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Literature / Star Wars: Kenobi

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... 

Star Wars: Kenobi (Wookieepedia) is a Star Wars Legends novel by John Jackson Miller, concerning Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi's first weeks in exile on Tatooine. Originally conceived as a graphic novel, Kenobi was created in response to a challenge by Miller's editors to do something never before attempted—Star Wars as a Western, with Obi-Wan as The Drifter, Determined Homesteader moisture farmers, and Tusken Raiders subbing for Indians. It takes place just after Revenge of the Sith and concurrently with Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader.

The Republic has fallen, and all Obi-Wan Kenobi wants to do now is settle in on the desert planet of Tatooine and watch over the young Luke Skywalker from afar. The last thing he wants is to attract attention, but for the insular moisture farmers of the desert, the mysterious "Ben" is a source of endless fascination—and a catalyst that brings long-simmering tensions to the fore, both between the farmers themselves and with their longstanding enemies, the Tusken Raiders...

Annileen Calwell is at the center of life in the Pika Oasis, having taken over Dannar's Claim, the local general store and cantina, from her husband after his death at the hands of the Sand People. Managing her two children, her husband's old friend and business partner Orrin Gault, and the rest of the regulars at the Claim leaves Annileen no time for dreaming, but when Ben appears out of nowhere to save her daughter from a runaway dewback, she starts to wonder if there could be more to her life after all...

Witnessing Ben's strange powers, Tusken warrior A'Yark sees in the new arrival a hope for her demoralized and desperate people. Many years before, a wizard with a shining weapon had joined the tribe and led them to new heights, and now, perhaps, another has come to rally the Sand People and bring them to victory...

Published in 2013, Kenobi is one of the last novels released in the old Expanded Universe (now Legends) before the Continuity Reboot of 2014. John Jackson Miller would go on to usher in that reboot with the first novel of the new Star Wars Expanded Universe, A New Dawn. One of the characters would also feature in the From a Certain Point of View short story "Rites" as part of the new canon, so (as with James Luceno and Tarkin) one could consider it deuterocanonical, in that the author has referenced it and it doesn't openly contradict later stories.

The prequel short story “Incognito” was published in Star Wars Insider magazine as a tie-in, and included with the Kenobi paperback and e-book editions. On his way to Tatooine, Obi-Wan prevents the arrest of a dissident Senator, and convinces him to return to Coruscant to resist the Empire in secret.

Compare Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Disney+ series that draws influence from this book explaining what Obi-Wan was up to between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope in the official canon.

Star Wars: Kenobi contains examples of:

  • Action Politician: "Incognito" follows Dewell Bronk, a Republic senator who is on the run after refusing to support Palpatine's ascension to Emperor. Bronk has a strong desire to protect the weak, and while he is initially too afraid to do so personally, when he sees a pair of stormtroopers (who he knows may have orders to arrest him) beating up an innocent janitor, he intervenes and whacks one of them with his bag.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Orrin is implied to be holding a torch for Annileen that nothing came of because he was married when they met and by the time his marriage ended she had already married Dannar. Annileen in turn develops feelings for Ben, who both doesn't reciprocate them and isn't available for a relationship anyway.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: One of the reasons why A'Yark is in charge of her Tusken clan, as she is adept enough to take out dissenting opposition as shown when H'raak challenges her.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: Kallie is reading off a slip of paper when she happens to spot Ben out the window of the Calwells' van.
    Kallie: To Annie: This certificate good for—Ben!
  • The Atoner: Annileen pegs Ben as being out in the desert to atone for some past failure or misdeed. Privately, Ben admits that while his mission to safeguard young Luke is paramount, if he finds redemption in the act, so much the better.
  • Batman Cold Open: In the prologue, Ben intervenes in a bar fight while on his way to drop Luke Skywalker off at the Lars's. A very drunk old man finds himself holding an infant and watching as an odd blue light takes out several of Jabba the Hutt's thugs in the dimness.
