Tuesday, February 8, 2011

44 BBY: Jedi Apprentice: The Dark Rival

Dark Rival, book two of the Jedi Apprentice series written by Jude Watson, continues the story of Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The aspects of this book I’m going to focus on today are Obi-Wan’s enlightenment, the truth and lies of the Jedi Masters, and the character of Guerra.

It seems that Obi-Wan’s enlightenment did not last long. His long strides towards the rank of Jedi Knight took a few steps back once he began to ponder, in more reflective terms, why he was rejected by Qui-Gon as an apprentice. It seems Qui-Gon’s rejection ran deeper than Obi-wan thought, and upon reaching Bandomeer with the enigmatic Knight Obi-Wan fully felt the cut of that father-figure denial: “Obi-wan had thought he had begun to accept this (his life as a farmer), but it was hard” (11).

Can enlightenment be lost?

I get Obi-Wan’s feelings here. There are times I feel so completely sure about something – like belief in God – and other times when the idea seems absolutely insane to me. Obi-Wan thought he had made his peace with being a farmer, but after going through all the adventures with Qui-Gon, and receiving a little taste of what it means to be a Padawan learner and righting the wrongs of the universe, Obi-Was no longer complacent with his fate. He wanted more. But maybe this moment of clarity did not necessarily preclude the possibility of him still being a Jedi Knight.

Upon reaching Bandomeer, and thinking about his future, Obi-Wan figured out he still wanted to be a Knight, but maybe the difference here was that he didn’t desire it as passionately as before. Maybe Obi-Wan’s feeling of contentment and clarity killed the feelings of ego which were fueling his desire to be a Knight. Maybe the feelings of pride and superiority – superiority over Bruck and others at the temple – were finally quenched. Maybe he realized that being a farmer was not a bad thing, but that he we made for something else – his skills were better suited to serve the justice of the galaxy not as a farmer, but as a Padawan learner under the tutelage of Qui-Gon Jinn.

Obi-Wan’s enlightenment was not lost, simply refocused into a truer understanding of his future self. Obi-wan realized the truth of who he is – and it was this truth he needed to present to Qui-Gon Jinn. This brings me to my next point – the idea of truth.

Obi-Wan wanted desperately to ask Qui-Gon why he was still being rejected, to questions the Master’s wisdom, but he knew he could not: “But one of the Jedi’s most serious rules was not to cross-examine a Master. Truth can hold great power. Therefore the decision to share it must be weighed. Only the Master could decide on revelation or concealment, according to the greater good” (12). The line ‘truth can hold great power’ reminded me of one of Abel Pena’s essays titled Lies of the Jedi Masters. In this essay Pena expertly deconstructs many of the lies told by the Jedi Master’s in the films, and reveals for his reader the deeper wisdom contained in their half-truths and ‘points-of-view’.

Sometimes the teacher needs to hide the truth from their student, so as to help them along the path of enlightenment. As Pena explains in terms of Star Wars what the great Jewish thinker Maimonides means in his work The Guide of the Perplexed when he explains that a teacher must sometimes deceive their student: “In plain English, that means that sometimes your Padawans aren't yet smart enough or experienced enough to absorb certain facts. So, you tell 'em the half of the truth they are ready to accept, letting it seep in so that they start deriving the logical conclusions from that fact themselves, thus helping them to prepare themselves for the second half of the truth.” It’s remarkable that Obi-Wan was able, in some capacity, to realize the wisdom of not challenging your Master at every turn at such a young age. It took Luke a while to realize that the half-truths spoken to him by Obi-Wan and Yoda were for the greater good.

If you’ve got a few moments take the time to read Pena’s essay. It’s awesome.

Finally, one of the lighter aspects of The Dark Rival was the character of Guerra. This Phindian made me laugh out loud. In one of the more funnier lines of the book, Guerra declares: “I like you, Obawan. So! I’ll watch out for you – ha! Not so, I lie again! I trust nobody and nobody trusts me.”

Guerra: master of the “not” joke.

For my next post I’m going to look at the third book of the Jedi Apprentice series The Hidden Past. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. I think this is my favorite Jedi Apprentice cover. What did you think of Xanatos? I'm anxiously looking forward to the new Qui-Gon/Xanatos comic coming out later this year.

  2. Xanatos was an interesting character which I found somewhat sympathetic.

    I think the feelings he experiences when he returned to Telos and re-established contact with his father all lent themselves to me empathizing with him a little.

