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The Dark Rival by Judy Blundell
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(I now maintain a blog just for my kid-lit reviews. Find it at http://kidlit4adults.blogspot.com .)

A friend has convinced me to try my hand this year for the first time at writing children's literature; but I don't actually know anything about children's literature, so am starting the process among other ways by first reading a stack of popular books that have been recommended to me. Today's titles are from yet another long-running series of chapter books for grade-schoolers, the kind of franchise where an endless amount of 30,000-word volumes are cranked out once a month by a series of essentially anonymous authors; and this is actually one of the types of employment I'm hoping to find in the industry myself, which is why I'm reading so many of these types of books these days, to understand more about how exactly they're written.

And indeed, after expecting these to be only middling titles that rely mostly on the strength of the "Star Wars" brand for their commercial success, the three volumes of the "Jedi Apprentice" series I read (volumes 1, 2 and 3) were instead some of the better chapter books I've so far come across this year, with challenging vocabularies and nicely complex moral lessons that have more in common with Zen Buddhism than the Babysitters Club. (But then again, this series is put out by the always excellent Scholastic, so I guess I should've known better.) Although these will only appeal almost exclusively to boys in the 10-to-12 range, they're excellent for what they are, and get the classic "rules" of writing for this age group almost perfect -- for example, they include plenty of periil but very little real-world danger (helped immensely by their fantastical setting), feature plenty of action but a stripped-down non-confusing plot, and also do a nice job for sci-fi novels at exploring both school environments and inter-gender relationships at that age in depth. They're on the large side of such books, a full 30,000 to 35,000 words apiece, and despite their subject matter are not recommended for so-called "reluctant readers." ( )
  jasonpettus | Feb 25, 2010 |
122/122. A quick read, but shines some light into the backround of what happened while Qui-gon and Obi-won
were traveling the universe. They meet Qui-gons old apprentice Xanatos who has his mind set on revenge. I recommend this book to star wars lovers. ( )
  kmietz | Dec 16, 2007 |
The Dark Rival by Jude Watson continues where Rising Force left off. Qui-Gon and Obi-wan arrive on the mining planet feeling that they have diffused the mining situation, for now. Qui-Gon recieves a disturbing note from his ex-apprentice Xanatos. We learn more about their troubled past as Obi-wan comes to terms with his use of the force and loss of his Jedi dream and Qui-Gon must deal with conflicts that he thought he could avoid.

Can acceptance that one may never be a great Jedi Knight but still may be a good person be the key to Obi-Wan's future?
  sara_k | Oct 5, 2007 |
Peace over Anger
Honor over Hate
Strength over Fear

Qui-Gon Jinn’s past is not at rest. How can he forge a bond with young Obi-Wan Kenobi while he is haunted by the betrayal of his first apprentice—Xanatos? Was also a promising student…until the dark side of the Force intervened? Qui-Gon thought he was gone forever.
But now Xanatos is back.
And he wants Revenge. ( )
  padame | Sep 22, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0590519255, Paperback)

The exciting tale begun in Jedi Apprentice: The Rising Force continues in Jedi Apprentice: The Dark Rival. While thankful for Obi-Wan's life-saving help on the trip to Bandomeer, Qui-Gon must put aside his mixed feelings over the young apprentice and take care of his peace mission. But he soon finds out that he's been tricked--not only did the planet's government not call for him, but the request may have come from his former-apprentice-gone-to-the-dark-side, the sinister Xanatos. Qui-Gon stays on Bandomeer to help rival mining companies there negotiate and to find out more about his fallen Padawan. Obi-Wan, of course, pitches in again, and the bond between the two grows. A few explosions, a couple of lightsaber fights, and a prison break later, the two ... well, you'll have to find out for yourself. (Ages 9 to 12) --Paul Hughes

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:30 -0400)

Qui-Gon Jinn's past is not at rest. How can he forge a bond with young Obi-Wan kenobi while he is haunted by the betrayal of his first apprentice, Xanatos?

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