The Year of Kenobi: Jedi Apprentice #6: The Uncertain Path

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

For the first time this whole series, we have two completely separate plots. Hardly surprising since the last book ended with Obi-Wan turning his back on the Jedi in order to stay on Melida/Daan and help the Young fight for peace, breaking Qui-Gon’s trust (and kinda his heart though he won’t admit it) in the process. Of course everything converges by the end, with Qui-Gon unable to completely set Obi-Wan aside and returning to the aid of his missing student. But oh, what emotional turmoil there is to be found in Jedi Apprentice #6: The Uncertain Path by Jude Watson.

The Story

Following his decision to remain behind on Melida/Daan, Obi-Wan has found himself elevated to the inner circle of the Young, with his responsibility being the security and disarmament of the embattled population of a world that has spent generations at war. Though Obi-Wan strongly believes in the cause still, tensions are brewing, namely between himself and Neild, whose trauma brought on by a lifetime of war have left the other boy shaken and determined to overhaul the planet by any means necessary.

Neild’s unwillingness to cooperate or prioritize rehabilitating the planet draws the ire of those who were already not overly willing to listen to a group of teenagers, and pretty soon Obi-Wan finds himself in over his head.

Meanwhile back on Coruscant, Qui-Gon is hurt, and grumpy and vowing never to take on a student again, even though he does help out on occasion with training the older students. His self-pitying routine is interrupted when Yoda tasks him and Tahl with investigating a series of mysterious robberies that have taken place at the Temple. A group of seemingly innocuous objects belonging to the Padawan classes has gone missing, followed shortly by their practice sabers.

With the help of Bant Obi-Wan’s friends – who misses Obi-Wan and is miffed with Qui-Gon for taking him from her – Qui-Gon and Tahl track down the missing objects. They discover that while Obi-Wan’s rival Brant is doing the actual stealing there is someone actually behind it. Someone elusive, who knows the Temple fairly well.

Say it with me, now: Xanatos.

Thoughts and Impressions

If I had known the Big Bad of this series was going to be a dark-haired broody boy with a scar on his cheek I honestly would have read these a lot sooner. How exquisitely crafted for my tastes specifically.

But seriously, I loved where this book took both Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon emotionally. With Obi-Wan, it was an extension of where we’ve seen him go all along. He has a big heart and a desire to do his best by all those he encounters. He wants to help people and to feel like he has some purpose in the galaxy besides being a cog in a machine he doesn’t fully see the purpose of.

Ultimately, he realizes that he does want to serve as a Jedi, even though he recognizes it’s unlikely for Qui-Gon to take him back, but his experiences on Melida/Daan have changed the way he sees things. To him, being a Jedi goes beyond the roles the Order assigns. He is beginning to recognize it more as a lifestyle, and as an intrinsic part of who he is. It informs the decisions he makes – much to Neild’s fury, particularly when Cerasi ends up in the crossfire of the conflict and is killed. To Neild, being a Jedi is at odds with the cause they fight for, but to Obi-Wan, being a Jedi is what he will carry forward with him in any fight going forward. I’m excited to see where the next books take him.

Meanwhile, Qui-Gon is an emotional mess and honestly we love to see it. He accepted Obi-Wan as a student against his better judgement and still reeling from Xanatos’s betrayal. It was understandable to see where he was coming from. How could he trust that a boy as angry as Obi-Wan seemed to be wouldn’t also fall to the dark?

But to then lose Obi-Wan as a student the way he did, not by a fall to the dark but via a determination to do the right thing? That’s even worse. There is no ready answer for why Obi-Wan left. It’s not a moral failing that the Jedi taught him both. If anything, Obi-Wan exceeded the mandate set out for Jedi by sticking to his convictions and remaining behind to help those who needed him. He went in defiance of the council when Qui-Gon tried to stick to their ruling, and for the older man, he likely carries a bit of guilt along with that. He’s angry with himself because he knows it was the right thing to do, no matter how he tries to convince himself otherwise.

Which is why when Obi-Wan gets in over his head and appeals to Qui-Gon for help, the old master doesn’t even hesitate. He’s off Coruscant and en route to Melida/Daan as fast as he can get there. Because he didn’t get it right the first time, but dammit if he isn’t going to get it right this time.

What’s Next?

With Xanatos kicking around, and the book ending by announcing an assassination attempt on Master Yoda, the onetime Master and Padawan pair don’t exactly have time to sit and talk it out. It’s probably only a matter of time before the emotions come boiling to the surface, though. We know the heart-to-heart is coming, but will they resolve it quickly or drag it out?

***

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