Jedi Apprentice #1: The Rising Force (Legends) by Dave Wolverton
Chapters 1 through 5
We cap off Snark Wars’ First Anniversary Week with an attempt to capture one more thing I have gotten numerous requests for from the readers that I somehow inexplicably have, and to whom I owe an enormous debt of eternal gratitude: namely, one of the Star Wars books.
Yes, the Star Wars literary collection is vast, frequently non-canon, and always some combination of soul-crushingly sad and absolutely and completely bonkers. Especially when we’re talking about Ye Olde Expanded Universe. Like, you think The Clone Wars is crazy just because of that time that they went to Mortis? You have no idea what you’re dealing with here in the Olde EU. It’s a place where people can be cloned from missing appendages that they lost years earlier, for starters. (OK FINE: I concede that Mortis is still pretty crazy.)
Since my readers (and uh, your author) seem to be inordinately preoccupied with The Unbearable Sadness of Obi-Wan, though, we’re going to fulfill some longstanding requests and start with a book from the multi-volume Jedi Apprentice series, a now-non-canonical peek into the sad, awkward tween years of our most-beloved ginger space husband/wise old lying wizard. How much of this ever becomes part of some Official Version of anything remains to be seen, but for now, this is as close as we get to the Real Story.
A couple quick Author’s Notes: all block quotes are lines direct from the source material, and any images used, other than the book cover, are culled from my vast library of other Star Wars media (comics, screengrabs, etc,) to help break up the incoming Wall of Text where possible. Enjoy!
Be Mindful Of Your Feelings
We begin in the Jedi Temple, where sweet, goes-without-saying adorable and good-hearted wee peanut Obi-Wan Kenobi, age 12, is sparring with one of his peers. He’s guided during this exercise by Yoda, who always teaches the Jedi Kids and I love this and it kills me. So, does Yoda teach grades 4K through 6th? Or did he move to the younger grades before this happened?
(Author’s Note: my son loves this part of Attack of the Clones. Also one time he told me he wished Obi-Wan would come to his school to visit and I was like “…me too!” Ahem. Anyways.)
Anyhow: Tweenage Obi-Wan is struggling in this face-off, because he’s 12 and awkward as hell and…well, I guess he becomes slightly less awkward as an adult? There’s something else, too:
Every student at the Temple has his or her weaknesses. Obi-Wan knew his own too well. Everyday, he had to struggle to control his anger and his fear. The Temple was a test of character as much as skill.
Oh ho! Well then! Look who is struggling with Rage Issues. How about that. (WHAT IS WITH THIS JEDI LINEAGE?! And should we all really be hoping it continues, given its track record? On that note, JUST WAIT.)
So anyways Obi-Wan and this other kid, Bruck, fight each other with training sabers (which from the way they describe it are kind of like fighting someone with a hot curling iron, in that it can still burn you but it is unlikely to, say, sever your arm off unless you are REALLY MOTIVATED,) and Obi-Wan is being a rageaholic and pins the kid down. The boy, pissed off because he lost, calls Obi-Wan an oaf and then points out that Obi-Wan is within weeks of never getting picked to be a Padawan and having to go live on a Farming Planet for Jedi Rejects and THIS IS A REAL THING AND WE WILL COVER THIS MORE LATER. We are like 2 pages into this thing and Obi-Wan already has so many issues and is being called names and the book goes on and on about how he’s awkwardly growing and he keeps tripping all over himself and MY HEART. Seriously, Star Wars, get your shit together.
Recurring Theme: Master Yoda, Up To Something
Given that Bruck is being an ass, Yoda literally tells him to go to his room. Like, in those exact words. LOL. I love the Jedi Order so much. Poor Yoda. If I was still on the hook to send kids to their rooms at age 800-something, I’d be SO much more cranky than that guy is. Obi-Wan is like I’LL FIGHT THAT PUNK AGAIN IF I HAVE TO LET’S DO THIS, fully expecting Yoda to send them both to their rooms now. Instead, Yoda is like “…’k. Go for it, Young Kenobes. Let’s see what you’ve got.” The two fight again, and this time Obi-Wan goes through the standard Force Moment: he learns to let go of all he fears to lose, blahblahblah, and the Force guides him and binds him and he wears the other kid out and wins — this time, not by brute force.
