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"Promises": Book 3 in the Junior Jedi Knights series

chapter discussion sumary

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#1
Jedi Cool

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Prologue:
 
The Tusken Raider leader, Sliven , is afraid.  The Tuskens are a violent people and compassion is not their way.  They would not have even come for Sliven when he was injured in the desert if he were not their leader and they could not choose a new one while the old one lived.
 
He had found refuge at the home of a moisture farmer’s family who had nursed him back to health over a period of months.  When the adults died, he’d fought his people to save the infant girl’s life.  He’d made a bargain predicated on her willingness to do what had to be done.
 
So he’d raised her and taught her the language of his people and Basic, which he’d learned while staying with her parents, when she was three years old.  He also taught her hunting and fighting.
 
He knew she was special.  Her parents had had special abilities, too.  When the Jedi came, he knew that she needed to be taught how to use those abilities.  He only asked that she return after six months to Tatooine and make her choice.  She can either stay with the Jedi academy, forever forsaking her tribe, or return to Tatooine and live the life of a Tusken.
 
Sliven wants to watch her grow up, but he also knows that she doesn’t really belong here.  He looks to the stars and tells Tahiri not to come home.
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  • In the book, The Golden Globe, we were told that Tahiri was orphaned when she was four.  This book says she was an infant and that it was Sliven who taught her how to speak.  I mentioned in The Golden Globe how very well Tahiri spoke for someone who probably stopped hearing Basic at the age of 4.  Yet, now, it appears that Tahiri only heard it spoken by a Tusken who only learned it by a few months’ association with her parents.  It also says that in this chapter that the story of Tahiri’s family was kept from her, yet she knows her parents were moisture farmers who died, allegedly when she was four, but now as an infant!
  • These Force-sensitive parents on Tatooine…I wonder if they were Jedi.  If so, did they not sense other Force presences on this sparsely populated world?
  • I suppose the intervention of a compassionate Tusken explains why Tahiri survived.  I’d wondered, in the first book, about this unusual non-violent act of theirs.
  • It appears Tahiri has to come back after six months.  The Golden Globe was not specific about the time period, only that she had to come back when she was ready and announce her decision.



#2
Jedi Cool

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chapter 1:
 
Anakin has a dream that he is in the Palace of the Woolamanders, trying to free the enslaved children in the globe from the curse Exar Kun has placed on them.  A shrouded, hooded figure taunts him and tells him that he’s Anakin, destined to follow darkness because of the legacy of his grandfather.
 
Anakin knows this isn’t true.  The figure isn’t him, but the spirit of another follower of Kun’s. 
 
Tahiri wakes him up. She tells him that she has a problem.  Master Luke has sent for her and she knows what this means.  Tahiri explains that he’d made a deal with Sliven , the leader of the Tusken Raider tribe, that she would return in six months to say whether or not she was staying at the Jedi Academy .
 
She doesn’t want to go back.  They’ve just now translated the message etched on the walls of the Palace of the Woolamander. 
 
Anakin doesn’t want her to leave either, but he knows that, if his uncle gave his word, then he will honor it and will expect Tahiri to do so, as well.
 
She assures him she won’t be going anywhere and leaves to meet Luke.  Anakin secretly worries about whether or not they are strong enough to break the curse.
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  • Anakin was the last of the new students to arrive at the school.  Obviously, Tahiri has been here for six months if she is now expected to return.  Has Anakin also been here six months?  If so, then he must be close to 12 years old.

 
 


#3
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chapter 2:
 
Luke listens to what Tahiri has to say and marvels at the defiance in her voice.  He remembers how she and Anakin had sneaked out of the school to go on adventure.  He’d not been happy, but he couldn’t tell them that they were among the most promising students he’d ever seen.  There is no way he would expel them.
 
It was only last week that they’d returned from helping their friend, Lyric, on Yavin 8. 
 
Tahiri tells him he won’t make her return and she’s right.  Luke understands the boredom and the frustrations of living on Tatooine.  He explains to her how he never knew his parents.  By the time he found his father, the good man was gone.  It’s not so easy to give up on the only family you have.  Her parents may be dead, but is she willing never to see Sliven again?
 
