Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > Star Wars: Darth Plagueis

Star Wars by James Luceno
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Aug 11, 12

bookshelves: amazon-vine, star-wars
Read from February 15 to August 08, 2012 — I own a copy

"sentient life is meant to evolve, not simply languish in contended stasis"

NOTE: I received this book from the Amazon Vine Program.

The time has come for the Sith to reveal themselves, to step away from the Rule of Two setup by Darth Bane many years ago. Darth Plagueis emerges and, with the assistance of his apprentice, Darth Sidious, begins the final steps to the destruction of the Republic and the Jedi.

I have some wonderful news! After SIX MONTHS of reading this book, I have finally finished it!! Roll out the barrel, cut yourself a slice of cake, blow on the party horns, it's time to CELEBRATE!!



The first question I know you will have is: "I know you are a slow reader, Crystal, but why did it take you six months to read this book? It's just a tad over 350 pages!" And to answer that properly, I will have to back up a bit.

Although it took me six months to finish this book, it was a very good book--probably the best Star Wars book Luceno has ever written. "Darth Plagueis" allows Luceno to do what he is best at: intertwine various pieces of the movies, comics, and other novels into one cohesive work and, most importantly, have it all make sense. The problem with the book is, it is not a light-hearted, easy read, a fun, little adventure with Jedi swinging lightsabers and conniving, devilish Sith cackling about taking over the world. It is extremely dense; it has a pretty broad scope; and it, at times, moves at a snail's pace.

When I first started reading, I had a very hard time "getting into" this book, because of the reasons I stated above. But once I began to picture "Darth Plagueis" as "Star Wars historical fiction", everything started to click into place. I didn't mind the slow pace; I didn't mind the politicking; I didn't mind the passage of time.

Luceno handles his cast of characters really well. Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious are very well-done. I liked how Plagueis was an alien, how he thought about the Force differently, and how he moved away from the Rule of Two phase (I know some fans aren't fond of how many Sith appear, but for once, I actually could understand the motivation behind the new Sith Order and liked it). Palpatine/Sidious was fascinating, particularly in his youth, though I still would love to know what his first name was! I was hugely impressed with the way Luceno wrote Dooku. FINALLY, Dooku comes across as a frustrated Jedi who wants to turn the Republic around, instead of some EVUL Sith wanting to kill and be EVUL. I loved how Pestage, Doriana, Isard, and more appeared. I didn't even mind Darth Maul's new backstory (too much).

As you would expect for a "historical fiction" novel, a lot of characters appear only to fade into the background, never to be seen again. This is particularly frustrating when so much time is built upon introducing them to the story--such as the crew of the Woebegone or the Jedi Knight Palpatine befriends after the Knight's father is killed.

Some of the writing is the best I've seen in a Luceno novel. The Prologue was particularly nice to read. But Luceno doesn't get rid of all his quirks; read this with a dictionary nearby so you can define such SAT vocab words as:

presaged
ineluctable
moribund
scabrous
bilious
cognomen
calumny

And now, time for your favorite section and mine...NERD NITPICKS!!

1. Who tattoos a baby? And how do these tattoos remain intact throughout the child's growth?

2. "Every action has an equal but opposite reaction" is NOT a Law of Thermodynamics!!!

3. Seriously? Another Sith Lord who has to wear a breathing apparatus? Is it a job requirement or something? "Turn in your lungs here, please!"

4. "I knew Gunray slightly...he is acquisitive and ambitious but oddly immune to intimidation." WHAT?!??!! Are we talking about the same Nute Gunray?! Dude was intimidated by a dragonfly!!

5. If Kamino is technically "extragalactic", then why the big deal over the "Outbound Flight" and the Yuuzhan Vong? Leaving the galaxy would be old hat to these people...right?

6. Luceno, I realize that you may have the script to "The Phantom Menace" on hand, but it is okay for the Sith characters to not, okeedokee?

And thank you for joining us for yet another, NERD NITPICKS!!

One thing I would definitely recommend to those considering whether to read this or not is to buff up on your Star Wars Expanded Universe--particularly, Star Wars: Cloak of Deception, Shadow Hunter, the Darth Maul comic, and, of course, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. ALL of these books are referenced at some point in this novel, some more than others. Some of those books (such as DMSH) will have the ending spoiled in the course of this novel; other books (such as CoD) are alluded to so tenuously, that I, who had fairly recently reread the book, had trouble remembering important plot elements.

