Welcome to my latest Book Review. In this series I will look to review any canon books that come out in the Star Wars galaxy as I work my way through them. I am no expert book critic or expert in writing (as you may be able to tell), so this is very much from a fan’s point of view. In each review, I will also try to point out a few “Moments in Canon” – moments that link into the wider canon and references to other canon stories. Today I will be looking at Claudia Gray’s Master & Apprentice
There may be some mild spoilers for this novel
Following on from the release of her first 3 Star Wars novels (Lost Stars, Bloodline and Leia, Princess of Alderaan), Gray’s next input to the galaxy was the short story “Master and Apprentice” in the book From A Certain Point of View. This story was from the point of view of Qui-Gon Jinn’s spirit as he appeared to Obi-Wan while Luke Skywalker returned to the burning homestead.
The entire universe seemed to have grown larger in an instant—full of incredible possibilities.
Her next Star Wars project would be this, keeping her focus on the same titular master and apprentice, but putting it at a much earlier stage of their relationship. at time of writing, this is the novel set earliest in the canon, not counting the audio drama Dooku: Jedi Lost.
Set about 8 years before The Phantom Menace, this story shows Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi trying to make their pairing work despite being 2 very different personalities, while trying to help an old friend of Qui-Gon’s with a political dispute on the planet Pijal.
What had his master done?
The main point of view characters are of course the pair of Jedi, while Rael Averross and a couple of other supporting characters also feature as POV characters. While the majority of the story is set in the present time, there are some flashbacks showing Qui-Gon’s time as Dooku’s apprentice as well as an epilogue set concurrently tot he final scenes of The Phantom Menace.
While this certainly doesn’t make my top 2 Star Wars books by Claudia Gray, her work is of such a high level, that is not a hit on the book at all, it just sadly didn’t hook me in quite the same way as Lost Stars or Bloodline. The book starts with the end of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s previous mission and it felt like something that would have probably worked better on screen than in the book, as I found that it took me a while to understand what was going on, before then moving on with the story, with the only real impact being pushing Qui-Gon to further question his relationship with Obi-Wan.
Once the story got going though, I really enjoyed it, as we got some great character growth from both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan as well as a great mystery developing on Pijal. I must admit that I changed my mind on who the real villain was 3 or 4 times throughout the story and was still caught out by the reveal, though I absolutely loved it when I found out who it was and their motivations.
He hadn’t been honest with Obi-Wan primarily because he hadn’t been honest with himself.
Both Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon feel realistic to what we have seen before, and any differences (like Obi-Wan enjoying flying in the book) are generally explained as the story progresses. It was also great getting more Qui-Gon content and getting to see inside his mind to understand why he was so different to the council and why he was so invested in the prophecies. The big new character here is of Rael Averross, who provides another different perspective to the other 2 Jedi, as he has been away from the Order for so long after having paid a price for his recklessness in the past. I also really enjoyed the flashbacks, as they allowed me to see how Qui-Gon changed, but also see those hints of Dooku’s descent towards the dark side.
What this novel does really well is something that is also done in part by Dark Disciple: it not only gives us more information about the Jedi Order, but it also highlights how the Jedi Order a a whole has lost its way. Dark Disciple shows it by having the Jedi trying to arrange an assassination, while in this it becomes clear that most of the Order are now not trusting in the Force and have strayed from the path of their original teachings, really highlighting how characters like Qui-Gon and Ahsoka are the ones who remained most faithful to the true path of the Jedi.
“We don’t choose the light because we want to win.” Averross smiled sadly. “We choose it because it is the light.”
What I really enjoyed about this novel was seeing some content from a different time, even if it was only 8 years before The Phantom Menace. It meant that there was enough familiarity, but it also left things really open and free. Similarly, it was a nice reminder to me of the Jedi Apprentice series in Legends. I would love to get more content showing Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon together and think that showing their mission to Mandalore and Obi-Wan falling in love with Satine Kryze could be so effective. Similarly, I would love to see some stories showing Anakin and Obi-Wan in their early days as mater and apprentice. They are times that we are familiar with, but we know so little detail about!
Should I read it?
The Jedi Council had a habit of assuming that silence equalled agreement; Qui-Gon had found this habit useful, from time to time.
If you are fans of Qui-Gon or Obi-Wan, I think that this is definitely worth a read. Claudia Gray is such a good Star Wars writer, even the stories that I rate lower still end up ranking relatively high when I rank all of the Star Wars stories.
Moments in Canon
- The Sith are mentioned to have governed most of the galaxy millennia earlier
- Obi-Wan was considered late to join the Jedi Order, being 3 years old when he was brought in. Rael was brought in at 5 years old – the oldest Qui-Gon had heard of at the time. Anakin Skywalker would be 9 when he was inducted into the Order.
- Dooku has already left the Jedi Order by the time of this novel, having inherited the title of Count
- Rael is served by Maz Kanata when on Takodana
- Obi-wan recalls the Guardians of the Whills and their mantra “I am one with the Force. The Force is with me.”
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on it? Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you…