  • Beneath the Mask: Ben puts on a pleasant front, but occasionally allows himself to grow solemn and sad, giving Annileen a glimpse of the Obi-Wan Kenobi who was forced to kill his best friend just a few weeks ago. Annie notes that most people on Tatooine are the opposite—hiding any pleasant parts of their personality under a layer of abrasiveness.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The initial antagonists are a tribe of Sand People a.k.a. Tusken Raiders led by A'Yark, Knight Templars who consider the settlers blasphemous and attack them every so often. In response, Orrin Gault set up the Settlers' Call Fund for organized defense. Later in the novel it turns out that Orrin has huge debts, most notably to Jabba the Hutt, represented by Mosep Binneed. Who's something of a decoy; it's a desperate Orrin who takes over as the antagonist. He has been Slowly Slipping Into Evil for years by embezzeling funds and staging raids to keep them coming. At the climax, Orrin and his kids have become outright murderous towards anyone they perceive as a threat, leading to Enemy Mine between Ben and A'Yark.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Aside from the prologue, Ben's first appearance in the book has him charging in on his eopie to rescue Annileen and Kallie from a runaway dewback that has blundered into a sarlacc field. He grabs Kallie when Annileen hands her off, and then—unseen by either Calwell, but noticed by A'Yark—uses the Force to keep the dewback from crushing Annileen when it finally trips and falls.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Obi-Wan manages to wrap everything up fairly nicely, but has to dash Annileen's feelings while sending her away. Additionally, A'Yark's clan begins recovering, which is shown by them slaughtering some hapless Jawas.
  • But Now I Must Go: Inverted—though moving on would solve the problems caused or aggravated by Ben's arrival, as well as that of Annileen's growing feelings for him, Ben can't leave until Luke Skywalker comes of age. Instead, he arranges to send Annileen and her family to Naboo, fulfilling her long-forgotten dream of going to university to study exobiology. But her shock and dismay when he tells her that he can't go with them play out similarly to a scene of The Drifter saying he can't stay in town. Ben then withdraws from the Oasis life and settles in to become The Hermit.
  • Call-Back:
    • Two to Ben's previous visit to Tatooine during The Phantom Menace: he has a healthy fear of sandstorms, and knows something of the Tusken Raiders after an (offscreen) encounter with them during that film.
    • Most people call Annileen Calwell "Annie." Ben refuses to, both to maintain some distance and because it reminds him uncomfortably of Anakin.
    • Jabba's people are leaning on Orrin for payment because the new Galactic Empire is making business uncertain, so he wants cash on hand.
    • While never directly spelled out in the narrative, it's obvious that the event a few years earlier that spooked the Tusken Raiders and led to a decline in their fortunes, as well as those of Orrin when demand for the Settlers' Call dried up in turn, was Anakin's massacre of the Tusken tribe that killed his mother in Attack of the Clones.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Sarlaccs are rare, but the one at the Pit of Carkoon from Return of the Jedi isn't unique, just especially large.
    • Ben's first lines (after the prologue) include "Hello, there," and "You're in one piece," just as in A New Hope.
    • Ben learns that the Sand People fear krayt dragons and can be scared off using an artificial krayt dragon roar, which he puts to good use in A New Hope.
    • Annileen tells a story to Ben about an actor who decided to live in the desert for six months and came back looking incredibly aged. In A New Hope, old Ben looks far older than he should after an 18-year gap between Episodes III and IV.
    • Ben gives similar advice to Jabe Calwell that he'll say to Han Solo: Only a fool follows another fool.
    • Daydreaming about traveling to other worlds for the first time in years, Annileen thinks to herself that she's certain the planets are still there—not even Chancellor Palpa-what's-his-name could change that. Well, not yet, but the Death Star is under construction already.
  • Captain Morgan Pose: Orrin likes to prop his boot up on the hood of his landspeeder when he's addressing a crowd made up of his posse and other neighbors.
  • Captain's Log: Ben's meditations, addressed to his Spirit Advisor Qui-Gon—who has yet to answer—take the place of journal entries, sharing his thoughts on the book's events with the readers. Other than in these meditations, Ben is a Non P.O.V. Protagonist.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Ben's mission is to watch over Luke Skywalker, but he can't help himself from getting involved in the problems he sees in front of him, to the point that he has trouble maintaining his anonymity. He eventually starts to think of Obi-Wan, the Jedi who needs to help people, and Ben, The Hermit who must stand apart, as two separate parts of himself.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Faux Affably Evil accountant Mosep Binneed sends Orrin Gault for a session with a "nerve disruptor," not for any practical reason, but simply as a punishment for being behind on loan payments. Ben rescues Orrin before he gets there.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Previously, if negotiations failed, Obi-Wan could whip out his lightsaber and use his Psychic Powers and combat skills to defeat any bad guys. On Tatooine, he's forced to be more of a Guile Hero, taking care to use the Force in covert ways and rely on hand-to-hand combat skills and ingenuity. The few times that he uses a lightsaber, he takes care to ensure that no one can see him. He's forced to reveal himself to Orrin at the end, and decides to Take a Third Option rather than killing him or letting his identity be known.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Ben turns out to be a poor cook, saying that his "friend who owns a diner" (Dex from Attack of the Clones) would have fired him on the spot. But he insists that he didn't try to cook, he did cook—it's just that what he did wasn't very good. After all, he has another friend (Yoda) who's "quite militant on the subject of trying." Later, he nearly quotes another Yoda maxim to A'Yark.
