Star Wars: Padawan Gives Us A Thrilling Young Obi-Wan Kenobi Adventure

This will contain mild spoilers for "Star Wars: Padawan."

"Star Wars: Padawan," written by Kiersten White, tells the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi's first real mission as a Padawan learner. As the book opens, Obi-Wan is a strict adherent of the rules and struggles with the impenetrable nature of his master, Qui-Gon Jinn. When he discovers a mystery in the Jedi temple left by the long-dead Jedi Wayseeker Orla Jareni, he brings this to Qui-Gon and convinces him to go to a distant planet and investigate, following up on the work of ancient Jedi. Unfortunately, Count Dooku, Qui-Gon's former master who recently left the Jedi order, arrives for business Obi-Wan is not privy to. Convinced Qui-Gon doesn't want him as a Padawan and that his master is planning to leave the order with Dooku, Obi-Wan embarks on the mission himself. There, he encounters a group of children that seem powerful in the Force on a planet that wants badly to kill them. Obi-Wan wonders if this life of freedom might be better than the life of a Jedi, but the mystery deepens and he's left to discover the secrets of the planet, protect the other children, and make a final decision about whether or not he wants to remain a Jedi.

Kiersten White tells a compelling tale with a younger Obi-Wan Kenobi than we're used to, a Padawan unsure of his place in the galaxy and his standing with his master. The book feels like a cross between "Star Wars" and, in many ways, "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome" in the best of ways, but offers a potent parallel to the destruction of our own natural world, giving readers a sense that we need to do something to live in better balance with the planet we live on. It is equal parts fun, thrilling, and introspective.

Orla Jareni

The mystery that sets Obi-Wan on this mission in the first place is seeded by Orla Jareni. For those keeping up with the books in "Star Wars: The High Republic," she was a Jedi Wayseeker hailing from Umbara, who first appeared in Claudia Gray's "Into the Dark."

Recently, Orla met her fate in Cavan Scott's "The Fallen Star" aboard the Starlight Beacon at the hands of the unnamed shadow monsters that plagued the Jedi in the time of the High Republic. It turns out that just before she lit off to rescue the Jedi, she discovered an intriguing planet that warranted further study and left that information in the archives. Because of the cataclysmic loss of the Starlight Beacon, Obi-Wan discovers that no one has followed up on this information in the last couple of hundred years and feels compelled to follow it through the Force.

Qui-Gon mentions being fascinated by the Wayseekers at one point, which makes sense. First, it implies that the Wayseekers aren't something that Jedi can be in the era this novel is set. Second, it implies that Qui-Gon very much would have been one if he could. Wayseekers were Jedi that operated independently of the Jedi Council and the dictates of the order, finding their own way through the Force and the galaxy. One wonders what the fate of the galaxy and Palpatine's grand plan might have been had Qui-Gon been able to enter the order of Jedi Wayseekers.

Qui-Gon's choice of Padawan

Something that plays as a revelation in this book, at the very least to Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, is that Qui-Gon did not choose the boy to be his padawan. Master Yoda actually assigned Obi-Wan to Qui-Gon. When Obi-Wan discovers this, he questions his faith in his future as a Jedi. Especially since Qui-Gon is impossibly aloof and seems disinterested in training the boy, merely meditating his way through it, half-asleep.

Master Yoda felt it was important to pair the two Jedi together, and this echoes a bit the story of Ahsoka and Anakin Skywalker. Watching "The Clone Wars" animated film, Obi-Wan seems very much on board with this plan for Anakin, hoping that Ahsoka will tame the worse impulses of his former apprentice. It is easy to see that Yoda might have thought that a strict, rules-lawyer of a Padawan like Obi-Wan Kenobi would have helped tame some of Qui-Gon's more iconoclastic tendencies in the Jedi Order.

Hello, Dex!

This book is filled with firsts for Obi-Wan Kenobi, but one of the most satisfying is the first meeting between Obi-Wan and his old friend Dexter Jettster.

As Obi-Wan Kenobi is stranded on the planet, working to unravel its mysteries, a mining ship arrives. The man who hired the mining vessel is intent on mining the secret source of power on the planet and leaving the kids for dead, even though they regard him as an uncle. Obi-Wan and Dex find themselves on opposite sides, briefly, but the two of them develop a fast friendship. Through the course of the book, the pair of them learn to rely on each other and Dex even finds himself in Obi-Wan's debt.

The mining element of Dex's background expands a little bit about Dex's mentioning of prospecting beyond the outer rim, and it seems like he could very well have done that sometime after his meeting with Obi-Wan, making their meeting even more fortuitous for the fate of the galaxy.

This introduction felt like a perfect way for the pair of them to meet and explain the close bond we first saw that they shared in "Attack of the Clones." Dex has been popping up all over the canon recently, appearing in two of E.K. Johnston's Padmé trilogy books, as well as Mike Chen's "Brotherhood." I can only hope they put him in more stories. He's a terrific character and I love seeing him around.

The Verdict

"Star Wars: Padawan" was an excellent companion to all of the great Obi-Wan Kenobi content coming out right now—from the Disney+ TV show to the comics featuring this fan favorite Jedi, seeing more of his story filled in has been a real treat. Though there's nothing Earth-shattering added to the canon with this book, it's a fascinating tie to the "High Republic" era and sets the stage for the struggles Obi-Wan Kenobi will carry for the rest of his life. It's well written and perfect for audiences of any age who is interested in the ever-expanding "Star Wars" universe.

"Star Wars: Padawan" is available now at bookstores everywhere.