[Note: I tried to make this review 100% spoiler-free, but read at your own risk. Once the book is published, I will update the review to discuss a few plot points and characters in greater depth. However, I'm happy to answer specific questions in the comments section.]
I think it's fair to say that Star Wars: Darth Plagueis is the most eagerly anticipated Star Wars novel of the past 5 years. However, Star Wars: Darth Plagueis is also one of the most risky because it delves into the backstory of Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine, easily the most evil villain in all of Star Wars. Some fans were worried that the book might "demystify" Palpatine or humanize him a bit too much (just as Episode I made Anakin a bit too sympathetic a character).
So let me begin my review by stating that Star Wars: Darth Plagueis does not destroy Palpatine's character - it makes him even more evil and chilling. We do not see Palpatine as a cute little blond boy. While the book spends a good deal of covering Palpatine and his machinations, it's quite clear how the younger Palpatine presented in this book grew up to become the sadistic Sith Lord of the films. There were a few times when Palpatine's actions even sent a slight shiver down my spine. We do, however, learn a bit more about how exactly Palpatine rose to power and where his urges stem from.
As for the title character, I think James Luceno does a great job of bringing Darth Plagueis to life. I admit I was actually a bit worried because Darth Plagueis is a Munn (the same species as San Hill), and we all know that the Star Wars universe has a tendency to stereotype characters by race. I was worried the book would overplay the stereotype of Munns as bankers. However, Luceno handles this pretty well by giving Darth Plagueis a sort of Count of Monte Cristo personality (or alternatively a mix between Prince Xizor and Darth Bane). Like Sidious, Plagueis lives a double life, and he lives each life with a ferocious intensity. In a few scenes, Plagueis transforms from negotiator to killer with frightening speed. Overall, Luceno created a complex character stands out above most of the other Sith characters.
The plot is more of a political thriller and serves as a backstory for the movies. I personally dislike Star Wars books that throw in a bunch of battles just to see the characters whip out their blasters or lightsabers, so I thought Star Wars: Darth Plagueis was a welcome change of pace. There are only a few fight scenes, but those that are in the book are really emotionally intense and bloodcurdling (yes, I said bloodcurdling). More importantly, the action scenes reveal a lot about the characters and how much they enjoy violence. Again, without revealing too much, the book reminded me of The Count of Monte Cristo in how the plot develops.
There were two unique aspects to Luceno's writing style in this book that I want to highlight. First, unlike so many Star Wars books (come on, we know Luke, Han, and Leia aren't going to die!), Luceno does not try to build a false sense of suspense. After all, we know Darth Plagueis is killed and we know who killed him (it was revealed in Episode III, but even if you fell asleep during that scene the murder scene takes place on the first page of the book). Rather, Luceno toys with what we think we know about Star Wars history and holds readers' attention by focusing on HOW and WHEN events unfold. At his best, Luceno forces readers to rethink and relearn the events of the prequels. I for one thought the book filled in many of the holes left by the movies, even more so than the movie novelizations. I finally understand what happened in Episode II!
Second, the narrative style in the book is unlike anything I've seen in Star Wars novels, with the exception of Matt Stover's books. The narrator has a voice of his/her own, one that doesn't intrude into the story but rather makes it more epic. For example, the narrator places certain planets or events in historical context, even referring to events and places from the movies. My favorite line [mini-SPOILER Alert] in the book is: "Naboo and Gungan alike couldn't recall a colder winter than the one that followed [Plagueis'] autumnal visit..." [end SPOILER alert]. The narrator also provides a lot of physical detail making it easy to envision the characters and the scene. It's a different style for Luceno, whose previous books seemed a bit lighthearted, but I think this tone suits this book really well.
One more thing: Luceno worked closely with LucasFilm in writing the book. My understanding is that the book is as close as any novel can get to being canon (although the Star Wars Expanded Universe canon system is pretty confusing). In other words, this is THE story of Plagueis and Palpatine.
