“Your focus determines your reality.” That profound statement from Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn is the anchor of the first excerpt from Skywalker: A Family At War, a comprehensive biography of the mythical family that’s been the crux of the Star Wars franchise for more than 40 years.
In this excerpt, shared by StarWars.com this week, we get to dig deeper into the emotions and experiences of 9-year-old Anakin Skywalker in the days after leaving Tatooine with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi to train as a Jedi. These experiences play out on screen in Episode I: The Phantom Menace:
- Anakin is presented before the Jedi Council, who sense fear in him despite Qui-Gon’s assurance the boy is the “Chosen One” who will bring balance to the Force.
- Anakin joined Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan on a mission to disrupt the Trade Federation’s invasion of Naboo and protect Queen Amidala, who revealed herself to be Padme.
- Anakin watched as Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan bravely fought Sith lord Darth Maul, who pierced Qui-Gonn with his lightsaber, killing him. Obi-Wan then cut Darth Maul in two with his own laser sword.
- Anakin would now be trained by Obi-Wan.
The excerpt from Skywalker: A Family At War reads in part:
"To Anakin, the experience of battle was more intense and exhilarating, more thrilling and terrifying than any podrace.Once back on the ground, Anakin’s thrill of victory was immediately tempered by the crushing news of Qui-Gon’s death. In a few short days, Anakin’s life was completely altered and reimagined by the guidance and teachings of this mysterious Jedi. With his swift demise, all Anakin could think was: “What will happen to me now?” In the darkest corners of his mind, fear sent him spiralling into hypothetical scenarios where he was forced back into servitude, never to see his mother again."
The excerpt also delves into the galaxy-altering moment that was Qui-Gon’s death, noting that if the Jedi would have survived and taken Anakin as a padawan, then the boy “would have been raised under the watchful, calm tutelage of a seasoned teacher.”
The book doesn’t disparage Obi-Wan’s training of Anakin, but says that “at the very least, (Qui-Gon) would have empathized with Anakin’s restlessness with the strict Jedi Code, offering solutions beyond the scope of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s regulation-driven mind.”
“In either case, the predatory Sith Master Darth Sidious may well have had a more difficult time manipulating young Anakin’s future and twisting his many natural gifts into perverse, unrecognizable versions of themselves,” author Kristin Baver writes.
Though Anakin only knew him for a few days, the book explores how much of an impact the Jedi would continue to have on the boy’s life as he trained and learned. And, the trauma of losing his first master lingered and affected Anakin much differently than the heartbreaking separation from his mother.
"While Shmi held the assurance of the comforts he knew, Qui-Gon had given him the promise of a meaningful future. The patient Jedi represented a bridge between Anakin’s former enslaved self and the vast unknown, a future of infinite possibilities the boy was only beginning to grasp."
The book then digs into one of the final scenes in The Phantom Menace, where Anakin watches Qui-Gon’s funeral pyre blaze and “feeling a profound sense of loss.” After leaving his mother and the only home he’s ever known, Anakin then experienced intense battle and the loss of a person who promised him a better future. The Force was now the only constant in his life.
"The soon-to-be Jedi Padawan could feel the thrum of energy binding the galaxy together. Watching the Jedi Master’s body turn to ash on a sacred funeral pyre, Anakin felt a profound sense of loss. In light of the prophecy, Anakin wondered if his very existence had somehow brought danger upon his kind friend. With Obi-Wan’s help, Anakin hoped to prove Qui-Gon Jinn’s most earnest and heartfelt belief—that he was, truly, the Chosen One."
It’s clear Star Wars fans are in for a treat when Skywalker: A Family At War arrives on April 6. Though the entire nine-movie saga has chronicled three generations of Skywalkers and their closest companions, Baver’s book appears to take a deeper dive into the family’s motivations and giving the members’ point of view during key events.
Skywalker: A Family at War is available to preorder now.