Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Del Rey
One Sentence Synopsis: Before Darth Maul, a much younger Qui-Gon Jinn attempts to train his padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, in the ways of the force on the edge of Wild Space by helping an old friend.
Series: Star Wars
Formats: Hardcover, Ebook, and Audio
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Number of Pages: 352 pages
MSRP: $28.99 HC or Audio / $14.99 Epub
Website: Click Here
Purchase Site: Click Here
Reviewed by: JT Hanke
Final Score: 5 Moons (out of 5)
After four years of training the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn finds that there is much that separates him from his padawan. With his own master being the now departed Jedi, Dooku, Qui-Gon is often as much at odds with the Jedi council as he is with his student—so he is completely dumbfounded when he is actually invited to join the Jedi council itself.
To do so, however, he’ll have to stop being Obi-Wan’s master and find a replacement master for him. He asks for time to think and, as he does so, he gets a summon by the council to do a last mission before he makes up his mind: rejoin another of Dooku’s former students, Jedi Rael Averross, in quelling a terrorist group on the outskirts of Wild Space who are in danger of destroying a treaty that could open up new hyperspace lanes through the region.
As he and Obi-Wan make their way to the planet, Pijal, they will soon uncover strange threads of prophecy that have been ignored by the council, hidden alliances, strange new technologies, and threats they never imagined.
Starting in 2014 with the beginning of Star Wars Canon books that were supposed to enlarge our understanding of the Star Wars universe, many of these books only told extremely anti-climactic (because they had premises that are disproved in the movies) stories about characters we already know, like Lords of the Sith or Dark Disciple. It wasn’t until Claudia Gray rocked the Star Wars world with her Lost Stars novel (which was almost unmarketed by Disney in comparison to far weaker books in the build up to Force Awakens) that a new way of storytelling in the Star Wars world was truly explored. Since then, she’s gone from a barely publicized Star Wars writer to become the flagship author for all new Star Wars materials, in my opinion. (I still hold that my reading of Leia: Princess of Alderaan made my experience with Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi twice as enjoyable as it would’ve been without it. I still would have appreciated Last Jedi without it, but it really made the film more solid and fulfilling.)
This new novel is no exception as she explores things about characters I thought I knew in ways I was completely unprepared for and introduces us to brand new characters that are very intriguing, and who could easily fill out other parts of the universe if anyone would care to explore it. I really hope they use some of the technological things hidden in this book in future Star Wars films!
The conclusion of the book is highly cathartic and feels true to Star Wars in a way that is so hard to accomplish that I would state that only Claudia Gray has managed to become a master of it. (With the new live action Star Wars shows coming to Disney+, I really hope Claudia Gray is permitted to either be a lead writer on one of the series, and, after she gotten the ropes of episodic television down, to eventually become a showrunner.)
The dynamics between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon manage to always stay in this fascinatingly tense place that feels very reflective of real world parent/child relationships. Additionally, the interactions with Qui-Gon and Rael Aveross feel very much like real world fraternal relationships. The tension between these human interactions—and how both Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon follow their service of the Force and the Jedi council, makes things very complex and compelling.
The explorations of Count Dooku, who feels very much like a throwaway baddie in the prequels, really gets a lot more heft to his persona as we see how he effected other Jedi, like his pupils, Jinn and Aveross.
While Claudia Gray’s writing always pulls you in regardless of the format you’re exposed to it in, I have to especially recommend this in the audio book format with narration by Jonathan Davis. It’s not easy to both create new characters’ voices and do really good impersonation of different well-known actors from Hollywood, but Davis manages to replicate Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Yoda, and Christopher Lee almost perfectly. (The only character that seemed off to me was his Samuel Jackson as Mace Windu, but it never pulled you out of the narrative.) The audio tension he’s able to create throughout the book as he goes back and forth between their characters is really impressive.
If you are a lover of Star Wars, then you are the right audience for this book. If you are a lover of Star Wars whose heart was broken by the issues that plagued Emperor George’s prequels, then this book is even more for you, as it gives another lens to explore the prequels through—and a perspective that may give you a little more enjoyment of those films.
Master & Apprentice is a book a highly recommend. The more Claudia Gray I read, the more sad I become that one aspect of Star Wars isn’t available in our world: cloning. Because if it was, perhaps Ms. Gray could be cloned so that she could write far more books, screenplays, and TV shows than a single writer ever could.
Of course, as we learned from the prequels, maybe a single voice—even with a mighty megaphone—isn’t the best course. Perhaps the next best thing would be for LucasFilm to have Ms. Gray train the next generation of Star Wars‘ storytellers in the craft!
Story: 5.0 Moons (out of 5.0)
Dynamics: 5.0 Moons (out of 5.0)
Audience Fit: 5.0 Moons (out of 5.0)
Final Score (not an average): 5.0 Moons (out of 5.0)