Master and Apprentice

Master and Apprentice

An unexpected offer threatens the bond between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as the two Jedi navigate a dangerous new planet and an uncertain future.A Jedi must be a fearless warrior, a guardian of justice, and a scholar in the ways of the Force. But perhaps a Jedi's most essential duty is to pass on what they have learned. Master Yoda trained Dooku; Dooku trained Qui-Go...

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Title:Master and Apprentice
Author:Claudia Gray
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Master and Apprentice Reviews

  • Neil R. Coulter

    My history with Claudia Gray’s Star Wars novels hasn’t been very positive. Her first,

    , was one of the early entries in the new canon, and it has a lot of fans—but for a number of reasons, I didn’t care for it. Nor did I enjoy her two Leia-focused books,

    and

    .

    But then I read her short story, “Master and Apprentice,” in

    , and it was by far one of the best things I’ve read in the new canon. That story offered a quiet, reflec

    My history with Claudia Gray’s Star Wars novels hasn’t been very positive. Her first,

    , was one of the early entries in the new canon, and it has a lot of fans—but for a number of reasons, I didn’t care for it. Nor did I enjoy her two Leia-focused books,

    and

    .

    But then I read her short story, “Master and Apprentice,” in

    , and it was by far one of the best things I’ve read in the new canon. That story offered a quiet, reflective glimpse into Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon’s ongoing friendship during Obi-Wan’s exile on Tatooine.

    And so I came to the full-length novel

    with uncertain expectations—little confidence in Gray’s ability to keep a novel-length SW story going, but cautious optimism because of the beauty of the short story featuring the same pair of characters. Added to these author-specific expectations, of course, was the fact that this novel is a prequel of sorts to one of my least favorite SW movies,

    —though I do love it when any author can make the prequel era better than it seemed to be in the movies.

    What I wasn’t expecting at all was that

    would be completely brilliant, one of the best SW novels I’ve read. Not only that, but it’s a book that makes me like

    and some of its characters much more than I would have believed possible.

    it’s a novel that grows and deepens SW mythology in thoroughly satisfying ways. What an exhilarating surprise!

    Gray’s success with this book comes largely because she crafts a SW story that deals with grown-up issues in a mature, thoughtful way. She isn’t piecing together a story simply to get to the big space battle (there’s almost none of that in this novel), and she mostly resists the urge to fill the pages with in-jokes and references to minor things from the movies (there are a just few moments where these references are a bit heavy-handed). The result is that

    doesn’t feel like merely another entry in a franchise; rather, it reads like a really good book that happens to take place in the SW galaxy.

    The temptation for any SW author, I imagine, is to revise characters and events as we saw them in the movies. For characters from

    , there must be enormous temptation to offer slightly different, improved versions in a novel. Gray, however, takes Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan as they’re presented to us in the movie. Qui-Gon is flawed, overly interior in his interpersonal relationships, puzzlingly cerebral—just as we see him in the movie. Seventeen-year-old Obi-Wan is . . . well, he’s kind of a smug little dork—full of himself, obsessively devoted to the rules of the Jedi order, a bit arrogant, sarcastic when he should be sincere and questioning. That’s how we see young Obi-Wan all throughout the prequel trilogy, and Gray gives us a younger version of exactly that character. The characters feel true, and thus the story around them works; everything allows us to face the awkwardness of the film but also adds depth to why that awkwardness is there.

    These flawed characters don’t exist just to have cool lightsaber battles. In this story, they exist and interact (and conflict) in real ways. Gray explores the Master/Padawan relationship in all its strangeness and difficulty. She shows us Qui-Gon’s struggles, wanting to be a good mentor but often feeling that he’s exactly the wrong guide for Obi-Wan. That’s something that as a teacher, I can relate to. Obi-Wan must also work through the confusion of figuring out whether his mentor is proud of him, whether he’s on the right path, whether his teacher really wants to be teaching him at all. I can understand that, too, from when I was a grad student. These two characters and their evolving relationship are portrayed with care and nuance. The realism keeps the story unpredictable, even though I knew of course where these characters ultimately end up. As I read, however, I couldn’t predict exactly how they were going to get where they needed to be. That is so refreshing for a SW novel.

