Book Review | Star Wars: Padawan
“Star Wars: Padawan IS essential reading for Star Wars fans. You get a sense of the beginnings of the incredibly good man and Jedi, Obi-Wan will grow to be.”
Star Wars: Padawan is an exciting Star Wars YA novel written by Kiersten White and taken from the viewpoint of everyone’s favorite Negotiator Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Fresh off his tremendous Disney+ series, we get to see Kenobi in a more vulnerable state. A state of youth and innocence. Obi-Wan is 16 years old. And like most teenagers in any galaxy, Obi-Wan is looking for his place in the universe. And coping with growing older and separating from his creche, and finding a steady relationship with Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn.
Jinn is inscrutable, cryptic, and a man of few words, and likes to constantly meditate. Obi-Wan is not so keen on meditation and wants to go off on missions like the rest of his friends. White thankfully has done her homework. And this book meshes with the book Master and Apprentice which takes place a year after this book, and it ties in nicely as it mentions Jape, one of Obi-Wan’s established friends whose Master loves astrophysics.
I like it when continuity is followed in the storytelling initiative. We are also re-introduced to Bolla Ropal, a Rodian Padawan who loves to mess with Obi-Wan. Like most teenagers (regardless of being a Jedi) he does NOT find being teased amusing. And we are reminded of how young Obi-Wan is. We are also reminded how no matter how much the Jedi want to control how you feel – emotions will always bleed through.
Obi-Wan is very unsure of his role in the Force. And throughout the book, he doubts if the Force is truly directing him and if he is meant to even be a Jedi. Qui-Gon seems more obligated to train him and Kenobi cannot find common ground with his Master. All his friends mesh with their Masters, but he feels shut out and useless. Then it is rumored that Qui-Gon is leaving the Order and following suit with his former Master. This heavily distresses Obi-Wan.
During his adolescent wanderings, he discovers a map to a planet left in the Temple by High Republic Jedi Wayseeker, Orla Jareni. Die-hard fans of Star Wars know of Orla. And it’s cool to see her actions reverberating across time and into the Prequel era. Qui-Gon is very much like a Wayseeker in his beliefs, despite the fact, that there is no such thing as a Jedi Wayseeker anymore. Obi-Wan convinces him to go on the quest to this mysterious planet Lenahra. But when it’s time to go – Qui-Gon does not show up. Devastated, Obi-Wan decided to go on the mission anyway with his new astromech-on-loan-friend A6-G2.
Obi-Wan is 16 but still feels bad breaking the rules which goes in contrast with his future padawan Anakin Skywalker, who never cared about breaking rules. Obi-Wan is sure he will be expelled from the Order when he returns but NEEDS this mission to affirm his identity in the Force. What I love is that throughout this novel, Obi-Wan debates whether the Force is leading him to Lenahra or if he is just grasping at straws. When he arrives, he feels he has hit a dead end and sadly ruminates, that the Jedi Order would not miss him if he never returned.
It’s so easy to see myself as this teenager; as I often felt isolated at school where nobody cared about me. Obi-Wan soon meets a feral pack of orphaned children who live on Lenahra and use (what he presumes) the Force to augment their jumps and other physical abilities. Lenahra is almost like a living planet. And it doesn’t like the kids who live on it, so it “sends” creatures to try and kill them. The rocks. The trees. They all seem to be alive. And while this planet isn’t quite Zonama Sekot (with a consciousness), it often feels throughout the book like the Gaia Hypothesis works for this planet.
Kiersten also apparently likes to emulate the movie dialogue, as Obi-Wan says “Hello there” and refers to something as uncivilized. These are all the components that will make him into the General he will one day be. Kenobi tries to establish a friendship with these wayward teens and children. And it slightly parallels an adventure in Legends, where Obi-Wan briefly left the Order to join with the teen-led resistance on the war-fractured planet Melidaa/Daan. This is of course different, but it hit all the nostalgia vibes for me.
TROPES & ICONOGRAPHY
More vibes successfully hit, when the young Padawan says that he would never fall in love with a leader or have a padawan that would be difficult. Yeah, okay Obi-Wan, you are in for a surprise. Obi-Wan forms a friendship with the two Mirilian teens who are in charge of the younger kids. And he quickly learns that their lives are far from perfect. And that they are hiding much in their past. Obi-Wan has such a good heart and wants to help these kids. Despite their insistence that their place is on this planet, it was what their parents wanted for them.
Yet, it surprises Obi-Wan that parents would want this type of existence for their children. Yet, the longer he stays, the more he debates staying there and leaving a Jedi Order he feels may not be right for him. He tries to convince the sibling Mirilans Audj and Casul that something is not right with the way they live and treat this mysterious planet.
I have to say that Star Wars: Padawan was a very cute adventure. And I really did have a lot of questions after it was done. I love how Obi-Wan met a very familiar face for the first time. And how he found his place in nature and the universe. He had trouble meditating and connecting to the Living Force, and still has a long way to go with that. However, at the end of the ordeal, he learns that he was meant to be a Jedi. I also thought at one point that White was implying that Obi-Wan had the potential to be bisexual. But perhaps I am jumping the gun and he may just be a curious teenager.
The Mirilian twins are both LGBTQ and I sit back and smile at how supportive of same-sex attracted characters, Disney is. Being gay in the Star Wars galaxy is like being left or right-handed. It’s no big deal and nobody cares. I also like this portrayal of Obi-Wan. He is fiercely loyal and compassionate and downright funny sometimes. I feel that this IS essential reading for Star Wars fans, as you get a sense of the beginnings of the incredibly good man and Jedi, Obi-Wan will grow to be.
Star Wars Padawan by Kiersten White is published by Disney Lucasfilm Press and is available to order now.
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Max Nocerino is a regular Staff Writer for The Future of the Force. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter where he shares his love of the Force frequently!