Released a long time ago, september 2010 to be exact, this book actually caught my eyes a few weeks ago. I stumbled on it while viewing some old video’s on comicbookresources.com. I didn’t had any interests in Star Wars books since a long time, but somehow this one caught my interests. You could say it was the will of the Force that guided me.
The Jedi Path: A manual for student of the Force is a handbook, written for students of the Force to help them on their path to becoming a Jedi Master.
This is the first time a Star wars book has been treated as if it’s an actual artifact that originated from that galaxy, far, far away.
Set up as a ancient textbook written by a group of Jedi Masters painstakingly set out to define the roles and training practices within the Jedi Order. Just one copy of the venerable tome has survived throughout the centuries, passed from Jedi Masters to their Padawans and annotated over the years by Yoda, Thame Cerulian, Dooku, Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Emperor Palpatine and Luke Skywalker.
They have shaped the content of the book by leaving handwritten notes etched in the margins. At times annoying, superficial and in the way, they’ve provided some interesting insights into how some of the main by tearing out pages, and adding their most intimate thoughts, personal experiences as tangible reminders of the lessons they’ve learned. As such, there is often a dialogue of sorts between characters in original trilogy and in the prequels. For example, when a young Obi-Wan Kenobi expresses doubt about his relationship with his Jedi mentor Qui-Gon, an old Luke Skywalker writes next to that note: “Strange to think that Ben was ever like me unsure and questioning his place.”
You can tell the book has been well-used. Some of the pages are torn and singed. They are worn in places, and even missing. As you leaf through the book, memorabilia from the previous owners falls out. One of the artifacts is the space- coffee-stained napkin that Obi-Wan Kenobi used when in an exhilarating moment of inspiration he designed his own lightsaber. Thame left a Jedi credit, Anakin his cloth starfighter patch from the Jedi Aces and Qui-Gon placed his padawan braid when he was knighted by the Jedi Council.
The Jedi Path covers a lot of ground, covering the evolution of the Old Republic Jedi and moving up through the ranks from learner to Padawan to Knight to Master. Along the way, the basics of what makes up a Jedi are covered in brief detail, from lightsaber training to basic philosophies in how the Jedi interprets their role in the galaxy.
Highlights are the history of the Jedi Order, and those sections, covering the Sith Wars, are all brief snapshots of the multitude of stories that exist within the Star Wars universe. For readers such as myself, who’ve fallen out of the habit of reading each Star Wars book released, I found them interesting, and stimulated me to read up some of the history of the galaxy through various online Star Wars sources. I can understand some fans of the expanded universe might find these sections redundant.
The clever conceit of The Jedi Path is that this ancient text has been used in the Jedi Academy to teach generations of students the ways of the Force.
And the book is predicated on the idea that Jedi traditions are deliberate, part of a larger tapestry and represent essential steps in becoming a Jedi. For example, when Luke, disobeying Yoda, enters a cave in Dagobah and fights an apparition of Darth Vader, that challenge was a necessary and unavoidable test called “Trial of Spirit.”
For those who felt that the introduction of midi-chlorians was an unnecessary scientific explanation of why some are powerful in the Force and others are not, the textbook instructs: “I urge you not to think too much on this necessary biological symbiosis but to instead cast your focus wider. After all, we do not drink the bowl but the soup contained within it.
This 160-page manual has a faux-leather cover featuring embossing and foil stamping, comes secreted in a mechanical metal-like vault. To gain access to the contents of the vault, one presses a button, and the vault reveal a platform which raises up, holding the sacred text, accompanied by appropriately dramatic sound effects that add weight and poignancy to the experience.
As I embark on my own quest of constructing my own lightsaber, this manuals arrives just in time to help me find my way on the true Jedi Path.
Actually, The Jedi Path contains a comprehensive guide to the lightsaber, including combat forms, countermeasures, and eight different lightsaber types.
The entire book is a fun info-dump, as textbook and as a signpost for those learning to become a Jedi Knight. The information is readable, interesting and engaging, and a different style of fiction altogether. Author Daniel Wallace does a remarkable job jumping between entries, as each section is written by a different figure within the Jedi Order, and each one has their own unique voice.
The Jedi Path is also richly illustrated by a number of gifted artists, displaying various elements of Jedi lore and legends. They include Paul Allan Ballard, Jeff Carlisle, and Tommy Lee Edwards. An d very special mention should go to the book’s designer, Rosanna Brockley. She has created a beautiful and detailed collectible to the ever growing Star Wars library. While spoiled by my whole life seeing different style of art, I was very impressed with her work.
The “Vault” is the most immediate selling point of this collectible, you push the button at the bottom edge of the Vault. After a click and a whoosh, the case splits and the actual book rises to greet you, accompanied by sounds effects and flashing blue lights. It rises, as if on the Force (but it’s not though. Just a clever pneumatic lift!) You are now free to actually take the book and read it the book it holds, “The Jedi Path”, reveals itself to be an astonishing journey into the history of the Star Wars galaxy and its remarkable guardians, the Jedi Knights. This book is more than just a how to manual in Jedi training. It also delves into the ancient origins of the spiritual order’s long history, the foundations of its philosophy, their bond with the mysterious energy field the Force, their relationship with the galaxy they protect, and also the continuing conflict the Jedi had with the temptations of the Dark Side of the Force and their ancient enemies the Sith.
The most fun aspect of “The Jedi Path” is the design idea of it being a tome handed down through generations of Star Wars characters, some of whom left not only their individual written impressions in the book but also actual physical items as well.
There are some drawbacks to this volume, problems that I have with the Star Wars universe as a whole. The book, a publication of the Jedi, is incredibly one sided in the interpretations of how the Jedi function throughout the galaxy, and more than once. I’ve found myself annoyed at the simple, single-minded outlook that most people tend to view the Jedi through: like any organization within a major government, there are complicated issues that would be at play, and even should they not be explicitly mentioned, their awareness and impact should be recognized. The Jedi Philosophies themselves hold up flimsily to any examination of life and its nature, and this book sheds very little insight into this.
Another drawback could be his price tag. Although I found it at Amazon for around €45. Many other place sell it for €15 more. Easily.
The Jedi Path is more than simply a book; it’s an experience, it was a joy to discover. Besides a joy read, it is also a tantalizing taste of what’s it’s like to be inside the Star Wars universe. I will sincerely treasure this book and I recommended it very highly. The book is likely to fascinate relative newcomers to the Star Wars universe as well as superfans.
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: becker&mayer! Book Producers (September 28, 2010)