    Gray successfully balances a few different narrative threads that come together at various points, and she creates new characters who are interesting and real. She starts with basic character sketches—a man who was raised by 81 3PO droids on a derelict ship; a woman who was taken into slavery as a child; a Jedi who has always felt (and acted) like an outsider—and builds characters who work really well. They never feel like mildly different versions of existing characters from the films (a problem that plagues SW writing). These are originals.

    The basic plot, outside of the master/apprentice relationship, is a political intrigue story on a planet we haven’t seen before. I’ve often complained about SW novels, that the politics is always kept on a very juvenile level and not allowed to be as complex and real-world-mirroring as it might be. The politics in

    are as close as we’ve yet approached to genuinely intriguing, complex politics in SW. The Jedi face multiple unanswerable questions that test their loyalties and priorities: Is it right to abandon one planet to slavery in order to potentially save many other planets? Is it possible to be so focused on one good act that you can be blinded to evil that’s growing all around you? How much insubordination is allowable, and what justifies it? When is it right to report on the insubordination of a superior? I loved the layers of complexity built into every aspect of this story.

    At the heart of the story is the question of prophecy, which has been the elephant in the galaxy ever since George Lucas brought prophecies into SW and then never explained what part they play in the story. The questions Gray wrestles with include: Were prophecies meaningful only in the time of those who made them? Do they predict specific events that have happened or are yet to happen? In trying to see into the future, are we really just trying to be in control of that future? All of that is rather more deep than SW usually gets, and it’s watching the characters (Qui-Gon in particular) confront those questions that’s most interesting, even more than reading and wondering about the texts of the prophecies themselves in light of the grand SW mythology. Some of the prophecies mentioned in the book make a lot of sense in reference to the movies (the prophecy of the Chosen One, finally given here, for example), and others seem still elusive (“He who learns to conquer death will through his greatest student live again” (288)—at this point, that seems like it could refer to any number of pairings in the movies, and perhaps will become clearer after Episode 9). But the real question through it all is: What

    prophecy, really?

    Having finished

    , I’m doing something I very rarely do after reading a SW novel: I’m pondering it. Most of these books are quickly read, as quickly forgotten. This one will stick with me. I’m sorry that I haven’t enjoyed most of Gray’s SW writing up to this point, but with

    she has created a fantastic SW story. I hope that, having found her groove, she will continue to contribute to building the mythology.

  • Ben Brown

    I’ve long maintained that in the time since Disney’s purchase of “Star Wars” in 2012, the very best materials released thus far in the new canon – and I’m including all of the new movies under this umbrella – have been Claudia Gray’s “Star Wars” novels. “Lost Stars,” “Bloodline”, and “Leia: Princess of Alderaan” are all TERRIFIC books, taking characters that we all know and love and placing them in thrilling, very OT-“Star Wars”-esque narratives. Which makes the fact that “Master and Apprentice,

    I’ve long maintained that in the time since Disney’s purchase of “Star Wars” in 2012, the very best materials released thus far in the new canon – and I’m including all of the new movies under this umbrella – have been Claudia Gray’s “Star Wars” novels. “Lost Stars,” “Bloodline”, and “Leia: Princess of Alderaan” are all TERRIFIC books, taking characters that we all know and love and placing them in thrilling, very OT-“Star Wars”-esque narratives. Which makes the fact that “Master and Apprentice,” Gray’s newest novel, never quite reaches the heights of her previous “Star Wars” work, admittedly, a tad disappointing – any time an auteur delivers a new piece work, it’s hard not to hope it will live up to the expectations set by his/her past output.

    Still – the fact that “Master and Apprentice” isn’t as intriguing as “Bloodline” or as epic in scope as “Lost Stars” doesn’t change the fact that it’s still, on its own terms, a pretty satisfying read, one that plays in a corner of the “Star Wars” sandbox that not a lot of other new-canon-novels have yet dared to venture – the Prequel Era. The fact that Gray also does yeoman’s work taking a relationship that we only saw glimpses of onscreen – the bond between Master Qui-Gon Jinn and apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi – and building it into something that’s genuinely nuanced and complicated is a real treat to behold, and reason alone to make it well worth the time of any “Star Wars” fan.

