This past week, I finally got around to reading Padawan by Kiersten White. It's a really great read! A young Obi-Wan Kenobi adventure is so much fun, and I think this book really adds a lot of flavor to Obi-Wan as a character, his relationship to Qui-Gon Jinn and even his relationship to Anakin Skywalker. If you're an Obi-Wan fan, or just like some Jedi shenanigans, then this book is definitely for you!
Spoilers ahead for Padawan by Kiersten White!
Obi-Wan's character exploration in this book is so, so interesting. We see a time in Obi-Wan's life where he's a young teenager and is unsure of his place in the Force and the Jedi Order. He's eager to prove himself, but frustrated with what he perceives to be a slow pace in Qui-Gon's training compared to his fellow padawans and their masters. Throughout the book, he learns to think more independently, grow patience and have more faith in the Force- he really takes his first steps into becoming the Obi-Wan Kenobi we know and love here, and it's so cool to see.
This book also provides us some insight into Obi-Wan's important relationships throughout the Skywalker Saga, despite the fact that Obi-Wan spends the majority of the book by himself or surrounded by characters original to the novel. The most obvious is his one with Qui-Gon Jinn. The book starts with Obi-Wan doubting his partnership with Qui-Gon, feeling like they aren't a good match like his friends and their masters, and even feeling like he was unwanted after learning that Yoda requested for Qui-Gon to take Obi-Wan. Though they're apart in the book, Obi-Wan is able to carry lessons he's learned from Qui-Gon in his adventure and begin to understand him (somewhat). I really liked seeing Obi-Wan be so reflective and willing to admit when he's wrong- that's not easy, and it's those qualities that make Obi-Wan such an admirable character. And like with Obi-Wan's personality, we also see the steps towards the tight bond and respect between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon that we see in the future, even if some things about Qui-Gon will always mystify Obi-Wan. And though they aren't known to Obi-Wan yet, I think that this book helps give some perspective on his relationships with Satine and Anakin. We see early Obi-Wan's way of caring for people, and how deeply he cares about people. Though he's much, much younger here than he is during The Clone Wars, the personality traits are all still there. Obi-Wan is willing to give his all for people, and constantly feels responsible for others, things that we can see re-appear very strongly in those relationships. On the other hand, Obi-Wan meets none other than Dexter Jettster in this story, something I was pleasantly surprised by.
Most of this story takes place on the planet Lenahra. Lenahra is a beautiful, strange world that flows with not only the Force, but its own power. Lenahra is a closed ecosystem of power, with mysterious blue orbs that provide life for the creatures and plants there (though the flora of Lenahra is equally as dangerous as the animals). The people of Lenahra that Obi-Wan finds- all children, the oldest being about his age- have been consuming these orbs, and they give them abilities similar to that of a Force user. They were raised to believe by their now-dead parents that these powers are what is needed to survive the hostility of the planet, but Obi-Wan discovers that the planet is not naturally hospitable, but in fact very welcoming- unless you're robbing it of its power. The people of Lenahra struggle to reconcile with this fact, especially because their parents have died for the power, but eventually learn that the life cycle of the planet comes above their desire to feel powerful. It's frustrating to watch how they refuse to listen to Obi-Wan at first, but ultimately I found all of their characters very intriguing and ultimately fulfilling.
Finally, I was so excited to see that Orla Jareni from the High Republic is not just mentioned in this book, but fully a part of this story, even if she's been long dead by this time. It is her records from her time exploring as a Wayseeker that leads Obi-Wan to take this dangerous expedition by himself to go and find Lenahra, and she becomes an inspiration for Obi-Wan and in some ways, provides him guidance from beyond the Force. Orla is one of my favorite characters from Phase I of the High Republic, so I loved getting to see a piece of her legacy have such a profound impact on a character long after she's gone, especially a character as important as Obi-Wan Kenobi.