    • Ben thinks to Qui-Gon that his cooling unit is old enough to date from the time of Arca Jeth, 4,000 years before. When Annileen sees it the next day, she says it must have seen use in the Great Hyperspace War, 5,000 years before.
    • Ben references both Siri Tachi and Satine when meditating about women he's gotten too close to before, and contrasts that with other stories he's heard of Jedi who lived outside the Order but still had support systems of their own.
    • Ben alludes to Palpatine's plot after revealing that Orrin fabricated the Tusken threat to exploit the people responding to that threat. He also mentions that someone doesn't need "unlimited power" to create victims.
    • When Annileen finds out that Orrin has betrayed the settlers to raise money to cover his debts, and because of her association with him it would be safer to leave before her neighbors turn on her, Ben is sympathetic, saying that he knows what it's like to see a friend go wrong, and to lose the only home he's ever known.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • The Duros bartender who has to deal with the very drunk Wyle Ulbreck.
    • Annileen maintains her sanity through snark. Raising a pair of teenagers and being the Only Sane Woman in the Pika Oasis will do that to you.
    • Ben shuts down a suggestive comment from Veeka Gault in almost Gentleman Snarker fashion.
      Veeka: I'd let him rescue me any day. How about it, Bennie? You want to save a grown-up for a change?
      Ben: [politely] Fine. Do tell me when one comes in.
    • A bantha calf decides to repeatedly ram Ben's hut, and he can't get it to stop no matter how hard he tries. When Annileen finds him, he's trying to get its attention with a rope.
      Annileen: What are you planning to do with that?
      Ben: I'm considering hanging myself.
    • Annileen is gifted a new landspeeder from Orrin, and her kids are fighting over who gets the old one. She suggests that maybe they can both have it.
      Ben: Is that wise?
      Annileen: Oh, yes. This way, when they finally decide to run away from home, they'll get farther.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The Tuskens maintain a culture that has no tolerance for weakness and no concept of charity because their lifestyle is lived so close to the brink that anyone who needs help might be a liability the clan can't afford. A'Yark initially believes Annileen has Force powers because she instinctively dismisses the idea that Ben would use that power for her sake.
  • Determined Homesteader: The book portrays homesteaders engaging in moisture farming on Tatooine. In particular, Dannar Calwell took his centrally located plot of land, Dannar's Claim, and turned into the only shop among the farms, providing goods and services to his neighbors. Following Dannar's death at the hands of Sand People, Annileen continues to run the store and raise their two teenage children, Kallie and Jabe, managing her children, her customers, and her business partner Orrin Gault through sheer force of personality, even as she suppresses her own desires under the daily grind. Kallie inherited her mother's love of animals and has found a niche running the store's livery, while Jabe chafes at the life of a shopkeeper and runs off with Orrin's kids any chance he can get.
  • Dirty Coward: Beneath the charm and claims of benevolence, Orrin is really a pathetic con man out to save himself from his own poor decisions when his bill to Jabba comes due and will ditch everyone, his children included, to do so.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted. It looks like Orrin falls to his death when his speeder flies off a cliff, but he survives the fall... and is put to work by the Tuskens.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Orrin doesn't want Annie's money! He just wants to marry her so he can access her account!
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi would be able to handle most of the issues in this book without difficulty. Desert hermit Ben Kenobi, on the other hand, is far more limited in his options.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Ben has a recurring dream in which, as someone else, he sees the world through what seems like a Tusken mask, and hears a scream. He thinks it's a metaphor for his exile, staying away from the Empire's subjugation of the galaxy. Later, though, it seems clear that Ben is seeing Orrin's Fate Worse than Death, being press-ganged into the Tusken tribe, and so he's comfortable not intervening when Orrin discovers his secret, since he won't be able to tell anyone.
  • The Drifter: Insomuch as the story is a Western, Ben plays the role of the Drifter—first appearing in a Big Damn Heroes moment, then trying to stay quietly out of the way but unable to avoid solving the problems that appear in front of him, making friends and enemies in the process. His attempts to remain apart from the inhabitants of the Pika Oasis only increase their curiosity in him. He doesn't drift on when the story is over, though—his mission requires him to settle in as The Hermit instead.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Tusken warriors who are permanently injured are expected to kill themselves rather than become a drain on the tribe's resources. A'Yark gives one such young warrior, with a shrapnel wound in his arm, a knife and some privacy, in Leave Behind a Pistol fashion.