Overall, I was pleased to see how James Luceno built Darth Plagueis, Darth Sidious, and Darth Maul into truly compelling and evil characters. It easily stands head and shoulders above most Star Wars novels both for its character development and its storytelling. I haven't been the biggest fan of Luceno's books in the past, but it's clear he dedicated a lot of time, thought, and love to this book. A must read for any Star Wars fan!
Star Wars: Darth Plagueis is not just the story of Plagueis, but also the story of the rise to power of his apprentice, Darth Sidious. Actually, the first chapter is the death of Plagueis. Then it reverts back to the time when he was an apprentice himself to Darth Tenebrous.
Plagueis is a Muun, and as such, has a much longer life span than humans. His master, Darth Tenebrous, is a Bith, also having a long life span. This being the case, he was given a lengthy tutelage in the Sith arts before finally taking his master down and earning the mantle of Dark Lord. Then he meets a young man, strong in the force and defiant. So defiant in his ways, that this young man shed his given name but kept his house name, Palpatine.
Plagueis decides that it is time to move away from Darth Bane's strict rule of two where the master possesses the power and the apprentice craves it. He sees himself as the one who will implement the Sith's ultimate plan of revenge and desires to forge a partnership for the Sith order. What ensues are the detailed plans and events that lead up to Phantom Menace.
This book does an excellent job in linking with other pre-Episode I books. There are numerous references to past Sith Lords, including Kaan, Darth Bane, and Darth Zannah, as well as hinting to some of the other Sith that came after them (including one who betrayed the order and turned to the light side, which will probably become another book that I will be interested in reading). Keep this in mind when reading because there are a few parts where it seems to skip over a section but the events actually happened in another book and they just did not get repetative. For instance, when Sidious dispatches Darth Maul to take down Black Sun, it skips to the aftermath. That's because this mission is covered in Star Wars: Darth Maul. When he goes after the mining companies, that is covered in Star Wars: Darth Maul: Saboteur (Short Story). So you get the idea.
Also described in here are the events that lead to Jedi Master Dooku's decision to leave the Jedi Order and his dabbling in the Dark Side, the beginning of his transformation to Darth Tyranus. We meet Master Syfo-Dyas, who is the one responsible for placing the order with Kamino for the clone soldiers. Even Jedi Master Jorus C'Boath (from Outbound Flight (Star Wars)) is mentioned here. Basically, this book is quite strong in linking with the other novels as well as the movies.
James Luceno's writing style is great. It draws the reader in and, though I have read several of his novels, this has easily become one of my favorites by him. This is a wonderful addition to the Star Wars extended universe and I highly recommend it. Matter of fact, even if you aren't into the novels, I think you will appreciate this book, although some of the significance of small events may escape you.
on January 15, 2012
"Everything I tell you is a lie. Every question I ask is a trick. You will find no truth in me. " ~ Vergere, to Jacen Solo (New Jedi Order: Traitor)
Expectations are a funny thing, they affect how we perceived things for good or ill. The danger that any book runs is that it's reviews will hype it up too much, that expectations will be set so high that they cannot possibly be met. In the Star Wars fan community, expectations usually outstrip that which is possible. Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a great film, but the expectations of fans after waiting 16 years between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace were simply too high. No matter what George Lucas delivered it would not have matched what fans wanted or expected. It is only with the benefit of hindsight that The Phantom Menace is placed in its proper context and can be judged fairly.
Before you ever begin or contemplate beginning to read Star Wars: Darth Plagueis, be aware that whatever I or other reviewers say, this book will receive tons of hype. I only have one thing to say to you, believe it. Darth Plagueis is simply pardon the pun, a tour de Force.
At 368 pages Darth Plagueis isn't the biggest novel in the Expanded Universe but of any EU work it may have the biggest impact on the story that George Lucas told in the film saga. Author James Luceno delivers his magnum opus with such skill and care that you can tell this was a novel years in the making. Originally slated for release in 2008, this book idea was shelved and then reclaimed. What Luceno delivers is a galaxy spanning masterpiece that takes place in three distinct periods of time and follows the Sith Lord Darth Plagueis as he navigates the Sith Rule of Two, searches and grooms an apprentice, and his subsequent fate. Along the way we are introduced to a young Palpatine who would go on to become Senator, Supreme Chancellor, and Emperor, all the while living a secret life as a Dark Lord of the Sith. The story revolves around the relationship between this Muun and this Man as they seek to enact the revenge of the Sith, bring about the destruction of the Jedi and the conquest of the galaxy.