Luke’s already made the arrangements with Old Peckhum to make a detour to Tatooine.  Anakin will want to go with her, but someone is going with them, too.  Tatooine is a dangerous place and he has a feeling the Sand People are dangerous, too.
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  • So, it’s only been a week since Lyric’s World?  How long has this session at the academy gone on then?  Was Tahiri at the school many months before Anakin arrived?  If so, why is she in the same class?
  • By the way, Luke knowing he’s not going to expel two promising students who broke the rules he’d set down?  This is typical Luke “No Consequences” Skywalker.
  • I’m glad to see Luke isn’t depending on Old Peckhum to watch the kids this time, considering what happened last time.  Still, Luke shouldn’t get the feeling that the Tuskens are dangerous, he should already know they are dangerous!


#4
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chapter 3:
 
Along the way, Anakin thinks of the riddle solving the golden globe and how to break the curse.  Tahiri fingers a sandstone pendant around her neck.  She tells him the indentations in it are the thumbprints of her parents.
 
Sliven refused to tell her anything else about them, though she begged him for years.  She finally stopped asking.  Tahiri admits that she’s torn.  As much as she hates life on Tatooine and the way the Tuskens live, she also relates to them.  They are the only family she’s ever known.  She’s not like Anakin who frets because he doesn’t think he can live up to the family name.
 
Anakin says she told him that he isn’t trapped by who his family is.  She should realize that she shouldn’t be trapped by not knowing her family. 
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  • Well, she knows her parents were moisture farmers, right?  That’s something.  I can’t imagine they can’t do a records search for a couple who died between 5-9 years ago who’d had a daughter.  That would solve a lot of problems.

 


#5
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chapter 4:
 
Outside of the shuttle, Anakin, Tahiri and Tionne are confronted by members of Tahiri’s tribe.  She introduces them to Sliven and tells her foster father how she no longer wears the coverings of the Tuskens.
 
She runs to her pet Bantha, whom she’d named Bangor , despite the fact that Tuskens don’t name their mounts.  Anakin is finding this hard to reconcile with what he knows to be the fierce nature of the Tuskens.  Part of him wonders if they were the ones who killed her parents in the first place, but doesn’t say it.
 
Tahiri explains that Sliven understands Basic, though she doesn’t know where he learned it.  She usually speaks in the Tusken language with him, though.  Translating for him, she tells her friends that he’s tired of wasting all this time.  They need to get to the camp. 
 
Anakin gets the feeling that they are walking into danger.
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#6
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chapter 5:
 
The sand is everywhere.  Tahiri had turned down mouth wrappings and eye goggles for both of them, but did accept shoes for herself. Anakin asks her if it’s always so quiet here.
 
She tells him it is which is why she usually talks so much at school.  The Tuskens are very practical.  They are experts at survival in this harsh environment and do not tolerate weakness.  Outsiders are of no concern to them.
 
Anakin points out that she is an outsider.  Tahiri knows this and that, in some way, Sliven cares about her which is why he raised her and taught her how to live in this place.  But he’s never told her about her family.  She’s sensed that he knows more than he’s telling.  If he really cared for her, he wouldn’t leave it a mystery.
 
The remainder of the tribe appears and Tahiri is unhappy to see a female Tusken named Vexa who expresses her surprise that Tahiri has returned.  She hadn’t expected that.
 
Years ago, Sliven showed he was weak by bringing an outsider into the tribe.  At that time, he was forced to make a promise.  When Tahiri returned to the tribe, she would be given a test of her survival skills.  If she fails, then he will die and another leader will be chosen.  If she survives, he will remain the leader, having been proven right in his decision.
 
As her test, she will be taken to the Dune Sea where she was found as a young child.  She will be forced to make her way back to the tribe on her own, without food or water provided to her.  She must go alone, but she can choose to take her friend, if she wishes.  Vexa advises against it as Tahiri has some skill and the boy will only be a burden.
 
She has one week to return to the tribe.  They will wait her for her.  If she doesn’t return or is late, she has failed.  Sliven will be put to death.
 
She doesn’t have to do this.  She can go back to the Jedi academy, but it will also cost Sliven his life. 
 
Tahiri asks Sliven why he made this agreement.  Sliven tells her it was the only way he was allowed to keep her.  She would have died in the desert otherwise.  He was also forced to withhold her family information, too.  It punished him because they knew he would want to answer her many questions.  It is also intended as a reward for her keeping this promise.
 