  • Mogsy (MMOGC)

    4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

    I have been most impressed with Claudia Gray’s books in the new Star Wars canon, and I have to say, she has yet to disappoint me. Now she’s at the top of her game once again with Star Wars: Master & Apprentice, a novel set a handful of years before the events of The Phantom Menace which shines the light on 17-year-old padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi and his complicated relationship with his mentor, Qui-Gon Jinn.

    When the book

    4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

    I have been most impressed with Claudia Gray’s books in the new Star Wars canon, and I have to say, she has yet to disappoint me. Now she’s at the top of her game once again with Star Wars: Master & Apprentice, a novel set a handful of years before the events of The Phantom Menace which shines the light on 17-year-old padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi and his complicated relationship with his mentor, Qui-Gon Jinn.

    When the book begins, the two Jedi have already been working together for several years, though deep down, both suspect that their current arrangement may be soon coming to an end. They are simply too different in their views of the Force, with Qui-Gon with his unconventional thinking and sometimes flagrant disregard for the Jedi Council’s advice while Obi-Wan is more of a stickler for the rules. These differences have created a tension between master and apprentice that both know can’t go on for much longer.

    So when Qui-Gon is unexpected offered a seat on the Council to replace a retiring member, a part of him believes that the change may be for the best. No one would expect him to turn down such a prestigious position, and consequently, Obi-Wan can be transferred to a different master out of necessity. But before the older Jedi can make such a momentous decision, he knows he must meditate upon it, and in the meantime, he and his apprentice are dispatched to the planet of Pijal where an old acquaintance of Qui-Gon’s has requested their assistance in defusing a political situation between the royal house and their opposition.

    This contact is Rael Averross, a rogue Jedi who was also a former student of Dooku, like Qui-Gon Jinn. Averross is currently serving as lord regent to Pijal’s princess, her Serene Highness Fanry, who is only fourteen years old and is heir to a throne fraught with a history of political tension. Her planet is now in a position to affect the economic futures of other worlds in the region, and a corporation called Czerka also has stakes in the new hyperspace lane venture that is being discussed. When terrorists threaten to place that all in danger, Averross decides to call upon his old friend Qui-Gon despite the two of them having drifted apart over the years, because he knows Pijal is going to need all the help it can get. The urgency of the situation also leads the Jedi to enlist the aid of a couple of jewel thieves named Rahara, an escaped slave from Czerka, and Pax, a social outcast raised by a crew of protocol droids aboard an abandoned ship. Despite their differences, our motley crew of characters must work together to protect Fanry and safeguard Pijal’s interests. Meanwhile, Qui-Gon also needs to figure out what to do with his apprentice, as well as sort out his doubts with regards to his beliefs in ancient Jedi prophecies.

    For a media tie-in novel, Master & Apprentice is surprisingly complex and layered. There’s certainly a lot to unpack here, compared to some of the more recent releases in the Star Wars canon. However, the central theme of the book is undeniably the relationship between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. Gray explores this dynamic using a number of ways, including flashing back to Dooku and Qui-Gon’s time as master and apprentice to show how an individual Jedi’s views can be shaped by their style of training and instruction. It is perhaps no coincidence that both of Dooku’s students, Qui-Gon and Rael Averross, have ended up with rebellious natures, given the kind of person their teacher was and the Dark Side path he chose.

    But back to the relationships between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan: in the late 90s, I started reading a series of now-Legends middle grade novels called Jedi Apprentice, the first book of which was called The Rising Force and told the story of how they became master and apprentice. As this series was marketed for children, I didn’t demand too much from it, though I do recall wishing it had been a deeper exploration of the two characters’ personalities and bond as it went along. Twenty years later, it’s like Claudia Gray has finally written the kind of story I wanted. Qui-Gon’s fear of failing his apprentice is written incredibly well, and likewise so is Obi-Wan’s struggle to understand his master and his determination not to disappoint him. It was heartbreaking to read about their anxieties, knowing that deep down, they both loved and respected each other very much.

