episode 1. Discussions as to why Dooku had left the Jedi Order adds more understanding to the events leading up to the prequel trilogy.
For those further interested in Master & Apprentice could also pick up Dooku Jedi Lost – which was released little more than a week ago.