Tahiri agrees to honor the promise and wants to know her story.
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#7
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chapter 6:
 
Anakin insists he’s going along with her, but Tahiri reminds him that he doesn’t have the skills to survive in the desert.  Tionne objects to either one of them participating in this ritual.  Sliven tells her that she can do nothing about it. 
 
Tionne can stay with the camp for the week.  After which, she will be returned to her shuttle to leave.  There are too many Raiders for her to challenge this decision.  Anakin can sense that Vexa is pleased Tahiri has accepted the challenge.  There seems to be some old hatred here that he doesn’t understand.
 
Sliven has them sit down and explains that her parents were Tryst and Cassa Veila who were moisture farmers.  There has never been a good relationship between the farmers and the Tuskens.  About six years ago, there was a battle between his tribe and smugglers who tried to steal their food.  He was injured and wandered from the battle site until he was found by the Veilas. 
 
For two months, he was nursed back to health, learning their language and becoming their friend.  He played with young Tahiri who was almost three years old.  He even fashioned a gadderffii stick for her father who became very good at fighting with it.  Slevin noticed how Tryst seemed to be able to predict how an opponent would move.
 
Anakin suggests that Tryst had the Force.  Slevin felt the same way and that he recognized those same abilities in Tahiri.  For this reason, he was not surprised when the Jedi came and wanted to take her with them. 
 
One day, he and Tryst were sparring in a friendly way when his people arrived, having searched for him.  They thought that Sliven was battling for his life and swept down on the farm, killing the parents.  Vexa and the others wanted to leave the helpless child there to die, but he had stood up to them and forced the agreement to allow him to keep her.
 
She would have been dropped off in Mos Eisley had she refused the challenge, but now that she’s a Jedi candidate, she has somewhere else to go if she doesn’t rejoin the tribe.  The other Tuskens take his caring as a sign of weakness and are looking to this as an opportunity to get rid of him.
 
Tahiri doesn’t blame him for her parents’ death or the other Tuskens who merely misunderstood.  She also assures him that caring for someone does not make him weak.
 
She thanks him for saving her life and wants his thumbprint on the pendant next to that of her parents.
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  • We know Tionne is not very strong in the Force (though we’ve not been given examples of how or why), but one Jedi can definitely take on a tribe of Tuskens!



#8
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chapter 7:
 
The next morning, the two children are pulled from their sleep, put on Banthas and taken to the vast expanse of the Dune Sea for their journey.  Abandoned without food or water, they begin the long trip back.
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chapter 8:
 
 
They feel the sand rumble beneath them and give way until a pit appears.  Tahiri starts to slide down it.  Trying to grab his friend, Anakin spies a tentacle moving out of the pit toward them.
 
After several tries, she gets hold of his hand and he pulls her up.  They run until several sand dunes are between them and the pit.
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  • Doubtless, this was a sarlaac.  I can’t imagine it was the one that Jabba had, though the Dune Sea would be about right.  After all, wasn’t that sarlaac killed?  I was pretty certain that it still was dead when we went through the Bounty Hunter Wars series.

 


#9
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chapter 9:
 
They wake up on the desert floor.  Tahiri points out a band of Jawas that are oddly without their sandcrawler.  She thinks this will be a good way to find food and water.  The Jawas normally don’t mind humans since they are their best customers.  The children probably don’t look like they have any money, but the Jawas don’t seem to care that they are being followed.
 
At least they are walking toward the Jundland Wastes.  When they find the sandcrawler, Anakin wonders why they didn’t just ride in it. There might be something wrong with it.  He offers to fix it in exchange for food and water.  It takes a powerful Force suggestion to get them to let him inside it.
 
He finds a short circuit and fixes it with a cable found among the items salvaged.  The sandcrawler rumbles to life.  They are thanked with food and water.  The Jawas agree to give them a ride.
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#10
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chapter 10:
 
The sandcrawler travels until it can no longer traverse the rocks of the Jundland Wastes.  Anakin and Tahiri get off there and are given sacks of food and water and a couple of gadderffii sticks before making their way alone.
 