Through the course of the novel Luceno manages to bring various threads of continuity together from novels, comics, video games, The Clone Wars animated series and the Star Wars films in such a way that is both seamless and stunning. Multiple times throughout this novel, I was stunned with how boldly Luceno went in his storytelling, treading on ground that I was surprised that George Lucas would allow anyone but himself to interpret. This book gets to the very foundation of Palpatine, the conflict between the Jedi and the Sith, Sith philosophy, and the immediate background facts surrounding Episode I.
Truth, lies, droids, clones, slaves, citizens, all of these are but tools to the Sith. With the Sith the ends always justify the means. The above quote by Vergere seems apropos given the scene in Revenge of the Sith between Chancellor Palpatine and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker. Palpatine plays Anakin Skywalker expertly and manipulates the young man to get what Palpatine wants. How did Palpatine learn these skills, how exactly can someone be some fundamentally evil? This book goes a long way to pulling back the curtain on the mystery that is this man who has one foot in the world of the profane and one in the mystical world of the Force. The danger with telling Palpatine's back-story is that in giving them character more dimension, you diminish him, the more we learn the less imposing is the towering menace that we were introduced to in the films.
One of my favorite things about this books is the unique spin that Luceno puts on some of the Sith, each has their own way of viewing things, much like we have seen in the Expanded Universe with the portrayal of Jedi and how they view and access the Force. There is a ton of Sith philosophy in this book and while relatively light on action, this book is instantly one of my favorites in all of the Expanded Universe.
While there are still some questions this book leaves up in the air, one thing is for sure. You will never watch the Prequel trilogy in the same light again and I am fascinated about how the elements from TCW may come into play with the return of Darth Maul at the end of Season Four.
Well done Mr. Luceno, well done.
on September 18, 2013
Over the last decade I have had a love/hate relationship with James Luceno's writing. At times I have found his work to be brilliant, and at other times I have found his writing to be uninspired and muddled. Upon reading the beginning of this book I was quite taken by just how well written an imaginative the story surrounding Plagueis was. I was surprised how well Luceno had laid out the character and how well the story had worked in a linear telling, something Luceno rarely does in his books. But as the story progressed, and after Palpatine was introduced, I was shocked on just how quickly the books solid story turned into sand and flowed through my fingers.
After Plagueis found Palpatine, a telling that was thin at best, Luceno parts from Plagueis's story to focus on the larger plan, a larger plan that centers around Palpatine. Little time is spent as to how Palpatine learns the Force from Plaqueis, and even less time is spent on grasping the connection the two men have to each other. In my opinion Luceno fails in bringing light to the wisdom and experience that Plagueis has to offer as both a Master and a teacher. Instead, we as readers, are exposed to a more simplistic telling of Palpatine's rise to political power.
The main bulk of this book focuses on the study of how Palpatine fits into the world around him. Every once and a great while we are exposed to scenes that ring familiar to what we know of other Sith stories but, for the most part neither Sidious nor Plagueis are great examples of the Sith we know and love. Darth Bane, and the teachings left by his reign, are spoken too often, however, neither of our Sith Lords completely fall into the Sith mold. As I read this book I often thought of both Lords as book smart but never street smart. Rarely are we exposed to either of them being mad or even taken by the power of the dark side. Rarely do either lash out when failure rises. Rarely do either bathe in the power of the dark side.
In the end the book's true purpose is to wrap up threads left from stories past. Scenes read like cliff notes as grand story arcs from other books and comics are horribly skipped over without either a brief description of events that happened, or the impact those stories had.
