If your only motivation in reading this review is to decide whether or not to read Star Wars: Master And Apprentice, let me make this simple for you. Stop reading this review, grab a copy of Master And Apprentice, and read it immediately. To this point (after reading every single canon novel and junior reader) I can say that no other novel has connected to and expanded the Star Wars Universe in a more meaningful way for me than this novel.
If you aren’t convinced yet, please continue reading my short no-spoiler review.
Master And Apprentice, written by Claudia Gray, is the earliest novel, in terms of chronology, in the Star Wars Canon. The main storyline is set about 8 years prior to Episode I: The Phantom Menace, featuring Qui-Gon Jinn and his 17-year old padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Immediately after an encounter with one of the Hutt gangsters, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are sent to assist Rael Averross (a rather unconventional Jedi Knight who apprenticed under Dooku prior to Qui-Gon) in resolving a political situation involving the planet Pijal and its moon and the greedy Czerka Corporation.
Due to Qui-Gon’s cryptic mentorship style and his faith in the ancient Jedi prophecies, which Obi-Wan and most of the other Jedi consider to be useless relics of the ancient mystics, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s relationship is strenuous at best. The conflict at Pijal will put to the test both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s relationship and the credibility of the ancient prophecies, while hinting at the the deeper seeds of conflict in the republic that would come to fruition in the prequel trilogy.
One of the reasons I love Claudia Gray’s writing so much is her mastery at creating depth and dimensionality with the characters in her novels. This creates an immersive experience with which readers can’t help but connect. In Lost Stars, Gray won our hearts with her ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story featuring the new characters Thayne Kyrell and Ciena Ree. In Bloodline, Gray takes our beloved Leia Organa and adds a depth of understanding that few other authors have managed to accomplish when dealing with characters from the films. Gray’s work in Master And Apprentice follows suit by adding a delicious backstory for Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon (for which I’ve desperately been waiting), while also introducing us to endearing (and unique) new characters such as Rael Averross — the rough, unconventional Jedi with a heart of gold, and Pax Maripher and Rahara Wick — the noble-hearted jewel smugglers.
This novel ties into the events of the main Star Wars storyline possibly more than any other canon novel. Many of the other novels expand the Star Wars universe by telling parallel or off-shoot stories, which are enjoyable to read but ultimately non-essential. But the events in Master And Apprentice naturally set the stage for the prequel trilogy to a degree that it could be considered a prequel novel to the prequels. It also drops a hint or two that are fueling my own theories for the upcoming release of Episode IX: Rise Of Skywalker.
As I said in the intro, Master And Apprentice is a must read for Star Wars fans of all varieties.
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