Yoda is pleased: good job, kid! Welp, that’s enough for today…a Jedi Knight is coming tomorrow to shop for a Padawan! Obi-Wan is like [RECORD SCRATCH] “HUH???”
OK: so KEEPING IN MIND THIS SERIES IS NOT EVEN REMOTELY CANON, here in this Star Wars quasi-AU this is like the most fucked-up thing ever. As I understand it, the Jedi abscond with all these children as babies, train them to do a bunch of insane things like BEAT EACH OTHER WITH BURNING STICKS for like a decade, and then random adults they barely know swing by periodically to adopt one of them. And if they don’t get picked by one of these maladjusted sorcerers, they get shipped away to another planet because no one wants them around anymore. I am laughing so damn hard right now because WHAT THE HELL KIND OF ORGANIZATION IS THIS?! WHY WOULD ANY VERSION OF STAR WARS WANT THIS TO BE THE STORY OF THE GOOD GUYS.
Baby-Wan is like “…who? Who’s coming?! I didn’t know about this!” and is informed that it’s this guy named Qui-Gon Jinn.
Recurring Theme: This Jedi Lineage Has Seriously SO MANY ISSUES
So, as it turns out, Obi-Wan knows who that guy is: he’s shown up a few times before, but he never leaves with a Padawan. The rumor (because of COURSE there is gossip about this because this is the Jedi Order we are talking about and, again, they are HUGE BUSYBODIES because none of them have lives,) is that Qui-Gon’s last apprentice had been Lost Tragically and so now his heart is hardened and he’ll never love again or whatever.
Obi-Wan, eternal optimist that he is and apparently always has been, is like NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE ME YODA and Yoda says the MOST INACCURATE THING EVER IN RESPONSE:
Yoda squinted up at Obi-Wan with wise eyes. “Hummmph! Always in motion the future is. One cannot be sure, but I have sensed . . . a kinder destiny for you.”
This would be extraordinarily touching if we didn’t all know what destiny ACTUALLY awaits Obi-Wan. HOW COULD ANY OTHER DESTINY BE LESS KIND? Oh my God: what if Obi-Wan’s life as it is in canon isn’t even as bad as it COULD HAVE BEEN? Good Lord. The mind reels.
Then Yoda tells Obi-Wan to wait and see what happens and tells him that no matter what, he feels he will soon be losing a wonderful student. At this, Obi-Wan almost dies right there on the spot because OMG! Yoda never says things like this to anyone! And he loves me! AHHHH.
Hey, The Envelope Clearly Said FINAL NOTICE
I would like to point out to regular Snark Wars readers that this is an actual line in this book as Obi-Wan stands there once Yoda leaves:
The lights powered down automatically and the room grew dusky with shadows.
So, evidently the Jedi Temple DID have electricity…at one point. Maybe they stopped paying their utility bill and the power got cut during the war and that’s when they switched to the AA-battery-powered flashlights they use to illuminate themselves later. Huh.
Anyways, that jerkass Bruck is still in the room after Yoda leaves, and he and Obi-Wan Have Words about how Bruck wants Qui-Gon to pick him and not Obi-Wan and Obi-Wan is like “have fun becoming a Jedi Farmer! Bye girl!” and then they end up dueling again and, not for the last time in his life, Obi-Wan ends a scene thusly:
Weary as they were, the boys fought until they could hardly move. By the time they crept from the training room, both boys were badly burned and bruised.
Neither had won, and both had lost.
Yep. (You’re welcome.)
SO! Now that they both got all banged up from fighting again, Bruck goes to the healers ward and is like THAT HORRIBLE OBI-WAN KENOBI MAIMED ME. As the first chapter ends, the healers are like “WELL THEN. Someone better go tell the Masters that we’ve got ourselves a maniac on our hands.” DUN DUN DUUUUUN!
Farm Livin’ Is Not The Life For Me
Chapter 2 opens with Obi-Wan, later that evening, finding out that he’s getting shipped off to the Agricultural Corps the following morning. He’s horrified: his birthday isn’t for four more weeks! He’s supposed to try and get Qui-Gon to adopt him tomorrow! Yeah, replies the docent who’s brought him this news, but that was before the Masters found out you wailed on Bruck, my little red hot cinnamon candy of rage! Obi-Wan comes to the stunned realization that Bruck wound him up and lured him into that fight on purpose, so that he could then rat him out to the healers.
