After an entire Prequel and animated series covering the Master/Apprentice relationship of Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker, it is almost hard to believe that we are getting even more exploration in the upcoming Disney Plus series Obi-Wan Kenobi (with both Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen reprising their roles). We will also cover another Master/Apprentice relationship more in Ahsoka as Christensen will be making an appearance in that show as well. Overexposure has reached the former as Kenobi and Skywalker’s relationship looms over most of the live-action and animated content.
However, recently there has been a resurgence of fan interest in Qui-Gon Jinn, possibly from the return of Darth Maul and his obsession with revenge on Kenobi. Liam Neeson even returned to voice Jinn in The Clone Wars Mortis and Yoda arcs in seasons three and six, respectively. Then, in 2017 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope, Lucasfilm Press released A Certain Point of View, a collection of 40 short stories from the perspective of characters besides Luke, Leia, and Vader. The short story by Claudia Gray finds Qui-Gon Jinn, now a force ghost, counseling Obi-Wan, knowing that his former apprentice will soon join him in the cosmic force. That short story became the basis for her novel of the same name and the November C&C Recommend: Master & Apprentice.
Before Master & Apprentice, Claudia Gray had written Star Wars books mainly from the perspective of a female lead. Lost Stars did toggle between a female and male character, but her previous books were focused on Leia during her time as a young Princess during the Reign of the Empire (Leia, Princess of Alderaan) and a veteran Senator ( Bloodline) during the rise of the First Order. Both of those novels are excellent (Leia, Princess of Alderaan is a former C&C Recommend). But canon lovers and newbies who love Qui-Gon Jinn will find the best Qui-Gon content (possibly the best Obi-Wan content) with Master & Apprentice.
The novel takes place eight years before The Phantom Menace as Qui-Gon struggles to connect with his Padawan, Obi-Wan, while reflecting on his time as Padawan to Count Dooku. The perspective splits mainly between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and another former Padawan to Dooku, Rael Averross. Devastated after the loss of his Padawan to a slicer dart, Rael has been assigned Lord Regent for the planet Pijal, acting as guardian to the young Princess Fanry until she comes of age to assume the throne. Averross reaches out to Qui-Gon to help with a dispute between the Pijal Monarchy and the Czerka Corporation, a powerful arms manufacturer operating within the Outer Rim. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan soon find themselves caught in the world of Pijal politics, corporate greed, and sabotage, among many mysteries to unfold in one of the most thrilling Star Wars adult novels. The story is engaging and complex but not overwhelming like parts of the Alphabet Squadron trilogy. There are many relationships explored and dissected in this novel besides Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan that will appeal to someone: Rael and Fanry, Dooku and Qui-Gon, Rael and Qui-Gon, and two new characters, Rahara and Pax, who hunt rare items (mainly metals) for a living. There is more to explore with the latter two but they could be considered the heart of the novel.
Speaking of heart, what makes Master & Apprentice different is how it discusses slavery within the galaxy and what the Jedi Order chooses to ignore. Slavery in Star Wars has always been handled with a surface-level sheen where those participating (usually Zygerrian Empire or the Galactic Empire) are pure evil, while the Republic/Jedi Order oppose it simply because they are the good guys. But what happens when a large corporation uses slaves but also has political influence with the Republic or on planets crucial to their interests? A whole bunch of hypocrisy. And Master & Apprentice hits that home in a way that has been absent in other Star Wars content.
It is an adult novel so lacks the romance that often veers towards cringe in Star Wars (although there is a brief reference to Jedi having sex so… yeah). Overall, this is a must-read for Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan fans before seeing more of Kenobi in his upcoming series. Master & Apprentice does not shy away from ugly truths. And even though we know the ending for some of these characters, it still brings many surprises in between.