The scream of womprats startles even Tahiri who is used to fighting them.  She tells Anakin that something is killing them.  It’s a krayt dragon and she’s sensed it following them for some time. 
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#11
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chapter 11:
 
When the dragon shows itself, Anakin tries to use the Force to command it to leave them alone, but it doesn’t work. The creature slashes at him, then turns on Tahiri.
 
Anakin goes after it and it grabs him within its jaws, taking off. Tahiri trails them for long minutes before she finds the entrance to its cave. She tries to ignore the remains of desert dwellers and beasts in the cave.  Anakin is still alive, probably being saved for later.
 
The krayt may have ignored her following, but will not allow its dinner to be threatened.  She spots a rock jutting out and hopes to bring it down as a distraction.  Concentrating on the Force, she believes and there is a huge crash.
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#12
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chapter 12:
 
Tahiri tells Anakin that the krayt is too fast for them, so they’ll have to stay and fight it.  They bring several boulders down on it and then leave the cave, taking abandoned water canteens with them.
 
After several days in the desert, they are down to their last canteen of water.  Anakin’s cuts from the fight with the dragon are likely infected.  He looks terrible and Tahiri knows he needs food.
 
She finds a hubba goard on the ground and cuts it up for him, using its rind to help stave off the infection.  Tahiri thinks they need to get her Bantha, Bangor , out here to lead them back to the camp.  She’s always felt a bond with Bangor who seemed to know when she was unhappy.
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#13
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chapter 13:
 
It’s the sixth night and they only have one more day.  Anakin tells Tahiri it’s not working.  She suggests they try together.
 
The next morning, she is awakened by Bangor who takes them the rest of the way to the camp.  Several hours have passed and, when they arrive, they find Vexa arguing with Sliven .  She insists the children be declared dead and a new leader appointed.  Sliven demands the remaining hours be honored.
 
Tahiri ends that debate by showing herself.  Water is brought to them and the Bantha.  Sliven tells her she’s proven herself a true Tusken Raider that day and he hopes she remains with him.
 
She understands that she was never a Tusken.  The skills she used to survive were those of a Jedi.  She belongs at the academy.  She will miss Sliven. 
 
When Tahiri approaches him and tells him her decision, he reaches into his robes and pulls out a sandstone pendant with his thumbprint on it.  She joins it to the one of her parents, thanks him for her life and for caring for her.  They embrace before she leaves forever.
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#14
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chapter 14:
 
On the way back to Yavin IV, Anakin wonders if they are now strong enough to break the curse of the golden globe.  Luke meets them and is alarmed to find his nephew injured.  Tahiri explains that the Raiders had more in mind than just finding out her decision.
 
They are both sent off for medical treatment as Luke indicates he will speak with Tionne later.
 
When Anakin awakens two days later, Luke is there to greet him.  He tells him that Tahiri has explained what happened.  Luke would never have sent them to Tatooine had he known. Sliven had told him that she would not be harmed.
 
Anakin explains it was more complicated than that.  Sliven didn’t force Tahiri to honor the promise, but she wanted to know about her family.  Anakin’s injuries are serious, lack of water and a bad infection.  He will be in the infirmary for a few days.  His mother wanted him to come home, but Luke and Anakin’s father persuaded her to let him stay.
 
Given all of this, Luke feels that Tahiri’s reasons were not good enough for either of them to risk their lives in the desert that way.  Still, they worked together and used the Force to help each other.
 
He wonders if the sense of danger he’d had surrounding the children before they left for Tatoooine was centered around this previously-undisclosed promise.
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#15
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chapter 15:
 
Anakin dreams that the follower of Exar Kun is trying to prevent him from breaking the curse.  The image tells him he will fail as he tries to enter the globe’s field and break the strength of it.  Tahiri wakes him up and asks if he’s feeling better.
 
They want to head to the Palace of the Woolamander to try to rescue the captured spirits.  Ikrit appears and tells them that they will face many challenges of good versus evil.  He asks if they are ready for this one.
 
Anakin tells him that they cannot ignore evil.  They will have to resist the urgings of the Dark Side of the Force, otherwise the children will be trapped forever.  Ikrit agrees that evil should not be ignored, then scurries off into the jungle.
 
Obviously, he’s not coming with them.
 
Anakin knows there will be dark spirits there to try to stop him.  He wonders if his dream has provided the solution to breaking the curse.
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