I'm Back! And let's talk about Padawan and Obi-Wan in particular.
It's been a long time since I blogged on this site. Life gets in the way sometimes. I've tried to update the timeline as quickly as possible but that's all I've been able to commit to recently. But now, I've got a little bit of time and I'd like to jump in to the most recent book I've read and talk about it some.
Padawan is a young adult/teenage book that focuses on Obi-Wan at age 16 as he has only recently been assigned to Qui-Gon Jinn to learn how to be a Jedi. He is struggling with connecting with Qui-Gon and begins to wonder if he really has what it takes to be a Jedi. He has no confidence in himself and feels Qui-Gon doesn't even want to be his Master. I feel like there have been other books that have come before that already went over this time in his life but they have been relegated to the Legends category and so we get to go through it again. The relationship between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon has been explored in much more detail in the book Master and Apprentice, taking place about a year after Padawan. The story in Padawan barely featured Qui-Gon at all, instead focusing on Obi-Wan as he does something rash in order to prove to himself and his Master that he was able to hear the Force and act upon it. Without going into too many details for those who haven't read the book, just understand that Obi-Wan has years to go before gaining any real confidence in his abilities and developing a close bond with his Master.
The story overall is fine, if not predictable. Obi-Wan finds some old information left behind by a Jedi from the Old Republic and decides he needs to look into it further and impulsively takes off by himself to find the planet that was listed in the information. Right away, we see an Obi-Wan that doesn't exist in the future, a brash, impulsive and insecure Padawan with doubts about his abilities and his future with the Jedi. All of this is believable as he is only 16 and must find his path and become confidant through experience and his mentorship with Qui-Gon. But there are two problems I have with this book, both of which can be found in other Star Wars books.
First, the obvious "save the world" message that seems to be constant in many other books, especially the books meant for the young adult readers or younger. This message is simple, people are destroying the world, the world is fighting back, and we can save all of it if we stop using up the resources and treat the world nicely. I get the message. It's not that I disagree with the idea that we need to respect nature and to stop using it without giving back. But this seemed to be the message even more than anything Obi-Wan learned in this adventure and we are reading the book to follow Obi-Wan. Think about it...this is a book solely about Obi-Wan, one of the greatest characters in the Star Wars universe, and they choose to make the story more about a planet that needs healing than about Obi-Wan. We don't get too many Obi-Wan stories, at least at this age, and I would have liked to have seen him grow more in the ways of the Force, with his abilities and with his relationship with Qui-Gon, but instead we got insecure Obi-Wan who doesn't really grow all that much, especially if you read Master and Apprentice right after this. He is still struggling with his relationship with Qui-Gon at this point.
Secondly, why is it that every planet that is introduced in Star Wars seems to be incredibly tiny where the climate and topography is the same all over? For instance, in this book, Obi-Wan lands on this planet, and they only focus on this one small part of the planet and we are led to believe that the whole planet is just like this. In other books it's the same thing. They only explore a few square miles but that is supposed to represent the whole planet. We have desert planets and water planets and mountainous planets and ice planets but are there any planets in this galaxy that have all of those different features at the same time? Our earth has deserts, mountains, oceans, etc... Why does it seem like every planet in Star Wars has to have one feature and one climate? It's petty, but it bothers me.
What I did like about the book was the cameo of a character that Obi-Wan will become friends with for years to come. We get to see how they met, although I feel like they missed an opportunity by not having a final conversation between the two discussing how they will stay in touch. It's almost like their second meeting also has to be a coincidence. I also liked the way the Jedi viewed Count Dooku at this time and how it foreshadowed how oblivious they were to the evil that was rising all around them.
If you are someone that has to read all things Star Wars, obviously you have to read the book. If you are indifferent about reading all the stories, you can skip this one. Nothing changes the overall Star Wars story in this book, and you can move on to the next book that I am currently reading, The Princess and the Scoundrel. I'm only a couple chapters in and already I'm into it. I'll try to blog about that book in the next couple weeks.