Star Wars: Expanded Universe Read-Through- Darth Plagueis by James Luceno

darth-plagueis-luceno

Did I mention the cover is also really cool looking?

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.

The Good

-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

The Bad

-“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.”

Conclusion

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.

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.

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Star Wars: Expanded Universe- Initial Thoughts on “THE END OF THE WORLD”

sw-fotjIt’s been a little while since Disney announced the Star Wars Expanded Universe is officially unofficial and non-canon. Star Wars fandom is going nuts. I personally have a few thoughts on this overall.

The Expanded Universe has had some amazing moments, but it has also had some weak points (here’s looking at you, 90% of the books on the Yuuzhan Vong). My initial reaction to this news was to immediately horde Star Wars books from the EU because I wanted to be able to relive those memories again and again. But, when I looked back over the whole post-movie EU universe, I realized there weren’t really that many books I needed to grab. I had the major series I enjoyed, and I’d already gotten rid of the vast majority of the books I thought weren’t that great. Looking back, for the number of books there are in the EU, the quality has not been consistent.

Maybe, just maybe a reboot is something that is needed to get this show on the road and going strong for a long period of time.

That said, it will be impossible to try to forget or ignore the EU if and when I read the new novels that come out of the canonized book series. In particular, Mara Jade and Ben Skywalker have been some of my favorites, and of course the development of Boba Fett off and on was a major plus for me. I am not at all sure how I will be able to move beyond the sense of loss over having to pretend much of this history just never happened. To me, it may as well be a completely alternative universe at this point.

I think the biggest hurt for me was not being able to experience the now-cancelled “Sword of the Jedi” series. I was so looking forward to that after the “Fate of the Jedi” ended so exceptionally well (read my thoughts on that series at my other site). Realistically, I don’t see why Disney could not have at least allowed for the “Sword of the Jedi” trilogy to be written and tie off any number of loose ends that remain open. Of course, there would always be more loose ends, but those which appeared in “Apocalypse” are extremely important and, frankly, worth tying off. Maybe Disney will reconsider and allow for some closure here. If they did this most of my feelings of disappointment would dissolve.

Overall, then, I think that the ending remains a shock for me and it is something that I wish did not happen. I remain hopeful for the possibility of a trilogy somewhere to tie up the “Legends” universe at least a little bit, but I also tentatively am hopeful for the next iteration of Star Wars in the form of the newer novels.

What do you think of this development? What have been your favorite Star Wars books? Leave a comment and let me know!

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.