In short: if you are a newbie to Star Wars Expanded Universe, this is NOT the book for you.

On the other hand, if you are a hard-cover Star Wars fan wanting to read this only to understand Darth Plagueis' power better, you are in for major disappointment. While his special midichlorian ability does appear, it is never given very much space to grow. I really am just as mystified about his special power as I was before I read the novel.

In short: if you expected to learn ONLY about Plagueis, his powers, and (most importantly to some) whether or not he is "the father" of Anakin Skywalker, this is NOT the book for you.

Even though this book took me forever to finish, even though this was a complete departure from most Star Wars novels, even though there were plenty of bumps, I did enjoy myself when reading this novel. This is the type of book that Luceno is PERFECT for writing: one that ties in multiple plot lines, characters, story elements from varied source materials and bringing it all into one coehsive whole. And while "Darth Plagueis" might have failed to answer all questions about Plagueis and his control over the midichlorians, it DID succeed in showing us where he came from and where Palpatine came from. And making "The Phantom Menace" look clever.

George Lucas ought to give Luceno a raise :)
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Quotes Crystal Starr Light Liked

James Luceno
“Evil? What is that? ...You said you were death itself. Are you evil, then, or are you simply stronger and more awake than others? Who gives more shape to sentient history: the good, who adhere to the tried and true, or those who seek to rouse beings from their stupor and lead them to glory? A storm you are, but a much needed one, to wash away the old and complacent and prune the galaxy of deadweight."

