Cloak of Deception (COD) starts off with the famous Star Wars introduction crawl, immediately bringing the reader into the SW universe. I found myself even singing the SW fanfare while reading the crawl. A good way to start the novel, if you ask me.
I have always enjoyed reading James Luceno's Star Wars novels, he is one of the authors who knows how to write Star Wars. He can not only write the characters well, but he can write the universe very well too. COD is no exception, as it is one of the best SW novels I've read. It's definately in my top 5.
Ever wanted to know why the Trade Federation was blocking the Naboo trade routes and what the big deal was? Read COD and not only will you know why, you'll have fun doing it. This prequel to the Prequel fleshed out this story and made the opening of Ep 1 more relevant than ever.
COD expanded upon Darth Sidious' character and how manipulating he really was in the Senate and in the Trade Federation. We see how he set up the Trade Federation to be his lackeys. Because of Sidious' manipulations there were no checks and balances in place for them to worry about, the Neimodians could then do whatever they wanted within their Trade Federation organizaton. COD really put Darth Sidious' manipulations into the spotlight, and Luceno did it by focusing on Senator Palpatine's involvement in the story. We really got to see how Chancellor Valorum began to trust Palpatine and his ideas.
One thing I was glad to see in COD is how Qui-Gon Jinn's character was expanded upon and how he got alot of face time in the story, as he was the main Jedi whose POV was given. It was great to see as I always thought that his death was too quick in Ep 1 and then we never saw him again in the Saga, unlike we did with Obi-Wan after he was killed in Ep 4.
I enjoyed seeing how Qui-Gon was defiant with the Jedi Council and even disobeyed some direct orders and then justified it with how the Force was directing him. It fit very nicely with how Qui-Gon would end up having Anakin come with him from Tatooine and then defy the Jedi Council in declaring that he would train Anakin. I would have loved to see Anakin as Qui-Gon's Padawan come to fruition. How different would Anakin's story have been, had Qui-Gon survived the Maul duel! (BTW, Dark Horse and Randy Stradley if you're by chance reading this - I think that this would be a great Infinities story. )
It was great to hear more references to the "Living Force" and to be able to learn a little more about that philosophy of the Force. Hopefully at some point the EU will go back to that concept and tell us more about it.
I also enjoyed how EU and Canon characters were brought into the story, such as Tarkin and Jorus C’baoth. Characters from Ep. 2, such as Passel Argente, and CIS Organizations were also briefly mentioned in the story. In my opinion, these small details brought huge credibility to the story, and made it more enjoyable to read. These details are the things that are missing from alot of SW novels. I think if this much eye to detail was put into all SW novels, then I think that alot of the continuity errors and timeline issues that now plague the SW universe would be minimal.
The only continuity error that I spotted was the mention of a purple lightsaber blade in one of the Jedi battles when Mace wasn't present. I think it was attributed to Ki-Adi-Mundi. Not a big deal, but an interesting slip, maybe there is a backstory to this I'm not aware of; but I always thought Mace was the only purple lightsaber wielder.
All in all, I really enjoyed this EU book and read it quit fast. I will probably have to go back and read it again sometime to see if I can pick up on anything that I might have missed. The story was rich in character development, expanded the SW SAGA in a meaningful way and had a complex storyline. I give it 5 out of 5 Kath Hounds.
I would love to hear what you thought of this SW novel, feel free to post your thoughts and ideas on the Cloak of Darkness here. Any questions or comments on my review are welcomed and open to discussion.
This is where the fun begins!