Master and Apprentice once against displays Claudia Gray’s skill as an author and understanding of Star Wars. Like her previous three books for Star Wars, the key element here is character development. Star Wars is such a large franchise that plot rarely matters for little side adventures like this. While there is some sense of danger, everyone reading this knows Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon will be ok at the end. Master and Apprentice is about just that, the master and the apprentice. How Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon got to where they are at the beginning of The Phantom Menace. And more about their characters as a whole.
Obi-Wan is a character who needs little introduction. Throughout the Star Wars franchise, we see the better part of this man’s entire life. The key thing here is that Master and Apprentice is one of the earliest point of his life audiences have seen in the new Disney canon. His initial relationship with Qui-Gon was not great. There is an air of respect between master and student, but they are not really friends. They have more of a parent and child relationship as they each struggle to understand the other person.
While Qui-Gon is tackling this same problem, he also has other issues going on. Qui-Gon’s views as a Jedi are viewed as somewhat flawed by his colleagues. He has been told, politely, more than once that he needs to curb his ideas. This is exemplified by the fact he was trained by Count Dooku, one of the few Jedi to ever leave the Order (and, you know, other things). Not to mention the other Jedi dangling a carrot in front of him (a seat on the Council) if he agrees to step in line. There is a huge inner conflict between what he is being told is right and what he personally believes is right.
But the reason this all works is because Claudia Gray takes the time to know the characters. One of the biggest complaints about the pre-Disney EU was that the characters were all over the place. When you have dozens of different writers behind the helm of the same characters over the course of decades, there are going to be consistency issues. But Claudia Gray portrays characters the way real people are: flawed. These Jedi are not there to just swing lightsabers and look cool. They are real people with hopes, dreams, and responsibilities who sometimes make mistakes. And in the end, they ultimately learn from the teacher that is failure.
And as a side note, this book finally delves into the whole “Chosen One prophecy” that the prequel trilogy revolves around. Even in the pre-Disney Lucas-canon, it was a very poorly explained concept for something so important. Kudos to Claudia Gray for addressing the issue without removing too much of the mystique from it.