Master and Apprentice proves — again — that Claudia Gray ‘gets’ Star Wars (SPOILER-FREE REVIEW)


Claudia Gray is under a lot of pressure following her previous Star Wars book successes. With Master and Apprentice, she managed to set the bar even higher for herself.

This is a spoiler-free review of Claudia Gray’s Master and Apprentice Star Wars book. You’re safe to continue reading even if you haven’t picked up your copy yet.

When I first heard we were getting another Claudia Gray novel, I let myself get excited. I’m not one to get my hopes up in case my expectations set me up for disappointment. But this author has proven herself trustworthy time and again, and will likely continue to do so in the future.

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I was right to expect greatness. It’s exactly what Claudia delivered — with so much more.

Master and Apprentice, set years before the events of The Phantom Menace, opens on a Jedi Master and his padawan struggling to work together to complete a mission.

This is a striking contrast to the Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi we know and love from Episode I. Quickly we learn 17-year-old Obi-Wan and his master don’t see eye-to-eye on much of anything.

Not far into the book we find out Qui-Gon has the chance to hand Obi-Wan off to a different master so he can join the Jedi Council — a possible outcome that both Jedi wrestle with throughout the remainder of the novel.

Of course, we know the two are going to end up a well-synced pair in the end. But that’s the fun part of a prequel. You want to know how the characters get from where they are now to a completely different yet familiar place.

It’s part of the journey, and part of what makes these stories so enjoyable.

By the end of the story, we’re left with a much deeper understanding of how important keeping Qui-Gon’s promise to train Anakin was to Obi-Wan. Having finally come to both understand and respect his master, losing him only strengthens his desire to honor Qui-Gon even in death.

Watching Qui-Gon fall at the hands of Maul was heartbreaking already. I already know that when I watch that scene in The Phantom Menace again, it’s only going to hit me harder because of how much we now know about how close these two grew as master and apprentice over time.

That was purposeful. A lot of us have always secretly wanted a more in-depth Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan story. What we got was just about as close to perfect as it could have been, and Claudia Gray knew that. She knew exactly what we wanted, because it’s what she wanted, too.

In the books she has released so far, it’s clear she knows exactly the kind of content that will get Star Wars fans excited to keep turning pages.

It’s no secret that Gray was a fan of the franchise herself before she started working with Del Rey. In fact, she has used that to her advantage every time she has written a story in the Star Wars universe. Master and Apprentice is no exception.

One of my favorite examples is Obi-Wan’s love of flying at the beginning of the book, which contradicts his well-known hatred of it in the prequel films. How does he go from loving to fly to absolutely dreading it?

It’s a small thing technically not all that relevant to the plot of the book, but long-time Star Wars fans appreciate the thoughtful detail and grin from ear to ear when the answer is finally revealed at the end of the story. (I won’t spoil it for you here. It’s too good.)

What impressed me most about Master and Apprentice was how it managed to tell a small yet significant story featuring characters whose fates we already knew. Books like Queen’s Shadow really feel stifling in this way, limited by the parameters the films and other stories lock them into. However, instead of treating this as a weakness, Claudia used it as a strength.

She has a way of creating dynamic, interesting, and likable side characters you think you aren’t going to care about but end up falling in love with by the end. While it’s still a book about Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, in less than 400 pages we get to know a completely new handful of characters that could all appear in future stories. And I hope they do!

Especially Fanry. I need to know where this girl ends up 20 years from now.

Claudia Gray “gets it.” She knows that a good Star Wars story includes a mix of original and familiar characters, an unpredictable plot, high stakes, life-threatening events, and room for each character to grow. She also knows how to expand upon familiar ideas, people, and events while still leaving you with a healthy amount of questions.

There are so many big and small details I could cover here. But that’s worth much further in-depth discussion, especially when it comes to the prophecies (more than just The Chosen One, it turns out). For now, I’ll leave you with my five-star praise. Was the book perfect? Of course not. But it did come pretty close.

Though nothing has officially been announced yet, there’s no doubt in fans’ minds that we’ll be reading more Star Wars from Claudia Gray in the future. It would be interesting to see her try a novelization, or even a trilogy or series.

Whatever’s next for this author, it’s going to be worth the wait. She doesn’t have to one-up her latest masterpiece. She just has to keep creating more. That’s all we ask.

Related Story. All of Claudia Gray’s Star Wars books are must-reads. light

Which Star Wars story, era, or character do you hope Claudia Gray tackles next? Which of her canon novels have been your favorite so far?