This Star Wars novel is set several years after the events of The Phantom Menace. To better place it in relation to the two prequel films, Anakin Skywalker is 12 years old. He is the Padawan apprentice to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Kenobi is no longer the reckless apprentice that he was when he served under Qui-Gon Jinn. Kenobi has found his center of peace, but Skywalker is even more reckless than perhaps Obi-Wan once was. Anakin sneaks out of the Jedi temple to seek dangerous races. The novel opens with one such race (which I still don t quite understand the logistics of), but as the race begins (and Obi-Wan tries to find him), Anakin is attacked by one of the racers, an alien race called a Blood Carver. This begins an exciting chase that Obi-Wan joins shortly after it begins.
Anakin Skywalker has a lot of energy and he is frustrated by the lack of responsibility given him by the Jedi Council. To channel this energy, the Council sends Obi-Wan and Anakin on a mission to the strange (strange because next to nothing is known about it) planet Zenoma Sekot to investigate the planet s organic spaceships, and also to investigate the disappearance of the Jedi Vergere, who was last heard from on that planet. At the same time as the Jedi mission to Sekot, we also see Tarkin (a younger version of the Grand Moff Tarkin from A New Hope ) plotting his own deeds in regards to that planet and we see Tarkin s continuing rise in the Republic (not yet the Empire).
For a Star Wars novel, this one was pretty good. I enjoyed the story, found it interesting and I wanted to know more about Sekot and the battle that occurred on that planet (though I understand this ties in better to the New Jedi Order series that comes much later), and I got to see Anakin develop a little bit more so that I could better understand his anger, his frustration, and how he develops into the man that he does. Sure, every novel that has Anakin Skywalker as a boy/young man will show shades of the future Darth Vader, but a novel that didn t would seem a little strange, to not hint at it at all. This was a well done Star Wars novel, though I m not sure it would work quite so well without the shape of the Star Wars universe and the preceding (and later) novels.