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Book Review

Book Cover

Star Wars
Darth Plagueis (Hardback)


Author: James Luceno
RRP: £18.99, US $27.00
ISBN: 978 1 846 05678 9
Available 19 January 2012

It is rare to find a Star Wars book which does not rely heavily on either well known characters from the films or the requisite lightsaber fight every hundred pages, as that’s what writers think is the central interest of any Star Wars fan. From a couple of throw away lines, in the prequel films, James Luceno, has crafted the back story to both Palpatine and his master Darth Plagueis.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis is the new novel by James Luceno and possibly one of the bravest books, as it came with a lot of baggage from the fans heated anticipation. Rather than go down the usual path of chucking in a bunch of well-known locations and shoehorning in regular characters, Luceno has written a good political thriller.

Plagueis, although Sith, and therefore branded as evil in the Star Wars universe, actually has a good rational for his actions and his following of the dark side. It might be more than a little fascistic in nature, but he truly believes that the galaxy under the rule of the Senate and the Jedi order is creating stagnation. His belief is that the next evolution of sentient beings is to get closer to the force - so close that even death might be conquered. For this to happen, a strong leadership is required.

Having killed his own master, becoming a Sith lord. Plagueis searches for an apprentice who might fulfil his vision, a vision he is, as a Munn, ill-equipped to see through himself. It is only when he meets Palpatine that he sees the possibility that this young man may rise to the highest office and so bring fruition to the Sith vision of the future.

Now, I remember my first experience of the prequel films and frankly these made very little sense. It’s ok to be thrown in the deep end of the action, but if explanation still remains missing then you get the fractured film which we finally had to watch. Having read Darth Plagueis, I now have an understanding of what the great Sith plan was, which makes the films a lot more logical.

It must have been tempting to mirror Palpatine’s development with that of Anakin, juxtaposing the two characters, but Palpatine start life as someone you wouldn’t want to mess with. If Plagueis is calculating, Palpatine is almost pure evil, possessing a violent and vicious streak that boarders on unstable.

Once Plagueis meets and starts to train Palpatine, the story is told from both their perspectives: Plagueis working, for what he sees is a better future, including the defeat of death, whilst Palpatine is full of hate and envy, especially for his master. It’s no surprise that this story does not end well.

What I didn’t expect was that Plagueis’s end happens quite far through the prequel films, so much of the end of the book runs in parallel with the films allowing Luceno to bring in Darth Maul, Anakin and Count DooKu as characters.

This is an essential buy for Star Wars fans as well as anyone who struggled to make sense of the film plots. More than that, Luceno is a good writer with a keen ear for dialogue, married with a skill for character development.


Charles Packer

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