With all this considered the book reads as a long winded diatribe of internal analysis and shallow plotting. The characters, formed by experiences that are not addressed in this book, read like paper tigers as their power seems convenient and contrived. With scenes missing only Star Wars fans that have a vast understanding of the larger EU library will be able to follow the scenes skipped over. New fans, or those who haven't read that many books or comics, will be lost and confused. I, myself, have a good understanding of stories past and was able to process most of the plot points addressed, but even I still walked away from this book bitterly disappointed.
In conclusion, I feel that this book was overly hyped and under delivered. The classic feel gained by the Darth Bane chronicles was left void after the first fifteen percent of this book. Characters were left dangling in the wind blown by stories long since past. And after three-hundred pages the main characters of the book were left void of any real lasting impact.
Perhaps this book's only silver lining as that the audiobook's narrator has enough talent to deliver a better telling. But in the end the book lacks entertainment, enjoyment, and a competent ability to stand on its own.
Emperor Palpatine will probably go down - along with Thrawn and Revan, in my opinion - as one of the finest antagonists Star Wars has ever produced. The man from Naboo who conquered a galaxy not by force but by manipulating different forces against each other. The Prequel Trilogy winks and nudges the viewer at all the right beats so that we know when Palpatine is making his move and taking one more calculated step towards his dream of a Galactic Empire, especially when he recites the "old Sith legend" of Darth Plagueis the Wise to Anakin Skywalker. All of it speaks to a history that even fans of the EU were largely left in the dark about. James Luceno's DARTH PLAGUES takes on the gargantuan task of drawing out the stories of the Emperor, his master, Darth Plagues and his quest for immortality, as well as providing the foundation for the events of the Prequel Trilogy yet to come.
The amount of tasks this book takes upon itself to accomplish with regard to canon and storytelling is simply staggering, not to mention this is one of the handful of novels with which George Lucas decided to become involved to some degree. Before this, I had read only one of Luceno's other novels, DARK LORD: THE RISE OF DARTH VADER, and although I enjoyed it, it wasn't one of my favorites. That said, Luceno has not only stepped up to the challenge this book presented, but managed to deliver, in my opinion, one of the finest additions to the Expanded Universe since Timothy Zahn's THRAWN TRILOGY.
DARTH PLAGUEIS begins at the end, with Palpatine having only recently murdered his Sith Master and reflecting on the decades-long path he'd taken to get to this point. We flashback thirty years earlier to one of Plagueis's earlier exploits, his brewing obsession with immortality, and his second life as an investor with one of the biggest banking operations in the galaxy. Plagueis is the last remaining Sith Lord in the galaxy, and he wants to keep it that way forever. During one of the investment meetings he makes on behalf of his company, he has a chance encounter with fifteen-year-old Palpatine, a troubled young human with exceptional powers over the Force. The boy, fitted with the title Darth Sidious, is eventually taken in as Plagueis's apprentice, which kicks several long years of training in the Sith arts and a grand web of political dealings, all designed to bring the galaxy under their control.
Looking back, the plotting for this novel must have been a tremendous undertaking. The chronicling of Palpatine's steady rise from boyhood to Sith Lord to aristocrat and senator is handled with great care. We see the relationships Palpatine fosters through the years, the deals he brokers, the favors he's owed, the corporate powers he plays against each other, and how each political maneuver aids his goals decades down the line. This is not your average tale of a Sith Lord's rise to power. Although there are some action scenes - which contain some of the more violent moments in the EU this side of SHATTERPOINT - they're used sparingly and to great effect. Palpatine and Plagueis are not Darth Bane; "subtlety" and "subterfuge" are the words they live by, and they do so in the perpetually complex atmosphere of interstellar politics.
The writing is also a highlight here. Luceno's style handles the complexity of the plot with very few hangups; he hangs on exposition for a little longer than I felt was necessary a few times. Dialog is extremely fluid and is definitely one of Luceno's biggest strengths here. Between the right characters, you almost don't have to look at who's talking.