      A'Yark: Whoever has two hands can hold a gaderffii.
    • Annileen's father killed himself after a wasting disease devastated his animals and ruined his ranch, forcing Annileen to go and work for the man who would become her husband.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Annileen Calwell's very first line is a snarky Ask a Stupid Question... response to a customer who can never remember her name or position at the store, even though she comes in every day.
    Erbaly Nap'tee: Do you work here?
    Annileen: No, I come in here and do inventory in my spare time. Wait. [looks around] Counter. Cashbox. Title deed. I'm sorry, I guess I do work here.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Annileen's husband was killed by Tuskens and they attacked her home, but she still finds the idea of slaughtering them like animals abhorrent.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Orrin Gault is repeatedly warned by Ben to "Turn back now," and can't make heads or tails of the instruction, since Ben doesn't make any moves to expose or extort him, or do anything else that would profit from the situation.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Tusken Raiders always go masked anyway, but A'Yark only has the use of one eye, so she's jammed a reddish gemstone into the other eyepiece, which gives a similar effect. The settlers call her "Plug-Eye."
  • False Flag Operation: At least a few of the "Tusken raids" are revealed to be Orrin and his lackeys wearing Tusken robes and masks. Genuine Tusken raids have fallen off in recent years, and Orrin was relying on the money other farmers were pooling to pay for his posse to protect them, so he fakes some raids to get his cash flow going again.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • For the Tatooinian settlers, prejudice against the natives is a way of life. Jawas are Chew Toys that can't fight back if some humans want to shove them around; the Tusken Raiders are seen as Always Chaotic Evil savages.
    • Wyle Ulbreck, a suspicious old moisture farmer, is convinced—all evidence to the contrary—that all droids are thieves. He's not too fond of anyone else, either.
    • Orrin always seems to be surprised that weird-looking aliens—like Wolf Man Shistavanens, or insectoid Vuvrians—can be nice people. As a businessman, he gets nervous around anything he can't look in the eye.
    • The country folk also look down on the city folk (mostly Jabba's thugs), and vice versa.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Orrin survives when his landspeeder falls off a cliff, is taken by the Sand People, and put to work maintaining a vaporator to provide them water. When he realizes that he's been wrapped up in Tusken bandages, he resolves never to speak again, lest his voice confirm that he's become one of them. No one expects him to survive for very long.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Jabba the Hutt and his thugs. Jabba himself is an unseen presence in the story, but he maintains a townhouse in Mos Eisley to give the impression of a benevolent interest in city affairs. His accountant Mosep Binneed meets Orrin there and puts on an air of paternal concern as they go over Orrin's swelling debt and he makes thinly veiled threats of torture and death if it's not paid off.
  • Flipping the Bird: Veeka Gault steals a bottle of something potent from the Duros bartender and pays him with an obscene gesture.
  • Foreshadowing: Annileen chews Orrin out for allowing her son Jabe to ride with the Tusken-hunting posse, threatening him with several things that hit close to home: telling him to work with Jabba's thugs for supplies, saying he'll have to join the Tuskens to be safe from her, and accidentally smashing his landspeeder's windshield when he "playfully" tries to defend himself. He's already in debt to Jabba, and gets his windshield smashed again and is press-ganged by the Sand People in the climax.
  • Freudian Slip: Annileen is trying to deny to her friend Leelee that she's missing Ben when he stops coming to the store, only for Leelee to point out that she just addressed a package to the "Kenobi system."
  • Frontier Doctor: Doc Mell, the physician of the Pika Oasis, is a Mon Calamari. Like a traditional Frontier Doctor, he and his son have left an easy life for a much harder one, in this case because they're members of an aquatic species on a desert planet. They wear special cowls that keep their skin moist.
  • Giant Flyer: Jabba's thugs keep flying reptilian Kaven whistlers in the ceiling of his townhouse, and feed delinquent debtors to them.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • A'Yark's clan is starting to shed traditions, like the prohibition against female warriors, because their situation is growing increasingly dire and they can't afford to keep them.
    • Ben goes through most of the book only using his lightsaber sparingly and when people can't see him. The arrival of a krayt dragon causes him to immediately draw his weapon and use it openly.
