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Star Wars Read-Through #8: Prelude to The Phantom Menace, Part 1 of 3

By this time, I've read every Star Wars Legends story that was set centuries or more before any Star Wars film.  We covered the formation of the Jedi Order in Dawn of the Jedi, and we saw countless wars between the Jedi and the Sith in Tales of the Jedi, Knights of the Old Republic, The Old Republic, and Knight Errant.  We learned the history of the Lost Tribe of the Sith.  We saw the culmination of those wars, the end of the Sith as we knew them, and the start of a new period of Republic stability.  Now we move into stories set close to the Star Wars movies.

There are a lot of stories set in the years leading up to Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace.  In order to organize them effectively, I've separated them into three segments.  The first will deal with stories featuring Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, two of Episode I's protagonists.  Specifically, we will discuss the following:


I read Jedi: The Dark Side as individual issues and the two Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan miniseries in Omnibus: Rise of the Sith.  I read a paperback edition of Cloak of Deception, and played Galactic Battlegrounds on my PC, purchased from GOG.com.  I did not read any of the various young reader books featuring Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.

Cover of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan: Last Stand on Ord Mantell #1.  Image from Wookieepedia.


Story:

These media all tell stories of early adventures of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (played by Liam Neeson in the movies) and his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Ewan MacGregor).

Jedi: The Dark Side tells a story featuring Qui-Gon Jinn and Xanatos, the apprentice he had before Obi-Wan.  Xanatos falls to the Dark Side during a mission to his homeworld, setting the stage for Qui-Gon to take Obi-Wan and his apprentice.  This serves as a prequel to a long-running young reader novel series called Jedi Apprentice.

The two Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan comic miniseries are fun single adventures involving the two Jedi stopping a plot to destroy a luxury liner and saving the lives of savage -- though innocent -- creatures on Ord Mantell.

Cover of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan: The Aurorient Express #1.  Image from Wookieepedia.
In the first campaign of the game Galactic Battlegrounds (which is also the game's tutorial), Qui-Gon helps guide a group of Wookiees as they colonize the planet Alaris Prime.  The Wookiees, led by none other than a young Chewbacca, learn how to build their colony, gather resource, train militias, and defend their holdings against the battle droids of the Trade Federation.  Qui-Gon acts as trainer and narrator, and he and Obi-Wan each make appearances in the game.

Finally, in Cloak of Deception, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan interrupt pirates and mercenaries attacking the Trade Federation, while Senators and the Supreme Chancellor on Coruscant try to work out the taxation of the free trade zone in the galaxy's outer rim and whether or not to let the Trade Federation defend itself.  The two stories converge as the Jedi fight a terrorist organization threatening a trade summit to solve the crisis.


Thoughts:

These stories help lay the groundwork for Episode I by introducing us to two of its heroes and making us familiar with them.  We've seen Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan at work and we want to see them succeed in the film.

Cloak of Deception in particular helped build the foundation upon which Episode I will stand.  It's a delightful political drama that includes adventure for our Jedi heroes.  It answers a variety of questions that Episode I posed: What is the Trade Federation?  Why did an apparently commercial organization have a massive droid army?  Who is Senator Palpatine of Naboo, and why is he so popular?  Why is the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic mired in corruption charges?  All of this, while also having Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan take down pirates and terrorists.  If you had to read exactly one story before watching Episode I, this would be it.

Cloak of Deception is the one book you should read before watching Episode I: The Phantom Menace.  Image from Wookieepedia.
While not at all practical, this analysis could have benefited from also reading the Jedi Appentice young reader books, of which there were eighteen plus two specials.  These stories depict many years of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan adventures before Episode I.  In several of them, Qui-Gon's former apprentice Xanatos is the villain, so not having read these adds little value to reading the Jedi: The Dark Side comic, except as a fun one-off adventure.  I never owned this series in its entirety, so I never read it.  If an omnibus collection of it is ever produced, I would check it out.


Next:

As you will have seen, this was Part 1 of 3 of Episode I prologue content.  The next Part is also thematic: I will be reading all Legends stories about Darth Maul.



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