Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (movie novelisation)
The Followers (JA Special Edition #2)
Though not an amazing book, I much prefer this as an ending to the Jedi Apprentice series than The Threat Within. The first half is strong and benefits from the familiar rhythm of Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon working together as a team, but the second half is weaker and it feels as though Watson doesn't have the same grasp of Anakin's character that she does with the other Jedi.
Legacy of the Jedi/Secrets of the Jedi
I consider both books presented here as part of the Jedi Apprentice series and I'm always happy to continue that journey, just that little bit longer. Watson manages to keep consistent storylines going through the eras she jumps into, each part showing us something about a different character. However, while the juvenile writing style works for the characters when they're younger, it's really jarring once the characters grow older. It just...feels off. Especially in the interactions between Anakin and Padmé.
Rise of the Sith (Dark Horse Omnibus)
Reading these comics has reminded me just how crowded the storytelling timeline around The Phantom Menace was in that era. Not all of the stories contained in this omnibus are good, but most of them are entertaining - and it was fun watching Darth Maul ferociously cut Black Sun down to size. The Ki-Adi-Mundi stories... are awful. It felt like the writer had a story they'd always wanted to tell and forced it to fit (if somewhat clumsily) into the Star Wars universe.
The Dangerous Rescue (Jedi Apprentice #13)
In many ways, this instalment is a satisfying conclusion to the three-book arc, but Jenna Zan Arbor (aka the Big Bad) is absent for much of it and while the bounty hunter's appearances result in fun fight scenes, she doesn't excuse the same menace or stir the same feelings of unease. I also found myself very tired of all the toing and froing of the investigation. It seemed to go on and on and on (and over all three books, mind). And now for the next arc... in which angst will be in overdrive.
The Ties That Bind (Jedi Apprentice #14)
Unfortunately, with this arc my 12-year-old self was once again at the mercy of the bookstores. So I had to read this AFTER the book following it. Ever since then, the impact of the ending has been lost on me - and obviously I've read it too many times to feel the shock and horror that I should. But that private scene between Qui-Gon and Tahl has endured in my memories for over two decades and probably inspired aspects of my own romantic writing.
The Death of Hope (Jedi Apprentice #15)
A surprisingly dark and intense instalment, considering that MG readers would have also picked this up at the bookstore. The story is essentially a race against time and the tension steadily rises when you realise that time may just run out. Damn, that ending is a gut punch. I really liked seeing this side of Qui-Gon, although I was constantly distracted by thoughts such as "hang on, are we not going to acknowledge that pledging oneself to another Jedi is, in fact, very unJedi-like?".
The Call to Vengeance (Jedi Apprentice #16)
You know what? I'm just going to ignore the flagrant disregard for continuity (re: Jedi and attachments) within the pages I just read and tell you how much I love this book. In this series, we've seen how an apprentice can allow overwhelming emotions to lead to mistakes - and now we get to see the Master grapple with the very same lesson. Jedi are sentient beings too. It's how they handle their anger that sets them apart. That's the point Watson was so brilliantly displaying here.
The Only Witness (Jedi Apprentice #17)
Ehh... the series is now outstaying its welcome. A mediocre story that doesn't really hold one's interest, though it's nice to see Qui-Gon recovering from his great loss and starting down the path to healing. The only other notable thing about this instalment is the fact that it introduced the word "infatuated" to my 12-year-old self. I've no idea why THAT is what stuck with me over the years. Perhaps because the rest of the book is so blah.
The Threat Within (Jedi Apprentice #18)
This book kind of felt like a classic clip show, but instead of clips we had many long references to events in previous instalments. I can't tell you how much I loathe clip shows. The plot itself is heavily reminiscent of the Melida/Daan arc. It had nothing new to add though, so I was bored for much of it.
A disappointing end to the series, but at least I have one special left to read (and two other books that I will count as existing beneath the JA umbrella).
The Captive Temple (Jedi Apprentice #7)
This book perfectly captures the balance between what it is to be a Jedi - and what it is to be a teenager struggling with his emotions and insecurities. That's a pretty impressive achievement, given the page count and all the characters competing for space therein. Watson did a fantastic job of making sure everyone was used effectively. Xanatos continues to intrigue me... I think I'll be sorry to see him go in the next one!
The Day of Reckoning (Jedi Apprentice #8)
And so the Xanatos storyline finally ends, with a death that is in no way ambiguous - thank goodness (this is the kind of thing that you appreciate after years of missing bodies turning up unexpectedly in fiction). As a child, I was delighted by the comeuppance of any villain that dared to harm the environment. So of course I loved this book! I still do, actually. Den and Andra are my favourite guest characters - happily, they do reappear in a special instalment.
