“He’s just been on Ansion dealing with a border dispute.”
It’s a simple statement at the beginning of the movie, hinting at what Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice did right before Attack of the Clones. But the mission to Ansion entails a planet spanning adventure in the Approaching Storm. Along with Master Luminara Unduli and her padawan Barriss Offee, the Jedi are on a mission to convince the Ansionians to remain in the Republic and not join the Separatists.
Ansion is not a united world. The city dwellers and the nomads have vastly different opinions. In typical Alan Dean Foster style, this story sticks to one planet but that planet is really interesting with well developed new creatures, cultures and new challenges. The nomads who prefer tradition over modern convenience give us a reason for the Jedi to take the slow but eventful journey to find them for the negotiation.
Jedi in Action
The story is our last chance before the actual approaching storm of war breaks out for the Jedi to just be Jedi. This story is an excellent view of what Jedi do when there isn’t a war on. They juggle diplomacy with combat, sometimes with the same people! Obi-Wan shows he’s extremely clever at pulling off impossible negotiations. We get to see both him and Anakin through the eyes of Luminara and Barriss, and it says something about both teams. Barriss is a traditional, by the book, apprentice in Anakin’s age group. Anakin of course, coming to the training late, definitely is determined to learn but the opposite of traditional.
The Approaching Storm does move slow in some spots but it’s well worth it to see Kenobi pull off a solution to an impossible negotiation that leaves even Master Luminara stumped. This may well be the source of the “aggressive negotiation” story Anakin tells Padme in Attack of the Clones (or that may hint this was but one example of Obi-Wan’s tactics.)
Jedi are individuals despite all following the same code. We’ve seen Obi-Wan Kenobi as a student, investigator, a warrior and a “crazy old wizard”. This story looks at him from the view of his colleagues. Luminara Unduli proves a contrast to Obi-Wan while also showing how they are similar. Barriss Offee does the same for Anakin.
The mission to Ansion in the Approaching Storm is mentioned in Attack of the Clones at the beginning of the movie. That sets it between the last of the Jedi Quest series and the start of the Clone Wars.
In the Approaching Storm, Master Obi-Wan Kenobi is certainly consistent with the man we will later come to know as the negotiator. He is very patient with his padawan in this. He has grown into the challenge of teaching Anakin, becoming both closer to him but also mindful of his faults.
Anakin still shows the same determination yet sense of loss from missing the Mother he left behind. The padawan is still a misfit with more to wrestle with than his colleagues raised in the temple. In the Approaching Storm’s Ansion mission, his attitude as well as Obi-Wan’s is a natural outgrowth in what was in the Jedi Quest series. He’s also showing hints of the Vader we see in ‘Splinter of the Mind’s Eye’ novel with respect to his mannerisms.
This is our first real look at Barriss as well. In the Approaching Storm, her by the book but still unpolished ways are a contrast to Anakin’s. She uses her gift of Jedi healing in this and will go on to use it in the Clone Wars. Barriss has similar struggles to other padawans in the Jedi Quest series (though they were all a bit younger in that.) She wants to do well, but she still struggles with letting things pass that the mission won’t allow for dealing with.
I’ve seen other people complain in reviews about two of the mentally challenged characters and how they use this to a drop on a Jedi as being unrealistic. I don’t agree. A mentally challenged character who is just ‘doing a job’ they don’t realize is immoral will have no hostile intent for the young Jedi to pick up on with the Force. The same lack of hostility enabled the Clone Troopers to turn on the Jedi in Revenge of the Sith. They were just ‘doing their jobs’ with no animosity involved. This enabled them to get the drop on fully trained Jedi Masters.
Alan Dean Foster’s The Approaching Storm not only has the hardcover and mass market paperback, but was recently included in the special Barnes and Noble book ‘Tales of Kenobi’ which includes the Kenobi by John Jackson Miller.
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as Master and Apprentice
Rogue Planet by Greg Bear
Jedi Apprentice, Jedi Apprentice Special Edition 1 &2, Jedi Quest, by Jude Watson
Legacy of the Jedi by Jude Watson
Secrets of the Jedi by Jude Watson
Outbound Flight by Timothy Zahn
Changing Seasons by Timothy Zahn
Republic Comics (especially clone wars era)
For more, check out the Obi-Wan Kenobi Expanded post!
Barriss Offee, Luminara
Medstar 1 and 2 by Michael Reaves & Steve Perry
Intermezzo by Michael Reaves (Star Wars Insider)
Genndy Tartovosky’s Clone Wars microseries
Clone Wars Adventures graphic novel
Similar planet based stories
Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster stars Luke & Leia against Vader on the planet Mimban. This was written to be a sequel to the original movie, A New Hope, if it didn’t make enough money to continue the saga. (Hard to imagine now!).
Kenobi by John Jackson Miller has Obi-Wan in hiding on Tatooine and learning the ways of that world.
Rogue Planet (to a lesser extent) by Greg Bear has a 12 year old Anakin and Obi-Wan on a mission to the mysterious world of Zonoma Sekot.