    And of course, another one of the novel’s major topics is prophecy. I mean, considering how the Jedi prophecy of the “Chosen One” was the main impetus behind Anakin Skywalker and the whole Star Wars saga, this is huge—and accordingly, Gray gives this theme the gravitas and weight it deserves. Qui-Gon’s views on prophecies, which also explained his motivations in The Phantom Menace, were addressed here in Master & Apprentice, and also sets up a number of theories for Star Wars fans to chew on with regards to the new movies.

    Typical of the author’s Star Wars novels, the characterization was also done extremely well. There’s a clear emphasis on developing relationships, and there are a whole web of them here to consider. The story takes a look at both past and present, examining the relationships of multiple sets of masters and apprentices, as well as the role the Jedi Council has played in those dynamics. In addition, we have the side characters and their relationships to each other and the protagonists. Following in the footsteps of a long line of rogue Jedi in Star Wars fiction, Rael Averross’ infectious personality and emotional openness completely stole the show for me. Rahara and Pax were also a joy to read about, and their personal stories offer some commentary on darker activities that still go on in the Republic, including smuggling and slavery. And then there are the shadowy villains and other dubious organizations like Czerka and or the Opposition on Pijal, though Gray is so subtle and clever with her writing that there will be twists and surprises you won’t see coming.

    Needless to say, in my eyes, Master & Apprentice is one of the new canon’s better books. Personally, I also think it’s one of Claudia Gray’s bolder Star Wars novels, where she tackles more mature themes and uses some modern vernacular and risqué language which felt a little out of place at times (keep in mind I’m talking by Star Wars standards here, and I know some people let their younger kids read Star Wars tie-ins, so reader discretion is advised). To sum things up though, I had a great time with this novel, and after reading it, I also think it would be fantastic to see more prequel or pre-prequel era Star Wars books in the future.

    Audiobook Comments: I absolutely adored Jonathan Davis’ performance on the Star Wars: Master & Apprentice audiobook. He’s always been known to me as “that Star Wars narrator who can do an amazing Darth Vader voice”, but obviously he’s incredibly talented and can do a lot more than that. Short of getting Liam Neeson himself to read this book, I don’t think you could have gotten a better voice actor for Qui-Gon Jinn. Stellar performance, as always.

  • Cho

    I'm preparing to fall into another star wars phase in two months and I have no regrets. The Jude Watson series about these two was basically my late childhood.

  • DiscoSpacePanther

    This book has many shortcomings, but in the end these were irrelevant to me, because I simply enjoyed the story.

    The strongest elements are the development of Qui-Gon Jinn’s relationships with both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Count Dooku—these are the best character-based parts to the story, and I was happy that (to the best of my knowledge) they didn’t seriously contradict any of the pre-Disney Legends canon, so that this book can sit comfortably enough in both (or either) continuities. There are some as

    This book has many shortcomings, but in the end these were irrelevant to me, because I simply enjoyed the story.

    The strongest elements are the development of Qui-Gon Jinn’s relationships with both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Count Dooku—these are the best character-based parts to the story, and I was happy that (to the best of my knowledge) they didn’t seriously contradict any of the pre-Disney Legends canon, so that this book can sit comfortably enough in both (or either) continuities. There are some aspects of the prophecies that fit both continuities really well (particularly since Kylo Ren and Darth Caedus are so similar).

    There were space battles, lightsabre fights and blaster firefights aplenty, as well as smugglers and jewel thieves and evil corporations—this felt like a proper Star Wars story.

    I assume it is intentionally similar to

    , having Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan sent to a planet to aid a teenaged monarch in trouble, but it feels somewhat creatively lacking at first. Royalty in Star Wars is a pet peeve of mine—there was an arc about Mon Cala from

    that I hated because it was all about hereditary monarchy—but the handling of it here is a little more sophisticated than usual, even though the writing style does not always match the conceptual level.

