I have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more, and here I begin my quest with Darth Plagueis by James Luceno. There will be SPOILERS in this review.
Darth Plagueis is ostensibly the story of Emperor Palpatine’s Sith Master, but it is much more than that. It also provides extensive background into the person of Palpatine/Darth Sidious and his own rise to power. Moreover, there is much background provided herein to show the development of plot details behind the Prequel Movie trilogy.
The book begins by tracing Plagueis’ own overthrow of his master and his eliminating all Sith opposition in order to cover his tracks. He encounters Palpatine on Naboo and ultimately convinces him to join the path of the Sith. Plagueis wishes to overthrow Darth Bane’s “Rule of Two” which teaches, among other things, that apprentices should always be looking for a way to kill their Sith Masters in order to perpetuate strength in the order. He also seeks to destroy the Jedi and forge the Republic into a creation of the Sith.
As Plagueis and his apprentice, Sidious (Palpatine) work towards these ends, Luceno also traces developments in the wider galaxy, particularly in the growing conflict between the Trade Federation and Naboo. The details of this development actually serve to make more sense of various things found in the Prequel Trilogy such as why the Trade Federation would work with Sidious, how Amidala rose to the throne, and more.
One downside is Plagueis’ focus on “midi-chlorians,” a concept I’ve been trying to forget since Lucas brought it into Episode I. Another issue is that, past the first half of the book, it becomes almost entirely about Palpatine rather than Plagueis. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it maintains a coherent story throughout, but I thought it worth mentioning.
The book therefore provides a decades-long development of the work of the Sith alongside the broader developments in the galaxy. This could be a recipe for disaster, but Luceno pulls it off remarkably well. He also interweaves questions of morality, political control, and other philosophical issues into the plot. The book is fantastic.
-Manages to fill in gaps in the story for the Prequel Trilogy in such a way as to make them only lesser atrocities
-Provides great background into Palpatine’s life
-Brings up a host of philosophical questions while maintaining its dark plot
-Gungans are mentioned but never get to speak
-“Midi-Chlorians” featured prominently at some points in the plot, and this concept should never ever be acknowledged to exist in the EU
-The ending felt a little rushed
-Ultimately more about Palpatine than Plagueis
Best Droid Moment
114D immediately calling Sidious master after Sidious had killed Plagueis. Droid don’t care.
Grade: A+ “I wish I’d read it sooner.”
Darth Plagueis is a really awesome entry into the Star Wars universe; it is one which actually succeeds in deadening some of the awfulness of the Prequel Trilogy while also standing on its own two feet. It’s not a perfect book, which suggests an “A+” is too high, but any book that manages to accomplish the Prequel redemption and avoid the serious possible pitfalls gets mad bonus points. I’m excited that so many recommended it to me and that I finally got around to reading it. I would highly recommend a read-through for Star Wars fans. Please let me know if you have any ideas for categories I should include in these reviews going forward.
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