He is absolutely crushed. I’m glad I didn’t have to look at this in live-action or animated format, because I am not sure my heart could take it. There’s all sorts of descriptions about his sweet little Baby Jedi Dorm (he has MODEL SPACESHIPS HE MADE HIMSELF AND I’M ABSOLUTELY NOT OK WITH THIS SKYWALKERESQUE DETAIL) and how embarrassed and devastated he is, and that he can’t even bring himself to tell his best friends what’s happened.
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan’s Tearful Goodbye
Bant, his bestest little Calamarian buddy, shows up at his door now as everyone is saying goodnight to each other, and she is already in tears: you weren’t even going to say goodbye to me?! Obi-Wan is like “I’m being sent off to work on a gigantic Space Hippie Organic Farm, Bant, I’m not proud of it,” and she’s like “I heard they were sending you to Bandomeer.” He sighs because he knows that this must mean that everybody already knows what a pathetic failure he is and OH MY GOD WHY DID I AGREE TO RECAP THIS WRETCHED TOME OF MISERY. SOMEONE PROTECT HIM.
Bant ominously says something about how she’s heard it could be dangerous there. Obi-Wan is puzzled: I’m going to be checking crops for hornworms and removing tomatoes with blossom-end rot and reading the Seed Savers Exchange catalog in my spare time, Bant, how dangerous can it be? Bant tells him that none of the grown-ups will tell her, but that’s what she’s heard. Oh, the Jedi. Such great, informative parents.
Then the two of them say their final farewells:
“Miss you, I will,” Bant said, echoing Yoda’s strange way of talking. She blinked back tears.
“So sorry, I am,” Obi-Wan answered. He tried to smile, but could not. In answer, Bant hugged him again swiftly, then hurried away to hide her tears.
Recurring Theme: The Jedi Order Can Suck It Sometimes
OK, so the next morning Obi-Wan is having this extremely sad breakfast with his buddies and he can barely eat because of Sadness and they’re all trying to make him feel better, except for the table of Bruck the Bully:
At Bruck’s table, the voices were loud and reached their ears. “Always knew he wouldn’t make it,” Bruck’s friend Aalto said loudly. Obi-Wan’s ears burned as he heard Bruck’s high snicker. He turned, and Bruck stared at him, daring him to pick another fight.
WHAT IS WITH THE JEDI ORDER HAVING SO MANY ASSHOLES IN IT. Seriously. I guess I finally have the answer to my eternal question of why so many of them ended up falling to the Dark Side especially if you include the old EU: a ton of them were jackasses already. Remember these little bastards who TEASED ANAKIN SKYWALKER ABOUT HAVING BEEN A SLAVE?
Why is everyone always being so mean to my boys? Is it because they are obviously so much better than everyone else there? Is it Hair Envy? This is what I’m going with.
Bruck tries to get into it with Obi-Wan again, and Obi-Wan backs off, opting to sass him instead. Ah, so that’s where that’s coming from. I mean, why rage at someone when you can just Sarcasm them to death, amirite Kenobes?
Meanwhile, the Jedi Masters are sitting in this gigantic greenhouse the Temple had called the Room of a Thousand Fountains, and Yoda? Is PEEVED. There’s a big thunderstorm outside (does it only rain on Coruscant when some gigantic Universe-Altering Event is about to happen?) He is adamant that Obi-Wan needs to be given a chance to fight for Qui-Gon’s heart. Mace Windu is like “…what the hell are you rambling about NOW, old man?”
Yoda summons a droid that saw the Big Fight between Obi-Wan and Bruck. The droid relays the pertinent details about just how exactly this fight got started. With that:
At the conclusion, Mace Windu sighed. “So we have one deceitful boy, and one foolish one,” he said. He looked at Master Yoda. “What do you suggest?”
Yoda proclaims that they should both be given another chance to fail. I love that Mace is like UGH FINE. Mace Windu’s life has not yet even BEGUN to unravel and he is already SO INCREDIBLY DONE WITH EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING.
Recurring Theme: Fight, Kids! Fight!