  • Going Native: Sand People occasionally use kidnapping to replenish their ranks, but on one occasion, a Jedi left the Order and willingly became a Tusken warlord. Sharad Hett's life is covered elsewhere in the Star Wars Legends, but had an impact on A'Yark, Hett's sister-in-law. She believes Ben could be another mighty warlord for her people, and tries to convince him to join them. Ben briefly but seriously considers the idea as a way to protect Luke Skywalker covertly.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Jabba the Hutt. He doesn't appear directly—his accountant Moseep Binneed appears on his behalf—but Orrin owes him a large sum of money. His inability to pay the debt results in him embezzling credits from the Settler's Call Fund and even staging Tusken Raider attacks to force the more stubborn settlements into paying.
  • Guns Akimbo: Orrin wields two blasters during the climax.
  • Idiot Ball: Orrin is deliberately antagonistic to Binneed and his lackeys when they have him under guard, ignoring Binneed's attempts to be Faux Affably Evil and insulting them until they finally decide to torture him for a bit.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Obi-Wan's dilemma towards the end of the book. Let Orrin Gault go free and he'll tell the entire galaxy that there's a Jedi hiding on Tatooine, but killing him just to keep him silent isn't in his nature either—it's "something you would do." He eventually takes a third option.
  • Immune to Mind Control: Obi-Wan attempts to use a Jedi Mind Trick to convince A'Yark to not kill Jabe, but A'Yark is having none of it.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Owning your own bar is an advantage at the end of a stressful day. Annileen has Orrin pour her a glass as he's bartending after the Tusken raid on the Claim and the subsequent retaliation. Then she grabs the bottle and goes to bed.
  • In the Back: There's a particular customer at the Claim who does nothing but stare into his mug of caf all day. So when he appears in the doorway when everyone else is gathered outside, something seems off—then he falls forward with a knife in his back, revealing a Tusken Raider in the store behind him. Fortunately, he survives.
  • Intro-Only Point of View: The prologue is from the point of view of Wyle Ulbreck, a suspicious old moisture farmer who's gone to Anchorhead to drown his sorrows. Consequently, he's too drunk to really understand what he's seeing when Obi-Wan shows up with the infant Luke Skywalker and intervenes in a bar fight between some locals and some of Jabba the Hutt's thugs. Ulbreck is a minor character in the rest of the novel. We don't see his POV again, but we do find out later that the events of the prologue caused him to quit drinking.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Orrin hears a sound from his office, but dismisses it as a "sand-mouse." The readers have already found out that Ben is snooping around, finding evidence of his embezzling.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Ben attempts the trick twice against Sand People to avert imminent violence and convince them to release captives. It works the first time against a young warrior, but completely fails to affect A'Yark herself, forcing Ben to try and reason with her.
  • "Just So" Story: The first chapter opens with the Tusken story of how the younger of Tatooine's Binary Suns committed a transgression, "showing his true face"—anathema to a people that always goes masked. The older star tried to kill the younger, but failed, and now the younger sun continuously pursues the older across the sky, and in their anger the suns scorched the planet forevermore. The actions of the two suns inform the Sand People's philosophies.
  • Kill the Lights: In the prologue, Obi-Wan shoots out the lights in a bar before drawing his lightsaber.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Orrin gets struck with layers of this by the end. His duplicity is exposed to the settlers he'd been embezzling money from and he's left at the mercy of the Tusken tribe he'd been scapegoating. His endeavors to profit off moisture farming bites him hard, too, as he's turned into a Tusken slave to provide water for A'Yark's tribe just to survive. Even then, A'Yark presumes he's not long for the world.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Obi-Wan picked "Ben" off the name of a mesa on a map, but it's also an old nickname that Satine (from Star Wars: The Clone Wars) used to call him.
  • Loan Shark: After Dannar's vaporator began producing incredibly delicious water via Miraculous Malfunction, Orrin invested heavily in that vaporator model and attempted to replicate the results. But he can't get the settings quite right, and his promised payoff to his creditors is not forthcoming. He spirals into his downfall from there. First, he goes into debt to Jabba's thugs to stave off the bank, then starts embezzling from the Settlers' Call Fund, which the other settlers entrusted him with since he's so apparently rich and successful. When he can't get enough from that, he turns it into a Monster Protection Racket.
  • Look Behind You: After foiling his False Flag Operation and pursuing him over the desert, Ben shouts to Orrin to watch out for actual Sand People behind him, but he refuses to believe it and runs into their ambush.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Orrin is a lower-grade version. He's a salesman and his narration shows him using different methods of persuading people to buy what he's selling. One example is when he's trying to bring Ben into the Settler's Call, he notices that Ben disapproves of killing Tuskens and so frames the Call as something that protects people instead of as a vehicle for retribution.