The Fight for Truth (Jedi Apprentice #9)
This self-contained story isn't bad per se, it's jus a bit of a letdown after the Xanatos arc. I did find Kegan and the Keganites to be somewhat annoying, though I enjoyed the prophetic hints about the darkness that will come from the Jedi. For me, the book was saved by Obi-Wan's interactions with Siri Tachi, who I've always remembered quite fondly over the decades since she was introduced to me by this series. I actually shrieked with delight when she reappeared in the Disney canon novel I was reading last year.
The Shattered Peace (Jedi Apprentice #10)
There's really nothing of note in this instalment, which is more filler than anything else. Neither Obi-Wan or Qui-Gon enjoy any character development and the story just wasn't that interesting. If I didn't know what was coming, I'd think that the series was on its last legs - frankly, how can it possibly recover from losing its main villain? Standalone stories don't fare well in this series.
The Shattered Peace is best left unread. I hope I remember that the next time I decide to revisit my Legends books!
Deceptions (JA Special Edition #1)
Special Editions were fairly standard for young reader series back in the day, so I wasn't confused or surprised by this one appearing at the bookstore. I was, however, extremely excited to see how the repercussions of Bruck's death would affect Obi-Wan's journey as an apprentice - and a Master! It's a really solid book. Both parts (representing two timelines) are equally intriguing and it's also interesting to see how Anakin reacts to this part of Obi-Wan's past. And hey, I loved Den in The Day of Reckoning. It was good to see him again - honestly, he was the star of this book.
The Deadly Hunter (Jedi Apprentice #11)
At last, another multi-book story arc to follow. At last, another decent instalment. Fast pacing, a cool bounty hunter with an even cooler weapon, new guest characters who I instantly like, and a mystery that isn't yet solved. I remember being so shocked by the cliffhanger - I wasn't expecting another arc after the previous two standalones - and the wait for the next book was downright torturous.
That said, I do think the truncated length of this one (roughly 10-20 pages shorter than usual) hurt the climax by making it feel too sudden.
The Evil Experiment (Jedi Apprentice #12)
I can see why I was so dismayed to find myself confronted with another cliffhanger when I was a kid, but now I can appreciate how well it was done. Whereas a lack of pages hurt the previous instalment's climax, the extra pages in this book helped it deliver a much better one - and I enjoyed seeing Obi-Wan get his chance to shine as the main investigator trying to solve the mystery. It shows how much his character has grown throughout the series to this point.
As always, Watson introduces yet more likeable guest characters in this book. Astri remains a highlight.
The Dark Rival (Jedi Apprentice #2)
This is the first Jedi Apprentice novel I ever read, so it has a special place in my heart. But the pacing suffers somewhat from it essentially being a part 2 of an unfinished story, rather than a self-contained book 2. I will assume this was due to the change in authors. Other books in this series flow into each other more naturally. I still find Xanatos to be an intriguing villain and have always enjoyed the fact that he stuck around for a bit, instead of being a one-off guest character.
The Hidden Past (Jedi Apprentice #3)
My undisputed favourite of the series when I was a kid. I think I can see why. The story managed to evoke so many different emotions within me and was at times incredibly tense. It also dropped a few hints for the next book, which I like. And who doesn't love a good old insurgency? Liberating a planet always makes for a thrilling read (ahem, perhaps I've gone that route myself as a writer...). The dubious mention of Obi-Wan having a brother called Owen is of note.
The Mark of the Crown (Jedi Apprentice #4)
Palace intrigue, legacies, a poisoned queen, a secret heir and democracy on the horizon - what's not to love about this 4th book in the JA series? Certainly one of the strongest instalments. Obi-Wan gets to wield a sword and that's pretty cool.
Perhaps I'm also biased in that my favourite bookmark was taken from the middle of these very pages (one bookmark disappeared but I still have one, reinforced by sticky tape and extra cardboard). And perhaps I bought a second copy off eBay - to ensure that I always have spare bookmarks!
The Defenders of the Dead (Jedi Apprentice #5)
Back in the year 2000, it was quite difficult for a kid to find sequential books in a series at the shops. So for a long, unbearable year, I could not read books #5 or #6 of the Jedi Apprentice series. I had enjoyed the conclusion in the two books after them, but the Melida/Daan mission was a mystery to me. How could Obi-Wan possibly leave the Jedi and join some other cause? It made no sense!
The Uncertain Path (Jedi Apprentice #6)
While I don't agree with the method used to divide Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon in the previous book, it's great to see how they tackle challenges without each other - even if it's only for a little while. Tahl... oh Tahl. I loved her so much and still do. She didn't get much to do in the previous book, but here she really shines and instantly becomes a favourite.
Alyce Caswell, when she isn't buried in a book or drinking her way through a giant pot of tea, is a keen writer of science fiction and romance. She has published two novels and four novellas in her space opera family saga, The Galactic Pantheon Series.
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