The Year of Kenobi: Jedi Apprentice #2 – The Dark Rival

Missed a post? Catch up on The Year of Kenobi here.

Things are not going to plan, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon are embroiled in a larger conflict than they expected, and a figure from the past is reading his dark, angsty head. This is Jedi Apprentice #2: The Dark Rival by Jude Watson.

The Story

Picking up immediately after The Rising Force, The Dark Rival follows Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon on their separate missions on the mining world of Bandomeer. When they arrived, Qui-Gon received a note from his former Padawan Xanatos, who seemingly orchestrated his arrival. While Qui-Gon investigates that line of things, ruminating on the ways he failed his former student, Obi-Wan settles into the life of a member of the Agricultural Corps, which he absolutely hates.

The not-quite Master and Apprentice have barely settled into their roles when an explosion on Bandomeer sends everything spiralling. Though Obi-Wan is forbidden from exploring, he decides to give it a go anyway, and is just on the verge of blowing the whole thing wide open when he comes face to face with Xanatos. The former Padawan tells him that Qui-Gon abandoned him and that he is not to be trusted. And even though Xanatos is a tall, handsome, angsty boy with dark hair and an intense battle scar on his face, Obi-Wan decides to trust him for a split second which goes about as well as you’d expect.

Thoughts and Impressions

Though we get to see a lot more of Obi-Wan’s heart in this and how he embodies being a Jedi with everything he has – including a very moving scene where he very nearly knowingly sacrifices himself for Qui-Gon – this one really isn’t his book. It’s Qui-Gon’s.

A lot of time is spent reflecting on Xanatos, and on what exactly went wrong with this former Jedi apprentice. He tells Obi-Wan that Qui-Gon betrayed him, which is obviously an exaggeration at best. Qui-Gon sets the record straight and tells Obi-Wan what actually happened:

Xanatos came from the planet Telos, from an affluent, powerful family. When Qui-Gon found him and realized he was Force sensitive, he offers to bring him to the Temple for training. Like the other apprentices, he remembers the home he came from, but unlike the others, he holds onto that old life and lets it fuel a sense of entitlement. As a final test, they return to Telos on a mission, to find things have become hellish under Xanatos’s father. Rather than stop him, Xanatos decides to join him.

What I found interesting about this was that Qui-Gon was so willing to take as an apprentice a student that remembered his old life and wouldn’t let go of it. Not that it’s interesting in and of itself (though it is), but because I couldn’t help but draw comparisons with Anakin.

Yes, this is technically Legends, and no longer canon, but at the time it was being written The Phantom Menace was already out. So here we see Qui-Gon taking an angry boy who cannot set his home aside and deciding to train him, and then decades later decides to do the same thing with Anakin Skywalker.

Though I’m sure there will be some kind of Xanatos resolution by series end, it is interesting to think of Anakin as reminding Qui-Gon of Xanatos. Is he trying to set things right by taking on this new boy? Chosen One or not, he has all the same potential problems that Xanatos and even young Obi-Wan has. He knows what he’s giving up, he will always remember “home” and he has an inner anger.

I know Qui-Gon believes in the Chosen One, but when taken with his Xanatos experience and his Obi-Wan reservations, him taking on Anakin later starts to look like a questionable choice at best and a bad idea at worst.

What’s Next?

Xanatos is gone…for now. If he never comes back I would be surprised. It’s early days yet, but I kind of expect him to be one of the major villains of the series. Also Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon are finally – officially – Master and Padawan! No more half-measures.


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