-Plagueis”
James Luceno, Darth Plagueis


Reading Progress

02/15/2012 page 9
2.0% "This is probably the best writing I've ever read from Luceno"
02/16/2012 page 20
5.0% ""presaged", "ineluctable", "moribund", "scabrous", "bilious" - Luceno's drive to use the entire SAT vocabulary list almost drove me away from reading this book"
02/17/2012 page 35
10.0% "Luceno, why did you have to create the most confusing way to introduce the crew of the Woebegone? I have no clue who is what species and I don't care to take the time to figure it out."
03/30/2012 page 91
25.0% "Picking up somewhat. This is definitely NOT a book for someone almost brand-new to Star Wars EU." 2 comments
07/01/2012 page 110
30.0% ""cognomen" Ah, Luceno, glad to see you aren't losing your touch."
07/02/2012 page 120
33.0% "Hmmmm, a young Palpatine! Very interesting!"
07/03/2012 page 132
36.0% "If you think of this book as a Star Wars historical fiction novel, the slower pace and attention to detail makes a LOT more sense."
07/08/2012 page 148
40.0% ""Evil? What is that? ...You said you were death itself. Are you evil, then, or are you simply stronger and more awake than others? Who gives more shape to sentient history: the good, who adhere to the tried and true, or those who seek to rouse beings from their stupor and lead them to glory? A storm you are, but a much needed one, to wash away the old and complacent and prune the galaxy of deadweight." Plagueis"
07/11/2012 page 159
43.0% ""[The Jedi] are so busy saving lives and striving to keep the powers of the Force in balance that they have lost sight of the fact that sentient life is meant to evolve, not simply languish in contended stasis." - Plagueis"
07/12/2012 page 168
46.0% "I commend Luceno for portraying the Sith as intelligent and not some sort of psycho serial killers."
07/12/2012 page 179
49.0% "I gotta hand it to Luceno: he really, truly tries to make sense out of the WTFery of the prequels. And he doesn't do a half bad job of it."
07/15/2012 page 182
49.0% "That section...talk about heavy! I don't exactly know what that was about :P"
07/16/2012 page 185
50.0% "Who talks like this? And what warped being tattoos a BABY? And how do red and black tattoos remain as a child grows up? When did Zabraks come from Dathomir? At least this time, I will has some decent examples for the nerd nitpicks!!"
07/19/2012 page 218
59.0% "Damn, Luceno, you are one clever bastard! Setting up Sifo-Dyas and Kamino...IMPRESSIVE!"
07/24/2012 page 235
64.0% "Sometimes, I'm astounded at how clever Luceno is and how he really tries to make the politics meld into TPM time period. The rest of the time, I'm wondering WHY. But I keep telling myself, "Think of this as Star Wars historical fiction!!" Maybe that will help the politics heavy sections go by faster..."
07/26/2012 page 260
71.0% "1) Every action has an equal but opposite reaction is NOT a law of Thermodynamics (pg 249). 2) I actually do NOT mind the inclusion of Maul and the expansion of his backstory. I think the idea of the Sith rising and giving up the Rule of Two makes sense, particularly as the Jedi weaken. I know this probably makes me a SWEU heretic, so burn me now!!"
07/29/2012 page 266
72.0% "Well, that section felt like Luceno was playing a game to name every political character from the prequels. Good grief!" 2 comments
07/30/2012 page 266
72.0% "Okay, seriously?!??! ANOTHER Sith Lord who has a breathing apparatus?! What's the likelihood? Or is that a job requirement? ENOUGH ALREADY!!"
07/30/2012 page 271
74.0% ""I knew Gunray slightly...he is acquisitive and ambitious but oddly immune to intimidation." WHAT?!??!! Are we talking about the same Nute Gunray?! Dude was intimidated by a dragonfly!!"
07/30/2012 page 274
74.0% "I've learned so much...but Plagueis' power is still a barely alluded to enigma."
07/31/2012 page 281
76.0% "As much as I admire Luceno's research and attempts to make sense of the prequels, the book is called "Darth Plagueis", NOT "The Phantom Menace: Explained!" can we PLEASE focus on Plagueis and his abilities?"
08/02/2012 page 287
78.0% "Sidious reveals himself to Gunray. The book drifts even FARTHER away from Plagueis." 6 comments
08/05/2012 page 294
80.0% "Thank you, Luceno, for making Dooku more than yet another EVUL Sith crony." 6 comments
08/06/2012 page 301
82.0% "Kinda cool to have a Maul POV."
08/07/2012 page 314
85.0% "You definitely need to have read "Cloak of Deception" and "Darth Maul: Shadowhunter" to really understand this book. I've read both so I recognize the reference, but long enough ago that I have no clue what is going on :P" 2 comments
08/08/2012 page 324
88.0% ""When you face someone strong in the Force...you must deliver a killing strike and be done with it. Reserve your self-praise for after the fact, or you will suffer more than a hand wound." Such as a stomach wound? *SNORT* (By the way, don't most Sith end up breaking this rule?)"
08/08/2012 page 330
90.0% ""calumny" - breakin' out the old SAT vocab book again, huh, aren't we, Luceno?"
08/08/2012 page 333
90.0% "So, if Kamino is an extragalactic planet, then the Yuuzhan Vong shouldn't be so ZOMG WTF ALIENS FROM ANOTHER GALAXY...right? And if beings have already traveled outside the Main Galaxy to the galaxy in which Kamino is located, then the Galactic Border was breached, which totally clashes with the motivation of the Outbound Flight...*NERD OVERLOAD NERD OVERLOAD*"
08/08/2012 page 336
91.0% ""Has any chancellor had to deal with a more corrupt and self-serving Senate, or more megalomaniacal corporations?" Tell me that couldn't easily apply to US politics. Luceno, are you trying to make a political statement?"
08/08/2012 page 344
93.0% "Luceno, it wouldn't hurt if Palpy and Plaguy occasionally made a misjudgment or didn't have the script to TPM in their hands. A mistake once or twice is TOTALLY okay."
08/08/2012 page 359
98.0% "Palpy, you're monologuing. Going on FOUR pages now."
show 13 hidden updates…

Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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Laura Are you as excited about this book as I am? :D


Crystal Starr Light Laura wrote: "Are you as excited about this book as I am? :D"

I am! I remember that Luceno was scheduled to write this book some time ago, but it was cancelled...so glad to hear it wasn't cancelled!!


Laura I'm really new to Star Wars books so I don't remember that, but just hearing about it makes me even more thankful that it's being written! It sounds so excited and my brother and I have been waiting for it forever! The line that's often repeated is, We have to read it now! Though it's never clear if we're talking about this or Revan, since we're also super excited about that...


Crystal Starr Light I definitely agree, I can't wait! I've had a bunch of questions ever since the end of Revenge of the Sith, and I'm hoping a few get answered...


Laura That's what I was thinking!