  • Mexican Standoff: Occurs in the climax when the settlers hear of Orrin's Monster Protection Racket and Jabba's men come to collect on his debts as both sides start arguing over who has a right to take revenge on Orrin.
  • Mind over Matter: Ben mostly uses his telekinesis in very subtle ways throughout the book, though keeping a dewback from landing on Annileen when he thinks no one is looking does make A'Yark suspicious. Later, when his cover is blown among the Tuskens, he throws two of them into sand dunes to keep from having to harm them permanently.
  • Miraculous Malfunction: Annileen's husband Dannar fiddled with a vaporator at the Claim once, and it began producing water so incredibly sweet and delicious that the farmers are afraid to ever touch the settings again, but that means they have trouble replicating the results. Orrin has come close and is attempting to ramp up production (he considers it an exquisite irony that the desert planet might export water), but nothing can match Old Number One. And then the Tuskens smash the control panel to bits during their raid on the Claim, destroying the formula forever. Orrin's copycat vaporators somehow stop producing the sweetwater themselves after that, worsening his cashflow problem.
  • Monster Protection Racket: The Sand People are a legitimate threat to the settlers, and the Settlers' Call posse is an honest, if brutal, response. Until the Tuskens stop attacking so much, and Orrin—embezzling from the Call Fund to cover his debts—disguises himself and his kids as Sand People to (non-fatally) attack non-subscribers to keep his cash flow going.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: Applied to animals. Whoever sold Obi-Wan his eopie didn't tell him that the creature was pregnant.
  • Mythology Gag: A'Yark's red crystal 'eye' was a gift from Sharad Hett. Sharad was introduced before lightsaber colors were properly codified and had a red lightsaber, which would have had a red crystal core, despite being a lightsider.
  • Never My Fault: Distraught at the loss of her son, A'Yark blames Annileen—whom she believes to have Ben's powers—for "compelling" her to lead her people into a massacre at the hands of the settlers. A'Yark led the raid to kill Annileen before she could use her hypothetical powers against the Sand People.
  • The Nicknamer: A'Yark gives names to her foes based on their attributes, because she doesn't know their actual names. Orrin is "the Smiling One," Ben is "Hairy Face," and Annileen, believed to possess powers actually displayed by Ben, is called ena'grosh, "the Airshaper."
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: How Dannar Calwell died; he stopped to help a stranded traveler but Tusken Raiders killed them both.
  • No More for Me: After Wyle Ulbreck drunkenly witnesses Ben break up a bar brawl in the prologue, it's offhandedly mentioned some time later that he's sworn off of liquor.
  • Non P.O.V. Protagonist: Ben Kenobi is the central character, and though the conflicts of the book are not his, his arrival and actions catalyze them, bringing long-running tensions to the surface. However, except for his meditations to Qui-Gon, the novel never shows his point of view, instead showing his actions through the eyes of others (typically Annileen, Orrin, and A'Yark), preserving his character role as the mysterious Drifter. While Star Wars fans know that when mysterious things happen around him,note  he is using the Force to protect his secret, a neophyte reading the book (and skipping the meditations) would be just as confused as the other characters.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Dannar tinkered with his vaporator's settings once, and began producing water so sweet and delicious that it significantly enriches the fortunes of the general store. No one can figure out how "Old Number One" is making such incredible water on a desert planet, and attempts by Orrin to replicate the results have yielded only partial success, in part because no one wants to mess with it too much in case the settings are lost. And then the Sand People raid the store and attack the vaporator to get at the Settler's Call loudspeaker at its top. The machine is repairable, but the formula is destroyed forever.
  • No, You: Annileen has a somewhat lame comeback for her daughter when she returns from visiting Ben, having attempted to excuse her absence as an errand to buy dricklefruit.
    Kallie: You forgot the dricklefruit.
    Annileen: You're the dricklefruit.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: A shootout begins between Jabba's men and the angry settlers, while Ben and A'Yark chase down the Gaults when they take Annileen prisoner. When Ben and Annileen return to where the settlers are, they've chased off Jabba's men.
  • Only One Name: Subverted; Obi-Wan intended his alias to simply be "Ben," but Kallie eavesdrops on him saying "Kenobi" aloud and he becomes "Ben Kenobi" from then on.
