As I am writing this review of the audiobook, Star Wars: Master & Apprentice, by Claudia Gray, narrated by Jonathan Davis, I am keenly aware that when I enjoy a book, movie, cartoon or whatever method a Star Wars story enters my heart and mind, I can be a little dramatic. So much so that when you, a reader of this review or listener to Legends Library, finish reading my opinion it would be nearly impossible for that story to live up to the expectations my enthusiasm has placed upon it. Maybe it’s a character flaw. Maybe I’m too easy. I like everything Star Wars and balanced objectivity is hard for me. Whatever it is, at this point is irrelevant because anything less than my gushing opinion of this book would be dishonest. I will save my “to cool for school” reserved review for another book. So here goes….
“We do not choose the light because we want to win, we choose the light because it’s the light”
The profundity of this quote is a game changer!! Claudia Gray has written a few books now for the Star Wars canon timeline. Lost Stars has been my favorite of the new books since the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm. I also know I am not alone in that camp. There are a bunch of us. But here Gray writes a “pre-balance of the force” story with “post-balance” knowledge. This one line is genius! Anakin brings balance by killing Sidious (we think), and since then I have been unclear about the motivation of our characters in the sequel movies. The inner conflict is less clear to me if balance is the goal. I think most people would agree that the saga has been about good versus evil. The sequels are about balance. Luke was given instruction to kill Vader and he chooses a redemption path. Now Rey is being told to seek the balance. What if she chooses the path of light instead of being right or powerful. That would be so cool! This one quote brings it all together for me. To choose light because it is the light is enough motivation for any protagonist in the Star Wars saga. I love it!
The author here brings together clashing personalities and tells an incredible story of the planet, Pijal. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are sent by the Jedi Council to represent the Republic. Their goal is to help settle a political dispute that puts Qui-Gon and the Republic in the position of enabling slavery. Just before our master and apprentice leave for the mission, the Jedi offer Qui-Gon a seat on the council. As the drama unfolds, Jinn is forced to consider this promotion to the council and how it may end his training of Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan is even more idealistic and by-the-book than we have ever known him to be in this story. The juxtaposition of his literal interpretation of Qui-Gon’s instruction against Qui-Gon’s free-flowing abstract view of the force is such a creative thread that it holds tension through the whole story.
But there is more character interaction that complicates the story. Rael Averross, a former Jedi and apprentice of Dooku, serves as regent on Pijal and is advising the princess who aspires to one day be queen. Averross has an even looser interpretation of the Jedi Code than Qui-Gon. Throw in flashbacks from the past involving the very strict Master Dooku training Qui-Gon and this story has your head spinning as to what is the absolute take on the Jedi rules. The, “from a certain point of view”, philosophy shows itself to be the source of instability just as it does in the movies. Claudia Gray uses all of the varying views to present the Jedi theology and she sprinkles prophecy quotes and truths within the story. It would be worth going back and highlighting those for future reference. It is no accident, possibly the guidance of The Force, that I also just finished the CWK Podcast Episode #276 The Mythology of Star Wars Panel, taught by Dan Z at Star Wars Celebration. Perfect time to take in some pretty cerebral teaching about the Force mythology with this story still resonating in my mind. Has to be The Force right? Claudia Gray even throws in some Journal of the Whills stuff. I’m telling you, you have to read this book if you are into the “Chosen One” prophecy, and who isn’t? This story has the potential to be the equivalent of the map scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
There are many twists and turns as the book comes to a close. I was engaged all the way through the last moments, which by the way left me with a huge lump in my throat. Read it and see why. If you are still not convinced here are some other reasons. These questions are answered. Why is Qui-Gon Jinn not on the council in Episode 1? Why does Obi-Wan hate flying? Why does Kenobi stay so committed to training Anakin after Jinn’s death? It’s more than a promise, it’s a total expression of Obi-Wan’s love for his master.
Jonathan Davis is our narrator for this book. In my mind, he is the official Clone Wars/Prequel Era voice for Star Wars books. New authors and narrators are being brought into the fold, which is great but Jonathan Davis and Marc Thompson are the old guards that bring a certain level of comfort for this old Legends/EU fan. Davis does impersonations of all the characters. His Qui-Gon is his own version of the character and not a dead ringer for Liam Neeson but that is understandable since he has so much dialogue in the book. Mr. Davis is a pro and he blends character and storytelling in just the right way. They still have not added new music from more current movies into the audiobooks but hearing music from The Phantom Menace was the perfect fit for this audiobook.
So there it is! I think I have gushed enough. Master & Apprentice is so rich in story and gravitas. I am going to have to revisit this book many times to get all I can out of it. On the outside chance, which has to be a one in a million kind of chance, that you read this Miss Gray, thank you for writing such a compelling and thought-provoking book! And for the rest of you, enjoy Master & Apprentice and CHOOSE THE LIGHT BECAUSE IT’S THE LIGHT!
You can order the audiobook presentation of Star Wars: Master & Apprentice from Amazon.Powered by Sidelines