There's also the matter of setting up much of the foundation the Prequel Trilogy is eventually built upon - and by "much," I mean pretty much all. THE PHANTOM MENACE begins with many different factions beginning to clash in the midst of great turmoil in the Republic and in the Senate, while ATTACK OF THE CLONES involves the creation of a clone army and the appearance of Count Dooku. DARTH PLAGUEIS reveals how all of this came to be and that much of it may not have been as spontaneous or coincidental as it may have appeared in the films.
DARTH PLAGUEIS not only functions as a fantastic companion piece to the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, but as a great sci-fi novel in its own right. It's not too often we can read about the politics involved with keeping thousands of star systems under one banner, the compromises and clashes that may come about as a result, and how, if all the right steps are taken at all the right moments, the system can be taken advantage of to devastating effect.
on December 23, 2012
Note: May contain spoilers. Proceed with caution.
Darth Plagueis found himself to be a kind of mystery within the Star Wars universe. His name is mentioned only once during the films, so fans of the series didn't really know much about him. Thankfully James Luceno decides to pull back the curtain to show the fans what happened. But how does the book hold up?
I will admit that I wasn't able to finish this book when I originally started reading it. This is because, no disrespect to Mr. Luceno, the book, especially the beginning, can be excruciatingly slow at times. What's worse is that it teases you into thinking that it's going to start picking up, but quickly hits another wall in which we have to break down to get to the good stuff again. Sadly this is kind of how it is throughout the entire story, but pulling through the slow parts is more than rewarding.
I say that because when the story does pick up it's very entertaining and quickly becomes a page turner, I just wish that it didn't continuously hit that wall I mentioned earlier. As I have already said the worst of it is within the beginning of the book, more specifically the first third of the book page-wise. Towards the end of part one Plagueis meets Palpatine and the excitement becomes a little more consistent.
One other thing that bothered me, aside from how slow the novel got at certain points, is the fact that after part one Plagueis' importance quickly starts to fade. After that the attention slowly begins to switch to Palpatine. Which is great because it gives us a little more insight as to what went on prior to Episode I, but the novel is titled Darth Plagueis. I assumed he would be in majority, if not all, of the scenes in here.
Overall Score: 8/10 - I must say that I am glad I decided to give this another shot. It still required determination to pull through the dull moments, but the ending was worth it. Not only did Luceno give us insight into Darth Plagueis himself, but also explained why some things happened in the prequel trilogy. If you're a fan of the Star Wars universe and you're curious about Plagueis then I would recommend checking this out.
Since reading this book I have now read two other books that use the same timeline format. The books start out at some point in the Star Wars Universe timeline, address specific information that provides background filler for the Star Wars Universe story, then skips ahead any number of years (10 - 20 years ahead) and again fills in missing information. As such, these type books are really written for the specific reason of filling in missing pieces in the Star Wars Universe story. While very beneficial to better understanding future events already written, this style leaves me wondering what the heck was going on during all those years skipped in the story being told in such a book.
Darth Plagueis: Star Wars is written in this fashion: the prologue occurs at an unspecified time before the "events" of the book; Part One--Enlistment takes place 67 to 65 years before the Battle of Yavin (or BBY--as depicted in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (Two-Disc Widescreen Enhanced and Original Theatrical Versions)); Part Two--Apprenticed to Power occurs 54 to 52 years before the Battle of Yavin; Part Three--Mastery is 34 to 32 years before the Battle of Yavin, which is the events leading up to Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace; and the epilogue discusses the election of Palpatine to the chancellorship 32 years before the Battle of Yavin.
While the years included in the book are well written and exciting to read, I personally found jumping from period to period in the Star Wars Universe history to be very unfulfilling--I want to KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY (to borrow a phrase). That is, just what the heck were Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious doing during the years 64 BBY to 54 BBY and 51 to 32 BBY? This is basically 30 years of unaccounted for storyline! I find this extremely aggravating at the least, and very misleading at best. After all, this IS SUPPOSED TO BE the biography of Darth Plagueis. (Which this book or story I take for granted is supposed to be, given the books title).
