AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
4 out of 5
Star Wars: Master & Apprentice
40 BBY. When Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn is offered a seat on the Jedi Council, it throws his mentorship of Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi into question. The two Jedi are sent on one last mission together; to the planet Pijal at the request of Jedi Rael Aveross who, like Qui-Gon, once trained under Master Dooku. Tasked with ratifying a treaty on behalf of the Republic, Qui-Gon is compelled to disobey the orders of the Jedi Council when a vision of the future hints at dangers no-one suspects or believes.
I've made no secret of being a big fan of the old Star Wars Expanded Universe and was thoroughly disgusted when (evil) Disney decided to throw out (or, in some cases, clumsily strip-mine) the EU canon in favour of their Sequel-friendly new canon. Between this, the fact I hated 'The Last Jedi', felt 'The Rise of Skywalker' was a mess and am offended by the very idea of 'Solo' (seriously, he was arbitrarily assigned his iconic name whilst filling in a form!?), it has to be said that the shine has thoroughly worn off the Star Wars franchise for me. Anyone who knows me will know how heartbreaking an admission that is too. So, I went into this book very warily, fearing that at the least it would trample all over the Jedi Apprentice books (by Jude Watson) which were my first love of the Prequel Era of stories (Xanatos was such a great villain).
To my surprise and delight, not only is this a thoroughly enjoyable Star Wars adventure, but it also doesn't feel the need to go out of its way to overwrite the old EU stories. It's a book which can be enjoyed as a stand-alone of the new canon or, as I did, as a continuation of the established tales of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan in the run-up to Episode I. Sure, there are some discrepancies but nothing which makes the two canons incompatible.
But, to review this book as if you've not spent the last 23 years collecting Star Wars books, here we get a classic stand-alone tale of Jedi Knights on a mission to bring peace to an isolated world. What makes this story stand out is the development we get to see in the two main Jedi; Qui-Gon in particular. He's always been characterised as a Jedi maverick, but here we get to see him measured against both Obi-Wan, who's something of a stickler for the rules, and Rael Aveross, who's a rag-wearing, planet-ruling, slang-talking Jedi who, in one notable scene, justifies getting laid (he uses that terminology too) when Qui-Gon catches him at it. As the offer of a seat on the Council forces Qui-Gon to contemplate how he can best make the changes he wants to see, we also see him come up against the reality that working within a flawed system like the Republic means compromising his morality.
This is absolutely the sort of Star Wars book I want to read and has managed to reinvigorate my interest in the franchise to a level that it hasn't been at since 'Rogue One' (novelised by Alexander Freed) came out.
4 out of 5