    Early on I felt a little queasy about the whole Jedi Regent Rael Averross / Queen Fanry relationship—him being a middle-aged man and her being a fourteen-year-old girl—I don’t

    you’re supposed to read anything romantic into it, but it comes uncomfortably close on Rael’s part, sometimes. Although this is never addressed directly, the conclusion to the book renders any subtext here irrelevant (thankfully), and I think that the author ties the relationship closely enough to the fate of Averross’s padawan sufficiently well that a misreading is averted.

    The only real negatives for me were simply a matter of taste:

    1. There is still a strong YA quality to Gray’s work here, not as obvious as in the officially titled YA works, but still not quite fully adult. For a book targeted at adults it commits the sin of overexplaining simple terms and concepts that any mature person would already be extremely familiar with (e.g. slavery). I think that a non-YA promoted novel can credit its readership with a little more worldliness!

    2. Gray has a tendency to use the word ‘nanotech’ in a way that a writer from the 1940s would use ‘atomic’—it feels as though it will be charmingly dated in a few decades, but until then it will sound superfuturistic. Kind of how ‘cybercrime’ would have sounded in the 1980s.

    3. As with the lack of analytical foundation shown by Gray’s writing in

    (where she has a pilot compensating for the gravitational field when launching from the Death Star, when in actual fact the Death Star’s gravitational pull would be imperceptible), there are occasional scientific howlers. For example, at one point the protagonists deduce that there is weapons manufacturing going on because they detect protons. I was always under the impression that protons were as common as hydrogen ions, so without any other factor they wouldn’t definitively be indicative of anything. Perhaps in Star Wars terminology this is something different!

    For me, the best part of the story was the climax—it was far more satisfying (and unexpected) than I had anticipated, and makes me think that I would be more than happy to give this one a re-read in future. I think it will work particularly well in conjunction with James Luceno's

    , which is also a Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan story.

    Recommended to all Star Wars fans, particularly those that feel that the prequels have had short-shrift since the Disney takeover.

  • Khurram

    I was a little disappointed in this book. It was ok and good in most places. I think my main problem with the book is having read the entire Jedi Apprentice series I had a very different picture in my mind of Qui Gon Jinn and Obi Wan. This being a new universe this could be forgiven, and Claudia Gray does a very good job with her own characters, but for me she just did not seem to Qui Gon and the Jedi right for me.

    My problem with the Jedi was they seemed to need rescuing as much as the who they

    I was a little disappointed in this book. It was ok and good in most places. I think my main problem with the book is having read the entire Jedi Apprentice series I had a very different picture in my mind of Qui Gon Jinn and Obi Wan. This being a new universe this could be forgiven, and Claudia Gray does a very good job with her own characters, but for me she just did not seem to Qui Gon and the Jedi right for me.

    My problem with the Jedi was they seemed to need rescuing as much as the who they went on to rescue. I agree with Qui Gon they acted more like political enforcers the guardians of justice. In fairness the Samuri that the Jedi are based did that their Shogun's word as the law without question, but as a Star Wars no.

    The story is good but a bit slow, and does need a heavy dose of action. The parts that were good to great are things with young Qui Gon and Dooku. The book does give a reason Qui Gon was so obsessed with Anakin being the chosen one, the steps of Dooku's eventual turn, as well Obi Wan's dislike for flying.

    A good prequel to Episode 1, but not my favourite versions of the main characters. Good new editions (of her own characters), and possible a prophecy for the future but we will have to see how that one plays out.

  • Peter Hale

    "Qui-Gon Jinn". Now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time; long time.

  • rachael ♡

    This Cover. THIS COVER!!!

    Claudia stays blessing me. QUEEN OF STAR WARS NOVELS.

  • Lucie

    A NEW STAR WARS BOOK BY CLAUDIA GRAY. I NEED IT NOW.

    Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

    We've been given so much new content for the prequel trilogy lately and it's making me appreciate this era more than I used to, I am so happy.

  • Ana O

    Who do I have to kill, kidnap, bribe, or marry to get this book?

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