Author: James Luceno
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: January 10, 2012
Era: Rise of the Empire
This review is completely spoiler-free. Check back on January 10th for our spoiler review.
“Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? It’s a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.”
– Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
Should you grab yourself a copy of Star Wars: Darth Plagueis? Absolutely. Do you need to be well versed in Star Wars lore to enjoy the novel? Heck no! Does it bring a lot of new details to the table? Yes, yes indeed it does. There have been an influx of novels with a Sith point of view as of late, but of those, only Darth Bane’s accomplishments have reverberated throughout the saga. Until now.
For years, Star Wars fans have wondered if Darth Plagueis would ever see the light of day. Thankfully, the novel delivers in more ways than you can shake a lightsaber at, despite having been put on the backburner for some time. Good plot? Check. Great characters? Check. Sith philosophy? Check. A satisfactory explanation of midi-chlorians? Check. Details about long-lost cultures and races? Check. Information about the “Rule of Two” and the Sith Lords who blazed the path for Darth Plagueis and his apprentice, Darth Sidious? Check. Details on the Chosen One? Check. Fantastic tie-ins to other Star Wars Expanded Universe materials? Check, check, check!
What does this mean? Well, to put it simply, Darth Plagueis is one heck of a ride. The ramifications of this book have a profound impact on the entire saga we know and love. This novel challenged me to constantly re-evaluate my thoughts about not just Palpatine, but many Prequel Trilogy characters too. Heck, even Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace managed to change before my eyes. It wasn’t anything so bad that I would yell “foul,” but I now understand certain events for the first time… I just had to unlearn what I had learned.
Darth Plagueis finds a way to address a lot of the questions many Star Wars fans have been asking for more than a decade. And while doing so, author James Luceno constantly manages to bring the rich lore of the Sith into play. I found myself just as excited about the succession of Sith Lords as I was the direction of Sidious’ training.
Plagueis himself is a very complex character, and he can be somewhat creepy on occasion. He very much reminded me of the Emperor we have come to know in the books. The all-knowing and all-seeing kind, who has a reason for everything he does. Plagueis is very much a wheels within wheels kind of plotter which, when you think about it, gives us an idea of where Palpatine gets a lot of his craftiness.
The amount of lore in the book was also surprising. Luceno reveals new details about the Celestials, as well as insight into the outlook of some of the ancient Jedi. In doing so, he manages to show the reader just how much information the Sith had on the Jedi. This is in stark contrast to how little the Jedi themselves knew about the Sith. And speaking of clueless Jedi, Luceno even finds a crafty way of explaining how powerful Masters like Yoda and Mace Windu were unable to feel Palpatine in the Force.
At 400 pages, Darth Plagueis almost perfectly summarizes the history and downfall of the Republic. It’s Plagueis’ story, but it manages to touch on more aspects of the Expanded Universe than you could possibly count. It brilliantly details how the Sith were able to move all of the dejarik pieces into place for their eventual rise to power. It’s fantastic. So much so, in fact, that Darth Plagueis is a must-have book for every Star Wars fan. Readers well-versed in the Expanded Universe will enjoy the hundreds of references to other works, but even new fans will find the book highly entertaining.
Honestly, the only downsides are a small plot point that seemed to have been shoehorned in (more on this in our spoiler review) and Luceno’s frequent use of big and unusual words. They add a lot of depth to the book but, if you’re not using an eReader, be prepared to have a dictionary by your side. Thankfully, they hardly slowed me down. Darth Plagueis has the potential to be one of the best Star Wars novels of all time. We highly recommend that you run out to your local bookstore and pick up a copy as soon as possible. You’ll love it.
Reviewed by Mark Hurliman
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