Quinn Rollins's Reviews > Darth Plagueis

Darth Plagueis by James Luceno
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Feb 06, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, biography
Read from February 06 to 24, 2012

Toward the middle of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Chancellor Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker attend the opera. Evidently “opera” in Star Wars involves giant soap bubbles and extended bass notes. As they’re sitting in Palpatine’s box seats, the old man tells Anakin a tale about Darth Plagueis. It’s a bit of bait to nudge Anakin closer to the dark side, with Palpatine telling him that Plagueis found a way to extend life and avoid death. Since this loss is what Anakin fears most, it’s just the thing to reel him in. It’s a bizarre interlude in the movie, and that’s all we knew of Darth Plagueis…until now.

James Luceno has written some of my favorite recent Star Wars novels, including Millennium Falcon, Cloak of Deception, and Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. He understands the Star Wars universe and the connections between movies and trilogies, but he’s also a gifted writer, with a knack for the voices and motivations each character has. His most recent novel is Star Wars: Darth Plagueis.

This book is a dual biography of a Sith Master and Apprentice: Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious. Darth Plagueis is an alien known as a muun in the Star Wars universe—spindly humanoids with heads that look like they’ve been squeezed in a vice. They run the Banking Clan, and Magister Hego Damask has incredible wealth and power at his disposal. He becomes a Sith Lord, and gains more power and more experience, until he feels capable of destroying his own master—which he does in the first chapters of the novel. At that point, Damask/Darth Plagueis becomes the master, and needs an apprentice. Palpatine is a spoiled rich teenager on Naboo, already interested in politics and frustrated that his ambitions exceed his grasp. As Palpatine and Damask’s paths cross, the latter senses the strength of the Force in the former, and begins to tutor him in the ways of the Sith.

While there’s plenty of Star Wars-styled action, there are also a lot of political details, which I know are a turnoff for some. I liked the scenes set in the senate, and the manipulations of both Palpatine/Sidious and Damask/Plagueis to seat Palpatine as the Supreme Chancellor. They’re both power hungry, and they’re eventually sated.

Where this book is essentially a prequel to the prequel trilogy, I worried I wouldn’t like it. I shouldn’t have been concerned. Luceno uses the uncharted territory of Palpatine’s life pre-Phantom Menace to spin an excellent story that has more surprises and twists in it than I expected. There are also more characters I recognized than I expected, including Jabba the Hutt, Count Dooku, Darth Maul, and others. It explains the Sith Order better and more concisely than other books I’ve read, and as the book continues, truly does become a tragedy worthy of the name. This was an excellent entry in the series, and if you’re a fan of Star Wars, is well worth your time.
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02/06/2012 page 40
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04/02/2016 marked as: read
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