Ploy I read this book a while back, and it was amazing :))


Crystal Starr Light Ploy wrote: "I read this book a while back, and it was amazing :))"

It's been a really good book; I just find I am enjoying it more if I read bits and pieces, instead of huge chunks at once.


message 8: by Isis (new)

Isis I've been steering clear of your updates of this, Crystal, I admit, out of fear for spoilers!


Crystal Starr Light Isis wrote: "I've been steering clear of your updates of this, Crystal, I admit, out of fear for spoilers!"

I'll make sure to keep these updates as spoiler-free as I can. It's been awhile since I read any of this...I need to get back into it.


message 10: by Ploy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ploy Crystal Starr Light wrote: "Ploy wrote: "I read this book a while back, and it was amazing :))"

It's been a really good book; I just find I am enjoying it more if I read bits and pieces, instead of huge chunks at once."


Yeah, maybe it's good to do that, since you can get in more info :)) I got lots of new ones from reading that book, and I read it in a chunk.


message 11: by Petter (new)

Petter Avén You're right on. If your modest questioning of the SW Prequel era would brand you as a heretic, I shudder to think what my own utter disdain for the whole mess would land me. =D The rule of two makes sense if you want to carry on a tiny heritage in complete secret, but it is not the way to go it if you want to convert a galaxy to your philosophy. However, the Empire of original SW is politically a fascist dictatorship whose head of state happens to be strong in the dark side of the Force. It is not a theocracy with lots of Sith priests preaching to the masses. How are we to interpret that?


Crystal Starr Light Petter wrote: "The rule of two makes sense if you want to carry on a tiny heritage in complete secret, but it is not the way to go it if you want to convert a galaxy to your philosophy."

That's kinda how I see it too. From Bane until Plagueis, the Sith had to wait for the Jedi to weaken. And since being a Sith can be damaging to your health, if you had too many, well, you could easily end up with none at all.

Perhaps the reason that the Empire is not a theocracy is Palpatine did not want to adhere to Sith tradition. He seems to be a very power-hungry man, and he tries to hoard that power. Hence why Darth Maul is not a true Sith Apprentice, in that he is being trained as we've seen Zannah. Even Tyranus and Vader were not privy to near as much information and training as, for instance, Zannah.

It's not a brilliant idea, but until there is something official, maybe it will work :P


message 13: by Petter (new)

Petter Avén Does sound plausible (though I doubt George Lucas himself has a clear idea or even cares). Still, I hadn't thought of it that way before and it could work. Perhaps the Sith teachings are merely a means to an end for old Palps? But anyway, when the Sith tradition as such was made canon in SW the Emperor had been a character for a long time. Backtracking is difficult when you already have a set view of a character and what motivates him. SW is now so full of inconsistencies and second-guessing that I hardly know what to make of it. Palps says "Once more the Sith will rule the Galaxy" yet except for neantherthal Anakin he annihilates everyone with Force potential rather than raise them as Sith. *shrugs helplessly*


Crystal Starr Light Petter wrote: "Backtracking is difficult when you already have a set view of a character and what motivates him. SW is now so full of inconsistencies and second-guessing that I hardly know what to make of it."

Can't agree more! I've got to hand it to authors like Luceno who really, really try to make sense of what Star Wars has become. Luceno spends a huge amount of time in "Plagueis" trying to tie in the changes The Clone Wars TV series did to Darth Maul and, of course, the big mess that is the almost incomprehensible political situation of TPM (at least, if you watch the movie).


message 15: by Petter (new)

Petter Avén As I haven't read the Plagueis novel, can you please tell me what the interpretation of "the Jedi weakening"? Is it a weakening in strength (through the Clone Wars) or a weakening owing to fossilization (lots of nonsense taboos etc)?

I only saw five or so episodes of The Clone Wars TV series; finally lost it when Jar Jar appeared and started talking to a jungle or whatever, so I deleted it all from my PC. The only thing I kind of like are the Clone Troopers. Cause they're not Jedi, and thus easier to relate to. I just wonder why they're all in their 40s, when humans peak physically around 20. ;) And ofc, why the hell they're fighting for a Republic whose citizens aren't willing to fight for themselves. =D

Darth Maul is interesting. However, he does strike me as a tool rather than an eventual successor to Sidious. Did Palps plan to replace him all along? You've read novels where he appears, but I haven't so perhaps you can enlighten me about this?


