Just when we thought we knew all there is to know about Obi-Wan Kenobi, author Kiersten White gives us a heartwarming adventure tale in Star Wars: Padawan.
The young adult novel Padawan follows a teenage Obi-Wan, newly apprenticed to Qui-Gon Jinn and just not having as much fun as a Jedi padawan as he thought. He doesn’t understand his master’s teaching methods nor the connection he’s supposed to have with the Force. He feels like he’s not good at anything besides lightsaber training and desperately wants to leave the stifling Jedi Temple on Coruscant for any kind of mission that doesn’t involve meditation.
Finally, he finds an opportunity to go off-planet and investigate a mysterious planet noted in Jedi records by a certain famous Wayseeker. But on the day they’re supposed to leave, Qui-Gon doesn’t show up at the docking bay.
So, what does Obi-Wan decide to do? He goes alone (with a sassy Astromech droid, of course), breaking all the rules he’s been so rigidly adhering to. What he finds on this previously-unknown planet is…more mystery.
White’s descriptions of the flora and fauna of the planet are reminiscent of the world of Pandora from the Avatar franchise. And the group of teens and younglings Obi-Wan encounters give off some serious Lost Boys vibes.
The main action and adventure of the book are just plain fun. The mystery of the planet and of the eventual “villain” of Padawan makes it easy to devour this over 400-page book quickly. The pacing and neat packaging of this Obi-Wan story harkens back to the Jedi Apprentice book series and even the multi-episode arcs of The Clone Wars.
And while this novel explores the events of just a few days, Obi-Wan goes on an epic journey of self-discovery. Knowing Obi-Wan and his character for more than 40 years, fans know his greatest strength (and sometimes weakness) is that he cares immensely about those around him and the meaning of right and wrong.
The heart of Padawan is just that – heart. The heart and selflessness of Obi-Wan even for people (and a planet) he just met. The heart of the group of youths who have been forced into extraordinary survival circumstances yet care about one another above all else. And the heart of the planet Lenahra, which is such a beautiful and fascinating example of the diversity of this galaxy.
The biggest highlight of the novel is Obi-Wan’s breakthrough understanding of the Force and his connection to it, which is paralleled by his adventure on Lenahra. With each Star Wars book featuring Jedi, we get moving perspectives on what the Force and spirituality mean to each wielder. With Padawan, Obi-Wan’s introspective discovery is an excellent way to show how the young Jedi developed such a deep connection with his master and what influenced his relationship with his own padawan 10 years later.
Some of the drawbacks, however, pertain to the relatively low stakes and lack of narrative tension within the novel’s core adventure. The planet Lenahra is fascinating, as are the younglings Obi-Wan meets, this story very much exists as a standalone addition to the Kenobi canon. It’s not necessarily required reading to fully understand Obi-Wan’s personality and arc in Star Wars, but you’ll certainly have fun with it.
However, with Padawan, White does an excellent job adding even more depth and nuance to a legacy Star Wars character. It’s the adventurous and heartwarming young Obi-Wan Kenobi story we didn’t know we need and now can’t imagine living without.
Star Wars: Padawan is available now from wherever you buy books.