  • Only Shop in Town: Dannar's Claim is a combination general store/livery/garage/restaurant/cantina, and the center of life in the Pika Oasis. Dannar opened up a shop (instead of a farm) on his plot of land to cater to his neighbors, and his widow Annileen and their children continue to run the place, which has expanded to cover every common need of the area. (The vehicle repair garage is technically a separate business renting space from Annileen.) The nearest small town, Bestine, has more services, but Dannar's Claim is more conveniently located for all of the local moisture farmers.
    Sign out front: Find what you need at Dannar's Claim.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • A'Yark's last son A'Deen is killed by settlers.
    • Orrin Gault lost his younger son Varin to a Tusken attack five years before the book started, one of the reasons he took charge of administering and growing the Settlers' Call posse. His older son Mullen is killed during the climax by A'Yark.
  • Parrying Bullets: Ben is skilled enough to deflect blaster bolts without resorting to his lightsaber, which would scream Jedi; he uses a purloined Tusken gaderffii instead.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Mullen Gault. According to his father Orrin, he was born scowling.
  • Posse: The group of settlers who participate in the Settlers' Call refer to themselves as such, and there isn't a legal authority in rural Tatooine to contest the designation. Settlers who buy in to the Call have a siren mounted on their property in case of a raid by the Sand People; when it's activated, it broadcasts a krayt dragon roar to scare the Tuskens off, then transitions into a siren (and also a radio broadcast) that calls the posse to the location, ready to drive the Tuskens away or hunt them down in retaliation.
  • Posthumous Character: Sharad Hett, who died some 13 years ago, is an important element in the story by being A'Yark's exposure to Jedi and the Force as well as a common acquaintance for her and Ben.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Mosep Binneed is a gangster but also a businessman. He's perfectly willing to torture a delinquent debtor but insists that no lasting damage be done because he still wants the man to be able to make future payments. In the novel's climax, he decides that the effort of collecting Orrin's debt is no longer worth it and calls his men off.
  • Precocious Crush: After Ben saves her in a Big Damn Heroes moment, seventeen-year-old Kallie Calwell can't get enough of the man, going so far as to sneak out to his place and eavesdrop on his meditations.
  • Rancher: Orrin Gault owns the largest spread of land in the Pika Oasis, and as the organizer of the Settlers' Call, is the unofficial leader of the local moisture farmers. His impression of genial first-among-equals wealth is a front; he's heavily in debt and is embezzling from the Call to stave off his creditors.
  • Rescue Romance: Sure, Ben saved Annileen and her daughter, but they also get along quite well, especially since neither of them has allowed him/herself to have much fun in the past. Alas, it's not to be.
  • Retcon:
    • Mosep Binneed using Jabba's name as an alias is a subtle way of reconciling Jabba's pre-Return of the Jedi appearances in the original Marvel comics, which based Jabba's appearance off the alien extra later established as Mosep.
    • The circumstances of Sharad Hett's joining the Tusken clan have been changed. Originally, he lost himself in the desert voluntarily but was abducted by the Tuskens and press-ganged into the clan before eventually Going Native. In the novel, A'Yark describes him as trying to join the clan of his own volition and the resulting torment was due to his presumption, before he proved himself to them.
  • Running Gag: A Nikto woman, Erbaly Nap'tee, comes into the store every single day, but never remembers Annileen's name or position as shopkeeper. When Annie is imagining her future, she figures that someday when she can't run the store anymore, she'll end up in a senior center with Erbaly as her roommate, explaining to her every day that no, she doesn't work there.
  • Samurai Cowboy: Obi-Wan's playing "wandering Warrior Monk" and "The Drifter" in roughly equal measures here.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The narrative avoids pronouns when it comes to A'Yark, instead just calling her by name or "the warrior," until Annileen realizes that she is the mother of one of the Tuskens killed by the posse halfway through the novel.
  • Sherlock Scan: Annileen is skilled at evaluating a new customer by their purchases. Through what he buys, she can tell that Ben is a new arrival, didn't pack heavily on the way in, lives alone, and has a permanent dwelling and not a campsite, where he intends to stay long-term, and which needs to be heavily cleaned.
  • Shoo the Dog: Near the end of the story, Obi-Wan tells Annileen and her family to leave Tatooine, for fear that the townsfolks' ire will be raised towards her as an associate of Orrin's. He arranges with Bail Organa to have an Alderaanian university accept Annileen's long-dormant application to their xenobiology satellite program on Naboo.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Ulbreck accuses the Duros bartender of doing this to him, when in fact he's merely had far too much to drink.
    Ulbreck: You've done slipped somethin' in this drink to put me out. So you can take my money. I know you city types.
