Friday, July 29, 2011
39 BBY: Secrets of the Jedi (chapters 1-20)
It’s good to know the fate of the galaxy doesn’t hinge on these two every time they take a mission. I mention this because I’m reacting to a post I read on theforce.net forums, where one person posted a link to the new FOTJ book being released next spring, and another poster sarcastically asked if “this the one were an immense evil power comes to threaten the galaxy and it is defeated by Luke, Han & Leia? I sure hope so!”
Though I am unfamiliar with much of the Star Wars saga after Return of the Jedi minus the Thrawn trilogy and a few other sources, from the outside looking in it does seem that these three, or their offspring, save the galaxy quite a bit.
Secrets of the Jedi, much like Watson’s work in the Jedi Apprentice series, is nothing more than a small tale about two Jedi going about their Jedi business helping those in need, dealing with duty, friendship, and that tricky thing called love. This time out they have to protect a young boy being hunted by bounty hunters. The boy has vital information than can ruin a corporate fat-cat, so naturally the corporate fat-cat has hired killers to knock him off. The Jedi keep the boy safe, but the young witness wizens up at the end and realizes if he testifies he as good as dead, so he keeps his mouth shut.
Poor Gui-Gon and Obi-Wan (and Siri and Adi Gallia); all that work for nothing.
Besides Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan saving the 20 political leaders from assassination, there were some other aspects of this book I thought fairly neat. The first facet of this book I want to comment on is Watson’s interpretation of the Force. Once the Jedi had landed on Quadrant Seven, they took to sneaking around town trying to find transportation off the planet. Unfortunately, the bounty hunter was also there looking to see if they survived his attack: “He felt the darkside surge as a warning just as Adi pulled him back from walking out into the watery sunlight” (242). This particular passage raised some questions for me: does this mean the bounty hunter is a force user or force sensitive, since Qui-Gon detected the darkside of the Force, or does it mean that behind all bad-intentioned beings lies the darkside of the force? Conversely then, if it is the case that a person need not necessarily be force-sensitive yet the Force can color their intentions for other force-sensitives to pick up on, do all people’s good intentions radiate with the lightside of the force? Does this mean that the Force, on its own, can indict intent of all living beings? Curious.
Outside of the question of whether or not the Force broadcasts your intentions, there were also some smaller aspects of the book I found neat. It has been a while since a Mandalorian has been a part of the Star Wars story, and here in this tale we are introduced to Lunasa, a female Mandalorian bounty hunter: “By the look of her armor, Qui-Gon guessed she was a Mandalorian, or at least that she had somehow procured some of the warrior army’s famous weaponry” (245). What has happened to the Mandalorians during this particular timeframe in Stare Wars history has yet to be cleared (from chronological perspective) but obviously their culture is still about causing grief for the Republic. Also, it’s not very often we come across a female Mandalorian. Lunasa is a rare character indeed.
Yet, a very interesting line from the Jedi archivist Jocasta Nu made me realize that a Mandalorian need not necessarily play adversary to the Republic all the time. When trying to identify the leader of the bounty hunter assassination squad, Qui-Gon contacted the temple for more information. After Jocasta Nu determined that the bounty hunter in question was Magus, she commented that if Qui-Gon could prove he was a corporate assassin: “we could put him on the Galactic Apprehend List” (284). I had never heard of this list before, but what immediately came to my mind were the possibilities of writing stories about a bounty hunter for the good guys, one who tracks down the wanted criminals of the Galactic Apprehend List and brings them to the Republic to face justice – a Star Wars Texas Ranger.
Speaking about writing fiction, for some reason I’ve been on this Star Wars pirate kick. There are not enough stories about pirates in the Star Wars universe, so when I’m done this little project of mine I might try my hand at adding a little bit of detail to that corner of the universe. With the being said I’m paying a little more attention to anything pirate related in my journey, so the mention of pirates and interdiction fields on page 289 is something I’m noting for myself for the future.
As it is, the pirates in this story, after capturing the boy with the information and the bounty posted on his head, sent Obi-wan and Siri to their fiery graves by blasting their ship out of space. It seems cutting through the wall of a crashing ship and using the force to slow your decent is in the Jedi handbook, (the other handbook that’s not the Jedi path). Obi-wan and Siri escaped the crashing ship in the exact same manner as Aryn Leneer and Zeerid Kor did from 3000+ years earlier in the story Deceived: “Coughing, they buried their lightsabers in the hot metal and it peeled back. Obi-Wan caught a glimpse of rushing sky and then he pushed Siri out, balancing on the toes of his boots…The Force helped them. They timed the leap high and wide so that they would be able to slow their descent” (298). I think it neat that two authors used the same technique to extract their Jedi protagonists from a crashing space ship. I wonder, did Watson influence Kemp, or did Kemp write basically the same sequence in Decived not knowing that Watson had used it years prior in Secrets of the Jedi. Or were both authors offered this idea by a third party -maybe from an editor or someone at Lucasbooks? I’m always interested in the transmission of ideas by authors and how they come up with their stories. I’m not suggesting that Kemp didn’t invent this escape on his own, but whether or not he did it’s evident that Watson thought of it first.
The most significant story to Secrets of the Jedi was the love expressed between Obi-Wan and Siri. What really stood out to me about this sequence of events was how like the priesthood the Jedi order really is. It was Siri more than Obi-Wan who was realistic about their future, and acted in the most mature manner, acknowledging that their love is something that will have to be sacrificed in order for them to continue being Jedi. What is more, it was Qui-Gon’s words which echoed the sentiments of the life of a priest: “Remember that you have chosen a life that includes personal sacrifice. This is the greatest sacrifice you can give” (330). Being a Jedi is not a job, it’s a calling and a vocation.
Un-married Jedi, like un-married priests in the Catholic Church, is not Dogma, and can be subject to change. Though personally I’m of the opinion that I think it’s best for Jedi to remain un-attached (and for priests to remain un-married), I thought Qui-Gon’s words to Obi-Wan about the future of this position prophetic. It was Obi-Wan’s hope that the Jedi council would make an exception for him. Of course they did not, but Qui-Gon said that things could only change should the galaxy change: “They will not change the precepts. Not unless the whole galaxy changes, the whole Order changes, not unless upheaval happens that changes everything. Then, perhaps, the rules will change. But with this Jedi Council? No.” (327). And change the galaxy did. However, it took Obi-Wan’s apprentice, Luke Skywalker, to reexamine this position. I’m looking forward to how Luke handles the proposition of Jedi marriage in the future.
For my next post I’ll quickly acknowledge our 2 year anniversary of trekking through Star Wars history, and then I’ll move on to Jedi Apprentice Special Edition #2, The Followers. On a side note, how important is the prologue to Jedi Quest: The Path to Truth? I have yet to get my hands on this, and I might just leave it until I get to 28 BBY. What do you all think? Also, I’m going to be making a list of books to get through The Phantom Menace material in the most organized and proficient manner as possible. I don’t want to have to look at a source more than once, and I think I’ll need some help with that too. Until next time my friends, may the Force be with you.