This point--the skipped years in Darth Plagueis' biography--raises another problem I have with the book. Now that I am done reading it, I know a lot--filled with 30 years of missing story--about how Darth Sidious becomes the Dark Lord of the Sith, but I barely know a thing about Darth Plagueis or his biography because the bulk of what is written about is actually about Darth Sidious! Even in the parts where Darth Plagueis is present in the story, the focus is upon how the events shape Darth Sidious not Darth Plagueis.
As such, Darth Plagueis: Star Wars was clearly written to the specifications Lucasfilm set out for the author, James Luceno, and unfortunately entitled DARTH PLAGUEIS; it is NOT A BIOGRAPHICAL STORY of Darth Plagueis that I was expecting, like the Darth Bane: Star Wars 3-Book Bundle: Path of Destruction, Rule of Two, Dynasty of Evil books were.
So, while what is in the book, I would rate the book as a 4.5, I have given it a 3 due to the fact that the book is clearly not about Darth Plagueis and it skips thirty years of the story--regardless of my expectations. If you are a die hard Star Wars fan/reader or want to know about the key events that led to Darth Sidious' rise to power, then I highly recommend this book. But if you are just looking for good science fiction or a good Star Wars story, I would suggest reading one of the many other Star Wars books available.
on February 6, 2015
I have a few things to say about this book before I start my review, I hope it helps someone.
First off, I grew up reading star wars. Started with the kids books obi wan kenobi adventures, when he starts off not even getting picked as an apprentice to falling in love with Siri and almost leaving the jedi order. I've read all the Old republic books. The Bane Trilogy (which is a great precursor book to this one) all of Timothy Zahn's works, and the New Jedi Order Series, and pretty much everything in between. A good 60+ books I would say with confidence.
Secondly. I abhor the decision made to turn the Expanded Universe into....the....legends.........It physically angers me. That all those works done to make Star Wars into My star wars, the star wars I know and love, are turned into stories merely so Disney can have creative f***ing insight to make their new movies--......... It was a poor and crap decision. Bc now everything I know is out the window to pave the way for the crap they're wanting to do now. The movies could have been great if they did the yhuuzhang vong invasion....but I digress.....
Thirdly. This is the best book about the force I have ever read. Those 60+ books I've read don't include the omnibus's, comics, or the guide books they've created to explain the star wars universe. Yet, this book talks about the force in a way that the matrix animated movie explains what the matrix was really about.
The author goes so in depth with the force, what it is, what its capable of, that some chapters you'll read twice just to be sure you gathered all the info correctly. So either he had Lucas on speed-dial to ask him about what the force really is, or he has a better understanding than even Lucas himself has. Bc he does a great job explaining the capability of the force and its uses that can be implemented if merely looked at a different way. Things the jedi could never do bc of their almost religious way of using it and seeing it as something given, instead of something that exists to be used. As always, its about point of view in how you perceive it.
The book starts off amazingly with the death of the main character. Entices you into wondering "what just happened?" and then delving into the...I believe 50-75 year journey of this barely aging, very mysterious, almost mad Dr. like Sith who delves into the science and experimentation of what the force can do, and he does it well. Almost beautifully. As mentioned before, the Bane Trilogy is a good pre-book series to read, as those set up everything that this book continues. The bane trilogy is one of my favorites, and is the beginning of the Rule of 2 sith. This book, is basically the culmination of of a thousand years of building, planning, and gaining knowledge to bring about the downfall of the jedi and the coming of the sith. They go into detail about the secret contacts, meetings, almost illuminati like gatherings of the galaxies most powerful people, and how they are all being manipulated to do the sith's bidding. Eventually finding palpatine, and delving into his previously unknown backstory and even the intro of Darth Maul and how he came to be in an almost "slap on the knee I can't believe that just happened they had no idea they were giving maul to a sith instead of a jedi" moment.
The story follows Plagueis's experiments into solving the biggest thing the Sith have looked for, immortality, and he FINDS it. It follows the story of Palpatines training and involvement into becoming the President of the Republic Galaxy basically.
