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Jedi Apprentice #5
Jedi Apprentice #5: The Defenders of the Dead
By Jude Watson
44 years before ANH
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This is the fifth book in an on-going series that shows us the "hows and wherefores" of the early years of the relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn.


This fifth book in the Jedi Apprentice series sets us off on an entirely new tangent in the adventures of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. The previous four books in the series had the sense of a loosely connected 4-book story-arc. While The Defenders of the Dead comes immediately on the heels of that arc, it references it only in the relationship resonance between the two Jedi.

As the novel begins, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are landing on the planet Melida/Daan, a world ravaged by generations of civil war. The Jedi Council on Coruscant had previously sent another Jedi, Tahl, to mediate, but her mission failed, she was wounded in the process, and she is now being held hostage by one of the warring factions. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's mission is simply to rescue Tahl; the Council no longer holds any hope of a Jedi-negotiated peace on Melida/Daan. As the Master and Padawan become emmeshed in the planet's struggles, they find themselves pulled from all sides, their proscribed Jedi neutrality tested, and their mission to rescue Tahl imperiled. Obi-Wan meanwhile, rapidly finds himself loosing all objectivity as he becomes drawn to the cause of a teenage-led rebellion seeking to seize control from the adult planetary rulers and stop the warring by any means necessary. When the rebel teens enlist his aid, Obi-Wan must choose between his ardor for his new-found cause on the one hand, and his pledge to the Jedi code on the other.


The Defenders of the Dead is both "more of the same" in the Jedi Apprentice series, and, yet , a dramatic leap forward. While the previous novels have had the feel and loose connectedness of a continuing saga, The Defenders of the Dead is literally a cliff-hanger. And because author Jude Watson is thus afforded the luxury of more time to tell the tale, he takes that time to delve even more deeply into the philosophical underpinnings of the Jedi lifestyle, and the sacrifices an adherent makes in its name. There is some wonderful, rich writing filtered into this "young-adult" book. While the core plot is fairly uncomplicated and unsophisticated, the impact of the events in the book on Qui-Gon's and Obi-Wan's feelings and on their relationship is profound, and profoundly described. There are no easy answers to the questions raised for them, and both Master and Apprentice have to find inner resources yet untapped to deal with what transpires. Especially moving, is how Qui-Gon faces the situation, and the novel allows him some penetrating revelations about stored and un-faced emotions he wasn't even aware he had.

As with the first four Jedi Apprentice books, the vocabulary and phrasing are somewhat "dumbed down" for the younger target audience. But also as with the earlier books, this doesn't in the least detract from the enjoyment quotient, nor from the impactful addition made to the Star Wars timeline.