    Bartender: [to his wife] Close it up, Yoona. We've been found out. [to Obi-Wan] We've been piling customers' bodies in the back room for years—but I guess that's all over now.
    Obi-Wan: [smiling] I won't tell a soul.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Orrin Gault is eventually revealed to be this. He started by embezzling money from the Settlers' Call Fund in order to make payments on his debts. When attacks by Tusken Raiders became rarer courtesy of Anakin Skywalker, more and more settlers canceled their subscriptions, so Orrin and his family began staging raids to make them return. They never give the settlers more than light injuries, but are not above killing actual Sand People in "retaliation". At the climax, he attempts to murder Ben after the latter witnessed them faking a raid and finds out he's a Jedi in the process; even so, Ben lets Orrin go, only for the latter to refuse to turn around and plan to sell Ben's identity to the Galactic Empire. His kids don't fall far from the tree and decide to kill Annileen Calwell, who had been the family's best friend until the day before.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Anakin's role is limited to allusions and mentions in Obi-Wan's meditations, but he has a great deal of importance in the story's events. Aside from being the reason Obi-Wan is on Tatooine in the first place, his massacre of the Tusken clan is responsible for both A'Yark's clan's dire straits and the decrease in demand for the Settler's Call that drives Orrin to fabricate Tusken attacks.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Ben himself has never not been a Jedi, and so has trouble with ordinary conversations over lunch with Annileen, especially when discussing her love life.
  • Sole Survivor: By the end of the novel, Veeka is the only remaining Gault after her brother Mullen and father Orrin are killed and press-ganged respectively.
  • Space Western: Kenobi is a Star Wars story set exclusively in the backwaters of Tatooine, where Determined Homesteaders face off against Noble Savages, with Ben in the role of The Drifter.
  • Spanner in the Works: The canyon krayt dragon that shows up in the gorge throws everyone's plans out of whack, most notably forcing Ben to reveal himself as a Jedi.
  • Spirit Advisor: Though Qui-Gon Jinn manifested to both Yoda and Obi-Wan before they parted ways, he has yet to speak to Ben alone on Tatooine, though Ben addresses him by name in his nightly meditations. Qui-Gon will not answer until the epilogue of Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader, which takes place several weeks after this book ends.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: When Orrin and his kids kidnap Annileen near the climax, they hold her by the upper arm. She doesn't get a chance to escape until Mullen lets her go in order to try and shoot her.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Ben and Annileen both separately joke that his beat-up cooling unit must be thousands of years old, by referencing events and people from that era of the Star Wars Legends timeline.
  • The Summation: Ben stops by Annileen's room after rescuing Jabe from A'Yark's Sand People to explain how Jabe got caught up with Orrin's schemes, and exactly how and why Orrin has been defrauding the inhabitants of the Oasis out of their money. Then he lays out a rough plan for what he's going to do about it, and what he wants Annileen and her family to do.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When the Tuskens are attacking the store, Ben grabs a fire extinguisher, ostensibly to hold them off with, but actually to give himself a smokescreen so he can use his lightsaber without being seen clearly. He gives old Wyle Ulbreck the credit for the resulting dead bodies, somewhat unconvincingly.
    Ulbreck: I don't rightly know how I got 'em all—
    Ben: [quickly] But you did. Every one. All on your own.
  • Take My Hand!: A'Yark goes over the cliff with Orrin, but manages to hang on. Ben and Annileen, who's learned a lot about the Tusken Raiders, pull her back up. She needs a bit of convincing not to let go.
  • Teeth Flying: Mullen has lost several of his teeth thanks to a couple bar brawls, such as the one in the prologue. People think this is the reason why he's a Perpetual Frowner.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: The Gault children are a bad influence on Jabe Calwell. Jabe has recently joined Orrin Gault's work crews and spends evenings carousing with Orrin's children Mullen and Veeka (he has a crush on the latter), eventually participating in their Monster Protection Racket and nearly getting killed by actual Tusken Raiders before Ben rescues him. The experience puts Jabe back on the right path.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Orrin Gault. After Obi-Wan reveals himself to be a Jedi while defeating a krayt dragon that would have killed Orrin, his only response is planning to sell Obi-Wan out to the Empire.
  • When Elders Attack: The 75-year-old Wyle Ulbreck isn't afraid to get in a shootout with Tusken Raiders or Jabba the Hutt's thugs. Admittedly, Ben makes him look more badass than he is by giving him the credit for killing most of the raiding party in the Claim.
    Wyle: [after shooting Jorrk] I killed me a room full of Tuskens. I ain't gonna let you people push me around!

Alternative Title(s): Kenobi