Author’ Note: This article contains major Master and Apprentice spoilers.
We live in a time of Star Wars everywhere, and with that more opportunities are arising to explore characters that have been forgotten, neglected, and sidelined; eras which we have always wondered about are now being touched on. Rebels and Rogue One kicked this off by giving us a look at the dark times, Queen’s Shadow gave us Padme and the time between Episodes I and II, and now Master and Apprentice, by the amazing Claudia Gray, gives us a look at the ideal Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn, and the time before The Phantom Menace.
Like kybers in a cave, this book is a treasure trove of ideas and happenings that expand our understanding of the characters and time period. One such character, Count Dooku, has been in a lot of stories, but has not been explored with any real depth. With Dooku: Jedi Lost on the horizon, let’s take a look at what we learned about everyone’s favorite count of Serenno/Sith Lord.
He Is Not Afraid of Fear
We first see Dooku when he is confronting Qui-Gon Jinn, recently adopted Padawan, about his fear. As most any child would, Qui-Gon considers denying it, but thinks the better of it. He admits to Dooku that he is afraid, and Dooku replies, “Anyone who begins to journey farther along the path of the Force should be afraid. The dangers are many. The struggles eternal.”
This is very reminiscent of Yoda’s response to Luke saying, “I’m not afraid.” Yoda promises Luke that he will be. He will be. This seems like a lesson he may have learned from Force voice Qui-Gon, who, of course, learned it from Dooku. Previously, Yoda had told Anakin that “fear is the path to the dark side.” But when he is training with Luke, he says it differently. “But beware the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression, the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow. Quick to join you in a fight.”
There is a very important distinction between those two presentations of fear. With Anakin, he is speaking of fear as if it is a pit stop on the journey to darkness. He then presents exactly what will happen to Anakin. “Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.” With Luke, however, he presents fear as a fact that exists. With Anakin, Yoda saw fear as a choice, and we see how that went. With Luke, he sees it as a reality that all must face. From his lessons in the Clone Wars to his training with Qui-Gon while on Dagobah, it is clear to see that Dooku played at least some role in teaching the Jedi to not be afraid of fear.
The Fearless Jedi
In the second “Before” chapter of the book, Qui-Gon sees Dooku as “truly fearless in a way that most Jedi could only appear to be.” He is someone to look up to, as a Master should be. But he does not teach in the traditional way: “Instead of offering explicit support to Qui-Gon, he was providing an example to aspire to.”
After Master and Apprentice, it can quite easily be said that Qui-Gon is the Jedi every Jedi should aspire to be. Yet, he never does it in a showy way, rather doing what he thinks is right and living by example. This is something Dooku taught, or rather displayed, to his young apprentice. Where Qui-Gon differed is in his viewpoints and approach to the Force. Where Dooku saw things to come in the prophecies and chose the dark side, Qui-Gon chose the light not “because it means someday I’ll ‘win’ some sort of cosmic game. [He] turn[s] to the light because it is the light.”
There is a vital step their that Dooku missed that Qui-Gon would catch onto. Dooku saw what was coming and decided to try and get ahead of it, using his fear as a means to an end, as did Anakin. Qui-Gon, however, read the prophecies, learned they were literal, and continued to trust the Force to guide him. This is exactly what we see in Luke during the end battle of Return of the Jedi, and something he would have to be reminded of when it came to Ben Solo. We cannot, or rather should not, try to control the future, for then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
He Defined Jedi Differently
One of the prominent issues with the prequel Jedi is that they were frustratingly cookie cutter. This is where Obi-Wan is at in the novel, and something we see in the films with the Jedi council. Qui-Gon is so beloved in part because he rebelled against this system, as did his master. Both focused on the strength of the individual and encouraged that to prosper.
With Qui-Gon this is pretty clear. Throughout The Phantom Menace he is encouraging Anakin’s optimism and curiosity, and even playing along with Padme’s decoy maneuver (as we learned in Queen’s Shadow). While Dooku is not as flexible (Rael said, “Master Dooku can be stiff sometimes.”), he allowed his students to be…well… themselves. Part of Qui-Gon’s growth in this novel is him learning that lesson with regards to Obi-Wan. He learned this from Dooku, who allowed Qui-Gon to study the holocrons of prophecy even though he new they were tempting, and even allowed Rael Averros to be Han Solo with a lightsaber.
By failing to explore the strengths of the individual, the Jedi set themselves up for failure. One of Ahsoka’s strengths is her honesty, yet they failed to believe her when it went against what their eyes said. Anakin’s ability to love led him to become a great warrior and leader, yet his need to hide that because it did not fit with the Council’s ideals of what a Jedi should be lead to his fall.
Luke and Rey are now the legacy of the “heritage” of Dooku. He trained Qui-Gon to rebel and trust in the Force, even if he may not have done it the right way. Qui-Gon, in becoming one with the Force, trained Kenobi and Yoda, who have clearly evolved by the time of the original trilogy. They passed their learning onto Luke, who progressed the ideology farther in his redeeming of Anakin. Now that legacy falls to Rey, who will expound on generations of evolution to create whatever is to come next.