So now it’s the next day or something, and Bruck and Obi-Wan are sparring with each other again. Just to reiterate: a bunch of supernaturally-gifted space orphans are competing in a physical competition that includes, and I quote, “the odor of burned flesh and singed hair [hanging] heavily in the air” to prove themselves worthy of an adult stranger, who is also a wizard. Because if they fail to do so, they will get shipped off to Space Green Acres and have to become farmers. I like how they don’t even get a choice between farming and, oh, I dunno, GOING HOME TO THEIR ACTUAL PARENTS? This is crazy and pretty awful but given that none of it is real and Star Wars is ridiculous, I choose to laugh. (Sorry Obi-Wan.)
Recurring Theme: He’s a Rebel and He’ll Never Ever Be Any Good
Obi-Wan’s having all kind of Force Moments as he tries to summon the Force and let it guide him and blahblahblah and he feels that Qui-Gon is watching and evaluating them. He’s trying his hardest to impress him. Qui-Gon, you see, is known for being a rebel and a loner.
The Jedi was a rebel and a loner, and Obi-Wan wanted to be seen as a rebel, too.
LOL. Well guess WHAT, Kenobes? You will not only play a key role in an actual Rebellion, but as a BONUS, you’ll get to be a loner for about two solid decades, too! Fun times. (And hey! Luke will get to do that, too! It’s a Jedi Family Trait.)
Recurring Theme: OK JUST HOLD UP A MINUTE HERE STAR WARS BECAUSE WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS
OK, so Obi-Wan kicks Bruck’s ass and he wins and he EVEN HOLDS HIS LIGHTSABER ALOFT WHILE SMILING and I have passed away. My sweet little space peanut. He was so proud and he thought he’d done so well.
He’s leaving the Jedi Locker Room after getting cleaned up from his Extreme Victory and Qui-Gon PRETTY MUCH just shows his face to be like “Way to dance with the Dark Side, son.” He goes on and on about how Obi-Wan fought with too much anger and “who taught you to fight like like that WAS IT THE DARKNESS blahblahblah.” Obi-Wan practically BEGS him to take him on as his Padawan — if he’s fighting incorrectly, then maybe he just needs a good teacher! Qui-Gon declines, and Obi-Wan tells him outright that he’s his last hope of being a Jedi Knight and QUI-GON JINN SAYS THIS TO OBI-WAN KENOBI:
Qui-Gon shook his head sadly. “It is better not to train a boy to become Knight if he has so much anger. There is the risk he will turn to the dark side.”
OK OK. Please: let us unpack this. Qui-Gon Jinn, the guy who will later go to bat for a kid that YODA EXPLICITLY TELLS HIM IS FULL OF ANCIENT EVIL AND LATER DOES BECOME DARTH VADER, does not want to train OBI-WAN KENOBI, the actual best human person who has ever lived whose worst crime is like…I don’t even know. He was TOO handsome? He becomes a compulsively-flirting sexual menace to the Galaxy when he grows up? His sadness just bums everyone out? FUCK THIS.
Ways We Can Interpret This:
- Qui-Gon has such a great experience with training Obi-Wan that he no longer believes his own bullshit here by the time The Phantom Menace rolls around, with Disastrous Results;
- Qui-Gon is an unpredictable weirdo who just likes messing with people and says stuff for no reason other than to start shit with people who deserve none of this;
- Yoda is always right about everything, since he was pro-Training Obi-Wan and anti-Training Anakin and maybe this guy deserves more credit than we thought (although he did try to back out of training Luke Skywalker, who then proceeded to save the universe, so maybe it’s a wash);
- Obi-Wan actually IS a failure, since Qui-Gon kept Obi-Wan away from the Dark Side but evidently Obi-Wan couldn’t keep Anakin from it?
- I hate everything.
If you opted for #5, you are correct. I do hate everything here. There is no interpretation of this I can live with without pain.
I will point out, though, that Qui-Gon’s exit here is described as follows:
With that, the huge Jedi wheeled and strode for the door, his cape streaming.
Of course it was.
Leaving on a Jet Plane
Aaaaanyways, Little Baby Obi-Wan Who Has Done Nothing Wrong Ever and Already Needs So Many Hugs and Naps and Tea is completely crestfallen, but resigned to his fate after this. He collects his meager possessions and glumly begins to leave the Jedi Temple. At this, this stupid book that hates me throws this at me on his way out:
Obi-Wan walked out the door of the Temple for the last time. He tried to push away his deep sorrow and look to the future as he’d been taught.
But he could not.
