Looking at the cover of issue #9 of the Jedi Apprentice series – a picture of a young Obi-Wan with a little blonde girl – and noting the title of the book: The Fight for Truth, which seemed rather cheesy to me – I really didn’t expect too much from this particular JA title. But I was wrong. Of all the books I’ve read in this series so far, this was the one I enjoyed the most. I think the reason I enjoyed this title the most was because of the ironic motivations of its antagonists.
Thus far, we’ve moved the chronometer ahead one year in our examinations of Star Wars history, and I’m reminded of an old saying from a friend of mine: ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time’.
Acknowledging the movement of our galactic calendar and turning our attention to the material at hand, The Fight for Truth had some similarities to the story of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan in Legacy of the Jedi: there is an oppressive government watching and controlling its people, dissidents are dealt with harshly, and freedom is an illusion. The Jedi enter this scenario, de-stabilize the ruling party, the populace revolts, and good government is installed. However, there was a twist of irony in this story, as the reason the planet Kegan was isolationist in its foreign policy and oppressive towards its people was because of visions of an evil future had by the ruling couple.
What makes the planet Kegan from The Fight for Truth and Junction 5 from the Legacy of the Jedi so freighting is that places like this exist in our own world: North Korea, China, and Cuba for example. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live in such oppressive cultures. But the motivations of V-Tan and O-Vieve in the repression of their citizens, though not justifiable, have a touch of irony, as all their efforts to protect their people were an attempt to avoid the coming storm of Emperor Palpatine. This notion wasn’t expressed in such specific terms, but both had visions of a terrible future to come: “’O-Vieve has prophetic visions,’ O-Melie explained. ‘V-Tan has dreams. Many of their predictions have come true. That is why the people of Kegan trust them. O-Vieve had a vision of the Jedi. She claims that en evil force will engulf those who are close to the Jedi’” (70).
One of the most ironic lines in the book came from Davi, a young student befriended by Obi-Wan and Sari: “’It’s not that I don’t trust you,’ Davi said worriedly. ‘But the power of evil that controls the galaxy might be telling you things that aren’t true. Misinformation is spread to confuse the people and keep them in line’” (77). This line reminds me of Count Dooku’s speech to Obi-wan in AOTC: “What if I told you that a Dark Lord of the Sith had gained control of the Senate?” Both Davi and Dooku are speaking the truth, but what is a Jedi to do?
Though O-Veive and V-Tan had noble intentions, the fear of their prophetic visions lead them to a totalitarian state, even if it wasn’t their original intent: “It began as an anti-crime measure’ O-Melie explained. ‘Society was stable, but petty theft and pilfering was common after we changed to a bartering system. V-Tan and O-Vieve proposed we use autohoppers as security devices, and we all voted on it. ... No one expected that it would be used to monitor conversations and activities. It happened slowly, and now we are watched all the time’” (67-68). Like Legacy of the Jedi, I wonder if Watson is making commentary on the USA PATRIOT act which was signed into law shortly after the events of 9/11. But like my other posts regarding this matter, I could be reading too much into this.
Another element of The Fight for Truth I enjoyed beyond the ironic visions of its antagonists was how the collection of a Force sensitive child was handled. Far from the accusations of baby stealing, the events of this story are set in motion by a set of parents asking the Jedi to come and test their child for Force sensitivity. Yoda asks Qui-Gon and Adi Gallia, along with their padawns, to determine the child’s Force capability. After the resolution of the planet’s political landscape, it is the parents who decide to let the child go to the Jedi temple for training, which must have been a difficult choice indeed: “’Nen and I have decided that it is best for Lana to go,’ she said, tears in her eyes. ‘I have seen what the Jedi are and what they can do. We must honor her gift’” (135). Granted this is but one case is several thousand, but it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if the parents had denied the Jedi’s request to adopt (for lack of a better word) the child.
The last element of the book I enjoyed was Qui-Gon’s own vision of the future: “Sun suddenly burst through the clouds overhead, dazzling Qui-Gon’s sight. The glare caused Obi-Wan features to blur and dissolve. For a moment, Qui-Gon didn’t see the boy. He saw an elder man, alone, living in a desolate planet; his only companions his dark memories” (137). A prophetic and sad vision from an excellent Jedi with a pitiable ending.
For my next post I’m going to examine The Shattered Peace, book 10 in the Jedi Apprentice series. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.