AND....in a sith ritual to put a veil over the jedi.......basically tells you what happened that brought Anakin into the world.
And in one part, IF IT WERE CANON, places Plagueis being present during the time of episode I. Literally in the background of when the ship first lands on Coruscant when they're looking at Anakin knowing that this is the child they basically created and knew he would be the future.
Which just goes to upset me more that this is just....legends.......grrrrrrr.......
But anyway, I've downvoted all the 1 star reviews about "lack of character development bc of a pretentiousness of the authors inability to blah blah blah I'm probably an art history major and am filled with years of culture that make me better than you and use big words bc I'm smart blah blah blah"
The story starts out with Plagueis being old, almost if not over 100, for a good reason it starts here. and Palpatine wasn't trained as a child, bc sith apprentices are different from jedi, they don't come as babies all the time, look at Dooku. Its more of someones ideals than it is them just being young, and they explain Palpatines desires to join and the "how it happened" very well. So character development is good. Action isn't everywhere, but this is more about learning about previously unknown origins and new facts about things we've never thought of than a book of Sith going on a killing rampage.
All in all, I bought this a while ago on paper back, and wanted it on my kindle. So I BOUGHT IT AGAIN. Bc I'm that happy with it.
May the force be with you.
on October 29, 2015
This book is FANTASTIC! It is easily the best Star Wars book I've ever read. It's the prequel to the prequels.
Like many, I'm not a huge fan of the prequels. I think Episodes I-III have a dynamite story, but I don't think that story was presented well. This book builds on the strengths of the prequel movies and minimizes the failings of that trilogy. This book legitimizes what we see in the prequels, and, believe it or not, this book actually makes the prequel movies more enjoyable to watch (because, after reading the book, there is so much more depth to the story).
How did the Trade Federation come to blockade Naboo? Who was this Darth Plagueis that Palpatine speaks of in Episode III? How did Palpatine become a Sith? How did Palpatine and Darth Maul come together?
All of these types of questions, and more, are answered in this book. James Luceno's writing is extremely well researched. He knows his Star Wars lore. There are two types of Star Wars books. One is an adventure romp, where we see characters from the films on some great adventure at different times in their lives. The other type is a book that broadens the Star Wars story, enriching it, adding to it, and explaining questions that are brought up in the films. This book is of the latter type. And, besides that, it's brilliant. Luceno writes in an addictive style that makes me keep wanting more. Because of this book, I plan to read every thing that Luceno has written for Star Wars.
Special Note: I didn't actually read this book so much as I listened to it on my commute to work. I have an Audible account. Not only is this a great book because of its content, but the audio presentation is top notch. The reader is fantastic. He does other voices extremely well, and the production includes that famous Star Wars music and sound effects that enhance the listening of this excellent work.
I wish all Star Wars books could be as enjoyable as this one.
Thumbs up. Great stuff.
on September 14, 2012
This is my favorite Star Wars book that I have read sense The Heir to the Empire trilogy. Let me address who this book isn't for. This book is only for die hard fans of Star Wars. I don't even think a mild interest will do. You need to love Star Wars and understand a lot about the mythology before you start. So when I say that this is a masterpiece I mean it is "from a certain point of view". Another group that won't like it are people looking for an action book. There is little action to be found here. What little there is to me was the boring parts.
What really made me love this book was the mountains of Sith mythology that it covers. Most chapters early on are half just Sith history. For a fan like me this was fascinating. The characters of Plagueis and Palpatine are fantastic. This novel felt more real to me than most Star Wars books do. It was a refreshing change of pace.
I felt like I was reading the "Godfather" mixed with Star Wars while reading this. There are so many little things that as a Fanatic of Star Wars were so delightful. I won't put any spoilers here but there were so many little things that make the Star Wars mythos now so much more interesting. Almost every character you can imagine shows up as well. Maul, Jabba, Padme's parents, Dooku, Sifo, and the list goes on and on.
So if the stuff I loved about this book sounded good to you then please read this novel. If we buy enough maybe we will get a sequel!