    I'm not sure if I myself wouldn't be tempted to return to a life of luxury and family connections after living a monastic life at the Jedi temple. It's believable that such a thing could happen. Even Dooku never really forgot the wealth he came from, as is indicated in the Jedi Path. The lure of wealth and title pulled him back to his home planet after he forwent the Jedi Order.

    This is interesting, because Xanatos is much like Dooku in this respect, which means Qui-Gon was sandwiched between a Master and an Apprentice with very similar personalities. I wonder if Qui-Gon was so willing to look past Xanatos' faults because he had already done so with his Master for so long.

    I read about the new comic to come out and I too am looking forward to the exploration of the Qui-Gon Xanatos relationship. Should be good.

    I’m also enjoying the cover art of these books. I like how the artists have captured Ewan McGregor as a young Obi-wan Kenobi. I wonder if they got old photos of him or something, or if they just artistically rendered that image based on what he looks like. Anyway, it’s a believable photo.

  3. If the apprentice asks a question that you fell that they are not ready for I feel it would be better to tell them outright that it is not time yet, rather then give either half truths or attempt to dissuade them from asking questions all together. First off telling someone a half truth, in general, makes them more inclined to trust you less, as it damages one's credibility. After all, how many real life cases have there been where people, meaning well or otherwise, have lied or misled the public leading to disastrous results? I also believe asking questions should be encouraged, for two reasons. First, if one does not ask a question, one can never learn the answer. Second, following up on the first point, one of the best ways to improve both society as a whole and ourselves is to constantly question everything (including whether or not this time we should drop the question :) ) From such things such as whether a current government policy is really in the best interests of its people, to understanding more about how the would works. I can't help but feel this is an example of the Jedi doing the right ting the wrong way. Another example would be separating children from the outside world at an early age. I would not be surprised if part of the reason so few Jedi leave the order, is that they have no idea how to relate to the outside world. One reason why in the real world most people who join a monastic order do so after reaching adulthood. It is so they know the choice to do so is right for them. Speaking of real world examples, I believe the reason that Pope Francis encourages priests to be with the public as much as possible is so that they can better understand the needs of their flock. Compare that to the way the Jedi order AT THIS TIME is portrayed. About the only time most Jedi leave the temple is to go on missions. Is it any wonder that the average galactic citizen considers them out of touch, up there in their ivory tower? While whether Jedi should be allowed to marry or not is debatable, I believe that it would be better for BOTH the galaxy and Jedi, if more Jedi went out into the galaxy at large doing nothing more then speaking with every day folks about their concerns and doing simple good will missions like bring food to poverty stricken areas and so on.

    On another note, does anyone else find it ironic that the Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace use lightsabers, a weapon that can only maim or kill, instead of blasters with a STUN setting?

  4. Lots of good thoughts here Veronica.

    Regarding your first point about half truths: I get what you’re saying, but even in my own life I find that I tell my young children half-truths because they are not yet ready for an adult reckoning of the world. I’ll let them digest the half-truth, follow the logical conclusions, then as they grow and mature into adults we can together wrestle with all the subtitles and gray areas life has to offer. Jedi Padawans are indeed children, so I get the practice of an Adult Jedi Master giving their Padawan half-truths. I do it myself with my own kids.

    Take a read of what Pena says, which I quite enjoy. The first hyperlink I included just brings you to starwars.com Try this link: http://abelgpena.blogspot.de/2014/01/lies-of-jedi-masters.html

    To your next point: I’ve always found the Jedi practice of taking children from their birth parents rather disturbing. Some in-universe sources do their best to paint this as a great thing (The Jedi Path comes to mind), that the Force has selected your child for this great life, but again, as a parent, it doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not sure I’d be ready to hand my child over to an Order of warrior monastics. Surely so few Jedi leave the order because indeed the Jedi way of life is the only life they’ve known. I’m looking forward to how Ahsoka’s story will be fleshed out after her own incredible decision to leave the Jedi order after her trial.

    Your point about Jedi doing more for the outside world rather than simply sitting in their ivory tower is something I’ve brought up in my blog before. Gorlan Palladane from the Knight Errant series by JJM is a Jedi that is more socially minded. He is a relief worker just as much as he is a Jedi Knight.

    To your last point – yes, I agree. There is something ironic about the lightsaber. That is why Jedis who are master of lightsaber form zero are so awesome – they are few and far between. It was said by Obi-Wan that Jedi Master Fay never raised a lightsaber in combat, and in fact, he wasn’t even sure if she carried one.