Star Wars: Darth Plagueis - James Luceno "sentient life is meant to evolve, not simply languish in contended stasis"

NOTE: I received this book from the Amazon Vine Program.

The time has come for the Sith to reveal themselves, to step away from the Rule of Two setup by Darth Bane many years ago. Darth Plagueis emerges and, with the assistance of his apprentice, Darth Sidious, begins the final steps to the destruction of the Republic and the Jedi.

I have some wonderful news! After SIX MONTHS of reading this book, I have finally finished it!! Roll out the barrel, cut yourself a slice of cake, blow on the party horns, it's time to CELEBRATE!!



The first question I know you will have is: "I know you are a slow reader, Crystal, but why did it take you six months to read this book? It's just a tad over 350 pages!" And to answer that properly, I will have to back up a bit.

Although it took me six months to finish this book, it was a very good book--probably the best Star Wars book Luceno has ever written. "Darth Plagueis" allows Luceno to do what he is best at: intertwine various pieces of the movies, comics, and other novels into one cohesive work and, most importantly, have it all make sense. The problem with the book is, it is not a light-hearted, easy read, a fun, little adventure with Jedi swinging lightsabers and conniving, devilish Sith cackling about taking over the world. It is extremely dense; it has a pretty broad scope; and it, at times, moves at a snail's pace.

When I first started reading, I had a very hard time "getting into" this book, because of the reasons I stated above. But once I began to picture "Darth Plagueis" as "Star Wars historical fiction", everything started to click into place. I didn't mind the slow pace; I didn't mind the politicking; I didn't mind the passage of time.

Luceno handles his cast of characters really well. Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious are very well-done. I liked how Plagueis was an alien, how he thought about the Force differently, and how he moved away from the Rule of Two phase (I know some fans aren't fond of how many Sith appear, but for once, I actually could understand the motivation behind the new Sith Order and liked it). Palpatine/Sidious was fascinating, particularly in his youth, though I still would love to know what his first name was! I was hugely impressed with the way Luceno wrote Dooku. FINALLY, Dooku comes across as a frustrated Jedi who wants to turn the Republic around, instead of some EVUL Sith wanting to kill and be EVUL. I loved how Pestage, Doriana, Isard, and more appeared. I didn't even mind Darth Maul's new backstory (too much).

As you would expect for a "historical fiction" novel, a lot of characters appear only to fade into the background, never to be seen again. This is particularly frustrating when so much time is built upon introducing them to the story--such as the crew of the Woebegone or the Jedi Knight Palpatine befriends after the Knight's father is killed.

Some of the writing is the best I've seen in a Luceno novel. The Prologue was particularly nice to read. But Luceno doesn't get rid of all his quirks; read this with a dictionary nearby so you can define such SAT vocab words as:

presaged
ineluctable
moribund
scabrous
bilious
cognomen
calumny

And now, time for your favorite section and mine...NERD NITPICKS!!

1. Who tattoos a baby? And how do these tattoos remain intact throughout the child's growth?

2. "Every action has an equal but opposite reaction" is NOT a Law of Thermodynamics!!!

3. Seriously? Another Sith Lord who has to wear a breathing apparatus? Is it a job requirement or something? "Turn in your lungs here, please!"

4. "I knew Gunray slightly...he is acquisitive and ambitious but oddly immune to intimidation." WHAT?!??!! Are we talking about the same Nute Gunray?! Dude was intimidated by a dragonfly!!

5. If Kamino is technically "extragalactic", then why the big deal over the "Outbound Flight" and the Yuuzhan Vong? Leaving the galaxy would be old hat to these people...right?

6. Luceno, I realize that you may have the script to "The Phantom Menace" on hand, but it is okay for the Sith characters to not, okeedokee?

And thank you for joining us for yet another, NERD NITPICKS!!

One thing I would definitely recommend to those considering whether to read this or not is to buff up on your Star Wars Expanded Universe--particularly, Star Wars: Cloak of Deception, Shadow Hunter, the Darth Maul comic, and, of course, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. ALL of these books are referenced at some point in this novel, some more than others. Some of those books (such as DMSH) will have the ending spoiled in the course of this novel; other books (such as CoD) are alluded to so tenuously, that I, who had fairly recently reread the book, had trouble remembering important plot elements.

In short: if you are a newbie to Star Wars Expanded Universe, this is NOT the book for you.

On the other hand, if you are a hard-cover Star Wars fan wanting to read this only to understand Darth Plagueis' power better, you are in for major disappointment. While his special midichlorian ability does appear, it is never given very much space to grow. I really am just as mystified about his special power as I was before I read the novel.

In short: if you expected to learn ONLY about Plagueis, his powers, and (most importantly to some) whether or not he is "the father" of Anakin Skywalker, this is NOT the book for you.

Even though this book took me forever to finish, even though this was a complete departure from most Star Wars novels, even though there were plenty of bumps, I did enjoy myself when reading this novel. This is the type of book that Luceno is PERFECT for writing: one that ties in multiple plot lines, characters, story elements from varied source materials and bringing it all into one coehsive whole. And while "Darth Plagueis" might have failed to answer all questions about Plagueis and his control over the midichlorians, it DID succeed in showing us where he came from and where Palpatine came from. And making "The Phantom Menace" look clever.

George Lucas ought to give Luceno a raise :)