THANKS. Sad, Tiny 12-year-old Obi-Wan getting rejected by everyone and everything wasn’t bad enough, Book, you had to go and all but explicitly point out that it made him cry.
Recurring Theme: Tragic Backstory
Chapter 5 opens in the Jedi Temple Star Map Room, which almost sounds like a banquet hall The Order rents out for weddings on the weekends, but obviously is not that, because that would be silly. Qui-Gon is sitting in there, staring wistfully at the map of the galaxy and Feeling Ways About Things. He can’t get the image of crushed, heartbroken little Obi-Wan out of his head (ME EITHER, and I didn’t even have to actually look at it.) He keeps trying to tell himself that he’s made the right choice, even saying out loud to himself, weirdly, that the boy’s not his responsibility.
Yoda has secretly sidled up behind him, and overhears this, and the two get into a discussion where Yoda is like “…are you SURE you want to destroy Obi-Wan’s dreams? I like the kid,” and awwwww, ME TOO, YODA. Me too. Thanks for sticking by my boy in this book. I think we all know who Grandpa’s Favorite is!
Qui-Gon is like “leave me alone Gaaaaahhhhd maybe I’ll take a Padawan next year,” but Yoda is pretty unimpressed by this:
“Perhaps,” Yoda agreed. “Or perhaps still reluctant, will you be. What of young Obi-Wan? Well he fought.”
“He fought . . . ferociously,” Qui-Gon agreed.
“Yes,” Yoda said. “Like a boy I knew long ago –”
“Don’t,” Qui-Gon interrupted. “Xanatos is gone. I don’t want to be reminded.”
“Not speaking of that one,” Yoda said. “Of you I spoke.”
Ohhhkay, gentlemen: let me stop you right there.
- So it hasn’t been spelled out entirely (at this point in the book,) but the gist here is that Qui-Gon’s last apprentice Broke Bad.
- His apprentice’s name was XANATOS. Xanatos! Oh my God.
- So, if I am understanding this correctly, this means that if you include Dooku, Qui-Gon, This Xanatos Guy, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Ahsoka, Luke, and Ben Solo, FULLY HALF OF THIS JEDI FAMILY TREE HAVE TURNED TO THE DARK SIDE. And Luke, Ahsoka, AND Obi-Wan all teeter on the edge of Dark Rage numerous times in their lives, and from what it sounds like here Qui-Gon wasn’t any better. GUYS. WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH YOU PEOPLE.
Recurring Theme: Really, Galen?
Qui-Gon persists: he is not going to adopt Little Orphan Obi. He tells Yoda to wish him luck: where’s the kid off to anyways?
Yoda tells him he’s going to be sent to join the Agricultural Corps, and Qui-Gon is like PFFT what a waste — a farmer! What the hell does Star Wars have against farming? Qui-Gon, Luke, Obi-Wan, Orson Krennic…everyone is like EWW OMG FARMING?! People need food, you know, guys. I know it’s not as flashy as swooshing your cape around like a pompous asshole while you “save”/ruin the universe, but it’s still kind of an important pursuit.
Yoda continues: Obi-Wan will soon be on his way to Bandomeer. Qui-Gon is shocked: Bandomeer?! Um, he’s going to get killed there — if not by the terrible weather, then by the plethora of predators there! What the hell is he being sent there for?!
“Yes, so the Council thought,” Yoda said. “Good to grow crops Bandomeer may not be. But a good place for a young Jedi to grow it is.”
OK, OK: wait. The Jedi Council is sending an innocent and emotionally fragile twelve-year-old, who has never lived away from the Space Monastery that abducted him as a baby, to a terrifying hell planet alone (yes yes, he won’t actually end up alone Because Will of the Force but still,) to help him BUILD CHARACTER?! Yep, that’s my Jedi Council all right! Always here with the best decisions.
Anyways, Qui-Gon insists that Yoda must be up to something, because the Senate just asked Qui-Gon to go to Bandomeer, too! Yoda is like HUH, well, I didn’t know anything about that but you know that Wacky Force! Who knows WHAT it’s up to now! Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s not going to end with nearly all of us dead, that’s for sure!
Indeed. And with that, we round out the first 5 chapters of this book! Will Baby-Wan be able to prove himself to Actual Irish Giant Qui-Gon Jinn? How much more trauma will Obi-Wan collect to cover in therapy someday? And will I make it through this whole book without crying? We’ll just have to keep reading to find out!