Crystal Starr Light Well, the Jedi weakening is just more like corruption. Remember Yoda's comment about arrogant Jedi in "Attack of the Clones" and how their power is diminished? Also, if you adhere more to the "balance" concept of the Force, the Jedi/Light Side have been in power for so long, the Force is favoring the Dark Side more to bring balance.

The Clone Wars TV series has some really great episodes, but I tend to like the ones with Clone Troopers or rare Jedi. (And definitely not the ones with the brat Ahsoka--though I've only seen Season 1, so I don't know if she's more likable in later seasons.)

The clone troopers are supposed to look like they are in their 20's; unfortunately, I think the designers too a bit too much from Temeura Morrison, who was older than the clones were supposed to be. As for why the clones are fighting...well, if you haven't already read them, the Republic Commando series by Karen Traviss (starting with Hard Contact) explores that very well.

The novels have been somewhat vague about Darth Maul and Palpatine's opinion of him. I get the impression that Maul was not what Palpatine wanted out of an apprentice, as Maul was VERY single-minded. In this way, the "retcon" with Maul's origin and his place in the Sith Order makes sense.

If you are interested in learning more about Darth Maul, I would definitely recommend Shadow Hunter and Darth Maul. DMSH doesn't go too much into Maul's psyche, but the Journal does. And yeah, the latter is a "children's" novel, but it is good!


message 17: by Petter (new)

Petter Avén Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and expertise! While I personally don't much care for the "balance" part of the Force, it does make sense if seen in the light of new authors adding ever more confrontations between Light and Dark with their stories. Perhaps the movie-wise completely unexplained prophecy (yawn) about the Chosen One (double-yawn) bringing balance is further explored in the prequel novels?

I will consider your recommendations. I have, however, all the Legacy and Fate novels waiting in my bookshelf. After "Betrayal" I just lost interest. Like I couldn't stand to see my favorite characters thrust into yet another round of galactic wars where they are pitted against each other. It's not okay. They've done enough and deserve their rest. No, what I enjoy the most in SW now is the Old Republic era. Ever come across the "Knights of the Old Republic" comics? While the artwork varies greatly every five issues, I think you would enjoy the story and the characters. It's a wonderful mix!


Crystal Starr Light I would definitely say the prophecy/Chosen One/Balance stuff is more explored in the prequels. Again, Luceno really seems to dig in and explore these concepts, but others have as well: Matthew Stover in Star Wars: Shatterpoint and in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Sean Stewart in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous.

I started reading "Betrayal" some time ago, but I had to stop because I was reading way too many other things. I've heard mixed things about the series, but I agree; why can't Han, Luke, and Leia retire? And apparently, Troy Denning is coming out with a new post-FOTJ novel, Star Wars: Crucible, where Han, Luke, and Leia AGAIN factor hugely into it. Ugh!

I've been better about keeping up with the prequel-ish stories, "The Old Republic" and the one-offs. I haven't checked out the KOTOR comics, but I have heard they are good.


message 19: by Petter (new)

Petter Avén Apparently I have only scratched the surface of the SW library. I just checked out how many of them you've read and I can't quite wrap my head around it! But, I feel confident when I say that since I've read Timothy Zahn's books and Stackpole and Allston's X-Wing novels I have at least experienced some of the very best that SW EU has to offer. Well, at least in my own humble opinion. :)

The Star Wars I grew up and fell in love with had a very special magic to it. While I want to recognize that this universe is large enough to host the creations of a thousand different authors and movie makers, the sad fact is that they often do not exist in isolation. The tone and story I want for my Star Wars is forcibly joined by those of people with completely different ideas, causing severe disharmony.

Ah, maybe I just take SW too seriously! I should sleep on this. Thanks for recommending those novels, now I know what to go for when and if I decide to delve into Prequel SW. :)
Good night!


message 20: by Ryan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ryan Bailey Kamino is "extragalactic" in the sense that it's not bunched up with all the other systems. It's not near anything else, out past the edge. The way your car is to your house when it's parked in your driveway, not the way the moon is to your house.
Even in hyperspace, reaching someplace truly outside the galaxy's influence would take generations.
Hope that helps!


Crystal Starr Light Hey, Ryan, thanks!! That does clear things up a bit.


daVID gUIDO As a note this was my first Star Wars book and not only did i love it but i understood it well.


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