Page count: Hardcover, 330
Author: Claudia Gray
Timeline: Precedes The Phantom Menace
Main characters: Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan
Brief synopsis: An unexpectedly dangerous mission tests the bond of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s relationship.
Master and Apprentice was actually the first Star Wars novel that I’ve completed. And this wasn’t too long ago, I believe I read it during September (although this is long ago considering I’m just now getting to the book review). I enjoyed this book so much that it got me hooked on this medium of Star Wars storytelling. Some of my favorite stories and characters have thus come from novels, and I owe a lot of that to Master and Apprentice. A few months later and I’m enjoying reading them so much that I’m now writing book reviews! Pretty crazy.
But outside of that impact of the book on my life, I obviously enjoyed it very much. Problems with the prequels aside, I really believe that the universe created by them is the best of the three trilogies. It is simply the broadest and most complex of the three. So that and the fact it focused on two of my favorite Jedi made my interest in this book to be high before I even picked it up. That being said, I have been disappointed with books even with high expectations, so Claudia Gray still had to write a good book. And well, she definitely did. It had content beyond what I was expecting, and I was pleasantly surprised at what I learned while reading it. My biased reaction is that this might be the highest quality Star Wars novel out there, but that is before doing my actual rating of the book. We’ll see how the points turn out!
Characters (19/20 pts)
Because Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are such well-known characters, Gray had an easier job because the reader should already have a positive emotional attachment to them. From that, what I will be looking for is additional character development for them that both makes sense and is somewhat unexpected (sounds hard, but that’s why I just review books and don’t write them). But Gray’s focus on the book was not developing them as individuals. Her focus was given away in the title that Master and Apprentice is about relationships, specifically between the master and apprentice. It’s in these relationships that we do learn more about Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, but we get to learn more about other master and apprentice relationships too that give us a better holistic review of what this unique relationship looks like. So, I may not have had as much of an emotional attachment to the characters as I expected but learning about the inter-relationship qualities is a wonderful touch. This is where the strength lied for the characters and that was somewhat unexpected, but a unique look from Gray that I appreciated.
Writing Style (20/20 pts)
Welp, another Claudia Gray book means another good score for “writing style.” No surprises here, but I’ll still try to not sound too repetitive. I’ve mentioned before that Claudia Gray is my favorite Star Wars author, and here lies no exception. Master and Apprentice is up with Lost Stars as the best purely written Star Wars books available. As I might give a slight edge to Lost Stars, it is not by much. Gray is fantastic at touching on our unconscious thoughts and using them to make the book come to life and for us to form attachments with characters. She hit another home run with Master and Apprentice, so I have no choice but to give a perfect score of 20 points.
Plot (19.5/20 pts)
From the start of the book, it was pretty clear where the direction of the book was headed. The scenes near the beginning seemed exciting enough to build intrigue and keep the plot moving, but not too exciting to take away from the climactic ending of the book. There were also surprises that kept things interesting and flashback chapters that helped develop the plot from an interesting perspective. Master and Apprentice kept me on my toes throughout almost the entire book and also had me spinning creative theories in my mind regarding how it would end. Every time I thought I had the book figured out, something else would happen entirely that somehow made sense even though I had never thought of it. My only tiny complaint is with some details of the ending, but the book still had an exciting climactic ending that provided closure for the story. So, I am being nit-picky with my minimal complaint, that is why I am giving 19.5 points for the plot.
Intrigue (20/20 pts)
Before starting this book, I had been wanting to get back into reading. I had started with a couple of books, including Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games, but I wasn’t as interested in them to complete them. Even though they were exciting books, for some reason they lacked the needed intrigue to finish them. This certainly cannot be said for Master and Apprentice, my intrigue was at a peak throughout almost the entire book. The characters pulled me in, the plot kept me interested, and the writing style made it easy to read. It is somewhat of a perfect storm that made the intrigue for me so high, even from the beginning, so I couldn’t put it down. This is why I am giving a perfect score of 20 points for the intrigue.
What does it add? (19.5/20 pts)
What everyone, who has read Master and Apprentice, is expecting to be in this section must include the additional information on prophecy. While the information on The Chosen One was included and significant, there were also additional prophecies mentioned that were most interesting. I think it has the potential to create even more theory regarding the Star Wars universe, especially because these prophecies are mentioned before any of the movies occur. I won’t go into any details on theory to avoid spoilers, but prophecies are fascinating and the addition of them in Master and Apprentice is a definite strength for what it adds to the Star Wars universe.
While I mentioned it in length for the “characters” section, the additional information the relationship between the master and apprentice was pretty interesting. Some of what we learned from that can be used to glean more information about other master and apprentice relationships (like Obi-Wan and Anakin). While it was a strength for “characters”, it is a strength for this section too.
We also learned a little bit more about how the force works with animals. It was pretty interesting to see how the force’s connection between Jedi and beast really bonds the two together. How the force bonds the universe is often mentioned, but not always explained well in my opinion. Master and Apprentice helps explain this phenomenon and it was something unexpected that I enjoyed.
So, these three reasons together are why I am giving this section a slightly imperfect score of 19.5 points.
Logic (-1 pts)
Man, I really wasn’t expecting to take away points from Master and Apprentice, but I feel like I must after re-watching the movies. Something is said in The Phantom Menace about Qui-Gon joining The Council that doesn’t add up with the events that occurred in Master and Apprentice. I won’t say any more to avoid spoilers, but it is unavoidable that I must take away a point.
My final grade for Master and Apprentice is a 97/100, or a strong A (I’ll give A-pluses for anything over 97). This agrees well with my assessment that it is the highest quality Star Wars book (that I’ve read so far), just ahead of Lost Stars and Dark Disciple (while Lost Stars is probably objectively the highest quality book, Star Wars content aside). It was exciting from beginning to end, and included content so surprising it made my jaw drop multiple times (I definitely texted fellow Far, Far Away News writer, Will, multiple times exuding my excitement onto him). As long as you don’t have some unnatural hatred for anything that takes place in the prequel universe, Master and Apprentice is certainly a must-read for any Star Wars fan.
I hope you enjoyed this book review and if there is a book that you want me to read or review, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. As for now, I will only be doing Canon books (but in the future that might change).
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